Documentary (Documents of Contemporary Art)

Documentary (Documents of Contemporary Art)
Library Shelf Location 30.STAL
Publication Date 2013



  • Introduction; Origins and Definitions; Conventions; Does Documentary Exist?; Photojournalism and Documentary: For, Against and Beyond; Active and Passive Spectators; The Limits of the Visible; Documentary Fictions; Commitment; Biographical Notes; Bibliography; Index; Acknowledgements.


  • Documentary has undergone a marked revival in recent art, following a long period in which it was a denigrated and unfashionable practice. This has in part been led by the exhibition of photographic and video work on political issues at Documenta and numerous biennials and, since the turn of the century, issues of injustice, violence and trauma in increasing zones of conflict. Aesthetically, documentary is now one of the most prominent modes of art-making, in part assisted by the linked transformation and recuperation of photography and video by the gallery and museum world. Unsurprisingly, this development, along with the close attention paid to photojournalism and mainstream documentary-making in a time of crisis, has been accompanied by a rich strain of theoretical and historical writing on documentary. This anthology provides a definitive historical context for documentary, exploring its roots in modernism and its critique under postmodernism; it surveys current theoretical thinking about documentary; and it examines a wide range of work by artists within, around or against documentary through their own writings and interviews. Artists surveyed include Kutlug Ataman, Ursula Biemann, Hasan Elahi, Harun Farocki, Omer Fast, Joan Fontcuberta, Regina Jose Galindo, David Goldblatt, Alfredo Jaar, Emily Jacir, Lisa F. Jackson, Philip Jones Griffiths, An-My Le, Renzo Martens, Boris Mikhailov, Daido Moriyama, Walid Raad, Michael Schmidt and Sean Snyder. Writers include James Agee, Ariella Azoulay, Walter Benjamin, Adam Broomberg, Judith Butler, Oliver Chanarin, Georges Didi-Huberman, John Grierson, David Levi Strauss, Elizabeth McCausland, Carl Plantinga, Jacques Ranciere, Martha Rosler, Jean-Paul Sartre, Allan Sekula, Susan Sontag, Hito Steyerl and Trinh T. Minh-ha.
  • Review: "As an introduction to some of the most important thinking on documentary art ... the book is a clear success, both encouraging discourse and pointing the way to further reading." - Publishers Weekly "Julian Stallabrass' Documentary is an incisive collection - from Walter Benjamin's 'theses against snobs' to Annemarie and Emily Jacir's reports from Ramallah, the real comes flooding in to battle and dance alike with the weighty and sometimes ossified spirit of form. These aren't so much key texts from the archive of an established domain as they are documents of a living struggle between art as a distant, bleary demand that another world be possible and documentary as a painfully present and acute testimony to the world as it actually is. The great value of the collection, in other words, is not that of a dry, historical accounting but instead that it draws the reader into the drama of history itself." - Blake Stimson, Professor of Art History, University of California at Davis "From being hailed as the 'objective eye that cannot lie, the camera has come to be regarded as an instrument of propaganda. In Documentary Julian Stallabrass selects, contextualizes and re-views iconic features from the heyday of reportage to the 'documentary fictions' of the present. Seen through the eyes of both practitioners and commentators - from Elizabeth McCausland in 1939 to Marta Zarzycka in 2012 - the diversity of what comes between offers a contentious and comprehensive account of the medium of documentary." - Amanda Hopkinson, Writer and academic 'This latest addition to the stellar Documents of Contemporary Art series offers varied assessments of the role of documentary and documentary traditions within contemporary art ... As an introduction to some of the most important thinking on documentary art ... the book is a clear success, both encouraging discourse and pointing the way to further reading.' Publishers Weekly


  • Julian Stallabrass is Professor in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. His books include Gargantua: Manufactured Mass Culture (1996), Internet Art: The Online Clash Between Culture and Commerce (2003) and Art Incorporated (2004).


ISBN 9780854882076
Quantity 1
Pages 239 pages ; 21 cm.
Editor Julian Stallabrass
Format Paperback
Publishers Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Category Film and Artists' Moving Image
Language English

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