Bad New Days: Art, Criticism, Emergency

The title of Hal Foster’s new book Bad New Days: Art, Criticism, Emergency is drawn from an oft-quoted maxim of Bertolt Brecht’s: “Don’t start with the good old days, but the bad new ones.”

Fragments of an article by  POSTED 09/08/15 12:30 PM

The second chapter, “Archival,” a version of which was also previously published in October, in 2004, as “An Archival Impulse,” considers the work of Thomas Hirschhorn, Tacita Dean, Joachim Koester, and Sam Durant, artists who take up the role of archivist, recuperating lost or marginal historical events and figures as a “gesture of alternative knowledge or counter memory.”

Foster links these practices to a “will to connect what cannot be connected,” in Hirschhorn’s words, an impulse he relates to Freud’s characterization of the paranoiac’s tendency to project private meanings and oblique connections onto a world “ominously drained of all significance.” Foster suggests that such projects contain a utopian core, a move away from a reading of history as merely traumatic toward one in which cultural memory is made productive, marshalled toward the creation of new associations and encounters.