Karen Andreassian, Ontological Walkscapes (detail), 2009, digital video, artist’s book, interactive website. From the 11th Istanbul Biennial.

WRITING IN THIS ISSUE about the current traveling retrospective of the work of James Castle (1899–1977)—a deaf and mute artist who, over the course of some seventy years, produced thousands of handmade objects and drawings while living in the care of his family in Idaho—curator Lynne Cooke describes a historical schism in the reception of such endeavors that were never intended to traverse the established distribution networks of art-world institutions. For much of the past century, Cooke says, these productions were understood to be (and were valued for being) totally transgressive, bound and determined to undermine societal norms by virtue of their visionary intensity. Now, in contrast, a feeling of comfortable affinity pervades audiences, whose sense of artistic convention is inevitably inflected by the primitivist—or, as the case may be, autistic-seeming—modalities

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