What is Contemporary Art?

This book began as a two-part issue of e-flux journal devoted to the question: What is contemporary art? At this point, has modernity become our antiquity? A single hegemonic “ism” has replaced clearly distinguishable movements and grand narratives. But what exactly does it mean to be working under the auspices of this particular ism? This absorbing collection of writings puts the apparently self-evident term into doubt, asking critics, curators, artists and writers to contemplate the nature of this catchall category. Contributors include Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Boris Groys, Raqs Media Collective, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Hu Fang, Jörg Heiser, Martha Rosler, Zdenka Badovinac, Carol Yinghua Lu, Dieter Roelstraete, and Jan Verwoert.

Sternberg Press, Berlin/New York
2010 / Softcover / 4 1/4 x 7 inches / 216 pp / 24 b&w
ISBN: 978-1-934105-10-8 · Retail Price: $16.00


Conceptualism Revisited

Boris Groys (Ed.)

The Soviet Union was still going strong in the 1970s when a group of dissident artists now known as the

Moscow Conceptualists began using their work to confront the triumphs and failures of socialism. This collection of essays on the movement appears with an introduction by the uniquely qualified editor and commentator Boris Groys, who combines his varied careers as an art critic and media theorist with an NYU professorship in Russian and Slavic studies. Moscow Symposium is the newest title in Sternberg’s rousing, entertaining E-Flux series and the second journal edited by Groys (his first is Going Public). The series takes discussions, symposia, panels, forums and texts already interacting with thinkers online and turns them into small-format, soft-cover readers.

Communism had already converted objects to ideas—collective property—and citizen-subjects to nonprofessional artists. Thus, the found object, the elevating of idea over material, and the disappearance of the artist’s hand were already indistinguishable from an ideological landscape taken for granted by the artists who lived in that world. Interestingly, it is in this sense that Moscow Conceptualism must be considered: not only as the work of dissident artists confronting the triumphs and failures of socialism, but also as a continuous line of inquiry producing radically unexpected terms for non-alienated art.

Groys and other contributors take the works and activities of the Moscow Conceptualists as a departure point and consider how the modest artistic practices they developed in the 1970s reflect the resilience and flexibility of a more general sphere of conceptualisms in the plural. Essays by Claire Bishop, Keti Chukhrov, Ekaterina Degot, Jörg Heiser, Terry Smith, Anton Vidokle and Sarah Wilson explore the residue of an era which is becoming forgotten with astonishing speed.

Sternberg Press, Berlin
August 2012 / Softcover / 4 1/4 x 7 inches / 176 pp / 11 b&w
ISBN: 978-3-943365-11-5 · Retail Price: $16.00


Markus Miessen

East Coast Europe, which took place during Spring 2008, is a project about the perceptions of contemporary European identity and its relation to spatial practices and international politics. “Europe” in the title is the central topic for investigation, its contemporary culture, expansion and its status as a continuing social project. “East Coast” refers to two distinct edges of Europe, both real and imaginary—the geographical East Coast of the United States of America and the political “East Coast” of the European Union. The book details a dense network of contemporary experience of the EU’s extensive exchange of knowledge, people, and goods with the US and also with its own eastern border. Contributions by Shamim Momin, Taryn Simon, Marina Abramovic, Orchard, Kazys Varnelis, Lisa Farjam, Jordan Wolfson, Sislej Xhafa, Nedko Solakov, et al. The book also includes a transcript of a panel discussion at the Vera List Centre for Arts and Politics, The New School (NY).

2009 / Softcover / 4 1/4 x 7 inches
352 pp / 3 b&w
ISBN: 978-1-933128-49-8 · Retail Price: $14.95


Katrina Palmer

UK-based contemporary artist Katrina Palmer builds sculptures using words. In 2013, she won a competition for “groundbreaking site-specific proposals that transform the cultural landscape” run by BBC Radio 4 and Artangel. Palmer worked with a piece of land that had been hollowed out by quarrying—the Isle of Portland, Dorset—to produce a haunting narrative and site-specific walk. The artist book book End Matter forms one part of Palmer’s story-sculpture. Comprised of the sitework’s documentary vestiges—appendices, acknowledg- ments, an epilogue, an index, a map, photographs and postscripts, and audio sections from her broadcast (which one can listen to online or while walking around Portland)—the book tells the story of the loss of Portland’s stone through the mysterious work of The Loss Adjusters, who are responsible for balancing the material and historical shifts of the island’s being. A compelling blend of imagina- tion and reality from this young and adventurous artist.

October 2015 / Softcover 4 ¾ x 7 inches / 96pp
ISBN: 978-1-906012-73-1 · Retail Price: $25.00


Design Fiction

Alex Coles & EP In-Lab (Eds.)

While volume 1 of the EP series was devoted to the early Italian avant-garde, volume 2 looks at the new fascination with fiction as a strategy in negotiating the complex relationship between design theory and practice. Newly commissioned interviews and essays by artists, designers and writers shed light on formations of parafiction like “The Middle of Nowhere,” a quixotic construction of sense, or algorithmic ambiguity, pushing the debate further into speculative, real-fictitious terrains. Included are Paola Antonelli, The Atlas Group, Paul Bailey, Alex Coles, Marcel Dickhage, Anthony Dunne, Umberto Eco, Experimental Jetset, Vilém Flusser, Verina Gfader, Huib Haye van der Werf, Will Holder, Sophie Krier, Carrie Lambert- Beatty, Lucas Maassen, Valle Medina, Philippe Morel, Rick Poynor, Fiona Raby, Benjamin Reynolds, Ilse van Rijn, Cathleen Schuster, Hiroko Shiratori and Bruce Sterling. The EP series moves fluidly between art, design and architecture, by publishing “extended play” thematically edited pocket books as median between popular magazines and academic journals.

May 2016 / Softcover
5 x 7 ¾ inches / 224 pp
40 b&w and 40 color
ISBN: 978-3-95679-048-5 · Retail Price: $30.00


Central Pivot Series – Volume 2

Nell Boeschenstein, Josh Garrett-Davis, Richard Saxton & Kirsten Stoltz (Eds.)

The second publication in the new pocket-sized Center Pivot Series from Richard Saxton’s alternative Colorado-based art and environmental collective, M12, and co-published by M12’s Last Chance Press and Jap Sam Books, An Equine Anthology explores the cultural history of the American horse. Interdisciplinary in approach, the series explores and connects the changing realities of rural landscapes and communities around the world, presenting an array of curated notes, documents and research ephemera combined with images, poetry and more formal visual and written works. Stitching together nonlinear histories, testimonies and interpretations of equine culture from the American Southwest and beyond, this anthology includes horsemeat recipes, rodeo histories, photographs and paintings of “the horse” by contemporary western artists. Contributors include noted animal welfare advocate Temple Grandin, M12 founder Richard Saxton, Wapke Fenstra from Myvillages, novelist Josh Garrett-Davis, native American artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and New Mexico–based photographer Clea G. Hall, among others.

May 2016 / Softcover
4 ¼ x 7 inches / 252 pp / 127 b&w
ISBN: 978-94-90322-54-0 · Retail Price: $19.95


Liam Gillick

Out of Print

The central character of Erasmus is Late is Erasmus Darwin, opium-eater and brother of the more famous Charles who is indeed late. Late for a dinner party that he himself is giving and whose illustrious guests, already assembled around his table, include: Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under Kennedy; Masura Ibuka, co-founder of Sony; and Murry Wilson, father of Brian Wilson.

Whilst the guests wait, Erasmus dawdles through contemporary London becoming waylaid by different sites, which represent for Gillick, the development of free-thinking; Gillian Gillick, the artist’s mother, illustrates these sites with line drawings. Erasmus Darwin epitomises for Gillick the activity of free-thinking; a form of political pursuit dependent on wealth and leisure and problematic in its relationship to ‘unfree’ thought and the working classes.

On one level a guide to contemporary London seen through the eyes of a Georgian, Erasmus is Late is also an examination of pre-Marxist positions, an ill-researched investigation of a Utopian optimism that is struggling to predict the future.

Second Edition. Originally published 1995.

2000 / Softcover / 88 pp
No ISBN · Retail Price: $24.00


The Invention of Distance

Adriana Almada (Ed.)

This bilingual volume inaugurates a series of books honoring writings by major art critics from around the world. An incisive commentator on the unexpected connections between the art of indigenous peoples and contemporary art, Paraguayan art critic/curator Ticio Escobar has been a prominent figure in Latin-American criticism for over 30 years. Combining philosophical reflection with ethnographic observation, Escobar defends the relevance of indigenous art as a creator and producer of genius forms. The essays in this volume are arranged into four thematic sections and tied together by one of the writer’s most crucial ideas: the importance of distance when confronting a work of art. Escobar was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship (1998) and the inaugural International Association of Art Critics Prize for Distinguished Contribution to Art Criticism (2011). His writings, collected here for the first time, are complimented with writings by Marek Bartelik and Adriana Almada.

January 2015 / English & Spanish
Softcover / 6 1/4 x 9 inches / 300 pp
ISBN: 978-1-905464-95-1 · Retail Price: $25.00


Francis McKee

Nina Power (Ed.)

Even the Dead Rise Up, and the political becomes personal. In Francis McKee’s first novel, observations of séances, scientific advances, group education outings, and Kurdish protests for the disappeared become mixed with his own Tarot-influenced visions; a haunting spirit appears; the relation between political resistance and Spiritualism is cast as an insurrectionary force and a millenarian energy. McKee pushes language to match the raw material of the stories, which are documented through journal entries that move from Scottish islands to Puerto Rico. The author is an Irish writer and curator working in Glasgow. Since 2006 he has been the director of the CCA, Glasgow, and a lecturer and research fellow at Glasgow School of Art. He has written How to know what’s really happening (Sternberg Press, 2016) and co-published extensively on the work of artists linked to Glasgow. Even the Dead Rise Up is published by Book Works as part of the Common Objectives series and edited by Nina Power.

January 2017 / Softcover
4 ½ x 7 in. / 146 pp / Extensive b&w
ISBN: 978-1-906012-59-5 · Retail Price: $24.95


Katrina Palmer

Experimental writer and artist Katrina Palmer uses language as a material which she performs in private readings or in live, public performances. Her second publication from Book Works, The Fabricator’s Tale, is comprised of 24 tense and violent stories intertwined to form a narrative whole but twisted into a parody of a novel. Reminiscent of the extremist storytelling of William Burroughs and Kathy Acker as well as the Cinema of Transgression, Palmer’s nightmarish fantasies pack a visceral punch. Neatly contained in this compact novel-scaled publication, the short, abstract and disturbing vignettes expose the repressed tensions and malaise of contemporary life in a fantasy-space that upends male/ female power relations, the animate and inanimate, and the cracking points of human subjectivity. Based in London, Palmer is also the author of The Dark Object, and recently awarded the new but highly acclaimed UK Artangel Open Commission.

January 2015 / Softcover
4 1/2 x 7 inches / 200 pp
ISBN: 978-1-906012-51-9 · Retail Price: $25.00