This reading seminar takes a synthetic look back over the last century of debates on art history, aesthetics and politics, against the backdrop of the relationships between these discussions and contemporary social and political transformations. Chronologically, the seminar gets under way with the emergence of debates on art practice and culture in interwar Europe. From a critical perspective, it analyses how art theory and historiography drew from Marxism, psychoanalysis, sociology and social history, structuralism and post-structuralism, critical postmodernism and feminism.

However, the seminar does not blindly follow the chronological order of the issues under consideration. Sessions are organised independently by subject matter, although they will steadily build on previous ones throughout. For example, our analysis of the theories of the production of subjectivity that emerged from the epistemological cracks of May 1968 will lead us to retroactively observe that Walter Benjamin’s theses on the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction contain a hidden materialist theory on the construction of the subject-spectator.

Each two-hour session will begin with a presentation lasting between 20 and 40 minutes, followed by a debate open to all participants. All participants at any given session are expected to have read the set texts.

In this first part of the seminar, comprising seven sessions, we shall read texts by the following authors: Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Pierre Bourdieu, Bertolt Brecht, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Peter Burger, T. J. Clark, Douglas Crimp, Guy Debord, Rosalyn Deutsche, Hal Foster, Néstor García Canclini, Clement Greenberg, Félix Guattari, Brian Holmes, Fredric Jameson, John Jordan, Christina Kiaer, Rosalind E. Krauss, Kate Linker, Lucy Lippard, Ana Longoni, Oscar Masotta, Laura Mulvey, Linda Nochlin, Craig Owens, Griselda Pollock, Gerald Raunig, Martha Rosler, Allan Sekula, Jaime Vindel and Ana Vidal.

Part of the “Political Imagination and Criticism of Institutions” course on the MACBA’s Independent Studies Programme (PEI).

Marcelo Expósito has taught and presented his art work at a number of institutions in Europe and Latin America, including for MACBA’s Independent Studies Programme (PEI), which he helped set up in 2006; the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Escola Elisava, in Barcelona; the Universidad de Buenos Aires and the Universidad de la Plata, in Argentina, and the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) at UNAM, in Mexico. He was cofounder and coeditor of Brumaria magazine and has written or edited, as sole or joint author, a number of books on critical theory, cultural activism and the history of the avant-gardes, including Modos de hacer. Arte crítico, esfera pública y acción directa (2001), Producción cultural y prácticas instituyentes (2008), Los nuevos productivismos (2010), Walter Benjamin, productivista (2013) and Conversación con Manuel Borja Villel (2015), as well as specialist works on Pere Portabella, Chris Marker and Tucumán Arde. He recently published Discursos plebeyos, a compilation of his political speeches made between early 2016, when the newly elected deputies from the parties that had emerged out of grassroots movements took up their seats in the Spanish parliament, and mid-2018, when Mariano Rajoy’s government was ousted after losing a no-confidence motion in the Spanish parliament.
Foto: Marc Lozano


17, 18 AND 19 SEPTEMBER. 24 AND 25 OCTOBER, 5 AND 6 NOVEMBER, from 5 pm to 7 pm
Venue: Aula 1 of the Study Centre

Session I: 17 September 2019

• Homi K. Bhabha: introduction to El lugar de la cultura (1994). Buenos Aires: Manantial, 2002.
• Suely Rolnik: excerpts from Esferas de la insurrección. Apuntes para descolonizar el inconsciente (2018). Madrid and Buenos Aires: Traficantes de Sueños and Tinta Limón, 2019.

Session II: 18 September 2019

• Walter Benjamin: “La obra de arte en la época de su reproductibilidad técnica” (1936), in Walter Benjamin. Obras, Book I, Volume 2. Madrid: Abada, 2008.
• Walter Benjamin: “El autor como productor” (1934), in Walter Benjamin. Obras, Book II, Volume 2. Madrid: Abada, 2009.
• Bertolt Brecht: “Teoría de la radio” (1927–1932) and “El proceso de los tres centavos” (1931), in El compromiso en literatura y arte. Barcelona: Península, 1984 (2nd).

Session III: 19 September 2019

• Theodor W. Adorno: excerpts from “Teoría estética” (1970), in Obra Completa 7. Madrid: Akal, 2004.
• Clement Greenberg: “Vanguardia y kitsch” (1939), in La pintura moderna y otros ensayos. Madrid: Siruela, 2006; and in Arte y cultura. Ensayos críticos. Barcelona: Paidós, 2002.

Session IV: 24 October 2019

• Peter Burger: excerpts from Teoría de la vanguardia (1974). Barcelona: Península, 1987.
• Rosalind E. Krauss, “La originalidad de la vanguardia” (1981), in La originalidad de la vanguardia y otros mitos modernos. Madrid: Alianza Forma, 2006.

Session V: 25 October 2019

• T. J. Clark: “Sobre la historia social del arte”, in Imagen del pueblo. Gustave Courbet y la Revolución de 1848 (1973). Barcelona: Gustavo Gili, 1981.
• Néstor García Canclini: “La sociología de la cultura de Pierre Bourdieu”, introduction to Pierre Bourdieu. Sociología y cultura (1984). Mexico City: Grijalbo, 1990.

Session VI: 5 November 2019

• Linda Nochlin: “¿Por qué no ha habido grandes mujeres artistas?” (1971), in the catalogue Amazonas del arte nuevo. Madrid: Fundación Mapfre, 2008.
• Griselda Pollock: “La pintura, el feminismo y la historia” (1992), in Michèle Barrett and Anne Phillips (eds.), Desestabilizar la teoría. Debates feministas contemporáneos. Mexico City: Programa Universitario de Estudios de Género, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2002.

Session VII: 6 November 2019

• Laura Mulvey: Placer visual y cine narrativo (1973). Valencia: Episteme, 1988.
• Kate Linker, “Representación y sexualidad”, in Brian Wallis (ed.), Arte después de la modernidad. Nuevos planteamientos en torno a la representación (1983). Madrid: Akal, Colección Arte Contemporáneo, 2001.

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One always arrives to at something which one can no longer depict.
Dieter Roth