Spring/Summer 1999

– Spring/Summer 1999

Contextual Essays



Mark Lewis, Charles Esche

What I defend above all is the possibility and the necessity of the critical intellectual.

- Pierre Bourdieu, 1991

Afterall is a new publication that seeks to discuss the work of contemporary artists and relate their ambitions to the wider social, political and philosophical framework within which art is produced. We aim to create a platform where art can take its place alongside other primary practices as a way of understanding and reflecting upon the world. As Pierre Bourdieu has said about the critical intellectual,

...she questions the things that are self-evident, in particular those that present themselves in the form of questions, her own as much as other people's. This ... shocks [those] who see a political bias in the refusal to grant the profoundly political submission implied in the unconscious acceptance of commonplaces, in Aristotle's sense - notions or theses with which people argue, but over which they do not argue.1

It is such a notion of the critical intellectual, broadly and fluidly defined, that Afterall claims for contemporary artists - artists who are researchers and experimenters as much as producers, and whose work tests out propositions in ways related to, but different from, both the philosopher and the scientist. In order to concentrate on specific practices, each issue of Afterall will feature four or five artists whose relationship to each other is complementary rather than thematic. For each artist, a descriptive text covering a range of work is paralleled by a more discursive or personal response. Alongside these articles, two more discursive essays will set the cultural and political context within which art is produced and received.

For the pilot issue, we approached five

  1. Pierre Bourdieu, Acts of Resistance: Against the New Myths of Our Time, Cambridge: Polity Press, 1998, p.8.