Documents of Utopia: The Politics of Experimental Documentary (Nonfictions)
This timely volume discusses the experimental documentary projects of some of the most significant artists working in the world today: Hito Steyerl, Joachim Koester, Tacita Dean, Matthew Buckingham, Zoe Leonard, Jean-Luc Moulène, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead, and Anri Sala. Their films, videos, and photographic series address failed utopian experiments and counter-hegemonic social practices.
This study illustrates the political significance of these artistic practices and critically contributes to the debate on the conditions of utopian thinking in late-capitalist society, arguing that contemporary artists' interest in the past is the result of a shift within the temporal organization of the utopian imagination from its futuristic pole toward remembrance. The book therefore provides one of the first critical examinations of the recent turn toward documentary in the field of contemporary art.
gloomy political present, inaugurated by 11 September 2001 and the Bush era; it is the symptom of a crisis of collective memory in that it perpetuates an antiquarian approach to history which, according to Roelstraete, pervades commercial culture. A catastrophic rhetoric has been deployed against nostalgia as historians have presented these artistic practices as the evidence of a sense of social failure. This rhetoric of crisis is indicative of a certain difficulty in getting to grips with the
in Intervista) and the tendency to indulge in the spectacle of propaganda and popular cinema (see the repetition of popular cinema clips in Journal No. 1. An Artist’s Impression). But where Sala and Steyerl present ‘truth’ as a retrospective event and thus distance viewers from the fantasy world of communism, the Kabakovs want to make the communist utopia present and palpable, eliciting immediate identification and awe. Appropriating 1940s Soviet musical films without providing much contextual
false and true consciousness is based on nothing other than an evaluative analysis of the content of utopia/ideology and its consistency with Marxist politics. As Ruth Levitas has noted, the grounds of the distinction between true and mystificatory knowledge are not sufficiently spelt out and ultimately rest upon a questionable teleological belief that humanity is ‘naturally’ reaching forward to a socialist society. ‘To have pursued [this distinction] further’, Levitas concludes, ‘would have
technology, they highlight the mediated, manipulated nature of information and acknowledge the material quality of digital networks against the commonplace trope of cyberspace 136 D O C U M E N T S O F U TO P I A as a virtual, disembodied and imaginary world. Thomson and Craighead’s detached analysis of our electronic landscape has thus been praised by critics for its capacity to eschew exaggerated claims about new media’s alterity and capacity to transcend the real. ‘Thomson and Craighead’s
Conditions of Historical Possibility. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 21–44. Jay, M. (2000) ‘The Trouble with Nowhere’, London Review of Books, 1 June, 23–4. Joselit, D. (2010) ‘Touch to Begin’, in I. Blazwick (ed.) Museum with Walls. London: Whitechapel Gallery, 186–98. Juhasz, A. and J. Lerner (2006) ‘Introduction: Phony Definitions and Troubling Taxonomies of the Fake Documentary’, in A. Juhasz and J. Lerner (eds) F Is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing. Minneapolis,