Esther Shalev-Gerz: The Contemporary Art of Trusting Uncertainties and Unfolding Dialogues

Esther Shalev-Gerz: The Contemporary Art of Trusting Uncertainties and Unfolding Dialogues

Art and Theory Publishing

January 13, 2014

Esther Shalev-Gerz: The Contemporary Art of Trusting Uncertainties and Unfolding Dialogues

Editor: Jason E. Bowman
Graphic design: Sandra Praun

Launch event: 16 January 2014, 19h, with Esther Shalev-Gerz at Jeu de Paume, Paris. Future launches will be held in London and Stockholm.                                                   

“All my work is based on the potentiality of trust. Though we rarely speak of trust in relation to art, a work of art may well be the ultimate expression of trust. It is as if we trust, for instance, that some inked piece of paper or painted canvas will receive us and speak truly about our world and its own. It is this space of trust that enables dialogue to unfold. Dialogue is a group of people freely reaching a place and verbally exchanging thoughts in a present and immediate way whilst listening, not only to others but also to themselves with others, then coming together and exchanging again, and after having left, coming together yet again. Such gathering is never spontaneous; still, it must be proposed.” 
–Esther Shalev-Gerz, The Trust Gap (2013)

Writers: Stefanie Baumann, Jason E. Bowman, George Didi-Huberman, Lisa Le Feuvre, Andrea Phillips, Jacques Rancière, Jacqueline Rose, Esther Shalev-Gerz, Annika Wik and James E. Young 

Esther Shalev-Gerz’s art has long been at the forefront of debates regarding participation, citizenship, cultural memory, and the role of the artist. Her works of art have consistently confronted the most profound ethical questions of our time regarding the politics of representation, memorialization, and the narration of our histories. 

This is the first illustrated anthology to be published on her art. It brings together some of the most significant thinkers, writers, and curators of our time to stimulate debate on notions of trust and dialogue and their interrelations as exemplified through her oeuvre. It is the first publication to consider and address the relation of trust to dialogue within participatory modes of art making via in-depth focus on an international artist who has led debates on participatory art.

This publication includes overviews combined with writing on specific works including those addressing the Holocaust and its legacies, such as the seminal Monument Against Fascism (1986); The Berlin Inquiry (1998); Between Listening and Telling: Last Witnesses, Auschwitz 1945-2005; MenschenDinge/The Human Aspect of Objects (2006) and Does Your Image Reflect Me? (2002). Works discussed that examine the politics of communities, place-making and migrancy include On Two (2010), Still Film (2009), Daedal(us) (2005), White Out: Between Telling and Listening (2002), and the permanent video work First Generation (2006). Those concerning the history of labor and its dematerialization include Sound Machine (2008) and her commissioned work at the Wolfsonian-FIU, Describing Labor, (2012) where she tackled amnesia of the representation of the worker and the politics of the art institution, pre-empted in 2006 by The Place of Art.

Through the artworks and methods of Esther Shalev-Gerz, this book seeks to provide a platform for a debate on trust and dialogue and to act as a catalyst for reflection on the relativity of these concepts when characterized by, and as, art. 

Whilst the book emanates from artistic practice, it is also relevant to those working in Holocaust studies, political theory, psychoanalytic thought, axiology/ moral philosophy, public art, institutional politics, migrancy and artistic research.

Based in Paris, Esther Shalev-Gerz’s artworks are held in significant collections internationally. She is currently one of six finalists shortlisted for the Canadian National Holocaust Monument. On 6 March 2014 an exhibition of her artworks opens at La Galerie de L’UQAM, Montréal.

Art and Theory is a publishing house dedicated to contemporary art, photography and aesthetics. The focus is on creating well-designed, quality publications in order to generate a forum where aesthetics and art can meet.

To purchase, please visit our website

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