Archive for the ‘Jacques Ranciere’ Category

Inspired by Jacques Rancière’s The Emancipated Spectator, Caroline Jones discusses  the difference between curatorial or artistic scripting and the ethics of public participation in the context of performance art in May’s Artforum:

We are now also invited to displace the authoritative structure of artwork and artist in favour of our embodied “experience” – a word that often challenges received knowledge but doesn’t always insist on critical intellectual critique and the “magic power of theatrical action”, a split personified as “Brecht/Artaud” in his 2004 construction of “the emancipated spectator” […]

Contemporary appeals to the aesthetic of experience, then, always need to be leveraged by our demands to experiment. We are responsible for our own performativity and for the politics we make of “emancipated” experience. Best to enter these ludic contracts as both knowers and dupes – only than might we really manage to do things with art.

The article is available here for subscribers.

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See below some key Verso writers on understanding the issues around (and beyond – or against!) the general election.

Tony Wood: Good Riddance to New Labour – from NLR 62 Mar/Apr 2010

As the British general election approaches, a balance-sheet of New Labour’s thirteen years in office. The record of Blair and Brown—imperial wars abroad, subservience to the City at home—as so many reasons to cheer their downfall. Tony Wood is the author of Chechnya: The Case for Independence.

Broonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown – Chris Harvie – Paperback Original – 9781844674398 –£8.99 – 2010 (March)

An essential anatomy of New Labour’s bankrupt policies and a caustic portrait of a decade that went from boom to bust. All you need to know about Gordon Brown’s rule.

Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed – Paul Mason – Paperback Original – 9781844673964 – £7.99 –


The issue that will dominate the election and the reason for all those cuts – why did it happen?

“What people need is a reliable guide to the financial crisis … Meltdown is the book they are looking for.” — John Gray, New Statesman

A page turning account … Mason is refreshingly clear-eyed — and angry. — Will Hutton, Guardian

NHS Plc: The Privatisation of Our Health Care – Allyson Pollock –

Paperback – 9781844675395 – £9.99 – 2005

Another key election issue – what is the future of the NHS? Will we see more privatisation after the election?

“A rallying point for those against public-private partnerships, Pollock plays a powerful role as one of the few people to provide academic evidence to make the case for little or no private sector involvement in the public realm. Pollock is a fearsome critic of foundation hospitals, which she says will kill the NHS. Expect to hear lots more from her.” — Guardian

The Communist Manifesto: A Modern Edition – Marx & Engels, with an intro by Eric Hobsbawm – Hardback (gift format and size) – 9781859848982 – £9

Forget the party manifestoes – this is still the only one that counts!

“Every paragraph breaks over us like a wave that leaves us shaking from the impact and wet with thought. This prose evokes breathless momentum, plunging ahead without guides or maps, breaking all boundaries, precarious piling and layering of things, ideas and experiences.”— Marshall Berman, The Nation

First as Tragedy, Then as Farce – Slavoj Zizek – Paperback Original – 9781844674282 – £7.99 – 2009 (Autumn)

Slavoj Zizek writes a caustic epitaph for neoliberalism and speculates on the possibilites for a new communuism.

“Characteristically enjoyable development of his recent journalistic commentary … , which digs joyfully into the ideological cracks of the financial crisis.” — Steven Poole, Guardian

Hatred of Democracy – Jacques Ranciere – New in Paperback – 9781844673865 – £8.99 – 2009 (Autumn)

Ranciere reminds us of the power of the democratic idea and tears strips off those who seek to give it limits.

“This tastily sardonic essay is partly a scholarly sprint through the history of political philosophy, and partly a very enjoyable stream of insults drected to rival penseurs.” – Steven Poole, Guardian

The Left Alternative – Roberto Mangabeira Unger – Paperback – 9781844673704 – £7.99 – 2009 (Autumn)

Which way for the Left? Unger sets out a powerful manifesto.

“This book has influenced how I think and what I do. It sets out the principles for a future Left and crucially challenges us to think not just about how we spend revenues but how we might create them.” — Neal Lawson, Chair of Compass

The Curious Enlightenment of Professor Caritat – Steven Lukes – New in Paperback – 9781844673698 – £7.99 – 2009 i(Autumn)

A wonderful Swiftian satire of the key political ideas of our age.

“A delightfully edifying comedy.” — Guardian

“This book is a box of delights, often wonderfully funny and always deliciously clever, a contemporary political satire to set among the best.” — New Statesman and Society

Putney Debates – The Levellers – introduced by Geoffrey Robertson – Paperback Original – 9781844671755 – £7.99 – 2007

Renowned human-rights lawyer and author Geoffrey Robertson makes a passionate argument for the relevance of the Levellers’ stand today, showing how they were the first Western radical democrats.

Storytelling: Bewitching the Modern Mind – Christian Salmon – Hardback – 9781844673919 – £14.99 – 2010 (March)

An essential guide to the spin doctors’ plans and how electoral campaigns become attempts to market political life as if it was an attractive narrative. An essential manual for seeing through the nonsense.

The New Old World – Perry Anderson – Hardback – 9781844673124 – £24.99 – 2010 (January)

Perry Anderson on the history of the European Union and discusses the possibilities for its future.

“This is a hugely ambitious and panoramic political book, of a sort rarely attempted in our era of quick leader biographies and reheated histories of the second world war.” — Andy Beckett, Guardian

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The Communist Hypothesis – Alain Badiou – Hardback – 9781844676002 – £12.99 – August 2010

Alain Badiou’s formulation of the “communist hypothesis” has traveled around the world since it was first aired in early 2008, in his book The Meaning of Sarkozy. The hypothesis is partly a demand to reconceptualize communism after the twin deaths of the Soviet Union and neoliberalism, but also a fresh demand for universal emancipation.

The Communist Postscript – Boris Groys – Hardback – 9781844674305 – £12.99 – 2010

Provocative essay on the relationship between communism, philosophy and language.

“Groys has claimed a defining role in the reception of the Russian avant-garde … The Communist Postscript presents Groys’s attempt to advocate the communist idea against its own historic assumptions.” — Radical Philosophy

The Meaning of Sarkozy – Alain Badiou – Hardback – 9781844673094 – £12.99 – 2008

A trenchant and witty dissection of the French political scene by the leading radical philosopher.

“Magnificently stirring (…) a characteristically lucid polemic from a philosopher who is far from willing to abandon humanity to the vicissitudes of so-called global capitalism.” — Mark Fisher, Frieze

“Enjoyably bilious.” — Steven Poole, Guardian

Polemics – Alain Badiou – Hardback – 9781844670895 – £17.99 – 2006

Polemics is a series of brilliant metapolitical reflections, demolishing established opinion and dominant propaganda, and reorienting our understanding of events from the Kosovo and Iraq wars to the Paris Commune and the Cultural Revolution.

“Badiou is by turns speculative, provocative—and droll.” Times Literary Supplement


The Idea of Communism – Edited by Slavoj Zizek and Costas Douzinas – Paperback – 9781844674596 – £14.99 – 2010

Contributors Slavoj Žižek, Alain Badiou, Antoni Negri, Michael Hardt,Jacques Rancière, Terry Eagleton, Jean-Luc Nancy, Susan Buck-Morss, Bruno Bosteels, Peter Hallward, Alberto Toscano, Wang Hui and others took part in a landmark conference in London on the idea of communism in 2009. This volume brings together their discussions on the philosophical and political import of the communist idea, highlighting both its continuing significance and the need to reconfigure the concept within a world marked by havoc and crisis.

For more information on this event and the ‘Communist Hypothesis’ see here.

Also available:

The Emancipated Spectator – Jacques Rancière – Hardback – 9781844673438 – £12.99 – 2010

The foremost philospher of art argues for a new politics of looking.

“Rancière’s work is to insist that artworks by their nature, present what is possible, rather than actual, in human subjectivity.” JJ Charlesworth, Art Review

Hatred of Democracy – Jaques Rancière – Paperback – 9781844673865 – £8.99 – 2009

A vehement defense of the principle of democracy against neoconservative repression.

“In our time of the disorientation of the left, Rancière’s writings offer on the few consistent conceptualizations of how are to continue to resist.” — Slavoj Zizek

The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, introduction by Eric Hobsbawm – Paperback – 9781859848982 – £8.00 – 1998

A modern edition on the 150th anniversary of the Manifesto.

“Every paragraph breaks over us like a wave that leaves us shaking from the impact and wet with thought. This prose evokes breathless momentum, plunging ahead without guides or maps, breaking all boundaries, precarious piling and layering of things, ideas and experiences.” Marshall Berman, The Nation

From Marxism to Post-Marxism? – Goran Therborn – Hardback – 9781844671885- £16.99 – 2009

In this succinct and panoramic work—both stimulating for the specialist and accessible to the general reader—one of the world’s leading social theorists, Göran Therborn, tackles the question of the trajectory of Marxism in the twentieth century and its legacy for radical thought in the twenty-first.This will become the essential appraisal of Marxism in the modern age.

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We only just discovered this. An audience member of MSNBC’s Today program seeks to emancipate the spectators:

More images can be found here (thanks Global Demix: Matthieu Laurette).

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Jacques Ranciere’s new book The Emancipated Spectator has been reviewed in the Guardian:

In this follow-up to his fruitful The Future of the Image, French philosopher Rancière argues forcefully against familiar critiques of the “spectacle”. “Distance is not an evil to be abolished,” he observes, “but the normal condition of any communication,” while art that seeks to involve the spectator with a certain pedagogical aim is condescending. “Anyone and everyone” is an intellectual, on whom the effects of the artistic image cannot be determined in advance.

Read the full review here.

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Jacques Ranciere was interviewed by Lawrence Liang in Delhi. He was there recently, on the occasion of the release of the Hindi language edition of The Nights of Labour. The interview appears in the Kafila blog, a team effort of concerned individuals to create a space for critical engagement on a wide range of issues of the contemporary world.

Rancière introduced a new way of thinking about the idea of the worker, and of the injunction that divides between those entitled to a life in thought and those born to do manual labour. … We can locate this in the debate about education because in our countries, education is supposed to be the way to make people equal, starting from inequality. It is at the same time the logic of pedagogy and also the logic of progress, and a progressive thinking that of course people are not equal, and lower class people are not equal, and that precisely this derogation regenerates equality and we can get out of that condition.

Read the full interview here.

Jacques Rancière is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII. His books include The Future of the Image, Hatred of Democracy and On the Shores of Politics (all from Verso), The Politics of Aesthetics, Short Voyages to the Land of the People and The Nights of Labor. His new book The Emancipated Spectator is out now.

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Critic and curator Nicholas Bourriaud has responded to the criticisms levelled at him by Jacques Rancière in his book The Emancipated Spectator:

In a recent book, Jacques Rancière questioned ‘the pedagogical model for the effectiveness of art’, seeing in today’s most socially engaged works of art the validation of a model for relations between art and the political that has been outdated for 200 years.

Read the entire article here. (Thanks to Christopher Collier).

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