Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision

by Nadia Connor

'Virginia Woolf: Life, Art, Vision' at the National Portrait Gallery is a assemblage of portraits, each one a moment captured, defined; but together, they form a diverse arena of images, collectively communicating the partiality of any single attempt to represent their subject. The exhibition as a whole forms a portrait, but an anti-authoritative one, built out of fragments and glimpses which represent their subject as multiple, fractured, mutable. [read full essay]


Rob Doyle, Here Are The Young Men

reviewed by Maya Osborne

Here Are The Young Men is a spew of teenage crisis that Rob Doyle gloriously shapes into a high/comedown sprawl, sweet and agonising in equal measure. Doyle introduces us to Matthew and his mates Cocker, Rez, Jen and Kearney, who, having just finished their Leaving Cert, lurch into the summer of 2003 Celtic Tiger Dublin, riding a violent post-punk wave of excessive drug consumption and crippling youthful cynicism. “Like, it's great music, but I wish we could hear real music now, instead... [read more]

Visual Politics

Antigoni Memou, Photography and Social Movements: From the Globalisation of the Movement (1968) to the Movement Against Globalisation (2001)

reviewed by Tom Snow

Antigoni Memou’s Photography and Social Movements is published at a crucial moment for thinking the relationship between image production and protest activity. The book focuses on three main events: the general strikes in Paris during May 1968; the Zapatistas uprisings and subsequent declaration of independence in Chiapas Mexico since 1994; and the protests in response the 27th G8 summit in Genoa Italy in 2001. As Memou recalls, Genoa 2001 prefaced a long decade of diverse political uprisings... [read more]

‘In hell everything is hellish'

Werner Bonefeld, Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy: On Subversion and Negative Reason

reviewed by John P. Merrick

Since the financial crisis of 2008 there has been a reinvigoration of discussions around the importance of Marx and Marxism for any understanding of the workings of capitalism. This reassessment has occurred across the social sciences, but perhaps most importantly within the field of economics, where there is a move by many to see this once-maligned figure return to the canon. However, central to Werner Bonefeld's new book, Critical Theory and the Critique of Political Economy, is the seemingly... [read more]

Siding With The Machines

Robin Mackay & Armen Avanessian (eds.), #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader

reviewed by Alex Andrews

Pre-hashtagged and pre-branded, Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek’s ‘#Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics’ (MAP) dropped onto an unsuspecting internet last year, occasioning commentary, angry denunciations, satire and some acclaim. The central gambit was that in contrast to ‘a folk politics of localism, direct action, and relentless horizontalism’ – the obvious immediate target being 2008’s Occupy protests in the United Kingdom – the political left must embrace... [read more]

The Pure Appearance of the Young Girl

Giorgio Agamben, trans. Leland de la Durantaye, The Unspeakable Girl: The Myth and Mystery of Kore

reviewed by Lara Mancinelli

In 1999, Tiqqun, a French collective of philosophers and activists, published Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-Girl, a disjointed text whose grating, repetitious ‘trash theory’ attempts to reveal the consumerist body. This is the body of ‘the Young-Girl’. An ageless, genderless subject, the capitalist system, Empire, constructs her as a ‘model citizen’. Moving within the ‘oblivion of Being’, the Young-Girl is the ‘void’ that ‘THEY maintain in order to hide... [read more]

‘All issues are political issues’

Sarah Lowndes, All Art is Political: Writings on Performative Art

reviewed by Chris Law

‘It’s been more difficult than pleasurable, actually, being so retrospective […] A complete retrospective would include everything from the beginning to the end. As I’m not dead, that can’t happen to me, and my Tate exhibition is really just a large survey of some selected works.’ Susan Hiller’s comments about her survey exhibition at Tate Britain in 2011 come at the very end of an interview conducted in the same year by Sarah Lowndes, which constitutes the fourth of five chapters... [read more]

From the Schnoz to the Slump

Peggy Shinner, You Feel So Mortal: Essays on the Body

reviewed by Sarah Seltzer

At my fancy New York City high school, appearance modification was all the rage. Curly masses that looked like lion’s manes were pressed between irons and doused with chemicals, emerging glossy and flat. September ushered in evidence of sudden summer weight loss, the sharpening of features and the flattening of noses. Whispers and rumours reached our ears: girls undergoing liposuction, ‘chin jobs’ and other mysterious procedures that went beyond the more routine nose jobs and breast... [read more]

The Hand, and the Virtual

Matt Ratto and Megan Boler (eds.), DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media

reviewed by Danielle Child

DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media is a collection of 28 short essays that address the multi-faceted ideas of making, design, the digital, media, citizenship and participation (both on and offline), through a critical lens. The volume was conceived after the editors convened a conference of the same name held in Toronto in November 2010. In order to help the reader navigate a diverse range of approaches and topics, the book is divided into four sections: DIY and Activism: New... [read more]

Disreputable Scraps

Lisa Appignanesi, Trials of Passion: Crimes in the Name of Love and Madness

reviewed by Polly Bull

In 1871, Christiana Edmunds laced chocolate creams with strychnine and distributed them throughout her hometown of Brighton, hoping to poison her lover’s wife without attracting suspicion. When a young boy died from eating the chocolates, they were traced back to Edmunds and she was charged with his murder. Edmunds pleaded not guilty, with a defence of insanity. Acquittal on this basis largely rested on proof of her inability, at the time of the crime, to distinguish right from wrong. In... [read more]

Dynamics of Intervention

Patrick Cockburn, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising

reviewed by Daniel Whittall

‘The deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria may now have gone too far to re-create genuinely unitary states.’ So writes Patrick Cockburn towards the end of The Jihadis Return, a remarkably timely intervention that explores the recent history and present dynamics of what Cockburn terms ‘al’Qa’ida type movements’, foremost amongst which is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). It is a gloomy prognosis, one which represents the final nail in the already-rotten coffin of... [read more]