Almost nothing

Observations on precarious practices in contemporary art

By Anna Dezeuze

Almost nothing

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1290-3
  • Pages: 344
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £19.99
  • Published Date: December 2016
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Material culture, Society & social sciences / Cultural studies, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Art & Design Styles: Postmodernism, Performance art, The arts / History of art & design styles: from c 1900 -, Contemporary Art, Art History, Social & cultural history, History of art, 20th century, c 1900 to c 1999, HISTORY / Social History, ART / History / Contemporary (1945-), ART / Performance, Postmodernism
  • Series: Rethinking Art's Histories


What does an assemblage made out of crumpled newspaper have in common with an empty room in which the lights go on and off every five seconds? This book argues that they are both examples of a 'precarious' art that flourished from the late 1950s to the first decade of the twenty-first century, in light of a growing awareness of the individual's fragile existence in capitalist society.

Focusing on comparative case studies drawn from European, North and South American practices, this study maps out a network of similar concerns and practices, while outlining its evolution from the 1960s to the beginning of the twenty-first century.

This book will provide students and amateurs of contemporary art and culture with new insights into contemporary art practices and the critical issues that they raise concerning the material status of the art object, the role of the artist in society, and the relation between art and everyday life.


Introduction: Almost nothing
Part I: 'Dharma bums', 1958-71
1. Junk aesthetics in a throwaway age
2. 'At the point of imperceptibility'
3. The 'good-for-nothing'
Part II: The 'light years', 1991-2009
4. Joins in the age of 'liquid modernity'
5. Futility and precarity
Postscript: On the humanism of precarious works


Anna Dezeuze is Lecturer in Art History at the Ecole Supérieure d'Art et de Design Marseille-Méditerranée in Marseilles

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