Book cover, “Site-Writing”

Tracey Emin, Self-Portrait (2001). Reclaimed timber and sparrow. Height: 144 in. Diameter: 140 in. (365.76 x 355.6 cm). © the artist. Photograph: Stephen White. Courtesy: Jay Jopling/White Cube, London

Nathan Coley, Black Tent (2003). Reproduced by kind permission of the artist and Haunch of Venison Gallery, London

Elina Brotherus, L’anatomie du ventre (1999) Suites françaises 2. Tryptich of chromogenic colour prints on Fuji Crystal Archive paper. Mounted on anodised aluminium and framed. Edition 6, 40 x 50 cm each (x 3). Courtesy: the artist and gb agency, Paris

Jane Rendell, Les Mots and Les Choses (2003) Material Intelligence, Entwistle Gallery, London. Photograph: the Entwistle Gallery

Cristina Iglesias, Untitled (Passage I) (2002). Raffia, Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist, Madrid. Installation view at Whitechapel Art Gallery (2003). Photograph: Ben Johnson. Reproduced with kind permission of the Whitechapel Gallery Archives

brook & black, Here nor There (2005). Digital Print. Reproduced by kind permission of the artists

Do-Ho Suh, 348 West 22nd Street, Apt. A, New York, NY 10011 at Rodin Gallery, Seoul/Toyko Opera City Art Gallery/Serpentine Gallery, London/Biennale of Sydney/Seattle Art Museum (2000) Serpentine Gallery, London, 2002. Translucent nylon. 430 x 690 x 245 cm. Edition 2/3. Collection Ninah and Michael Lynne. Photograph: Stephen White. Reproduced with kind permission of Serpentine Gallery

Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism enacts a new kind of art criticism, one which draws out its spatial qualities, aiming to put the sites of the critic’s engagement with art first. These include the sites  – material, emotional, political and conceptual – of the artwork’s construction, exhibition and documentation, as well as those remembered, dreamed and imagined by the artist, critic and other viewers.

Through five different spatial configurations Site-Writing explores artworks by artists as diverse as Jananne Al-Ani, Elina Brotherus, Nathan Coley, Tracey Emin, Cristina Iglesias and Do-Ho Suh. Each one investigates the psychic qualities and architectural dimensions of a particular spatial condition, namely the transitional space of the setting, the frontier between conscious, preconscious and unconscious, the rearrangement of words and things, the folded memory of déjà vu, and the recentering and decentering devices of the Ptolemic and Copernican revolutions. The intention is not to ‘apply’ spatial concepts to psychoanalyze certain artworks, but to adapt certain psychoanalytic ways of working – free association, conjectural interpretation and construction – to art criticism.

Site-Writing configures what happens when discussions concerning situatedness and site-specificity extend to involve art criticism, and the spatial qualities of writing become as important in conveying meaning as the content of the criticism. The book suggests that in operating as mode of a practice in its own right this kind of criticism questions the terms of reference that relate the critic to the work positioned ‘under’ critique, and instead proposes alternative positions. This process of configuration writes the sites between critic, work and artist, as well as critic, text and reader, and in so doing constructs an architecture of art criticism.

Publication Details: Jane Rendell, Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism, (London: IB Tauris, September 2006).

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