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Distributed for Reaktion Books


Language in Contemporary Art

A timely look at visual artists who use language to challenge dominant narratives in contemporary art, with deep resonance in the politics of sex and race.
In Counter-Texts, Kim Dhillon provides a much-needed critical reassessment of written language in contemporary art. Considering the politics, aesthetics, and ethics of language, Dhillon explores artworks that use inscribed language, with a particular focus on works that challenge dominant narratives or that reveal, in visual form, the varied systems of oppression contained within words.
Featuring more than forty artists from diverse backgrounds, including newer artists such as Serena Lee, Abbas Akhavan, and Joi T. Arcand alongside established figures such as Glenn Ligon, Brian Jungen, and Susan Hiller, Dhillon rewrites the understanding of text in contemporary visual art. Counter-Texts explores how and why visual artists use written language, and it interrogates the power held in words.

240 pages | 45 color plates, 35 halftones | 6 x 7 3/4

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"[Dhillon] highlights the work of visual artists including more than 40 creators from diverse backgrounds... These artists reveal the many ways that oppression is contained in language and interrogate the power held in words."

BC Book World

"Counter-Texts is a necessary and compelling examination of how words and language can disrupt the status-quo and challenge power through dynamic artistic media. It’s a thorough look at altering public space and discourse through crucial diverse perspectives, particularly revolutionary anti-colonial artistic practices that educate and empower to create space for the voices that need to be heard."

Waubgeshig Rice, author of "Moon of the Crusted Snow"

"Friedrich Nietzsche stated, 'What therefore is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms . . .' Revisiting the taxonomy of language in its written form in the context of visual art, Counter-Texts challenges the existing authorial dominant power structures through which subjectivity, interpretation and meaning have been defined historically—namely through a lens embedded in an imperialist past. An important resource for scholars and artists, Kim Dhillon’s book asks questions that are timely about whose voice is given power to speak, and what can be collectively learned from histories that are spoken from below."

Sutapa Biswas, artist

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