What's the Use. Constellations of Art, History, and Knowledge

Edited by Nick Aikens, Thomas Lange, Jorinde Seijdel, and Steven ten Thije
Graphic Design: George & Harrison

Published by L'Internationale and Valiz

ISBN 978-94-92095-12-1


  1. 1.
    What’s the Use? – Editors’ Introduction
  2. 2.
    Part 1: Constellating History
  3. 3.
    Constellating History – Introduction
  4. 4.
    The Relation of Art to Use
  5. 5.
    An Extended Lecture on Tree Twigs – Toward an Ecology of Aesthetics
  6. 6.
    I'd Like to Be Karl Ioganson...(But It Won't Be Possible) – Cuban Applications of Arte Útil
  7. 7.
    Really, Something?
  8. 8.
    Pla Macià – The Garden City Movement and its Modern Afterlife
  9. 9.
    Designing Cultural Memory – The Medieval Cathedral as a ‘Monument to History’ in Nineteenth-Century Painting
  10. 10.
    History, Use-Value, and the Contemporary Work or Labour of Art
  11. 11.
    Part 2: Practicing Art, Knowledge, and Use
  12. 12.
    Practicing Art, Knowledge, and Use – Introduction
  13. 13.
    Between Hysteria and History – Dialectic of Montage in Jean-Luc Godard’s Work
  14. 14.
    Wendelien van Oldenborgh – Beauty and the Right to the Ugly
  15. 15.
    Beauty and the Right to the Ugly
  16. 16.
    From History to Imagination – Yael Bartana’s Trilogy ‘And Europe Will Be Stunned’
  17. 17.
    The Mozambique Institute Project – A Montage of Affect
  18. 18.
    Alexandra Pirici & Manuel Pelmuş – Public Collection of Modern Art
  19. 19.
    Actualizing History in the Living Body as Subject-Object
  20. 20.
    History, Time, Economy, and Museums of the Future
  21. 21.
    History at Present – The Revealing Void of Christoph Schlingensief’s Container
  22. 22.
    Autonomy Cube – Nick Aikens in Conversation with Trevor Paglen
  23. 23.
    Li Mu – A Man, A Village, A Museum
  24. 24.
    Static Gallery’s Architecture of Flows as Extradisciplinary Investigation
  25. 25.
    Collective Difficulty, Feminist Interventions – Tamms Year Ten and Socially Engaged Art Praxis
  26. 26.
    Time Spent
  27. 27.
    Jeanne van Heeswijk – Freehouse – Radicalizing the Local
  28. 28.
    Reflexions on Arte Útil (Useful Art)
  29. 29.
    Arte Útil and Actioning Desire – Annie Fletcher in Conversation with Tania Bruguera, Part 1
  30. 30.
    Part 3: Exhibiting and Instituting
  31. 31.
    Exhibiting and Instituting – Introduction
  32. 32.
    Beyond the Exhibition? A Speculation on How the Museum Might Be Put to Use
  33. 33.
    Museos del Sur
  34. 34.
    The Time of Display, the Display of Time – Alois Riegl, Alexander Dorner, and the Changing Historicity of Museum Displays
  35. 35.
    No Blood/No Foul – On the Representation and Reinvention of Socially Engaged Artworks
  36. 36.
    Using Art as Art – How to Emancipate Work through Art
  37. 37.
    Use, Knowledge, Art, and History – A Conversation between Charles Esche and Manuel Borja-Villel
  38. 38.
    The Barricade Has Fragmented and Multiplied
  39. 39.
    Exhibiting and Instituting Arte Útil – Annie Fletcher in Conversation with Tania Bruguera, Part 2
  40. 40.
    Understanding the Social Power Plant
  41. 41.
    Conversing the Action, Narrating History, Eliciting the Present – Notes on Artistic Mediations and Practices Outstripping the Museum's Usual Functions
  42. 42.
    Really Útil Confessions – A Conversation between Nick Aikens, Annie Fletcher, Alistair Hudson, Steven ten Thije, and What, How & for Whom/WHW
  43. 43.
  44. 44.
    Toward a Lexicon of Usership
  45. 45.
  46. 46.
    Index of Names
  47. 47.
    Index of Works of Art, Exhibitions, Projects, Organizations
  48. 48.
    Credits of the Images
  49. 49.
  50. 50.
  51. 51.

Is art only art insofar as it refuses to be useful? Or can art practices serve a wider purpose in the world? This reader starts from the premise that art is an integral part of the social, economic and political process. Art is best understood through its dialogue with the social sphere, rather than as a ‘thing in itself’. By mapping a diverse terrain of examples and ideas, this book explores the complex interplay between art, use, history, and knowledge. The contributing writers and artists — such as Georges Didi-Huberman, Tania Bruguera, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, and Stephen Wright — demonstrate how in past and contemporary practice these relationships are set up and played out.

Contributors: Nick Aikens, Christina Aushana, Zdenka Badovinac, Manuel Borja-Villel, Tania Bruguera, John Byrne, Jesús Carrillo, Christina Clausen, constructLab, Tamara Díaz Bringas, Georges Didi-Huberman, Charles Esche, Annie Fletcher, Lara Garcia Diaz, Liam Gillick, Melinda Guillen, Jeanne van Heeswijk, Alistair Hudson, Thomas Lange, Li Mu, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Trevor Paglen, Manuel Pelmuş, Emily Pethick, Alexandra Pirici, Laurie Jo Reynolds, Adrian Rifkin, John Ruskin, Lucía Sanromán, Catarina Simão, Sara Stehr, Subtramas, Steven ten Thije, WHW (What, How & for Whom), Stephen Wright, and George Yúdice.