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One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity [Paperback]

Miwon Kwon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 April 2004
Site-specific art emerged in the late 1960s in reaction to the growing commodification of art and the prevailing ideals of art's autonomy and universality. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, as site-specific art intersected with land art, process art, performance art, conceptual art, installation art, institutional critique, community-based art, and public art, its creators insisted on the inseparability of the work and its context. In recent years, however, the presumption of unrepeatability and immobility encapsulated in Richard Serra's famous dictum "to remove the work is to destroy the work" is being challenged by new models of site specificity and changes in institutional and market forces.One Place after Another offers a critical history of site-specific art since the late 1960s and a theoretical framework for examining the rhetoric of aesthetic vanguardism and political progressivism associated with its many permutations. Informed by urban theory, postmodernist criticism in art and architecture, and debates concerning identity politics and the public sphere, the book addresses the siting of art as more than an artistic problem. It examines site specificity as a complex cipher of the unstable relationship between location and identity in the era of late capitalism. The book addresses the work of, among others, John Ahearn, Mark Dion, Andrea Fraser, Donald Judd, Renee Green, Suzanne Lacy, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Richard Serra, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and Fred Wilson.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; New Ed edition (2 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026261202X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262612029
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 17.7 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 150,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"What makes this book so strong is the steady course it plots through the inevitable polemical rapids." ARTFORUM "...will be valuable for practitioners in the field." Timothy P. Brown Afterimage

About the Author

Miwon Kwon is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Places, Places 2 Aug 2002
Miwon Kwon has written a short but thoughtful book on the topic of site-specific practices in contemporary art, which in many respects summarises and reworks the topics that she first articulated in her highly acclaimed journal articles, "One Place after Another" (October 80, Spring 1997) and "The Wrong Place" (Art Journal, Spring 2000). Her limpid prose and well chosen, finely-researched case studies make this a work that is a pleasure to read.
Readers who are more interested in understanding the origins and significance of site-specificity in the art practices of the sixties are likely to be less well served by this book than those who are committed to issues of identity politics and community based art projects in the eighties and nineties. Although Kwon offers a helpful, albeit curt, history of the development of site-specificity in Chapter 1, this serves mainly as a prelude for her main theme, which is the question of the construction of identity in relation to community and location, and how this has been addressed in various public projects.
Kwon's assertion that 'community' is a word that is much abused, under-theorised and problematically deployed in contemporary art practices is timely and an important contribution to current debates. Her approach here complements Rosalyn Deutsche's analysis of the uses of the term 'public space' in Evictions, Art and Spatial Politics. However, Kwon's token recourse to Jean-Luc Nancy's notion of an 'inoperative' society strikes me as unconvincing, or at least in need of considerably more fleshing out, if it really is to offer the "different model of collectivity and belonging" that she claims for it in the introduction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mikon Kwon 11 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent condition, as described, just what I wanted. Amazon's range is
brilliant - how about offering a discount for those of us who buy regularly from you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 1 Dec 2013
By Wazza
Really good book. Miwon Kwon does well to engage with 21st century issues regarding our relationship to place and uses debates and site specific works to inform the subject.

(I didn't read the whole book though, only relevant chapters for my individual study)
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4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT WORK, DEMANDING TEXT 23 Jan 2012
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars useful addition to the literature 16 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a useful addition to the literature--a more comprehensive book that also looked at practices outside the USA is what is really needed. That's one of the major drawbacks of this book, it doesn't clearly indicate that it is tracing an American history of the idea of site-specificity.

The first chapter provides a short history of site specificity from an American point of view (minimalism, conceptual art's critique of institutions) and draws heavily on James Meyer's idea of the functional site to think about the present, after that the book is a series of case studies. A better book for considering the range and history of site specific practices (which includes this book's first chapter and Meyer's essay) is Erika Suderburg's Space Site Intervention. Also useful is Site-Specificity: The Ethnographic Turn.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ok for starters 8 Feb 2007
By A. J. Bramwell - Published on
I was waiting eagerly for the Kwon to arrive after I purchased it, perhaps this heightened expectation is to blame for the slight sense of deflation as I read it.

The text has a fairly useful historical overview of the history of 'site' as an artistic idea, with a specifically American focus. One of my disappointments was that Kwon appears to be relying on secondary research, drawing from public art examples already extensively discussed in other public art texts, most notably those of Tom Finklepearl and Grant Kester. The book raises some interesting questions about the relationships between comissioning agents and artists in relation to the thorny problem of what constitutes an identifiable 'community.' These questions are however limited to a narrow interpretation of what public art practice is, remaining close to issues found in what has been called New Genre.

All in all useful as an introduction to the subject, a teaching tool for undergraduate students, but perhaps better as a companion text rather than a definitive source. If you have the Finklepearl already you may not need this one.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read 28 April 2007
By K. J. Swenson - Published on
This is a helpful survey of the related issues of site specificity and institutional critique. My students find it accessible, and find that it ties together major themes and artists of the 1970s. Highly recommended for those teaching/studying art since 1970.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent interior design book! 17 May 2012
By Colin - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book has helped me tremendously with interior design. I never knew where to put things before and my house was a mess because of it. I knew something was amiss, I just couldn't figure out how to correct it. Miwon Kwon's book has helped me to understand the locationality and site-specificity of objects. I now see that you're supposed to have a reason for putting the coat rack in the oven or the oven in the driveway. This book has really allowed me to take control of my life. I used to just fumble around with stuff--everyday objects would look like big question marks to me, but now all I see is intentional locationality and and site-specificity.
23 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one contention after another 10 Aug 2002
By sb yap - Published on
I find Kwon's book informative and insightful, especially as a practitioner working with installation and context-specific project, and with current development of contemporary theories particularly in mind. Kwon's geneological approach towards reading the development of site-specific work is impressive, obviously overlaid with cultural theory in her analysis. Although she has focused mainly on the perplexity of community-charged art projects at the later chapter, her delivery on spatial politics and the many other facets of the production of site-specific art is most valuable, especially with some useful terminology and concepts (in reading the progress of these practice). Reading the text in conjunction with few other similar books on the issue of space, site and art production, one could discern some of the common notions of criticality and urgency in addressing the unscrupulous co-option of mainstream institutional forces. No doubt, the text could post as both informative and also a challenge towards artistic production, itself in turn becomes a site of intervention as it suggest (and aim) for communal praxis in an (politically correct) age of `glocalisation'.
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