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Malik, Suhail. 2010. You Are Here. In: Bassam el-Baroni; Jeremy Beaudry and Nav Haq, eds. Manifesta 8: The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Region of Murcia (spain) in dialogue with northern Africa. Milan: Manifesta, pp. 58-61. ISBN 97888 3661697 8 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The sheer contingency of what contemporary art ‘itself’ may be is constrained and stabilised by a set of interests that the art stands for. These social valuations are however themselves no less contingent since they are only the instantiation of a set of interests circulating at any given moment, shaped entirely by the fortunes of their own formation. Though the contingency of art’s indefinition is distinct from the contingency of social fact, art’s contingency in principle requires its over-determination by the social contingencies of its valuations, which is its primary and only determination, how it is preserved as art. Art is then its (e)valuation, a demand for interests to find sense for its indefinition - not least the sense that it is in fact art. It is then the invitation to demonstrate power, and is in fact always and only a manifestation of power. Specifically, it is the operation of a conventionalism.

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Book Section

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The essay was the first in a series of interventions in the section of the book of Manifesta 8 curated by ACAF (Alexandria Contemporary Art Foundation, Egypt) looking to problematise the conditions of contemporary art in its entirety.

Simultaneously, I chaired the ‘Backbench’ discussion organized by ACAF and fellow curators on the same issue, which was filmed by Ergin Cavusoglu and exhibited in Manifesta 8 at Murcia, and subsequently at Tanas, Berlin (December 2011).


power, contemporary art, indeterminacy

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Date Deposited:

12 Jun 2012 19:48

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:34


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