PRINT December 2016

Tim Griffin

View of “Zoe Leonard: In the Wake,” 2016, Hauser & Wirth, New York. From left: Total Picture Control (I), 2016; Untitled, 2015–16. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.

IF ROLAND BARTHES had a standard practice when it came to his theoretical writings, it was to engage an earlier period’s cultural production whenever he sought critical perspective on the culture of his own time—utilizing the distance afforded by considering, say, Racine’s ideation of literature in order to gain a fuller sense of the prejudices hidden within (and the historical debts owed by) contemporary formulations of writing. Such a contrapuntal approach would afford a new generation of theorists and scholars a genealogical grasp of their chosen discipline—as well as of its philosophical tenets—and effectively undercut the a priori stability of our privileged vantage by setting it in relation to so many others. As one might expect, such a technique is frequently enlisted by artists underscoring the tenuous stature of institutional contexts today. Yet its role

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