Subject to display : reframing race in contemporary installation art / Jennifer A. González.

by González, Jennifer ALooking glass.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [2008]Description: xiii, 297 pages : illustrations (chiefly colour) ; 26 cm.ISBN: 0262072866 :; 9780262072861 :.Subject(s): Art, American -- 21st century | Installations (Art) -- United StatesLooking glass | Minority artists -- United States | Race in artLooking glass | Art, American -- 20th centuryLooking glassNote: Includes bibliographical references (pages [251]-277) and index.
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Long loan Central Saint Martins
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

An exploration of the visual culture of "race" through the work of five contemporary artists who came to prominence during the 1990s.

Over the past two decades, artists James Luna, Fred Wilson, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Pepón Osorio, and Renée Green have had a profound impact on the meaning and practice of installation art in the United States. In Subject to Display , Jennifer González offers the first sustained analysis of their contribution, linking the history and legacy of race discourse to innovations in contemporary art. Race, writes González, is a social discourse that has a visual history. The collection and display of bodies, images, and artifacts in museums and elsewhere is a primary means by which a nation tells the story of its past and locates the cultures of its citizens in the present.

All five of the American installation artists González considers have explored the practice of putting human subjects and their cultures on display by staging elaborate dioramas or site-specific interventions in galleries and museums; in doing so, they have created powerful social commentary of the politics of space and the power of display in settings that mimic the very spaces they critique. These artists' installations have not only contributed to the transformation of contemporary art and museum culture, but also linked Latino, African American, and Native American subjects to the broader spectrum of historical colonialism, race dominance, and visual culture. From Luna's museum installation of his own body and belongings as "artifacts" and Wilson's provocative juxtapositions of museum objects to Mesa-Bains's allegorical home altars, Osorio's condensed spaces (bedrooms, living rooms; barbershops, prison cells) and Green's genealogies of cultural contact, the theoretical and critical endeavors of these artists demonstrate how race discourse is grounded in a visual technology of display.

Includes bibliographical references (pages [251]-277) and index.

Reviews provided by Syndetics


This monograph examines the work of five American artists who use site and space as a framework for interrogating race discourse in the US. Although the work of James Luna, Fred Wilson, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Pepon Osorio, and Renee Green focuses on diverse views and experiences regarding race, they share a similar critical platform. These artists appropriate the visual and material language of established mechanisms of display, representation, and documentation--museums, archives, commodities, and religious altars. They create installations that mimic or parallel these spaces while simultaneously exposing and criticizing their role in racial politics. Central to each artist is an effort to undermine the institutions and systems that have enforced and perpetuated the formation of artifacts and subjects from people and cultures. The artists blend personal, family, and community history with historical research to deliver distinct, powerful commentaries on social inequities and subjection. Gonzalez (Univ. of California, Santa Cruz) devotes a chapter to each artist, describing and analyzing their work and development in great detail. She prefaces the book with a provocative introduction on the history of race discourse and the profound impact of visual culture on hierarchies of oppression. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above. Y. D. Hibben Virginia Commonwealth University

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Jennifer A. González is Associate Professor in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Frieze, World Art, Diacritics, Art Journal, Bomb, numerous exhibition catalogs, and anthologies, including With Other Eyes: Looking at Race and Gender in Visual Culture and Race in Cyberspace.