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The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context Hardcover – 25 Nov 2011


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Review

""The One and the Many" is brilliant, innovative, and brave, offering important insight on the intersection of art and politics. It complements the growing research into situational, collaborative, 'global' art projects but offers something new and stimulating by considering these works in relation to a loosely Marxian understanding of labor relations and through close readings of how they actually function over time. It develops new ways of thinking that should have a huge impact on debates in the field."--Amelia Jones, author of "Self Image: Technology, Representation, and the Contemporary Subject"

"In this comprehensive study, Grant H. Kester reminds us that the role of the avant-garde is always to question the nature of art's identity and that that identity is also always in-process. Within this evolving continuum, many contemporary artists now define their work collaboratively. "The One and the Many" examines this phenomenon, providing the necessary philosophical, theoretical, and historical depth to position such practice as the essential art 'work' of the twenty-first century."--Carol Becker, author of "Thinking in Place: Art, Action, and Cultural Production "

"This engaging, intelligent, and timely book is the next salvo in an ongoing debate about the way 'collaboration' is understood in contemporary art. Grant H. Kester's provocative arguments take the debate in new directions, transforming its focus and quality."--Jennifer A. Gonzalez, author of "Subject to Display: Reframing Race in Contemporary Installation Art
"

""The One and the Many "is brilliant, innovative, and brave, offering important insight on the intersection of art and politics. It complements the growing research into situational, collaborative, 'global' art projects but offers something new and stimulating by considering these works in relation to a loosely Marxian understanding of labor relations and through close readings of how they actually function over time. It develops new ways of thinking that should have a huge impact on debates in the field."--Amelia Jones, author of "Self/Image: Technology, Representation, and the Contemporary Subject"

""The One and the Many" . . . offers in-depth discussion of individual artists in relation to his vision of reparative collaboration, and attacks some of the cherished verities of current critical theory."--Eleanor Heartney, "Art in America"

"By pointing out that many contemporary artists' practices already exist quite comfortably as political activism, or urban planning, or community education Kester enables the discussion to shift from why something is art to what is at stake. The book also provides a thorough and rich description of a variety of projects. . . ."--Amber Landgraff" C Magazine"

"Kester is a seasoned art critic with a long track record of insightful writing on the shift from public art and identity politics in the 1980s and '90s to the new phenomenon of community art in the '90s and 2000s. . . . Kester, the consummate pedagogue, shows us ideology at work by comparing different kinds of art."--Marc James Leger, "Afterimage"

"Like all good researchers, Kester started with a simple question, which was, 'Why have so many artists over the past decade and a half been drawn to collaborative or collective modes of production?' Secondary questions soon emerged. 'What forms of knowledge do collaborative, participatory and socially engaged practices generate?' And, adding complexity and depth, 'How do we determine which transgressions matter in the arts?' Kester takes us on a journey from performance photographers in Myanmar to project housing in Alabama, and along the way details, through methodology more often associated with the social sciences, how artists blend creativity with a sense of social conscience and still manage somehow to keep it visual."--Peter Hill, "Times Higher Education Supplement"

"Proposing nothing less than a paradigm shift in the definition of the aesthetic, Kester argues for a move beyond evaluations of visual or textual signification to considerations of the often-unforseen effects of collective interaction. . . . [T]here is a productive tension between the modest, local practices Kester focuses on and the ambitious scope of his argument."--Sami Siegelbaum, "Art Journal"

"Tackling some of the most hotly debated subjects in art and criticism today, "The One and the Many" represents a decisive intervention into what we can expect to be a much longer discussion about the nature of collaboration in contemporary art."
--Sarah E.K. Smith, "Reviews in Cultural Theory"

"The One and the Many "is brilliant, innovative, and brave, offering important insight on the intersection of art and politics. It complements the growing research into situational, collaborative, global art projects but offers something new and stimulating by considering these works in relation to a loosely Marxian understanding of labor relations and through close readings of how they actually function over time. It develops new ways of thinking that should have a huge impact on debates in the field. Amelia Jones, author of "Self/Image: Technology, Representation, and the Contemporary Subject""

In this comprehensive study, Grant H. Kester reminds us that the role of the avant-garde is always to question the nature of art s identity and that that identity is also always in-process. Within this evolving continuum, many contemporary artists now define their work collaboratively. "The One and the Many" examines this phenomenon, providing the necessary philosophical, theoretical, and historical depth to position such practice as the essential art work of the twenty-first century. Carol Becker, author of "Thinking in Place: Art, Action, and Cultural Production ""

"The One and the Many" . . . offers in-depth discussion of individual artists in relation to his vision of reparative collaboration, and attacks some of the cherished verities of current critical theory. --Eleanor Heartney, "Art in America""

By pointing out that many contemporary artists practices already exist quite comfortably as political activism, or urban planning, or community education Kester enables the discussion to shift from why something is art to what is at stake. The book also provides a thorough and rich description of a variety of projects. . . . --Amber Landgraff, " C Magazine""

Kester is a seasoned art critic with a long track record of insightful writing on the shift from public art and identity politics in the 1980s and '90s to the new phenomenon of community art in the '90s and 2000s. . . . Kester, the consummate pedagogue, shows us ideology at work by comparing different kinds of art. --Marc James Leger, "Afterimage""

Like all good researchers, Kester started with a simple question, which was, Why have so many artists over the past decade and a half been drawn to collaborative or collective modes of production? Secondary questions soon emerged. What forms of knowledge do collaborative, participatory and socially engaged practices generate? And, adding complexity and depth, How do we determine which transgressions matter in the arts? Kester takes us on a journey from performance photographers in Myanmar to project housing in Alabama, and along the way details, through methodology more often associated with the social sciences, how artists blend creativity with a sense of social conscience and still manage somehow to keep it visual. --Peter Hill, "Times Higher Education Supplement""

Proposing nothing less than a paradigm shift in the definition of the aesthetic, Kester argues for a move beyond evaluations of visual or textual signification to considerations of the often-unforseen effects of collective interaction. . . . [T]here is a productive tension between the modest, local practices Kester focuses on and the ambitious scope of his argument. --Sami Siegelbaum, "Art Journal""

Tackling some of the most hotly debated subjects in art and criticism today, "The One and the Many" represents a decisive intervention into what we can expect to be a much longer discussion about the nature of collaboration in contemporary art.
--Sarah E.K. Smith, "Reviews in Cultural Theory""

About the Author

Grant H. Kester is Professor of Art History and Chair of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art and the editor of Art, Activism, and Oppositionality: Essays from Afterimage, also published by Duke University Press.


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Amazon.com: HASH(0x8fe9e3fc) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fea6b4c) out of 5 stars Brilliant synthesis of art theory 24 Feb. 2013
By Rene - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
A fantastic historical and theoretical analysis of social realm based art. Particularly enjoyed the discussion on postmodernism and how it, too, produced the "artist as hero" mythology. This may explain in part why social practice art still prompts a big eye roll in the art world.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fea9348) out of 5 stars Insightful and Well-written. Get this book. 1 Oct. 2014
By The Thinking Body - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I must admit that Kester's bias towards collaborative, socially conscious work that has real impact skews me toward his worldview. However, his explanation of the Postmodern canon of favored French philosophers in relation to the failure of Paris May '68 was an insight that I had never been exposed to and, as such, made the book truly worth it (though I enjoyed reading his analyses of various groups' projects as well).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8fe316a8) out of 5 stars A must read! 27 July 2013
By InPittsburgh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kester is brilliant. This is one of the most thoughtful accounts of recent art that you will find! It is a must read for anyone interested in contemporary art.
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