« Art Critics' Reading List


Daphne Vitali is an art historian and curator who divides her time between Athens and Rome. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in art history from Camberwell College of Arts and a Master of Arts in contemporary art theory from Goldsmiths, University of London. Since 2005, she has worked at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens (EMST), where she has curated numerous exhibitions and projects, including In Present Tense: Young Greek Artists, Expanded Ecologies: Perspectives in a Time of Emergency, and the new series EMST Commissions. She has also published essays about contemporary art and authored numerous artists catalogues.

Victor Burgin, Some Cities, London: Reaktion Books, 1996.

This book had an impact on me from the very first moment. It is a personal travelogue that features engaging black-and-white photographs and texts by Victor Burgin. A gifted writer as much as he is an artist, Burgin takes us through a visual and textual narrative of the cities he has known, starting with his birthplace in England to his present home in California. With a strong sensitivity and an acute look, he scans the streets and inhabitants of the cities and captures the essence of life in late-20th-century metropolises. Through his images of people, passers-by, architecture, public spaces and advertisements, Burgin raises questions about our relations with a city. Our relations with cities are like our relations with people, he says. “We love them, hate them or are indifferent towards them. His photographs of London, Berlin, Warsaw, Singapore, Woomera in South Australia and Tokyo are punctuated with witty thoughts and intimate descriptions, creating an urban essay that talks about sexuality in peoples everyday lives.

Paul De Bruyne & Pascal Gielen (eds.), Community Art: The Politics of Trespassing, Amsterdam: Valiz, 2011.

At a time when we are experiencing a worldwide boom in art projects characterized by an interaction or dialogue with a community, this anthology of texts about community art becomes of great use. Featuring theoretical viewpoints as well as artists testimonies, the book provides an awareness of what contemporary community practice stands for. Divided in four parts (Definitions, The Artists Voice, Rethinking Basic Concepts, and Public Sphere and Activism), each one includes numerous essays in order to provide an overall account of what community art is and how it came into being. With references to the ideas of leading contemporary political philosophers such as Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, the concept of “common” is of essential relevance for this book. Moreover, the artists showcased in this volume critically evaluate their own practice by acknowledging the limitations of art. This book explores community art practices of artistic and social movements in Western and non-Western societies.

It’s a Poor Sort of Memory that Only Works Backwards: On the work of Johan Grimonprez, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2011.

This publication provides a critical tool for looking at Johan Grimonprezs works from 1992 to the present, bringing together interviews with the artist, critical texts and commentaries by an international range of writers, film critics, curators, artists and philosophers, as well as fragments of his film scripts. This anthology of essays explores characteristic themes of Grimonprezs ingenious film essays, such as the contemporary fear industry, globalization, the notion of the “other” and the “double,” as well as the relationship between history and the present, capitalism and communism, and television and film. These insightful essays invite the reader to reflect upon the multidimensional and critically acclaimed films of this brilliant artist, who challenges the audiences perception by unwrapping the hidden dimensions of our mediatized culture. It’s a must-have book for those interested in Grimonprezs complex and sophisticated visual works, which are at the intersections of art and cinema, fiction and documentary, and theory and practice.