A selection of writings by the art critic, galvanizing central themes Verwoert has been developing in pursuit of a language to describe art's transformative potential in conceptual, performative, and emotional terms.
Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want brings together a selection of recent writings by art critic Jan Verwoert for the first time. Published in collaboration with Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, the book galvanizes central themes Verwoert has been developing in pursuit of a language to describe art's transformative potential in conceptual, performative, and emotional terms. He analyzes the power of public gestures to constitute communities as well as the pressure to perform that governs the sphere of creative labor, in order to show how particular artists perform gestures and invoke community differently. Exploring the emotional power games that shape social relations, Verwoert looks for an alternative ethos of action and feeling, asking: How can a modernist approach to artistic form as a means of social critique be expanded to fully avow its subliminal affective undercurrents, and produce a pleasurably crooked form of criticality in art and writing?
“If we perceive the pressure to perform to be innately linked to the regimentation of options, to imagine the ethos of a resistant practice implies an exploration of the conditions, situations, and potentialites that lie beyond the option menus and the exclusivity of the yes and no. In artistic practice this dedication to imagining other ways to perform and other ways to enjoy consumption means claiming the imagination and the aesthetic experience as a field of collective agency where workable forms of resistance can be devised.”
Jan Verwoert (born 1972) is an art historian and critic based in Berlin. He is a contributing editor at Frieze and writes regularly about contemporary art for magazines such as Afterall and Metropolis M. A member of the advisory board of the Kunstverein Munich and Guest Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at the Academy of Umeå, he teaches in the Fine Arts MA program at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam, and at the Royal College of Art in London.