Sunday, February 21, 2021

Experimental Jetset - Superstructures

I was really excited to participate in a project created by Dutch artist collective Experimental Jetset, in which they invited a bunch of critics and theorists - including Owen Hatherley, McKenzie Wark, Ian F. Svenonius and many others - to write annotations to a text of their own. These annotations are mostly more like mini-essays than footnotes, so the size of the accumulated supplementary text far surpasses the original document. The resulting compendium Superstructures is a  visually and typographically exquisite volume dense with stimulating writing addressing four zones of 20th Century utopian urbanism:  The Constructivist City, The Situationist City, The Provotarian City, The Post-Punk City

(If you are thinking my footnotes would be restricted to the part on post-punk, actually no, I had some things to say about Situationism and even Provo, via a certain favorite psychedelic song). 

The book can be ordered directly from Roma Publications in Amsterdam, but is also widely available in art bookshops and museums etc through Idea Books distribution. 

Here is the official release rationale: 

"Superstructures (Notes on EJ, Vol. 2) is an inquiry into the role of the city as an infrastructure for language (and simultaneously, into the role of language as an infrastructure for the city), as seen through the lens of four historical movements: Constructivism, the Situationist International, Provo, and the Post-Punk explosion. Based on a research project (and accompanying exhibition) by Experimental Jetset, the publication features footnotes written by 20 guest-authors – including Linda van Deursen, Owen Hatherley, Dirk van den Heuvel, Tom McDonough, Adam Pendleton, Simon Reynolds, McKenzie Wark, Lori Waxman, Mimi Zeiger, and many others. The 420-page paperback comes with a 26-page zine, zooming in on the design typology of the original exhibition."


Although Superstructures is Volume 2 in a trilogy of Notes on Experimental Jetset volumes, it's actually the last of the three to be published (yes, confusing, but apparently there's a logic to that). 

Here is Experimental Jetset's explanation of the entire project series: 

"The first one (‘Statement and Counter-Statement – Notes on EJ, Vol. 1’, from 2015) was basically a monograph, showing our work as a whole. We also asked some people (Linda van Deursen, Mark Owens, Ian Svenonius) to write essays about us, without mentioning us – so that was a nice twist.

"We’re very bad (extremely bad) in doing lectures – but we explain the paperback in full during this talk:

"The second one (‘Full Scale False Scale’ – Notes on EJ, Vol. 3’, from 2019) basically focused on one single project – the long-term installation we recently created at the MoMA in New York. It’s basically a reader, compiled of texts we read while working on that particular project – mostly texts that deal with the transition from European early-modernism to American late-/post-modernism.

"The third paperback (‘Superstructures – Notes on EJ, Vol. 2’, from 2020) is dealing mostly with our influences (Constructivism, the Situationist International, Provo, Post-Punk), exploring the ways in which these movements used the city as an infrastructure for language.

"In other words, the first book (Vol. 1) is about our work as a whole, the second book (which is actually Vol. 3) is about one specific project, while the third book (Vol. 2) is about our influences in general."