The effects and meanings of destruction are central in the work of many of our most influential artists. Since the early 1960s, artists have cut, sliced, burned, blurred, erased, daubed-over, pulled down, ripped, sawn, shot, acid-bombed, exploded, smashed, crushed, compressed or even masticated their material to explore the meaning of their artistic processes. Here destruction changes from a negative state or passive condition to a highly productive category. Artists focussed on in this unique anthology use destructive subversion of media imagery to release us from its controlling effects; destruction of artwork to extinguish its fixity; destruction to disrupt the perceived integrity of built structures; and destructional risk to the self to raise consciousness of oppression.
Artists surveyed include John Baldessari, Monica Bonvicini, Alberto Burri, Douglas Gordon, Huang Yong Ping, Milan Knizak, Liz Larner, Paul McCarthy, Gordon Matta-Clark, Gustav Metzger, Yoko Ono, Robert Rauschenberg, Martha Rosler, Carolee Schneemann, Song Dong, Jean Tinguely, Wolf Vostell.
Writers include Alain Badiou, Walter Benjamin, Cuauthémoc Medina, Richard Galpin, Bruno Latour, Kristine Stiles.
Sven Spieker is Professor of Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and editor of ARTmargins. His books include The Big Archive: Art from Bureaucracy (MIT Press, 2008).
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