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Site-writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism

Site-writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism
Professor Jane Rendell

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The prominent cultural critic Mieke Bal defines the new discipline of 'art writing' as a fresh mode of criticism, which aims to 'put the art first'. Following this definition, "Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism" puts the sites of the critic's engagement with art first. The book puts into shape what happens when discussions concerning situatedness and site-specificity enter the writing of art criticism. The sites explored are the material, emotional, political and conceptual settings of the artwork's construction, exhibition and documentation, as well as those remembered, dreamed and imagined. Through five different spatial configurations - both psychic and architectural - "Site-Writing" explores artworks by artists as diverse as Jananne Al-Ani, Elina Brotherus, Nathan Coley, Tracey Emin, Christina Iglesias and Do-Ho Suh, aiming to adapt such psychoanalytic ways of working as free association and conjectural interpretation to art criticism.

Table of Contents

List of Images
Prologue: Pre-Positions

Configuration 1
Triangular Structures with Variable Thirds
Transitional Space
Undoing Architecture
One + One = Three: Tracey Emin’s You Forgot to Kiss my Soul
Confessional Construction

Configuration 2
Back and Forth
Frontier Creatures
Travelling the Distance/Encountering the Other
To Miss the Desert
You Tell Me
An Embellishment: Purdah

Configuration 3
A Rearrangement
Word-Presentations and Thing-Presentations
The Welsh Dresser
Longing for the Lightness of Spring
Les Mots et Les Choses

Configuration 4: That Which Keeps Coming Back
Déjà Vu
‘Some Things You See Will Remind You of Others’: Déjà Vu in the Work of Cristina Iglesias
La Passante
‘She is walking about in a town which she does not know’

Configuration 5: Decentering/Recentering
The Copernican Revolution
Somewhere Else She is Told
Decentering/Recentering Do-Ho Suh
Everywhere Else
Trafalgar Square: Détournements

Epilogue: Alien Positions

Author Info

Professor Jane Rendell is Director of Architectural Research at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. She is author of Art and Architecture (I.B.Tauris, 2006), The Pursuit of Pleasure (2002), and co-editor of Critical Architecture (2007); Spatial Imagination (2005); The Unknown City (2001); Intersections (2000); Gender, Space, Architecture (1999) and Strangely Familiar (1995).


A timely and highly significant contribution to academic and professional fields of contemporary art, Rendell’s Site-Writing offers the first substantial exploration of the situatedness of engagement with art. Here Rendell combines exemplary academic argument with immersive critical analysis of contemporary works. It is this distinctive voice which sets Rendell apart from her contemporaries and makes Site-Writing an essential volume for anyone interested in the specificity of viewing and engaging with, producing and writing about art.
– Claire Doherty, Director, Situations, University of the West of England, Bristol

Jane Rendell is a nomadic theorist and a theoretical nomad, whose formidable intellect has produced books on the interstitial relationship between space and feminism, place and psyche, city and citizen, architecture and art. Asking, “where does biography end and theory begin?” Rendell’s architectonics of criticism performs a praxis that negotiates the personal and the universal. This discloses the critic in all of us, who, in facing the creative work, is confronted with the other (both distant and near), compelling us to reconstruct our own world and therefore the very space we occupy.
– Professor Dorita Hannah, Spatial Design, Massey University College of Creative Art

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781845119997
Publication Date: 31 Jan 2011
Number of Pages: 328
Height: 234
Width: 156
Illustrations: 80 integrated illustrations

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