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Midnight in the Kant Hotel
Art in Present Times
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Art, British, Little Island Press
Imprint: Little Island Press
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (310 pages)
(Pub. Aug 2021)
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Aug 2021)
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A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year 2021Midnight in the Kant Hotel is an absorbing account of contemporary art, composed over twenty years. The essays revisit the same artists as they develop, following them in time, changing perspectives as he, and they, develop.
Mengham is a significant curator, organising exhibitions: 'There is no more productive engagement with someone else's artworks than finding the right way to show it, since artworks are always direct statements or questions about articulations of space, and the curator's job obviously is to enhance such questions and statements.' This discipline gives the writer a series of uniquely privileged perspectives, touching, lifting, moving and re-moving the objects: 'nothing compares to living with art'.
The book opens with themes: what is domestic space? what does the atrocity exhibition tell us? what is the refugee aesthetic? Essays on particular artists follow, including Marc Atkins, Stephen Chambers, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tony Cragg, Antony Gormley, Damien Hirst, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Anselm Kiefer, Laura Owens, Doris Salcedo, Agnes Thurnauer, Koen Vanmechelen and Alison Wilding. Always, he is in dialogue with the work, rather than with the artist.
'Lucid, percipient essays... Despite its limpid style, Mengham's writing is not always easy - but nor are the ramifications of the works he is engaging with. Most of the essays are only a few pages long, but within a compressed space, he plumbs vertiginous depths of meaning.'
James Cahill, Times Literary Supplement
'Some of the worst contemporary art criticism hides behind a nebulous idea of poetic sensibility. One of the many reasons that Rod Mengham is such a compelling writer on art is the clarity of thought and the fine-tuned nature of his sensibilities as both poet and critic. I've never read a dull sentence of his and I've always wanted to read whatever he has to say about artists - from those I admire deeply to those about whom I know little or nothing. He's amongst the very best (and equally one of the most under-rated) writers on art of his generation.'
Praise for Rod Mengham 'He is particularly adept at discovering one place in another: finding Albania in Uxbridge... mapping ancient walkways of southern England onto the Australian Bush, or viewing Polish Constructivism in Cambridge... Inhabiting Art makes for an out-of-the-way tour in the company of a guide who is unusually scrupulous, keen-sighted and alive to the less routinely observed.'
William Wooten, TLS
'We make a world and in turn it makes us. Mengham's understanding of history as a living, evolving, ever present material template onto which experience can be inscribed and evaluated makes this collection of essays and his evocation of Grimspound so special.'
'What's moving about Chance of a Storm is the way the title probes into each poem and each poem illuminates the title, across a very wide landscape of despair and hope. What chance is there of a storm when we see only what we see? These poems exist to create that chance, and the hope of cracking complacency open. They have an angry but generous ear for past echoes, and the sound of them being sealed airtight in the moments we're living.'
Timothy Mathews, Professor of French and Comparative Criticism, University College London 'These careful and intriguing poems will require turning over and over before they give up their secrets.'
David Wheatley, TLS 'Mengham is an extraordinary flâneur. The astonishing detail he collates as he wanders confers Art and artfulness in the ordinary.... A fluid and convincing conduit to recognition as much as to understanding, his sentences are a joy to relish'
Steve Whitaker, The Yorkshire Times
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
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