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Duty Free Art : Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War
written by Hito Steyerl
Verso | ISBN 9781786632432
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JUNE'S STAFF PICK 2018:
In her newest book 'Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War', artist/theorist Hito Steyerl provides an unflinching analysis of what it means to create and consume art in the present age. Across this collection of short essays, Steyerl threads together the consequences of neo-liberalism on visual culture and art production, criticizing everything from WikiLeaks, digital surveillance, militarism and big-data to contemporary art, art museums and art fairs. Although this diverse and dense range of subjects may at first seem intimidating, it is Steyerl’s piercing wit and concise combination of high theory and pop culture that makes the book easily digestible and accessible to a broad range of readers. Beware: If you haven’t approached such topics before, reading this book will change how you think about art and its political attachments. It is arresting, thought-provoking and utterly addictive - leaving you breathless and needing to come up for air.
How can one think of art institutions in an age defined by planetary civil war, growing inequality, and proprietary digital technology? The boundaries of such institutions have grown fuzzy. They extend from a region where the audience is pumped for tweets to a future of “neurocurating,” in which paintings surveil their audience via facial recognition and eye tracking to assess their popularity and to scan for suspicious activity.
In Duty Free Art, filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl wonders how we can appreciate, or even make art, in the present age.
What can we do when arms manufacturers sponsor museums, and some of the world’s most valuable artworks are used as currency in a global futures market detached from productive work? Can we distinguish between information, fake news, and the digital white noise that bombards our everyday lives? Exploring subjects as diverse as video games, WikiLeaks files, the proliferation of freeports, and political actions, she exposes the paradoxes within globalization, political economies, visual culture, and the status of art production.