Category: Volume 4 Issue 3

Speculative Propositions: A Visual Pattern Sampler

During World War I, a peculiar example of disruptive patterning was developed to adorn British and American battleships. “Dazzle camouflage” as it was known, did little to “hide” the vessels themselves. Rather, its function was to confuse enemy aim by utilizing chaotic black-and-white patterns. Vintage photographs of these ships provide startling visuals of a kind of graphical warfare. At first glance, the extreme angles and cutout shapes conjure everything from European Modernist abstraction, Russian Constructivism, and colonial ethnic and tribal patterning, to later forms of Op art and design. As an artist researching these images, I began speculating on the … Read more

The Objet after Stalin

“The Objet after Stalin” is a translation of the 1967 text “Sutarin igo no obuje (スターリン以後のオブジェ)” by Japanese artist Akasegawa Genpei. Published in the aftermath of Akasegawa’s trial for producing a photomechanical copy of a 1,000-yen note, this brief text traces a parallel between Duchamp’s revolutionary displacement of the urinal into an art museum in New York in 1917 and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia that same year. Exploring the potentialities of the Surrealist-inspired notion of the artistic objet, Akasegawa wittily alerts to the dangers of bureaucratization of both revolutionary politics and revolutionary art.

Introduction to Special Issue

This introduction charts the emergence of the term Capitalist Realism at the intersection of the international postwar art movements of Pop, Fluxus, Nouveau Réalisme, happenings, and Anti-Art. It relates the independent coinage of Capitalist Realism by artists Gerhard Richter, Konrad Lueg, Sigmar Polke, and Manfred Kuttner in Germany in May 1963 with that of artist Akasegawa Genpei Japan in February 1964 and argues that they were both part of a broader interest in developing new strategies of artistic realism during the Cold War. The artists’ sly and ironic appropriations of consumer objects and advertisements sought to capture the operations of … Read more

Stoffbilder: On Capitalist Realisms

This essay critically examines the exhibition Leben mit Pop: Eine Reproduktion des Kapitalistischen Realismus, which was first staged in 2013 at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. This exhibition surveyed the emergence of Capitalist Realism as a regional form of Pop Art in West Germany during the 1960s. The article evaluates Leben mit Pop as a modification of established art historical scholarship and as an intervention within ongoing debates in curatorial practices and critical cultural theory. It aims to resituate Capitalist Realism relative to the consolidation of the North Atlantic art market, arguing that this allows for a more incisive account of its … Read more

Rooms in Alibi: How Akasegawa Genpei Framed Capitalist Reality

In 1963 and 1964, Japanese artist Akasegawa Genpei was working on two related series of objects he called “model” 1,000 Yen-notes and “model” wrapped objects. As he established in his 1964 “Thesis of ‘Capitalist Realism,’” he made these “models” as a method of exposing the contingent legitimacy that mass-produced currency and commodities had as “real things.” This article focuses its analysis on Akasegawa’s wrapped furniture installation for Room in Alibi (1963) as a complex demonstration of the ways in which the model could “frame” capitalism’s emerging consumer lifestyle object systems. As such, his models can be seen as part of … Read more

Introduction to Akasegawa Genpei’s “The Objet after Stalin”

This introduction situates Akasegawa Genpei’s text “The Objet after Stalin” and the events surrounding his reproduction of the 1,000-yen note in the art-historical and political context of Japan’s postwar avant-gardes. It explores Akasegawa’s conception of the objet both in terms of its lineage within the history of Surrealism and its reception in Japan and of Akasegawa’s original theoretical claims concerning the political potential of artistic practice.

Fundamental Feedback: Öyvind Fahlström’s Kisses Sweeter than Wine

The article analyzes Öyvind Fahlström’s (1928–1976) performance Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, which took place as part of the festival 9 Evenings: art&engineering in New York (1966). It situates the performance’s use of multimedia material as continuations of earlier investigations into manipulating language that played a central part in the artist’s practice of both visual art and concrete poetry. It further argues that in Kisses Sweeter Than Wine such manipulations form a series of ruptures into the wider circulation of mass-media images, ruptures that locate Fahlström’s use of media images in relation to both Pop Art and the beginning media activism … Read more