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Dr. TJ Demos
Modern and contemporary art
T.J. Demos writes widely on modern and contemporary art and his essays have appeared in journals such as Grey Room, October, Third Text, and Nka. He is also a critic, writing for magazines such as Artforum and Texte zur Kunst. His published work centers broadly on the conjunction of art and politics, examining the ability of artistic practice to invent innovative and experimental strategies that challenge dominant social, political, and economic conventions.
Demos’ current research focuses on contemporary art, investigating in
particular the diverse ways that artists have negotiated crises associated with
globalization, including the emerging conjunction of post-9/11 political
sovereignty and statelessness, the hauntings of the colonial past, and the growing
conflicts around ecology and climate change. His most recent books include The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary during Global Crisis (Duke University Press, 2013),
which explores the relation of contemporary art--including practices
from North America, Europe, and the Middle East--to the experience of social
dislocation, political crisis, and economic inequality, where art figures in ways both critically
analytical and creatively emancipating; and Return to the Postcolony: Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press, 2013),
which addresses the recent returns of artists--including Sven Augustijnen,
Zarina Bhimji, Pieter Hugo, Renzo Martens, and Vincent Meessen--to former
colonial states in Sub-Saharan Africa and the resulting art--predominantly
photography and film--that investigates the traumas of past and present
colonial relations and injustices.
Attendant to developments in environmental crisis, postcolonial studies, and artistic practice, he has recently edited a special issue of the journal Third Text on "Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology" (no. 120, January 2013).
Demos is also the author of The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp (MIT Press, 2007), which places Duchamp’s installations and mixed-media projects - including his “portable museum,” La Boîte-en-valise - in relation to geopolitical and aesthetic displacement during the early twentieth century’s periods of world war and nationalism; and Dara Birnbaum: Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (MIT Press/Afterall Books, 2010), which examines Birnbaum's art practice in relation to postmodernist appropriation, media analysis, and feminist politics, and explores the artist's pioneering attempts to open up the transformative capacities of video as a medium.
Current and Recent PhD students:
Paula Brailovsky, Collective Approaches to 'Border Art': 1984-2005. (Finished in 2014)
Maja Fowkes, Art and Environment in Central Europe During the 1960s and 1970s. (Finished in 2013)
Denise Frimer, The Art of Education: On the Engineering of Social Relations in Biennials and Museums, 1997-2007. (Finished in 2014)
Sevan Injejikian, Beirut in Conflict: New Media Interventions after the 2006 July War.
Paolo Magagnoli, Reclaiming the Past: Historical Representation in Contemporary Photography and Video Art. (Finished in 2012)
Irene Montero Sabin, Critical Contemporary Art Responses to the War on Terror in Thematic Exhibitions, Biennials, and Publications.
Ted McDonald-Toone, Curating Cultural Location: Exhibitions and the Reception of Contemporary Art from the Middle East and North Africa.
Lauren Rotenberg, Contemporary Art's Economy of Immaterial Production.(Finished in 2014)
Tom Snow, Spatial Crises: Art-Activism and the Claims of Contemporary Art History.
Andrew Witt, Recessional Photography: The Image Amidst Crisis (1970 to the Present).
Recent publications of T.J. Demos:
• T.J. Demos, “Photography at the End of the World,” Darren Almond (London: White Cube, 2014), 25-31. [link]
• "Gardens Beyond Eden: Bio-aesthetics, Eco-Futurism, and Dystopia at dOCUMENTA (13)," The Brooklyn Rail (October 2012). [link]
• "Art After Nature: The Post-Natural Condition," Artforum (April 2012), 191-97. [pdf]
• “Toward a New Institutional Critique: A Conversation with Renzo Martens,” Atlántica 52 (2012), 90-103. [pdf]
• “The Institute for Human Activities: A Conversation with Renzo Martens,” Camera
Austria International, no. 120 (December 2012), 45-52. [pdf]
• “Painting and Uprising: Julie Mehretu’s Third Space,” Julie Mehretu (New York: Marian Goodman Gallery, 2013), 54-61. [pdf]
• “The Politics of Sustainability: Art and Ecology,” Radical Nature: Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969–2009, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 2009. [pdf]
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