“And Another Thing…” is an exhibition-based publication, but builds upon rather than accompanies its counterpart. It was published this summer to contextualise a 2011 show in CUNY, New York, that shares the same title. This show, mainly composed of feminist and minimalist pieces, worked with nonanthropocentrism – a key aspect of speculative realism and object-oriented ontology – at a time just before those principles became popular touchstones for artists and curators.
In light of this, the book has some re-framing to do. A photographic and text record of this exhibition is flanked by two sections of writing: two pieces by the curators and authors, and then post-scripts by Bill Brown, Robert Jackson and Patricia Ticineto Clough.
The curators’ texts build a picture of arts position as key to the development of this philosophical grounding, rather than suddenly illustrative of it. The dissolution of the subject/object divide in art is key to this. Emmy Mikelson’s Space for Things: Art, Objects and Speculation takes the work of 16th Century architect and artist Piranisi and contemporary installation artist Yatoi Kusama as examples of work using the removal of self – the former through unrealistic perspectives and lack of focus on people within etchings of a prison; the latter, through self-obliteration in the unifying pattern of dots. Katherine Behar’s Arbitary Objects: Minimalism and Nonanthropocentrism, meanwhile, re-frames minimalism’s history as completed by the viewer’s presence, going from a “theatrical” nature into something that places the viewer’s body as object.
The latter three essays complement the curators’ position and the perspective on history they provide. These take this grounding and expand upon it, suggestive of the future implications of these object-based and inherently democratic frameworks, pertinent and resurgent the more ephemeral life’s structures become.
Whilst built on philosophical and critical references, the ideas in the book are easily digested and clearly explained, and so those without a theoretical background will still benefit from this short and fascinating book. The record of the exhibition gains immensely from the insight of the curators, where the alignment of two separate principles of nonanthropocentrism is certainly more clear – one, self-sustained through the work and lack of artist’s hand; the other responsive to the objectifying, and therefore erasing processes in wider culture.