Sven Spieker, Art as Demonstration: A Revolutionary Recasting of Knowledge (Cambridge/Mass.: MIT Press, 2024/forthcoming)

This book looks at how artists have wielded demonstration to question the status quo both aesthetically and politically, marshaling art and education as powerful agents of change. Demonstration, in short, says: “See here.” It is the practice of pointing to something in order to explain or contest it. As such, this book argues that demonstration has helped reshape art from the height of the Cold War to the late twentieth century, reformatting our understanding of how art and political engagement relate to each other. Focusing on Western Europe (especially Germany), Eastern Europe, and the United States, Art as Demonstration expands on contemporary discussions of art-as-protest, activism, and resistance. It shows how a closer, more historical look at art’s connection with demonstration reconnects us with earlier efforts, notably by the early twentieth-century avant-garde, to marshal art for the purpose of instruction and engagement.

Sven Spieker/Mario Asef (eds.), Akusmatik als Labor. Kultur–Kunst–Medien (Würzburg: Königshauses & Neumann, 2023). 

Acousmatic sound is a sound we hear without seeing what produces or causes it: a voice without a body. The co-edited volume Acousmatic Sound as a Laboratory: Culture – Art – Media is an interdisciplinary plea for the relevance of acousmatic sound today. From the invention of radiophony and audio tape to concrete music, sounds without visible sources penetrated all areas of everyday life in the last century, only to be replaced by more body-focused audio-visual communication after the popularization of the smartphone. What significance do “voices without bodies” have today, and in which areas of life? In this edited volume, 17 scholars, historians of science, media historians, and artists investigate acousmatics as a Kulturtechnik in art, literature, music, media studies, film, psychoanalysis, and philosophy. The volume also contains a QR code-supported online video documentation of the Berlin Acousmatic Lectures (2014 to 2021) initiated by Mario Asef. In German, with some articles in English.

Sven Spieker (ed.), Destruction [Documents of Contemporary Art] (Cambridge: MIT Press/Whitechapel, 2017).  

This anthology explores how how 20th-century artists have used techniques of destruction to disrupt the integrity of built structures and institutions. Artistic acts of iconoclasm or risk to the self have raised our consciousness of authoritarian oppression. Other works explore destruction in armed conflict, media violence, and threats to the environment. This is the first collection to be focused systematically on destruction in modern and contemporary art. Artists surveyed include Ai Weiwei, John Baldessari, Monica Bonvicini, Alexander Brener, Stuart Brisley, Douglas Gordon, Huang Yong Ping, Enrique Jezik, Milan Knizak, Paul McCarthy, Piero Manzoni, Gordon Matta-Clark, Gustav Metzger, Otto Mühl, Yoko Ono, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Petr Pavlensky, William Pope.L, Walid Raad, Arnulf Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Carolee Schneemann, Song Dong, Jean Tinguely, Wolf Vostell. Writers include Alain Badiou, Walter Benjamin, Horst Bredekamp, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Medina Cuauthémoc, Dario Gamboni, Richard Galpin, Caleb Kelly, Bruno Latour, Sven Lütticken, Antonio Negri, Sophie O’Brien, Kristine Stiles, and Jennifer Walden.

The Big Archive. Art from Bureaucracy (Cambridge/Mass.: MIT Press, 2008)

“The typewriter, the card index, and the filing cabinet: these are technologies and modalities of the archive. To the bureaucrat, archives contain little more than garbage, paperwork no longer needed; to the historian, on the other hand, the archive’s content stands as a quasi-objective correlative of the “living” past. Twentieth-century art made use of the archive in a variety of ways—from what Spieker calls Marcel Duchamp’s “anemic archive” of readymades and El Lissitzky’s Demonstration Rooms to the compilations of photographs made by such postwar artists as Susan Hiller and Gerhard Richter. In The Big Archive, Sven Spieker investigates the archive—as both bureaucratic institution and index of evolving attitudes toward contingent time in science and art—and finds it to be a crucible of twentieth-century modernism.” (Press release)

 (Korean Translation)

Sven Spieker/Mark Lipovetsky/Anna Brodsky (eds.), The Imprints of Terror. The Rhetoric of Violence and the Violence of Rhetoric in Modern Russian Culture. Vienna: Wiener Slawistischer Almanach. Sonderband 64, 2006.

This edited volume, dedicated to the memory of Marina Kanevskaya, investigates the importance of violence and its philosophical and ideological underpinnings in contemporary Russian literature, art, film, and philosophy. Participants include Sven Spieker, Mark Lipovetsky, A. Banerjee, E. Dobrenko, D. Brandenberger, A. Prochorov, A. Brodsky, M. Epstein, M. Lipovetsky, G. Shapiro, A. Efimova, D. Kujundžic, I. Sandomirskaja, A. Genis, M. Kanevskaya, and D. Possamai.

Sven Spieker (ed.), Bürokratische Leidenschaften. Kultur- und Mediengeschichte im Archiv (Berlin: Kadmos, 2004), 386pp.

Philosophers, historians of science, literary theorists, and art historians analyze the role of archives in literature, art, theory, and cultural history. Located at the intersection of art, science, media studies, and art, the book investigates the relationship between cultural production and bureaucratic administration. The archive’s reach and influence is traced from Hollywood film to library organization. Contributors include Stefan Rieger, Boris Groys, Wolf Kittler, Bernhard Siegert, and Sven Spieker.

Sven Spieker (ed.), Gøgøl: Exploring Absence (Bloomington: Slavica, 2000)

This edited volume, with an introduction by its editor, explores the theme of absence in Gøgøl’s works. Its working premise is that in Gøgøl’s writing the unsayable and the sayable cannot be viewed in isolation from each other; in order to understand either, we have to examine the other. Includes essays by Boris Groys, Renate Lachmann, Mikhail Epstein, Michael Holquist, Mikhail Yampolsky, Sven Spieker, and others. The book includes the last published article by the late Soviet semiotician and scholar of culture Yurii Lotman, commissioned and written specifically for this volume.

Figures of Memory and Forgetting in Andrej Bitov’s Prose. Postmodernism and the Quest for History (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1995). 

Focused on one of Russia’a most celebrated contemporary writers, Andrei Bitov (1937-2018), this monograph focuses on the problem of postmodernism in Soviet literature during the 1970s-’90s, with special emphasis on the psychological, aesthetic, and epistemological implications of Bitov’s postmodern treatment of memory. The book contains an extensive bibliography on the author.