To skim recent catalogue essays, articles and press releases is to find contemporary art attributed with the power to 'disrupt', 'dismantle', 'shift', 'challenge' and 'contest' a whole host of social norms, political impasses and representational problems. These claims are particularly common in describing art works and exhibitions associated with the art world's renewed interest in identity and queer politics. Yet the queer theory those work draws upon so often insists upon the limits of agency, be that social, symbolic or individual. Through a series of linked examples from Philipp Timischl's recent exhibition at the Vienna Secession, the art and theory of Pierre Klossowski and others, this lecture will look at how class, queerness and consumption in their work attenuate the ability to act.
Paul Clinton is a writer based in London, and lecturer in curating at Goldsmiths. He writes regularly for Frieze, MOUSSE, Art Review, Art Monthly and other magazines. In 2018 he curated the exhibition Forbidden to Forbid at Balice Hertling, Paris. His forthcoming book Other Hunting will be published in 2019 by Ma Bibliotheque.