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Non-literary Fiction

Art of the Americas under Neoliberalism

Explores a new form of fiction that emerged in late-twentieth-century visual art across the Americas.
With Non-literary Fiction, Esther Gabara examines how contemporary art produced across the Americas has reacted to the rising tide of neoliberal regimes, focusing on the crucial role of fiction in daily politics. Gabara argues that these fictions depart from familiar literary narrative structures and emerge in the new mediums and practices that have revolutionized contemporary art. Each chapter details how fiction is created through visual art forms—in performance and body art, posters, mail art, found objects, and installations. For Gabara, these fictions comprise a type of art that asks viewers to collaborate in the creation of the work and helps them to withstand the brutal restrictions imposed by dominant neoliberal regimes. 
During repressive regimes of the 1960s and 1970s and free trade agreements of the 1990s, artists and critics consistently said no to economic privatization, political deregulation, and reactionary social logic as they rejected inherited notions of visual, literary, and political representation. Through close analyses of artworks and writings by leading figures of these two generations, including Indigenous thinkers, Gabara shows how negation allows for the creation of fiction outside textual forms of literature.

328 pages | 12 color plates, 59 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Art: American Art, Art--General Studies

Latin American Studies


“Gabara’s powerful critical lens is as broad as the Americas and as precise as a single performance or found object. Non-literary Fiction is a major contribution to our understanding of how art refutes the neoliberal Thatcherism ‘There is no alternative.’ Gabara’s extraordinary study shows there is always an alternative.”

Diana Taylor, New York University

“Gabara presents a compellingly hemispheric case for non-literary fiction, negation, and Amerindian thought as central to a distinctive turn in artistic practice since the late 1950s. This tour de force is a must-read for anyone interested in new critical terms for studying how artistic form and thought have engaged the violence of a prevailing social order.”

Chon Noriega, Distinguished Professor, UCLA

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Negating: An Introduction
Chapter One. Line: Making Fiction in Word and Image
Chapter Two. Motif: Recurrent Images of Walking
Chapter Three. Gesture: Signals in Motion
Chapter Four. Corpus: Telling Bodies, Living and Dead
Chapter Five. Color: Taken In by Realism
Epilogue: A Refuge

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