All Art Is Political

All Art Is Political


Writings on Performative Art

Sarah Lowndes

ISBN: 9781910021422

Binding: paperback

In stock

Add To Cart

eBook available from:

Back cover text:

Since the 1990s, performative art has been increasingly accepted into the cultural mainstream, becoming a familiar and popular feature of art galleries and museums, as shown by the Tate Modern’s recent ‘Collecting the Performative’ project. As art historian Roselee Goldberg notes,‘The term “performative”, used to describe the unmediated engagement of viewer and performer in art, has also crossed over into architecture, semiotics, anthropology and gender studies.’

But what is performative art?
What about its radical origins?
How does it remain politically engaged?

Writer, curator and lecturer at the Glasgow School of Art, Sarah Lowndes, takes us through the world of performative art, using five case studies spanning from the 1960s to the present day. A series of essays and conversations, All Art is Political explores the work of artist-musicians Mayo Thompson and Keith Rowe, Berlin-based artist Thea Djordjadze, Glasgowbased Turner Prize winner Richard Wright, American conceptual artist Susan Hiller and German-Swiss artist and writer Dieter Roth.

What is a literature sausage? How do you transform reading coffee grinds into contemporary art? How do you incorporate live radio broadcasts into a musical performance? What does it mean to draw attention to the marks accidentally left behind by previous uses of the exhibition space? How do you bring out the latent brutality of Punch and Judy shows? For the answers to these questions and many more, indulge in the pages of All Art is Political.


An interesting and insightful collection of thoughts about the urgency of vision, how audiences work together with artists to enact the bodily labour of seeing and understanding, and how politics and the performative can be embedded in the material presence of art.  Dr Fiona Bradley, Director, Fruitmarket Gallery

In her observant close readings of artists’ practices and interviews with artists, Sarah Lowndes shows how artists themselves have navigated this territory, giving attention to the question of politics from the perspective both of theory and of the artwork itself Melissa Gronlund, Editor, Afterall

Table of contents:



CHAPTER 1: There is Only the Room: A Conversation with Mayo Thompson and Keith Rowe (2008)

CHAPTER 2: Tokens of Sense: The Work of Thea Djordjadze (2009)

CHAPTER 3: Learned by Heart: The Paintings of Richard Wright (2010)

CHAPTER 4: Artists at Work: Susan Hiller in Conversation with Sarah Lowndes (2011)

CHAPTER 5: Hole Punch: The Late Autobiographical Works of Dieter Roth (2012)