Readings recommended by CIMAM members

24 July 2024

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CIMAM Annual Conference 2023 in Buenos Aires

For the week of July 24, 2024, we have some reading recommendations for you that have been suggested by CIMAM members. These articles and books are related to museums and collections of modern and contemporary art.


The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins

by the Chinese American anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, 2015. Princeton University Press

The Mushroom at the End of the World uses the matsutake as a focal point for exploring what Tsing describes as the end of capitalist progress as ecological degradation and economic precarity proliferate in the 21st century.

Memory Art in the Contemporary World: Confronting Violence in the Global South (New Directions in Contemporary Art)

by Andreas Huyssen, 30th June 2022, Lund Humphries.

Memory Art in the Contemporary World deals with the ever-expanding field of transnational memory art, which has emerged from a political need to come to terms with traumatic historical pasts, from the Holocaust to apartheid, colonialism, state terror and civil war. The book focuses on the work of several contemporary artists from beyond the Northern Transatlantic, including William Kentridge, Vivan Sundaram, Doris Salcedo, Nalini Malani and Guillermo Kuitca, all of whom reflect on historical situations specific to their own countries but in work which has been shown to have a transnational reach. Andreas Huyssen considers their dual investment in memories of state violence and memories of modernism as central to the affective power of their work.

Autobiography of an Octopus

by Vinciane Despret, April 2021, Actes Sud

Are you familiar with the vibratory poetry of spiders? Or the sacred architecture of Australian wombats? Or perhaps the ephemeral aphorisms of octopi? Welcome to “therolinguistics,” a discipline invented in the early 1970s by the science-fiction writer Ursula Le Guin, resuscitated here by Vinciane Despret for the pleasure of all. For indeed, animals do talk and they do have something to say, we simply have to learn how to listen and work out their codes in order to decipher their mysterious messages.

Vinciane Despret takes a series of fascinating scientific debates and situates them in an indeterminate future, then lets her imagination run wild. Inspired by recent scientific discoveries, Vinciane Despret imagines animal behaviors, whole life stories and perfectly feasible narratives, which—who knows?—might one day be proven right by future research.

Air Conditioning

by Hsuan L. Hsu, Feb 8, 2024, Bloomsbury Academic.

Air conditioning aspires to be unnoticed. Yet, by manipulating the air around us, it quietly conditions the baseline conditions of our physical, mental, and emotional experience. From offices and libraries to contemporary art museums and shopping malls, climate control systems shore up the fantasy of a comfortable, self-contained body that does not have to reckon with temperature. At the same time that air conditioning makes temperature a non-issue in (some) people's daily lives, thermoception-or the sensory perception of temperature-is being carefully studied and exploited as a tool of marketing, social control, and labor management.

Yet air conditioning isn't for everybody: its reliance on carbon fuels divides the world into habitable, climate-controlled bubbles and increasingly uninhabitable environments where AC is unavailable. Hsuan Hsu's Air Conditioning explores questions about culture, ethics, ecology, and social justice raised by the history and uneven distribution of climate controlling technologies.

Exclusive for CIMAM members >> Editorial Discounts

  • Exclusive for CIMAM members, enjoy a 25% discount on a selection of contemporary art and curatorial books through Lund Humphries online bookstore.
  • CIMAM members can now enjoy an exclusive 20% discount on all the titles included in the Hatje Cantz's selection created for CIMAM members.

Access the Members Only section to get further reading recommendations by CIMAM members.