Faculty Activities: Tom McDonough at the Whitechapel Gallery


The release of Boredom, the latest title in the Documents of Contemporary Art book series, edited by Associate Professor and Chair Tom McDonough, will be celebrated at the Whitechapel Gallery in a conversation between McDonough and artist Fulvia Carnevale this evening, February 23.

“Tom McDonough’s rich and fun compilation of statements, reflections and pleas by philosophers, artists and filmmakers advocates boredom as a state of mind from which thoughts and ideas spark…this anthology encourages its readers to reclaim their own latent state of boredom as political act.”

-Uta Meta Bauer, Founding Director of the NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and Professor at the School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University

In contemporary art, boredom is no longer viewed as a singular experience; rather, it is contingent on diverse social identifications and cultural positions, and extends from a malign condition to be struggled against, to an experience to be embraced, or explored as a site of resistance. This anthology explores this history: from the political critique of boredom in 1960s France; silence, repetition or indifference in Fluxus, Pop, Minimalism and conceptual art; the development of feminist diagnoses of malaise in art, performance and film; Punk’s social critique and its influence on theories of the postmodern; and the recognition from the end of the 1980s of a specific form of ennui experienced in former communist states. Today, with the emergence of new forms of labour alienation and personal intrusion, deadening forces extend even further into subjective experience, making the divide between a critical and an aesthetic use of boredom ever more tenuous.

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