Journal Article

Towards a Grammar of Emergency

by Hal Foster

The Swiss-born artist Thomas Hirschhorn builds from the bad new days, not the good old ones, as Bertolt Brecht urged us all to do. This is so because Hirschhorn aims to confront the present, which, in his idiom, is also to ‘agree’ with it.

The Swiss-born artist Thomas Hirschhorn builds from the bad new days, not the good old ones, as Bertolt Brecht urged us all to do.1 This is so because Hirschhorn aims to confront the present, which, in his idiom, is also to ‘agree’ with it. This is hardly to say that he approves of it; he agrees with it only in the sense that he finds most of his strategies and situations in ‘the capitalist garbage bucket’ that is our shared world.2 This way of working follows an important line on the Left that insists on the resources, cultural as well as political, that lie dormant in the ‘general intellect’ of the multitude, a multitude that, to different degrees, faces a state of emergency today. Here I want only to point to a few of the concepts Hirschhorn has developed to address this condition.3


Although Hirschhorn has long used the term précaire, its full significance was not always apparent. Initially the term denoted the insecure status and limited duration of his pieces, some of which, such as Travaux abandonnés and Jemand kümmert sich um meine Arbeit (both 1992), were made up of scraps of paper and board and left on the street to be picked up by others. For a while Hirschhorn merely distinguished the precarious from the ephemeral, which, as an attribute of nature more than man, did not interest him much as a strategy.4 (In any case, his is not a critique of the work of art as a fixed thing, or even as a commodity; he insists, in his own ways, on such values as aesthetic autonomy and artistic universality.) Soon enough, however, the precarious came to figure less as a characteristic of his work than as a predicament of many people addressed by it, with ramifications that are ethical and political alike. 

The French précaire indicates a socioeconomic insecurity that is not as evident in the English ‘precarious’; indeed, précarité is now used to describe the condition of vast numbers of labourers in neoliberal capitalism for whom employment (let alone health care, insurance or a pension) is anything but guaranteed. This ‘precariat’ is seen as a product of the post-Fordist economy, though historically, precarity might be more the rule and the Fordist promise of relative job security and union protection more the exception. It is a tricky category. What might be lost in a discursive shift from proletariat to precariat? Might the term normalize a specific condition, a ‘society of risk’, that is subject to challenge and change? Can the precariat be pried apart from its victim status and developed as a social movement? At least one thing is certain: it is not a unified class. As Gerald Raunig notes, there are ‘smooth forms of precarization’ for ‘digital bohemians’ and ‘intellos précaires’ on the one hand, and ‘rigidly repressive forms of labour discipline’ for migrants and sans papiers on the other.5 This point is pertinent here, for Hirschhorn has sited some of his signal projects along this interface, not only Musée Précaire Albinet in the Aubervilliers banlieue of Paris (2004), but all three of his monuments to date—the Spinoza in the red-light district of Amsterdam (1999), the Deleuze in a mostly North African quarter of Avignon (2000), and the Bataille in a largely Turkish neighbourhood in Kassel (2002). Such projects take the form of makeshift centres of homage, contrived out of common materials like plywood, cardboard, foil and tape, where discussions, readings, performances and more casual encounters can occur. ‘Is there a way to cross from our stable, secure and safe space’, Hirschhorn asks, ‘in order to join the space of the precarious? Is it possible, by voluntarily crossing the border of this protected space, to establish new values, real values, the values of the precarious—uncertainty, instability and self-authorization?’6

What does a practice of ‘the precarious as a real form’ entail? ‘The truth can only be touched in art with headlessness’, Hirschhorn has asserted, in ‘hazardous, contradictory and hidden encounters’.7 This suggests a first principle, an actual sharing in the conditions of social risk lived by a precariat in a particular situation, and to this end Hirschhorn sometimes takes up the guise of the squatter. ‘In order to reach this moment I have to be present and I have to be awake’, he continues. ‘I have to stand up, I have to face the world, the reality, the time and I have to risk myself. That is the beauty in precariousness.’8 Alert to the Deleuzian caveat about ‘the indignity of speaking for others’, Hirschhorn does not stand in place of a precariat; rather, he insists, ‘I want to engage [in] dialogue with the other without neutralizing him.’9 In fact Hirschhorn does not always seek solidarity with this precariat, for such solidarity might only come of a forced union of very different parties. Against the benign community imagined by relational aesthetics, he counters with the principle of ‘Presence and Production’, which names his double commitment to be present on the site where he produces his work; and he acknowledges that the result might be antagonism with residents as much as fellowship. In this way Hirschhorn updates the argument in ‘Author as Producer’ (1934) where Benjamin finds the political use-value of a work less in its attitude or tendency than in its position or function within a mode of production. 

‘Precarious’ derives ‘from the Latin precarius, obtained by entreaty, depending on the favour of another, hence uncertain, precarious, from precem, prayer’ (Oxford English Dictionary). This definition underscores that this state of insecurity is a constructed one, engineered by a regime of power on whose favour the precariat depends and which it can only petition. This means that to act out the precarious, as Hirschhorn often does, is not only to evoke its perilous and privative effects, but also to intimate how and why they are produced, and so to implicate the authority that imposes this ‘revocable tolerance’ (as his sometime collaborator, the French poet Manuel Joseph, defines précarité).10 The note of entreaty lodged in the word is strong in many Hirschhorn projects, where it often carries the force of accusation as well.

Here the political dimension of the precarious shades into the ethical. ‘To give a form to the precarious’, Hirschhorn comments, is to attest to ‘the fragility of life’, awareness of which ‘compels me to be awakened, to be present, to be attentive, to be open; it compels me to be active’.11 In ‘Precarious Life’, her brief essay on Emmanuel Levinas, Judith Butler writes in a similar vein: ‘In some way we come to exist in the moment of being addressed, and something about our existence proves precarious when that address fails.’ Here Butler explores the notion of ‘the face’, which Levinas posed as the very image of ‘the extreme precariousness of the other’. ‘To respond to the face, to understand its meaning’, Butler argues, ‘means to be awake to what is precarious in another life or, rather, the precariousness of life itself’.12 This is the face often put forward by the precarious art of Hirschhorn, who refuses to turn away. 


In a 2003 conversation with Hirschhorn, Benjamin Buchloh begins with ‘a typical art historian’s question’: ‘Who was more important for you, Warhol or Beuys?’ To this either-or, Hirschhorn responds that he has drawn on them equally.13 ‘Every man is an artist’, Beuys liked to say, and just as Hirschhorn affirms this vision of commonality, so he does the one offered by Warhol, whose painting 129 Die in Jet (1962) struck him strongly when he first saw it in 1978 (when Hirschhorn was twenty-one): ‘I felt included, immediately, included in the work of the artist, included in art.’14 Later, the importance of ‘a non-exclusive public’ was underscored for him by Jacques Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster (1991), ‘with its proclamation of the equal intelligence of human beings’.15 One might sum up these commitments with an anecdote about Brecht, who is reported to have kept, next to his typewriter, a little wooden donkey with this sign around its neck: ‘Even I must understand it.’ 

Hirschhorn anticipated some of the positions of the precarious in a 1995 book of crude collages titled Les plaintifs, les bêtes, les politiques. These works were ‘directly inspired by the placards I saw in the street and in the metro’, he tells us, ‘cardboard signs made by people in existential need, signs that appear in a form that is economic, effective, beautiful . . . They are beautiful because they combine the language of engagement with that of sincerity. The result is pure.’16 His own collages query a world that can abide, with apparent indifference, the most blatant contradictions, past and present. One work shows a photograph of a youth wearing a peace symbol while cradling a rifle; in the margin Hirschhorn scrawls arrows to both objects, exclaiming in capital letters, ‘I really don’t understand!’ Another collage reproduces a Soviet poster, designed by the Constructivist Gustav Klucis, of a colossal Stalin looming over an industrial plant, beside which Hirschhorn scratches in pen: ‘Help me!! I find this poster beautiful, but I know what Stalin did. What to do?’ 

As noted above, ‘the plaintive’ is one register of the precarious, but just as often Hirschhorn speaks in the voice of ‘the bête’—bête as in silly, even stupid. ‘Help me [understand]!’ is a recurrent cry of Les plaintifs, les bêtes, les politiques, and the sentiment is not faux: the collages, Hirschhorn reports, ‘were born of an existential need on my part too. I need to comprehend.’17 Some of his favourite terms might clarify what is involved here. One placard quotes the Swiss writer Robert Walser (to whom Hirschhorn dedicated a kiosk), ‘When the weak take themselves for the strong.’ This is not a Christian prophecy (as in ‘The meek shall inherit the earth’), nor is it a Nietzschean boast. Nevertheless, in this ‘weak’ position Hirschhorn finds ‘an explosive force, a kind of resistance’; it is from beneath, he reminds us here, that subversion comes.18 If the weak is one aspect of the bête, another is ‘the headless’, a notion that Hirschhorn adapts from Georges Bataille, who investigated the acéphale in the mid-1930s. Often Hirschhorn aims for work that ‘escapes control, even the control of the one who made it’, for he finds a ‘resistant character’ in this headlessness too, which he describes as a position ‘completely submerged but still unresigned, unreconciled and (of course) uncynical.’19

The headless in turn calls up a third avatar of the bête active in Hirschhorn, the fan: ‘The fan can seem kopflos [headless]’, he writes, ‘but at the same time he can resist because he’s committed . . . It’s a commitment that doesn’t require justification.’20 In various pieces Hirschhorn has adopted not only the tokens of the fan (pennants, scarves and the like) but also his devotion (he is a fan of Bataille, he says, just as he is of his Saint-Germain soccer club). In effect Hirschhorn seeks to redirect the passionate investment of the fan in a détournement of cultural value, as in his altars dedicated to lost and/or marginal artists and writers: why not Otto Freundlich and Ingeborg Bachmann, he asks, rather than Michael Jackson and Princess Diana? This is a utopian gesture, to be sure, but it holds a critical charge, one not unlike the old Marxist insistence, associated with Ernst Bloch, that the Left not concede the force of popular passions to the Right, even (or especially) when those passions are archaic or atavistic (like ‘Blood and Soil’ in the Nazi period of Bloch, or ‘God and Guns’ in our Tea Party present). If we live in a culture of affect today, Hirschhorn implies, then we must use its means too. 

For Hirschhorn the bête is also a mode of seeing and reading. One way not to look away, he suggests, is to ‘look dumb’, that is, to allow that we are often ‘dumbstruck’ by the outrageous events of the world, such as the mass murder of innocent citizens during the Iraq war, gruesome images of which Hirschhorn presents in his Ur-Collages (2008). In this light, looking dumb is a form of witnessing that has both ethical and political force (Hirschhorn speaks of his collages as ‘evidence’).21 Also implied here is a further aspect of the bête, which I will call, after Eric Santner, ‘the creaturely’. For Santner the creaturely is provoked by ‘exposure to a traumatic dimension of political power’; at such moments a creaturely cringe is ‘called into being, ex-cited, by exposure to the peculiar “creativity” associated with this threshold of law and nonlaw.’ The creaturely can be obscene (think of Caliban in The Tempest), yet it can also point to cracks in the symbolic order at large, ‘fissures or caesuras in the space of meaning’, which might become places of purchase where power can be resisted or at least reimagined.22 From Les plaintifs, les bêtes, les politiques to Ur-Collages, Hirschhorn often looks for such creaturely openings.

Finally, the bête is also the simple, which Hirschhorn values; ‘simplicity is a founding’, he says in a wonderful turn of phrase. This aspect of the bête returns us not only to the commonality differently tapped by Brecht, Beuys and Warhol, but also to the resources, creative as well as critical, to be found in ‘the general intellect’ of everyday people.23 Gramsci (to whom the fourth and final monument will be dedicated) once defined ‘common sense’ as ‘the folklore of philosophy’, that is, a reserve not only of superstition to be exposed but also of truth to be deployed.24 And Sartre wrote similarly about ‘the commonplace’: 

This fine word has several meanings; it refers, doubtless, to the most hackneyed of thoughts, but these thoughts had become the meeting-place of the community. Everyone finds himself in them and finds the others too. The commonplace is everyone’s and it belongs to me; it belongs in me to everyone and it is the presence of everyone in me.25

It is in the interest of this ‘commonism’ (as Warhol once called Pop), not out of cynicism, that Warhol turned to Campbell’s soup and Coca-Cola (the Queen drinks the same Coke, he liked to say, as the bum on the street). It is in this interest, too, that Hirschhorn turns to everyday materials like cardboard and common techniques like collage. It is part of his search for a nonexclusive public, a public after the apparent dissolution of the public sphere. 


‘Energy yes, quality no’, Hirschhorn proclaims. It is a motto that speaks to his desire to recharge forms of public art, and his altars, kiosks, monuments and festivals do stage a passionate kind of public pedagogy. For Bataille the essential problem in almost any economy is not so much scarcity as surplus: ‘energy’, he writes in La part maudite (1949), a key text for Hirschhorn, ‘must necessarily be lost without profit; it must be spent, willingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically’; it is ‘the accursed share’ that must be expended.26 Hirschhorn agrees: ‘I think more is always more. And less is always less’, he asserts in an early polemic against the modernist aesthetic of ‘less is more’. ‘More is more, as an arithmetical fact, and as a political fact. More is a majority. Power is power. Violence is violence. I want to express that idea in my work as well.’27

The Bataillean notion of expenditure (dépense) has guided Hirschhorn in several ways. In the first instance there is the obvious excess of his displays, which perform a headless mimesis of the deranged excesses of advanced capitalism, of the overproduction and overconsumption all around us. This strategy of mimetic exacerbation runs back, through Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and other Pop artists to Hugo Ball, Johannes Bader and other Dadaists.28 With Hirschhorn it is especially paradoxical: at the simplest level, even as his standard materials ‘make you think of poverty’, they are also deployed in the most extravagant ways.29 In this manner, as Buchloh has argued, Hirschhorn questions a capitalist order that sacrifices use-value at the altar of sign-exchange value. At the same time, Hirschhorn insists enigmatically of his art, ‘It’s about absolute value.’30 This suggests that he advances not only a critique of capitalist exchange but also a proposal of a different exchange altogether, along the lines of the ‘general economy’ of non-productive expenditure advocated by Bataille. ‘This motive is very important in my work’, Hirschhorn says of the Bataillean account of the potlatch in La part maudite. ‘I want to make a lot, give a lot . . . I want to do that in order to challenge the other people, the viewers, to get equally involved, so that they also have to give.’31

Bataille based his version of the potlatch on Marcel Mauss’s theory of the gift. A socialist, Mauss defined the gift, implicitly, as the alien double of the commodity. Like the commodity for Marx, the gift for Mauss produces a partial confusion of things and persons, ‘things which are to some extent parts of persons, and persons and groups that behave in some measure as if they were things’. Yet unlike commodity exchange, gift exchange sets up a ‘pattern of symmetrical and reciprocal rights’, a charged ambivalence between people that binds them together, not an abstract equivalence between products that separates them. ‘To refuse to give, or to fail to invite, is—like refusing to accept—the equivalent of a declaration of war’, Mauss writes; ‘it is a refusal of friendship and intercourse’.32 Hirschhorn seeks to reanimate subject–object along the lines of gift exchange: he described one proposal (for giant roadside books) as ‘an obscene gift’; it is a rubric that covers much of his art. 

‘Giving, affirming, is about demanding something of the public’, Hirschhorn writes of the aforementioned project. ‘Rather than triggering the participation of the audience’, he says of another work, ‘I want to implicate them . . . This is the exchange I propose.’ ‘I am the one, as artist, who has to give first’, Hirschhorn comments about a third piece. ‘Participation can only be a lucky outcome, because I, the artist, have to do the work for the implication of the other.’33 Rather than hope for participation, then, Hirschhorn prepares it by presence and production and then prompts it through implication. Like all acts of generosity, his projects are charged with ambivalence, mixing as they do ‘the neighbour’ and ‘the stranger’, yet this mixing is undertaken precisely so that a different sort of micro-society might crystallize, if only momentarily.34 In the potlatch, of course, prestige accrues to whoever can expend the most, and that accrual of symbolic power did occur with potlatch artists like Beuys and Warhol. It is less the case with Hirschhorn, who seeks that oxymoronic thing, an egalitarian potlatch (‘1 Man = 1 Man’ is another of his mottos). 


Call it what you like—social contract or symbolic order—it is more tenuous than we think. Certainly the current one was precarious before September 11, 2001, yet it is also true that precarity became evermore pervasive in Western societies over the last decade. For all the discussion of ‘failed states’ elsewhere, our own have come to operate, routinely and destructively, as ‘rogues’, and in this capacity they threaten us all. Faced with a situation in which precarity seems the norm below, and Schmittian state of exception the norm above, Hirschhorn often performs this doubling in his work too. On the one hand, he crosses over into the precarious; on the other, he acts out his own state of emergency (in which role he assumes other guises besides squatter: ‘lone fighter’, ‘“warrior” with dreams’, and so on).35 More and more the two—precarity and emergency—come together in his discourse: ‘Precariousness is the dynamic, the emergency, the necessity of this work.’ In 2003, when Hirschhorn assembled thirty-seven books, greatly enlarged, for his Emergency Library (2003), it was not for desert-island reading but as an arsenal of ‘absolute demands’ for right here and now.36

When Hirschhorn cries ‘Help me!’, he speaks to emergency, but so does he when he avows ‘I love you!’ ‘I selected figures about whom I could really say, “I love you”’, Hirschhorn explains of his altars, ‘about whom I really meant it; it was a real commitment.’37 This expression of love is not only about a libidinal investment in obscure artists and authors; it is also a performative contract, made in emergency and against emergency, with the commitment of a fan ‘that doesn’t require justification’. It is an attempt to rescue the likes of Otto Freundlich and Ingeborg Bachmann from oblivion, and to entreat them to take up arms with him in the present. ‘The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized’, Benjamin writes in his ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, ‘and is never seen again’.38 It is in this urgent ‘time of the now’ that Hirschhorn often works. 

In this time ‘commitment’ and ‘autonomy’ are not in contradiction (as they are said to be in aesthetic discourse in general), for the autonomy that interests Hirschhorn is not the ‘self-sufficiency’ of art but ‘the autonomy of courage, the autonomy of assertion, the autonomy to authorize myself.’39Over a century ago Gauguin asked, ‘Where do we come from? What are we? Where are going?’ A few years later, in a different register, Lenin posed (or re-posed) another famous question, ‘What is to be done?’ In his map of his practice Hirschhorn asks, ‘Where do I stand? What do I want?’ These are questions he means us to ask too.   


  • 1. A slightly different version of this text will appear in Thomas Hirschhorn: Establishing a Critical Corpus, for the 2011 Venice Biennale.
  • 2. ‘To be in agreement [with the world] does not mean to approve’, Hirschhorn writes; it means rather ‘to look’, ‘to not turn away’—‘to resist, to resist the facts’ (‘Ur-Collage’, in Thomas Hirschhorn and Sebastian Egenhofer, Ur-Collage, Zürich 2008, p. 3). The phrase ‘capitalist garbage bucket’ is also his.
  • 3. For an excellent survey of the art (which I do not undertake here), see Benjamin Buchloh, ‘Thomas Hirschhorn: Lay Out Sculpture and Display Diagrams’, in Alison Gingeras et al., Thomas Hirschhorn, London 2004.
  • 4. ‘My work isn’t ephemeral, it’s precarious. It’s humans who decide and determine how long the work lasts. The term “ephemeral” comes from nature, but nature doesn’t make decisions’: ‘Alison Gingeras in Conversation with Thomas Hirschhorn’, in Gingeras et al., Thomas Hirschhorn, p. 24. For an incisive account of the precarious in this sense, see Egenhofer, ‘Precarity and Form’, in Ur-Collage.
  • 5. Gerald Raunig, A Thousand Machines: A Concise Philosophy of the Machine as Social Movement, Los Angeles 2010, p. 78.
  • 6. Hirschhorn, email communication in response to my ‘Precarious’, Artforum, December 2009. The next phrase is also from this email.
  • 7. Hirschhorn, ‘Restore Now’, 2006. Unless otherwise credited, all Hirschhorn texts cited are courtesy of the artist.
  • 8. Hirschhorn, ‘Restore Now’. He could also be said to ‘squat’ the work of the artists, writers and philosophers chosen for his altars, kiosks and monuments.
  • 9. Hirschhorn, ‘About the Musée Précaire Albinet’, 2004. Once charged with playing at homelessness, he replied that, on the contrary, his work is autonomous in character (‘Letter to Thierry’, 1994, in Gingeras et al., Thomas Hirschhorn, pp. 120–1).
  • 10. See Hirschhorn, Musée Précaire Albinet, Aubervilliers 2005. In his unpublished text, ‘L’infâme et la tolérance révocable’, Joseph writes: ‘Precariousness, by right, is put into practice by means of a provisional authorization, that is, by a “revocable tolerance” accorded by the Letter of the Law—law as conceived, invented, written by man. It concerns a “condition” whose duration is not guaranteed, except for the men who have drawn up, decreed and imposed this contract.’
  • 11. Hirschhorn, ‘Théâtre précaire pour “Ce qui vient”’, 2009. Here he calls the force of the precarious ‘fragile, cruel, savage but free’.
  • 12. Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, London and New York 2004, pp. 130, 134. Of victims of war in particular, Butler writes, ‘We have been turned away from the face’, p. 150. This is precisely what Hirschhorn refuses to do in his ‘ur-collages’ concerning the Iraq War, which are often brutal juxtapositions of images of perfect models from glossy magazines and of obliterated bodies found on the Internet (whereas the models are all about the perfect face, the victims are sometimes faceless).
  • 13. Buchloh, ‘An Interview with Thomas Hirschhorn’, October 113, Summer 2005, p. 77. Moreover, Hirschhorn asserts, ‘Warhol is for me by no means the apparent opposite of Beuys.’
  • 14. Hirschhorn, ‘Where do I stand? What do I want?’, Art Review, June 2008.
  • 15. Hirschhorn, ‘Ur-Collage’; ‘Where do I stand? What do I want?’
  • 16. Hirschhorn, ‘Les plaintifs, les bêtes, les politiques’, 1993.
  • 17. Hirschhorn, ‘Les plaintifs, les bêtes, les politiques’.
  • 18. Buchloh, ‘Interview with Hirschhorn’, p. 98. Perhaps ‘the weak’ in Hirschhorn is akin to ‘the minor’ in Deleuze and Guattari.
  • 19. Hirschhorn, ‘Ur-Collage’; ‘Bijlmer-Spinoza Festival’ (2009).
  • 20. 'Gingeras in Conversation with Hirschhorn’, p. 35.
  • 21. One might also see the collages as a pense-bête (a term used by Marcel Broodthaers) in the colloquial sense of a record of events or a reminder of tasks. Perhaps there is an echo here, too, of the Lévi-Straussian notion of a pensée sauvage that proceeds by means of bricolage (Hirschhorn describes his collages as ‘simple, primitive, prehistoric’). The bricoleur, Lévi-Strauss writes in a famous definition, ‘makes do with “whatever is at hand”’, ‘a collection of oddments left over from human endeavours’, which he treats not only as ‘intermediaries between images and concepts’, but also as ‘operators’ that ‘represent a set of actual and possible relations’: Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind [1962], Chicago 1966, pp. 17, 19, 21, 18. Counter-intuitive though it is to connect Hirschhorn to Lévi-Strauss, the artist does practice a bricolage; one that, as the anthropologist suggested of ‘the savage mind’, is at once mythographic and mythopoeic in nature.
  • 22. Eric Santner, On Creaturely Life: Rilke/Benjamin/Sebald, Chicago 2006, pp. 15, xv.
  • 23. Hirschhorn, ‘Where do I stand? What do I want?’
  • 24. Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, New York 1971, p. 326.
  • 25. Jean-Paul Sartre, introduction to Nathalie Sarraute, Portrait d’un Inconnu (1957), reprinted in Sartre, Portraits, London 2009, pp. 5–6.
  • 26. Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, New York 1988, p. 2.
  • 27. Hirschhorn, ‘Less is Less, More is More’ (1995), in Gingeras et al., Thomas Hirschhorn, p. 122.
  • 28. I develop the notion of mimetic exacerbation in ‘Dada Mime’, October 105, Summer 2003. It is relevant here that Hirschhorn especially prizes Grand Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama (1920) by Johannes Bader, that he sometimes speaks in a way reminiscent of Hugo Ball (e.g., ‘every wound is my wound’), that he sometimes adapts the apotropaic skull-and-crossbones used by John Heartfield, and so on.
  • 29. ‘Gingeras in Conversation with Hirschhorn’, p. 15.
  • 30. ‘Gingeras in Conversation with Hirschhorn’, p. 34.
  • 31. Buchloh, ‘Interview with Hirschhorn’, p. 93. ‘I chose this book’, Hirschhorn remarked of La part maudite when he included it in his Emergency Library (2003), ‘because nothing has more value than that which has no value, and which cannot be translated on a scale of values’.
  • 32. Marcel Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies [1925], New York 1967, p. 11.
  • 33. Hirschhorn, ‘The Road-Side Giant-Book Project’, 2004; ‘Gingeras in Conversation with Hirschhorn’, pp. 25–6; ‘Foucault Squatter’, 2008.
  • 34. ‘I want to create the relation with the other only if this other is not specifically connected to art. This is and has always been my guideline: to create—through art—a form which implicates the other, the unexpected, the uninterested, the neighbour, the unknown, the stranger’: Hirschhorn, ‘Six Concerns About Bijlmer’, 2009.
  • 35. Hirschhorn, ‘Bataille Monument’, 2002; ‘Utopia, Utopia = One World, One Army, One Dress’, 2005. See also ‘Foucault Squatter’: ‘The aesthetic of the squat does not interest me for its style; I am interested in the aesthetic of the squat because it conveys emergency, spontaneity and encounter. The squat is the precarious form of a precious moment.’
  • 36. Hirschhorn, ‘Restore Now’; ‘Emergency Library’, in Gingeras et al., Thomas Hirschhorn, p. 113.
  • 37. Buchloh, ‘Interview with Hirschhorn’, p. 82.
  • 38. Walter Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, in Illuminations, New York 1969, p. 257.
  • 39. Hirschhorn, ‘Where do I stand? What do I want?’

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Publication title: 
New Left Review
Publication date: 
August 29, 2016


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