4 Art Books To Read This Month

Allan Sekula
An inside shot of Allan Sekula's 'Photography Against The Grain: Essays and Photo Works, 1973–1983'
Here is our selection of recent art books to check out through September

Documents of Contemporary Art: Boredom
Edited by Tom McDonough 

Part of an anthology that muses on themes and ideas resonating through the art world, McDonough’s heavy collection of texts from artists and philosophers to filmmakers is a valid, digestible and engaging read through a reflection on contemporary boredom. No longer merely an individual experience, McDonough presents perspectives on boredom veering from a struggle against, a political act, and even something to embrace. Spanning 1960s France through US Minimalism, Punk and Communism, and more, through to today’s alienation and boundary-less existence, this book asserts that the divide between critical and aesthetic uses of boredom “is ever more tenuous.”

Available here.

Don't Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet: The Works of Hiwa K
Edited by Anthony Downey

Published in English and Kurdish, this publication provides the first comprehensive overview of works over the last decade by Iraqi-Kurdish artist Hiwa K. Recipient of the Schering Stiftung Art Award, Hiwa K’s public performances address cultural paradoxes in an approach that oscillates between amateur artist and knowledge gatherer. The volume presents several illustrations, extended notes on his projects and a series of texts alongside a collection of stories, including anecdotes such as words from a mother on death from his 2016 Don’t Panic work. Tales, gossip, jokes, conundrums and adages from multiple additional sources such as Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Krist Gruijthuijsen and Natasha Ginwala are also included.

Available here.

1971: A Year in the Life of Color
By Darby English 

Originally published in December 2016, this book is an exceptionally thorough take on rethinking the history of Modernism. English launches into copious research on two controversial 1971 exhibitions that aimed to do just that – Contemporary Black Artists in America hosted by the Whitney caused 15 out of 75 participants to withdraw their works following accusations that it wasn’t inclusive enough of black curator input, and The Deluxe Show, taking place in a run-down Houston movie theatre, credited as the first racially integrated exhibition in the USA. Highlighting how these two shows looked to abstraction in amidst a wave of conceptualism, English aims to ask art readers about how accurate art history really is, or isn’t. 

Available here.

Photography Against the Grain: Essays and Photo Works, 1973–1983
By Allan Sekula

Recently brought back into print following a series of exhibitions of the late American artist Allan Sekula, this 1981 series of essays and images is largely considered his manifesto, outlining his anti-photojournalism ethos. Drawing from Marxist theory to argue for a collective model of progress, he revealed the inseparable nature of labour and material culture, and how the clash of interests versus realities means the powers-that-be have used photography to manipulate historical and social memory to simultaneously preserve, transform, restrict and even obliterate it.

Available here.

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Allan Sekula
An inside shot of Allan Sekula's 'Photography Against The Grain: Essays and Photo Works, 1973–1983'