I read “Situtation” as I read most books these days: sitting on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, traveling between jobs. It’s the 6-10 jobs that keep my volunteer blogging to a minimum (no regular wifi on BART just yet). Still, I wanted to read– and write about– this book. Because how I read it is also how it’s structured: in small digestible chapters. Because Situation is a compilation of excerpts from primary sources, the words of artists and scholars, here and gone, about context and place in artmaking.
The cited authors range from Lucy Lippard to Hannah Arendt to Robert Smithson (yes, THAT Robert Smithson) to Krzysztof Wodiczko. The excerpts are organized into four parts: “The Limits of Site,” “Fieldwork,” “Action and Public Space,” “Place and Locality,” and “The Curatorial Imperative.” Editor Claire Doherty does an excellent job of chaining seemingly unrelated sources together. And though there’s a lot of complaint about how media and television are affecting literature, that it read like a documentary was pleasant.
On one page I’d be reviewing Smithson’s work with sites and non-sites: on the next I’d be reading Giorgio Agamben’s thoughts on witnessing. The experience was an ever-evolving collage of thought on place. Like a kaleidescope with some of the best thinkers of the last 75 years or so in it. Good for introducing yourself to new thoughts on space. Good for mental niblets between trains. Good for discovering new incredible people.