Jan Verwoert

Jan Verwoert lives in Hamburg and works as a freelance writer. He is a member of the advisory board of the Kunstverein Munich and Guest Professor of Contemporary Art and Theory at the Academy of Umeå.

  • Umm Kulthum faints on stage

    Umm Kulthum faints on stage

    Jan Verwoert and Polys Peslikas

    Meditations inspired by Polys Peslikas's exhbition at the Cyprus Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

    Faint on stage? Umm Kulthum never did. It was the the audience that swooned when she sang. ButwWhat if, overcome by the power of her song, the singer herself had passed out? What would have ensued during the sudden silence? Umm Kulthum faints on stage is the title Polys Peslikas coined for one of the paintings in his exhibition The future of colour at the Cyprus Pavilion during the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. This book offers stories and thoughts inspired by Peslikas's paintings.

    A retrospective meditation on the exhibition, the book includes a piece of punk existentialist poetry by the artist group Neoterismoi Toumazou; an interview of celebrated ceramist Valentinos Charalambous by pavilion curator Jan Verwoert, conducted during a visit to Nefertiti's bust at the Neues Museum in Berlin; a short story by New York-based artist-writer Mirene Arsanios, echoing the 1980s childhood experience of temporarily living in Cyprus; and a contextual essay about the work of Peslikas.


    Mirene Arsanios, Valentinos Charalambous, Louli Michaelidou, Neoterismoi Toumazou, Jan Verwoert

    • Paperback $22.00


    Jan Verwoert, Vivian Sky Rehberg, and Marnie Slater

    This new volume brings together a selection of Jan Verwoert's most recent writings. COOKIE! is a sequel to Verwoert's Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want (edited by Vanessa Ohlraun, 2010), and third in a series of books published with the Piet Zwart Institute.

    If we don't merely reduce art to clever code play in the arenas of representation, how do we speak about what is at stake? In response to this question, Verwoert addresses the forces at the heart of the tragicomedy that making, showing, and critiquing art implicates us in. He honors the basic joys of turning one thing into another, and the miracles of rhythm and rhyme that characterize the residual level of mimetic magic in art. In this key, the unverifiable is practiced daily: bodies are remade, feelings transfigured. As Alina Szapocznikow wrote, the mouth chews and out comes sculpture. Verwoert's COOKIE! renders visible the endless emotional labor of setting the stage (for others), poses the thorny question of whether there could ever be a labor union for con-artists (like us), and gestures toward an ethics of disappointment to battle false expectations and as a way to come to terms with the fact that, no matter how you look at it, criticism hurts.

    Copublished with Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy

    • Hardcover $25.00
  • Der symbolische Auftraggeber / The Symbolic Commissioner

    Der symbolische Auftraggeber / The Symbolic Commissioner

    Søren Grammel, Michael Hirsch, Mari Laanemets, Ruby Sircar, and Jan Verwoert

    The expression “Der symbolische Auftraggeber/The Symbolic Commissioner” refers to the utopia of the New Man, which various avant-gardes from art, dance, and architecture proclaimed both the client and the aim of their artistic production at the beginning of the 20th century. This client is a symbolic one, because his actual identity remains ambivalent. Houses and carpets, wallpapers and suits, new cities and chairs were designed for him. Yet the figure has remained a utopian one, flaring-up only for brief moments and as a fragmentary manifestation from the productions of the artists.

    A thematic book including a.o. numerous color views of the exhibitions “Idealismusstudio” and “Die Blaue Blume” (the latter counted among the “Best themed Shows 2007” in frieze magazine, 2008). Both projects took place at the Grazer Kunstverein.

    Co-published with Grazer Kunstverein

    ContributorsAnni Albers, Vojin Bakić, Martin Beck, Christoph Bruckner, Saim Demircan, Luca Frei, Lasse Schmidt Hansen, Heidrun Holzfeind, Marine Hugonnier, David Jourdan, Jacob Dahl Jürgensen, Paul Klee, Katarzyna Kobro, Hilary Lloyd, Marika Lõoke & Jüri Okas, Camilla Løw, Kenneth Martin, Ulrike Meinhof, George Nelson, Silke Otto-Knapp, Vaclav Pozarek, Florian Roithmayr, Giles Round, Nora Schultz, Sean Snyder, Juliane Solmsdorf, Pernille Kapper Williams.

    • Hardcover $34.00
  • Bas Jan Ader

    Bas Jan Ader

    In Search of the Miraculous

    Jan Verwoert

    An illustrated investigation into the critical motives behind the last, unfinished work that has defined the romantic legacy of conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader.

    In 1975 Bas Jan Ader disappeared at sea while trying to sail from the East Coast of the United States to Europe as part of a project titled In Search of the Miraculous. Ader's considerable influence on later conceptual artists stems from the way in which he used the cool analytic and antisubjective aesthetics of conceptual art to explore experiences that would seem definitively subjective—the emotional intensity of tragedy and the romantic quest for the sublime. In Search of the Miraculous was conceived as a three-part project: a lonely nighttime walk from the hills of Los Angeles down to the sea, documented in photographs; the Atlantic crossing; a night walk through Amsterdam, mirroring the LA photographs.The circumstances of his disappearance have led many interpreters to identify Ader (as a person) with the role of the tragic romantic hero. The cult status of the artist as a hero whose work is authenticated through his death, however, has obscured the fact that Ader's art was a critical investigation of precisely those romantic motives his persona has now come to be identified with. This book unpicks these ties in Ader's work in order to highlight the specific and unique way in which Ader explores the existential and emotional with an artistic approach that is as conceptual and analytic as it is poetic and personal. Afterall Books are distributed by The MIT Press.

    • Hardcover $30.00
    • Paperback $16.00


  • Cultures of Assembly

    Cultures of Assembly

    Studio Miessen

    Federica Bueti and Markus Miessen

    A comprehensive overview of Studio Miessen's spatial designs and architectural projects.

    Cultures of Assembly offers a comprehensive overview of Studio Miessen's spatial designs and architectural projects. The publication is accompanied by a series of commissioned essays by guest authors on some of the key ideas of Miessen's practice. Concepts such as “Bastardising,” “Revamping,” or “Friction” can be employed to describe projects that range from exhibition architecture, spatial design, and consulting to publications, installations, and collaborations with artists and architects as well as research projects.

    Over the years, Studio Miessen has developed spatial strategies for institutions such as Witte de With, Rotterdam, Artsonje, Seoul; the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Performa, New York; and conceived architecture designs for exhibitions at Artist Space, New York; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Berlin Biennale; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; and with Hito Steyerl or Omer Fast, amongst others. The book is a collection of speculative thoughts and material experimentations that together form cultures of assembly.

    • Paperback $24.00
  • Radical Cut-Up

    Radical Cut-Up

    Nothing Is Original

    Lukas Feireiss

    This volume investigates the cut-up as a contemporary mode of creativity and important global model of cultural production. The term cut-up thereby serves as an open container for a long list of terms and actions that describe the combination and reassembly of existing motifs, fragments, images and ideas from diverse and disconnected origins into newly synthesized entities. Refusing any disciplinary coherence, this book assembles texts from multifarious eras and origins. At the same time, the contributors share an urgency to question the dichotomy of original creation and derivative appropriation. In this way, the book itself is a cut-up of previously published essays and articles that in their proximity allow for multiple readings to arise. It aims to translate the topic into a wider societal discourse to serve as both a source of inspiration and a platform for critical reflection.

    ContributorsThom Bettridge, Marcus Boon, Nicolas Bourriaud, Lars Eckstein, Rachel Falconer, Lukas Feireiss, Joerg Koch, Jonathan Lethem, Lucas Mascatello, Paul D. Miller, Eduardo Navas, Tamar Shafrir, Robert Shore, Stacey Waite, and Jan Verwoert

    Copublished with Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam

    • Paperback $19.95
  • The Fevered Specters of Art

    The Fevered Specters of Art

    Die fiebrigen Gespenster der Kunst

    Nataša Ilić

    Examining the theories and practices of radical leftist politics of the 1960s and 1970s and the relationship between politics and aesthetics.

    This is the final chapter of a long-term project curated by Edit Molnár, Lívia Páldi, and Marcel Schwierin that started with a group exhibition at Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg, in 2016. The show looked back on the epoch of Cold War radicalism and anticolonial revolution—an era characterized by a proliferation of ideas about how radical social change could permeate the globe.

    The book, like the exhibition itself, presents a variety of approaches that, through specific events and historical contexts, survey the theories and practices of radical leftist politics of the 1960s and 1970s and the relationship between politics and aesthetics. It also investigates the ways in which artists rethink the possibilities of new political subjects and how complex sociohistorical connections can be questioned and revisited in the realm of art.


    Stefanie Baumann, Felix Gmelin, Ho Tzu Nyen, Rajkamal Kahlon, Sarinah Masukor, Kirill Medvedev, Edit Molnár, Lívia Páldi, Rachel O'Reilly, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Marcel Schwierin, Catarina Simão, Suzanne Treister, Jan Verwoert

    • Paperback $24.00
  • Support Structures

    Support Structures

    Céline Condorelli

    Support Structures is a manual for what bears, sustains, and props, for those things that encourage, care for, and assist; for that which advocates, articulates; for what stands behind, frames, and maintains: it is a manual for those things that give support. While the work of supporting might traditionally appear as subsequent, unessential, and lacking value in itself, this manual is an attempt to restore attention to one of the neglected, yet crucial modes through which we apprehend and shape the world.

    Support Structures is a critical enquiry into what constitutes “support,” and documents the collaborative project “Support Structure” by Céline Condorelli and Gavin Wade. While registering and collecting reference projects in a new archive of support structures alongside its ten-phase project, different writers, thinkers, and practitioners were invited from various fields to elaborate on frameworks and work on texts, which form the theoretical backbone of the publication. The collection of contributions offers different possibilities for engaging in this unchartered territory, from propositions to projects, existing systems to ones invented for specific creative processes.

    Support Structures offers support through potential methodologies, inspirations and activations for practice, and addresses important questions for art and architecture practices on forms of display, organization, articulation, appropriation, autonomy, and temporariness, and the manifestations of blindness towards them.

    Produced in co-production with Support Structure:Celine Condorelli and Gavin Wade with James Langdonwww.supportstructures.org

    ContributorsMichael Asher, Artist Placement Group, Can Altay, Conrad Atkinson, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan, Banu Cennetoglu, Christopher D'Arcangelo, Martin Beck, Cevdet Erek, Andrea Fraser, Buckminster Fuller, Ryan Gander, Ella Gibbs, Frederick Kiesler, Lucy Kimbell, James Langdon, El Lissitzky, Peter Nadin, “The offices of Peter Fend, Coleen Fitzgibbon, Jenny Holzer, Peter Nadin, Richard Prince & Robin Winters,” Gordon Matta-Clark, Antoni Muntadas, Lilly Reich, Support Structure, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Lawrence Weiner, Christopher Williams, Carey Young, a.o.

    • Paperback $45.00
  • Fare una scenata / Making a Scene

    Fare una scenata / Making a Scene

    Jörg Heiser

    The phrase Fare una scenata (Making a Scene) commonly designates a public display of emotion—anger, sadness etc.—often involving exaggerated gestures and facial expressions, screaming, possibly violence against objects or people. In any case, there is no scene made without an audience. The idea is to take the cliché serious and explore its layers of meaning as a means to understand the relationship between artistic process and its aftermath in space, object or image, and audience reaction. Isn't there a kind of “unwritten contract” between the artist and his or her audience, regarding what they “deliver,” whether it's meant to be entertainment, enlightenment, or estrangement?

    Curated by frieze editor Jörg Heiser, “Fare una scenata” was the first group show at Fondazione Morra Greco in Naples. It featured the work of nine international artists who are either commissioned new work, or asked to adapt existing work specifically to the picture-gallery and basement spaces of this newly established foundation located in an old palazzo in the heart of Naples.

    ContributorsPierre Bismuth, Christoph Dettmeier, Haris Epaminonda, Henrik Hakånsson, Mustafa Kunt & Özlem Günyol, Marko Lulic, Aleksandra Mir & Lisa Anne Auerbach

    • Paperback $12.00