Anri Sala is one of the most gifted and accomplished visual artists of his generation. Michael Fried first encountered Sala's video, film and installation art in 2005 and has been following his work since. This collection of essays focuses on what Fried identifies as a few major and recurring themes in Sala's work, such as the treatment of absorption and the overarching issues of anti-theatricality and presentness. Throughout the book, which is illustrated with numerous colour stills from Anri Sala's videos, Fried pursues a highly personal approach of combining extremely fine-grained structural and thematic readings of individual works with philosophical and theoretical reflections often drawing on major thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition, including Ludwig Wittgenstein and the eighteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Schiller.
Fried also provides unique insight into his own renowned critical and theoretical work, which has exercised such great influence in art history and criticism for nearly sixty years. Employing in these moments a conversational tone, speaking directly to the reader in his own voice about his own work, he reviews the genesis and development of his theories and critical constructs in light of Anri Sala's videos, creating a highly productive back and forth between Sala and the contemporary art world on the one hand and Fried's often more historical studies and concepts on the other. For readers of Michael Fried, the result is not only a stimulating discussion of Sala and the artistic and theoretical tradition in whose light his work can be viewed, but also a vital reflection on Fried's own foundational ideas, how they came to be and how they are relevant today.
Epigraph Introduction 1 1. A Riff in Time: Le Clash (2010) and Tlatelolco Clash (2011) 16 2. Sala with Schiller: World, Form and Play in Mixed Behaviour (2003) 53 3. Improvisations (2010): A Conversation with Edi Rama 86 4. Presentness Found and Lost: Air Cushioned Ride (2006) and A Spurious Emission (2007) 99 5. After the Siege: 1395 Days without Red (2011) 147 Coda: If and Only If (2018) 197 Acknowledgements 221 List of Works 222 About the Artist and Author Colophon
Michael Fried's eye for the most important new art of our age is unmatched by any other critic. Since his groundbreaking essays on abstract painting and sculpture in the 1960s, his ability to show his readers the significance of such work has been a generous and invaluable gift to the intellectual world. This new book on Anri Sala is a paradigmatic example of his taste and discernment and the power of his elegant prose. Reading these essays is like re-experiencing Sala's videos with one's eyes opened to one of the most significant artists of our times. The brilliance, intelligence and imaginativeness of Sala's work also characterise every page of the essays in this collection.~Robert Pippin, University of Chicago