Cómo hacer cosas con arte

Title: Cómo hacer cosas con arte
Author: Dorothea von Hantelmann
Publisher: Consonni
Size: 130 x 200 mm
272 pages
Edition: 2017
Translation: Raquel Herrera
Prologue: Hans Ulrich Obrist
Design: Maite Zabaleta
Mock up: Zuriñe de Langarika Samaniego
ISBN: 978-84-16205-30-1


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The key question posed by Cómo hacer cosas con arte is what relevance does art have in society: how does art become important on a political or social level? This book attempts to answer this question theoretically, and to indicate, through the analysis of works by James Coleman, Daniel Buren, Jeff Koons and Tino Sehgal, how artists can develop and influence the social aspect; in other words, this book provides what is called a pragmatic interpretation of the social impact of art. The title of the book is already a pun on John Langshaw Austin’s influential lecture series “How to Do Things with Words”, in which he reflected on the performative, that is, the reality-producing capacity of language.

If Dorothea von Hantelmann’s line of argument is based on two of Austin’s theoretical premises and Judith Butler’s notion of performativity, this book offers an authentic semantics of how the work of art “acts”, not in spite of but by virtue of being embedded in certain conventions: how, for example, it sustains or co-produces a certain idea of history, progress and development through the museum. The author’s model of performativity points to these fundamental levels of meaning production: focusing on the conventions of production, presentation and art historical persistence, von Hantelmann shows how these conventions are co-produced in any given work of art, and suggests that it is precisely this dependence on conventions that raises the possibility of changing them.

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