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Thomas Hirschhorn: A New Political Understanding of Art?

Thomas Hirschhorn: A New Political Understanding of Art?

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Thomas Hirschhorn: A New Political Understanding of Art?

463 pagine
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Mar 6, 2018


Thomas Hirschhorn, a leading installation artist whose work is owned and exhibited by modern art museums throughout Europe and the United States, is known for compelling, often site-specific and interactive environments tackling issues of critical theory, global politics, and consumerism. His work initially engages the viewer through sheer superabundance. Combining found images and texts, bound up in handcrafted constructions of cardboard, foil, and packing tape, the artworks reflect the intellectual scavenging and sensory overload that characterize our own attempts to grapple with the excess of information in daily life. Christina Braun, the first to compile and systematically analyze the extensive source material on this artist’s theoretical principles, sheds light on the complicated yet constitutive relations between Hirschhorn’s work and theory. Her study, now translated into English, makes a major contribution to the study of contemporary art.
Mar 6, 2018

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Thomas Hirschhorn - Christina Braun

Interfaces: Studies in Visual Culture

Editors Mark J. Williams, Dartmouth College, and Adrian W. B. Randolph, Northwestern University

This series, sponsored by Dartmouth College Press, develops and promotes the study of visual culture from a variety of critical and methodological perspectives. Its impetus derives from the increasing importance of visual signs in everyday life, and from the rapid expansion of what are termed new media. The broad cultural and social dynamics attendant to these developments present new challenges and opportunities across and within the disciplines. These have resulted in a trans-disciplinary fascination with all things visual, from high to low, and from esoteric to popular. This series brings together approaches to visual culture—broadly conceived—that assess these dynamics critically and that break new ground in understanding their effects and implications.

For a complete list of books that are available in the series, visit

Christina Braun, Thomas Hirschhorn: A New Political Understanding of Art?

Daniel Harkett and Katie Hornstein, eds., Horace Vernet and the Thresholds of Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture

Meredith Hoy, From Point to Pixel: A Genealogy of Digital Aesthetics

James Housefield, Playing with Earth and Sky: Astronomy, Geography, and the Art of Marcel Duchamp

William Kaizen, Against Immediacy: Video Art and Media Populism

Angela Rosenthal, ed., with David Bindman and Adrian W. B. Randolph, No Laughing Matter: Visual Humor in Ideas of Race, Nationality, and Ethnicity

Robin Veder, The Living Line: Modern Art and the Economy of Energy

Tanya Sheehan, ed., Photography, History, Difference

Ory Bartal, Postmodern Advertising in Japan: Seduction, Visual Culture, and the Tokyo Art Directors Club

Ruth E. Iskin, The Poster: Art, Advertising, Design, and Collecting, 1860s–1900s

Heather Warren-Crow, Girlhood and the Plastic Image

Heidi Rae Cooley, Finding Augusta: Habits of Mobility and Governance in the Digital Era

renée c. hoogland, A Violent Embrace: Art and Aesthetics after Representation

Alessandra Raengo, On the Sleeve of the Visual: Race as Face Value

Frazer Ward, No Innocent Bystanders: Performance Art and Audience

Timothy Scott Barker, Time and the Digital: Connecting Technology, Aesthetics, and a Process Philosophy of Time

Dartmouth College Press

An imprint of University Press of New England

© 2018 Trustees of Dartmouth College

Originally published as Thomas Hirschhorn: Ein neues politisches Kunstverständnis?

© 2013 Verlag Silke Schreiber, Munich, and Christina Braun

All rights reserved

For permission to reproduce any of the material in this book, contact Permissions, University Press of New England, One Court Street, Suite 250, Lebanon NH 03766; or visit

Published with the support of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Braun, Christina, 1979– author. | Lindberg, Steven, translator. | Translation of: Braun, Christina, 1979– Thomas Hirschhorn.

Title: Thomas Hirschhorn: a new political understanding of art? / Christina Braun; translated by Steven Lindberg.

Other titles: Thomas Hirschhorn. English

Description: Hanover, New Hampshire: Dartmouth College Press, 2018. | Series: Interfaces: studies in visual culture | Includes bibliographical references

Identifiers: LCCN 2017043056 (print) | LCCN 2017043549 (ebook) | ISBN 9781512601640 (epub, mobi, & pdf) | ISBN 9781512601626 (cloth: alk. paper) | ISBN 9781512601633 (pbk.: alk. paper)

Subjects: LCSH | Hirschhorn, Thomas—Criticism and interpretation. | Art—Political aspects.

Classification: LCC N7153.H57 (ebook) | LCC N7153.H57 B7313 2018 (print) | DDC 709.2—dc23

LC record available at





Objectives and Structure

On the Sources

On the Current Status of Research

On the Method


The Phenomenon of Artists’ Theories: A Historical Outline

Forms and Functions of Modern Artists’ Theories

On the Concept of the Artist’s Theory

The Platonic Topos of the Irrelevance of the Artist’s Theory

Four Theses on the Artist’s Theory as a Source and Object of Analysis


Formal and Rhetorical Stylistic Means

Characteristics and Function

Hirschhorn’s Understanding of Art: Central Concepts and Ideas

The Formation of Hirschhorn’s Theory in the Context of His Evolution as an Artist


On the Iconography of Material

Critical Notes on the Process of Production

Hirschhorn’s Aesthetic-Political Concept of Work

Constructing the Unconstructible: The Spirit of Utopia in Thomas Hirschhorn’s Theory

Hirschhorn’s Elective Affinities: Genealogical System or Ingenious Self-Stylization?





Color illustrations


First and foremost, I wish to thank my supervisor, Ursula Frohne, for supporting my dissertation project from the outset, enhancing it with many critical questions and helpful remarks, and guiding me to independent scholarly work. Physical distance limited our productive intellectual exchange at times; however, our personal conversations were all the more stimulating. I would also like to thank Julian Stallabrass, my tutor at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, who led me to an extensive corpus of post-Marxist ideas and encouraged me to continue pursuing my particular research interest at the nexus of art, philosophy, and language, that is to say literature. I thank Thomas Hirschhorn for many conversations and interviews, as well as e-mails, and Romain Lopez for providing some of the images printed here as well as swift and helpful answers to open questions. The present publication was translated with much care by Steven Lindberg and owes its final form to Anna Stüler’s outstanding editing of the English text.

I am particularly grateful to my husband, who provided strong support with his love and advice, as well as to my sister and my parents, who supported me with encouraging words and great patience and not least through their loving care for our young children, enabling me to complete my doctoral studies in the first place and to edit the English publication while working on the team of Documenta 14.

Last but not least, my two grandmothers also played their part in this work: Irmgard, by recognizing my profound interest in art, and Annaliese, by always encouraging me in difficult moments of writing, even from afar, and sending me amusing letters.

FIGURE 1 ‘Musée Précaire Albinet’—Projet, Aubervilliers, 2003; first page of a three-page artist’s statement | Source: Thomas Hirschhorn: Musée Précaire Albinet: Quartier du Landy, Aubervilliers, 2004 (Paris: Editions Xavier Barral/Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, 2005), n.p.


I would like to start by mentioning something in regard to your introduction. It is not the case that I especially like talking about my work or that I believe I need to talk about my work so that people will understand it better, or that I must defend my work. However, I do regard it as an obligation to talk about my work. It is as if my mother were to ask me what I do; then I would try to explain it to her. That is also a political attitude. I understand that other artists do not want to talk about their work. Naturally, the work explains itself. And if you talk about it, you offer something that could lead to misinterpretations or weaken the work. I’m also afraid of that. It’s just that I think my work can handle it. And that is why I see this conversation as a gesture to show that it is possible to talk about a work, which is art, with completely normal words and sentences.

Thomas Hirschhorn, 1996

Objectives and Structure

Since 1991, when he decided to turn away from his career as a graphic designer in order to become an artist, Thomas Hirschhorn, who was born in Switzerland in 1957 but has been living and working in Paris since 1983, has not only created a considerable assemblage of works, but also continually expressed his ideas about his practice and his view of art in concrete written terms. He has not created a single work of art without first putting his respective observations, motivations, and intentions into words. Particularly his large-scale projects—and above all those in public places—seem inconceivable without the accompaniment of his written statements. He makes these available in a variety of forms: in leaflets that he prints and produces himself, freely available as part of the work for viewers to pick up; in the accompanying exhibition catalogs or retrospectively compiled collections of materials concerning a particular work; and more recently, on temporary Internet pages created to flank specific projects before and during the respective exhibition, where texts are publicly accessible at no cost for reading and downloading. Hirschhorn sees it as his duty as an artist to express himself about his work, answer the questions of viewers and critics openly, and in the process reveal the inner motivation behind his activity. Accordingly, since the mid-1990s he has made selected correspondence with gallery owners, curators, writers, and philosophers available to the public and has taken positions on current political issues in open letters to national newspapers. The aim of this study is to systematically outline and critically examine the world of ideas that reveals itself in these texts, letters, lectures, and interviews. A study of this kind has not yet been undertaken, even though art critics frequently quote from his writing to support their interpretations of his materially abundant, complex, and often large-scale sculptures. Since this pioneering work addresses Hirschhorn’s theory at a highly productive time in the artist’s career, the following analysis of his writings is in a sense fanned out spectrally in order to map out the various facets of his understanding of art and his self-image as thoroughly as possible. That is to say, this analysis does not strive to prove a single thesis, as if converging toward a vanishing point; the goal of the present study is rather, with a skepticism crucial to any art historian dealing with modern artists’ writings and statements, to understand the most important aspects of Hirschhorn’s theory of art, to identify the contexts in which they are anchored in the history of ideas, and to work out their relation to his oeuvre. This approach allows for presenting his theory as a multilayered yet clearly outlined and quite consciously spread-out discursive field, rather than reducing it to supposedly clear lines.

As an introduction to the general topic of the artist’s theory as a subject of investigation, the first part of this study begins by examining the various fundamental, sometimes antagonistic discourses in modern art scholarship. Among other things, it discusses a tradition that systematically dismisses artists’ own theories about art, which emerged in the modern era. The basic question of the status of artists’ theories in relation to scholarly analysis of their art forms or body of work does not, however, receive further explicit attention, since the main focus here is on Thomas Hirschhorn’s specific written and oral statements, and their investigation as historical phenomena from various perspectives. The second part of this study then begins by presenting and clarifying the artist’s theoretical system based on selected general and specific ideas. After a brief presentation of the formal and rhetorical stylistic means he employs, the study subsequently takes a closer look at the terms and concepts that continually resurface in Hirschhorn’s writings. This approach offers insight into the essential notions upon which his theory is based, or rather sheds light on the ideal context from which it obtains its specific meaning. Finally, the third part is devoted to a detailed analysis of Hirschhorn’s theory, which continues to oscillate between a practice-oriented theory of art and a metaphysical philosophy of art. This focuses on five central dimensions:

1.The iconography of materials characteristic of Hirschhorn’s work

2.The political aspect of his artistic production process

3.The artist’s aesthetic-political self-image and his concept of production

4.His specific concept of utopia as revealed in his approach of constructing the inconstructible¹

5.The artist’s self-genealogy as part of his artistic strategy

These theoretical assemblages are discussed in the various parts of the book. The first presents the historical genesis of Hirschhorn’s aesthetic of material and form, discussing its conceptual significance in conjunction with selected twentieth-century works of art. This is followed by a critical discussion of Hirschhorn’s—almost religiously asserted—claim to creating art in a political way rather than political art. The next part looks at his self-representation as an art worker and explores his art project in relation to his specific concept of production and to Hannah Arendt’s theory of political action in the sense of a vita activa. Subsequently, the study ventures to define Hirschhorn’s concept of utopia against the backdrop of the modern philosophical topos of utopia, before concluding with a detailed examination of his oeuvre’s strikingly numerous references to famous artists, writers, and philosophers, which is surveyed as another strategic dimension of his theory.

Although the analysis focuses on an examination of Hirschhorn’s theory rather than the works themselves, it does not lose sight of the productive tension between his theory and his aesthetic production; since from the outset of his artistic activity, work and reflection, practice and theory determine each other in Hirschhorn’s work in a fundamentally reciprocal way—as is true, by the way, of the work of most artists since modernism. Consequently, specific artworks or assemblages of work are discussed and relevant visual material is cited whenever the investigation calls for it. I regard confronting Hirschhorn’s writings with the artist’s work not only as informative, but also as the foundation of an art historical assessment—provided that the artist has expressed himself about his own work. Finally, it must be stated that, within its limited framework, this analysis had to exclude a systematic comparison with the art theories of other modern or contemporary artists, which therefore represents material for a separate study.

On the Sources

At the time this study was written in 2013, there was no systematic documentation of Hirschhorn’s writings and oral remarks, for example, in the form of a publication of collected texts or interviews. For that reason, one necessary aspect of the preparatory work for the present study was to assess the essential sources on which the interpretations that follow are based. These include, first, the artist’s numerous project sketches, contributions to exhibition catalogs, letters and e-mails, and the texts he has written on specific works, general issues on art, and contemporary sociopolitical subjects. They also include a number of statements recorded in interviews and, last but not least, personal notes. The source material used was found in the collections of texts edited by Hirschhorn that accompany many of his projects; the catalogs that accompany his exhibitions; the archives of his former and current galleries; and the relevant art historical journals, magazines, and newspapers, especially those written in English. The sources consulted in German, French, and English cover a period of twenty years: from 1991, the year Hirschhorn declared himself an artist, to 2011. The texts originally published in French and German have been translated into English for this publication, though idiosyncrasies and misspellings have deliberately been retained.²

The present compilation of selected writings by the artist makes no claim to completeness; however, thanks to its chronological breadth and the various media, forms, and audiences, it offers a representative cross section that suffices to present and analyze Hirschhorn’s theory. The bibliography at the back of this book offers an overview of the material consulted. Unpublished sources and correspondence with the present author are documented in the appendix.

On the Current Status of Research

Although an array of articles, catalog contributions, and essays have been published on Thomas Hirschhorn since the mid-1990s, testifying to a growing interest in his work as an artist, in the German-speaking world a study of his extensive corpus of writings and oral statements has not been published. Thomas Hirschhorn, published by Phaidon in 2004 in the Contemporary Artists series, includes essays by the art historians Carlos Basualdo, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, and Alison M. Gingeras, extensive visual materials, and a few previously unpublished texts by the artist; it is, however, conceived for a general art audience and as such makes no scholarly claims.³ Hirschhorn himself seems to have recognized this as a desideratum, as in 2011, in parallel with his participation in the fifty-fourth Venice Biennale, he edited a publication with the allusive title Thomas Hirschhorn: Establishing a Critical Corpus. It contains brief but richly illustrated essays by the art historians Claire Bishop, Hal Foster, and Sebastian Egenhofer; the curator Yasmil Ramond; and the writer Manuel Joseph, but it offers only a few new insights for the study of his work, which will be discussed subsequently.⁴ Regarding the existing reception of his work by scholars of art history, it can be said that the language of materials and form that has since become characteristic of the artist and the potential social implications of his installations in general can be found to represent the focus. Although the essays discussed here do repeatedly cite specific statements by the artist as sources to explain his works in keeping with the subjects they address, none of them treats them as a separate object of study. In light of this, I will address only the secondary literature that, in addition to the artist’s own writings, formed the basis for the present study of his theory. My approach is not strictly chronological; the works are sometimes grouped according to subject matter as well.

Swiss art critics Bice Curiger and Max Wechsler, who because of their geographical connection were particularly close to Thomas Hirschhorn’s work in its early years, offered the first valuable approaches to an art historical assessment in their discussions of the late 1990s, but they are too brief to qualify as essential analyses. In his essay in the catalog of the Hirschhorn exhibition Swiss Army Knife (1998), Wechsler pointed to the artist’s existential motivation for his creativity and his total devotion to art. He also described Hirschhorn as a subversive citoyen and an eminently political artist, and believed he could see an illusive field of connections between the artist’s personality and work. For the present work, it is interesting to note that Wechsler was one of the few critics to explicitly mention the artist’s letters and statements and to describe them as a personal explanation of the work, though he often subjected them to criticism.⁵ In her function as editor of Parkett magazine, Curiger made Hirschhorn a thematic focus of its fifty-seventh issue in 1996.⁶ In four brief texts, curators associated with the artist—Robert Fleck, Alison Gingeras, and Philippe Vergne—and the philosopher Marcus Steinweg identify the most notable aspects of his work from their perspectives. For Fleck, the quintessence is that as a very conscious and reflective artist, Hirschhorn makes use of naïve, seemingly amateurish means to open up new areas of expression in the historical context of contemporary art.⁷ Gingeras understands Hirschhorn’s project as a paradoxical attack, a resistance by means of weakness, whose goal is to question existing values and ultimately to reevaluate them.⁸ Vergne perceives Hirschhorn’s oeuvre as one that constantly disturbs. He believes Hirschhorn’s work should be seen as a demonstration of an omnipresent loss of orientation and as a search for correct form, and he points to the ethical dimension of his work, which is also important to the present study.⁹ Finally, Steinweg similarly sees art as a space of possibilities to be conquered on the boundary between inside and outside, between reason and madness.¹⁰ Curiger also published A Short Guide into the Work of Thomas Hirschhorn for the Barbara Gladstone Gallery in New York in 2002.¹¹ Although this brochure offers an illustrated overview of the artist’s work from the beginnings of his activity in 1991 to Bataille Monument (2002), it is limited to brief descriptions of the works.

The true trailblazer in the scholarly study of Hirschhorn’s work is Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, who in two English-language publications in 2001 established the foundation for research into his art: first, in his essay Detritus and Decrepitude: The Sculpture of Thomas Hirschhorn, published in the Oxford Art Journal, and a few months later in his article Cargo and Cult: The Displays of Thomas Hirschhorn in Artforum.¹² In his first essay, Buchloh already touched on all the aspects of Hirschhorn’s work he would discuss in his later writings in greater detail. In his survey essay for the aforementioned Phaidon monograph (2004), he advanced his theses yet again with several additions.¹³ Following up on this a year later, he published an interview with Hirschhorn in October, of which he was coeditor, in which he confronted the artist with his perspectives.¹⁴ Setting out from his diagnosis of a crisis in sculpture in the early twenty-first century, Buchloh discusses Hirschhorn’s contribution to the idea of sculpture and locates his artistic practice within a triangle of influence of twentieth-century concepts of sculpture. He sees the materials and processes that Hirschhorn deliberately employs as indebted to European sculpture of the 1960s, pointing above all to Joseph Beuys and his expanded concept of sculpture. On the level of theoretical reflection on the basic conditions for creating sculpture, in turn, Buchloh assigns Hirschhorn to the tradition of radical postminimalist practices, like those of Michael Asher, Dan Graham, or Robert Smithson. Last but not least, he argues that Hirschhorn’s works take up questions addressed by the radical sculpture of the early twentieth century, for example, whether art can influence the collective experience of space, either by itself adopting architectonic structures or by imitating their functions or rather demasking them from the outset as hegemonic forces. From this, Buchloh deduces that since the rise of a new semiotic architecture in the 1920s, every radical aesthetic practice must also always define itself via a resistance to architecture. Correspondingly, he devotes considerable space in his discussions to the categories of works that the artist himself has distinguished: in his articles from 2001, Buchloh discussed the Altars and the Pavilions, and later he added the Monuments. The Altars interest the art historian primarily from the point of view of the specific form of participation that Hirschhorn aims for in public spaces. To the extent they permit passersby to consciously remove, destroy, but also add objects, he speaks of a planned vandalism, which he interprets as a development of the performative architecture of the likes of Allan Kaprow and Robert Whitman. In this way, according to Buchloh, the artist manages to reposition sculpture within the participatory radicalness of the historical context of the latter half of the twentieth century. The Pavilions, in turn, he connects with the history of the kiosk and of advertising architecture, especially that of Russian constructivism and Italian futurism, but he also points to Hirschhorn’s mimetic approach to the processes and products of mass culture, which could already be observed in the work of artists of the 1960s, such as Claes Oldenburg. Unlike the artworks of Hirschhorn’s predecessors, in which a quantum of fascination for the products of consumer society was always inherent, according to Buchloh, the objects Hirschhorn reworked and cobbled together himself are open yet critical references to the undeniable intertwining of the production of commodities and the production of art in capitalist society. Buchloh argued, moreover, that the impoverished materials, structures, and processes, along with their vernacular of amateurish bricolage, systematically turned all the characteristics of minimalist and postminimalist sculpture and of the International Style in modern architecture—the most prominent representative of which he identifies as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion—into their opposite. Buchloh’s essays cited here thus offer fruitful insights to reveal Hirschhorn’s iconography of sculpture, on which I base in part my analysis of the artist’s specific iconography of materials. Whereas Buchloh worked out essential aspects of the work by using the typologies the artist defined himself (Lay Out/Display, Altar, Pavilion/Kiosk, Monument) as separate genres, the present work sheds light on his precarious aesthetic of materials in the sense of a reflective process of artistic development and as a strategic element of his theory. In addition to those mentioned, Buchloh’s insights open up other perspectives for interpreting the artist’s work that are not addressed in this study because they are of interest for other research, so consulting Buchloh’s publications on Thomas Hirschhorn’s sculpture is beneficial to any understanding of his art.

In an interview with the artist from 2005, Buchloh once again alluded to the artist’s contribution to the idea of sculpture. In his view, Hirschhorn had emerged as the contemporary artist of the twenty-first century who opened up the production of sculpture to the memory of history—a possibility that had been completely ignored by postminimalist sculpture, for example. When Buchloh saw Hirschhorn’s most important innovation in consciously confronting the viewers of his homages to tragically flawed figures or projects of modernism with historical memory or the political history of art, he doubtless touched on an important dimension of Hirschhorn’s work; but in my view, he leaves questions unasked that must be asked, such as that of the motivation on which such a historical reflexivity is based and their implications for his reception. In the present study of Hirschhorn’s theory, the artist’s explicit historical references are therefore examined critically and studied in detail from the perspective of self-genealogy as a widespread artistic practice in the modern era. With an eye to the relevance of earlier avant-garde artists, Buchloh contextualized Hirschhorn’s artistic strategy as a third way between Joseph Beuys’s expanded concept of sculpture and Andy Warhol’s travesty of glamour and seduction as well as, going further back, between Alexander Rodchenko’s forgetting of the current moment by opening up a utopian dimension in creating something new and Kurt Schwitters’s conviction that memory results precisely from collecting the remnants of the everyday. Finally, concerning the Monuments that Hirschhorn has realized in public spaces since 2000, which he has dedicated to various philosophers, Buchloh observed a utopian dimension in his work. With that observation, he rightly referred to the parallels revealed in Hirschhorn’s works to the practice of earlier avant-garde artists. In addition, however, an analysis of his theory also reveals Hirschhorn’s own view of utopian thinking, which will later be assessed in greater detail against the backdrop of the history of ideas.

In 2004, Hal Foster, another October critic, took on Hirschhorn’s work. He approached the artist’s material-rich, collage-like installations from the perspective of an archival impulse, a tendency he has observed in contemporary art.¹⁵ Like Buchloh, Foster also in principle assumed a crisis of the postmodern avant-garde that has been emerging since the mid-1990s, leading to a breakdown of the dialectic motor between referring to and criticizing history.¹⁶ He states that his interest in archival art had been awakened because it made physically present historical information that had been lost or repressed. Archival artists such as Hirschhorn usually selected found materials—images, objects, and texts—and reworked them in a matrix of quotations and juxtapositions to create informal archives with quasi-architectonic structures that demand interpretation. As Foster rightly remarks in relation to Hirschhorn, this is by no means an attempt to process history objectively via the medium of art, but rather the artist’s public dramatization of his personal affiliations to seemingly disparate historical figures or events. The analysis of Hirschhorn’s identificatory genealogizing is based on this insight, and that is precisely what leads to the disconcerting impression that we are dealing with found yet constructed, factual yet fictive, public yet private materials. Foster’s archival reading of Hirschhorn’s Altars, Kiosks, and Monuments in the spirit of an aesthetics of resistance is certainly worthy of consultation when considering the aforementioned aspects of the works, because they will not be repeated in the present work. In another essay from 2011, titled Toward a Grammar of Emergency, which he wrote for the publication Thomas Hirschhorn: Establishing a Critical Corpus, which Hirschhorn edited himself, Foster devoted himself to the terms precarious, the bête or headless, the simple, and expenditure—concepts that Hirschhorn developed to address the current state of emergency that he has diagnosed.¹⁷ Because he briefly touches on several central concepts in Hirschhorn’s theory and on the political significance of his process of artistic work, Foster’s text offers a first step into understanding Hirschhorn’s own political vocabulary of thought, which will be analyzed in the present study.

The British art historian Claire Bishop also contributed an essay to the artist’s aforementioned publication, in which, with the help of interviews with six participants in the Bijlmer Spinoza-Festival (2009), she tried to determine directly what motivated their participation and how they experienced and assessed the project.¹⁸ In accordance with her scholarly interest in participatory and socially committed art forms, she takes a qualitative approach, one that is in fact remote from the methods of art history, to the question of how culture is adopted or even used by different participants. In an earlier, much-discussed essay of 2006, The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents, Bishop also referred to Hirschhorn’s artistic oeuvre.¹⁹ Starting out from

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