Art Essay Fiction Future Novel

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Most art fairs, including Frieze London and Frieze New York, feature talks by writers in their programs.

Hustvedt, the author of a well-received book of art criticism as well, has lectured at the Prado and the Met.

The readymade novel underlines the chief virtue (or curse) of conceptual art: Unlike traditional visual art, you don’t actually need to see a readymade to “get it.” But if you do go to see it, it’s just as if you’ve opened up a readymade novel: You’re not merely a passive viewer of art, but an active participant in its formation.

Two newly published books by the Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas show just how deeply this literature-as-conceptual-art trend has permeated avant-garde contemporary literature.

The “readymade” writers are, of course, still on the fringes of contemporary literature.

Only Pamuk and Sebald are currently internationally famous.The curators of Documenta ask him to spend the week writing in the corner of a small Chinese restaurant.Vila-Matas finds this absurd, and spends most of his time at the (real-life) Dschingis Khan restaurant sleeping, inventing conversations between the German and Chinese people around him, and actively avoiding the one crazy person who approaches him.For Shields, novels that employ the traditional conventions of narration, plot, and story no longer make sense. For a more accurate reflection of how we experience this reality, we ought to think of novels the way we think about art.“A novel, for most readers—and critics—is primarily a ‘story,’” writes Shields.And we almost believe it—until we notice the slight fracture between the claim in the text and the photograph. takes place at the Prado, where the narrator finds the reluctance of the museum guards to close in on an erratic visitor more moving than the actual paintings.Sheila Heti spends three days at Art Basel in The art world has seeped into the literary world in other ways.Despite seemingly wasting his time in the restaurant, Vila-Matas becomes the piece of performance art that the curators of Documenta hoped he would be: “Art is art, and what you make of it is up to you,” one curator tells him.).It is perhaps best (self-deprecatingly) described within its own pages as “a journey that sought no goal, no fixed object, and was clearly futile.” This book is a catalogue of the avant-garde—with allusions to Duchamp, Walter Benjamin, Man Ray, Georgia O’Keeffe—that is composed in a style that teeters between funny and obnoxiously in-the-know.Postmodernism is now a rather unmeaning term, dulled by overuse, and unfit to describe a new group of authors of varying ages and nationalities who are often lumped together under its umbrella: Ben Lerner, Sophie Calle, Teju Cole, Tom Mc Carthy, Alejandro Zambra, Siri Hustvedt, Michel Houellebecq, Sheila Heti, W. Sebald, Orhan Pamuk, and Enrique Vila-Matas, the sexagenarian Barcelona-based writer who, with over 20 novels to his name, is perhaps the most prolific yet least-known of them all.generation, after David Shields’ ingenious and prophetic 2008 manifesto on contemporary writing.


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