Critical Laboratory: The Writings of Thomas Hirschhorn (October Books)
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For the artist Thomas Hirschhorn, writing is a crucial tool at every stage of his artistic practice. From the first sketch of an idea to appeals to potential collaborators, from detailed documentation of projects to post-disassembly analysis, Hirschhorn's writings mark the trajectories of his work. This volume collects Hirschhorn's widely scattered texts, presenting many in English for the first time.
In these writings, Hirschhorn discusses the full range of his art, from works on paper to the massive Presence and Production projects in public spaces. "Statements and Letters" address broad themes of aesthetic philosophy, politics, and art historical commitments. "Projects" consider specific artworks or exhibitions. "Interviews" capture the artist in dialogue with Benjamin Buchloh, Jacques Rancière, and others. Throughout, certain continuities emerge: Hirschhorn's commitment to quotidian materials; the centrality of political and economic thinking in his work; and his commitment to art in the public sphere. Taken together, the texts serve to trace the artist's ideas and artistic strategies over the past two decades. Critical Laboratory also reproduces, in color, 33 Ausstellungen im öffentlichen Raum 1998--1989, an out-of-print catalog of Hirschhorn's earliest works in public space.
numerous people who became interested in my work, who believed in it and took it seriously, and who have always remained loyal to me. Thomas Hirschhorn Aubervilliers, May 2012 x Preface This laboratory is utopian and realistic at the same time. —Thomas Hirschhorn The paraphernalia of a makeshift laboratory fill a room awash in dim red light. Clandestine analytical work is underway, involving the intense scrutiny of texts and images. Like specimens or pieces of evidence, books, magazines,
gallery exhibitions. In tone, the texts vary from the introspective to the plainly descriptive, from the solicitous to the assertive, and from the polemical to the strident. The textures of the writings differ depending on the language and date of composition, the type and purpose of the document, the private or public mode of address.6 As editors, we have aimed to unify the texts without rendering them uniform. The first section, “Statements and Letters,” is devoted to those writings that
it or restrain it. This is unacceptable for an artist. That is why you have to resist deresponsibilization with full force. Art seems to me to be a precious tool for resisting it. Because art—because it is art—possesses the capacity to establish a dialog or a confrontation beyond all dangers, fears, and safety-making habits. Art and philosophy are the only resistance. They are resistances against those forces that are supposedly forces majeures. March 2009 [Translated from French by Molly
Exhibition of Wall-Display, Rosa Tombola, Saisie, Lay-Out (1988–1994) at the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume I’m writing these sentences a few hours before the opening of the exhibition. As I’ve already done several times, I want to write here what I think about my exhibition before receiving critiques, compliments, comments. I’ve made a dense exhibition, with concentrated strengths. I think that my exhibition holds. It holds; not less, not more. Not less, because I was able to do what I
obviously puts people on equal ground. That’s how I understand the sentence: Every person is an artist. Concretely speaking, I am working to be aware of my capital. You know, very basically, if I think of all the works I 21 Statements and Letters have done, Fifty-Fifty and other works stored here and there, I think that I am not without capital, even if I am in financial debt. I have put my energy into my work, I have been creative, I have created, and now this is my capital. It is very