Dr T J Demos

T.J. Demos writes widely on modern and contemporary art and his essays have appeared in journals such as Grey Room, October,Third Text, and Nka. He is also a critic, writing for magazines such as Artforum and Texte zur Kunst. His published work centers broadly on the conjunction of art and politics, examining the ability of artistic practice to invent innovative and experimental strategies that challenge dominant social, political, and economic conventions.

Demos’ current research focuses on contemporary art, investigating in particular the diverse ways that artists have negotiated crises associated with globalization, including the emerging conjunction of post-9/11 political sovereignty and statelessness, the hauntings of the colonial past, and the growing conflicts around ecology and climate change. His most recent books include The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary during Global Crisis (Duke University Press, 2013), which explores the relation of contemporary art–including practices from North America, Europe, and the Middle East–to the experience of social dislocation, political crisis, and economic inequality, where art figures in ways both critically analytical and creatively emancipating; and Return to the Postcolony: Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press, 2013), which addresses the recent returns of artists–including Sven Augustijnen, Zarina Bhimji, Pieter Hugo, Renzo Martens, and Vincent Meessen–to former colonial states in Sub-Saharan Africa and the resulting art–predominantly photography and film–that investigates the traumas of past and present colonial relations and injustices.

Attendant to developments in environmental crisis, postcolonial studies, and artistic practice, he has recently edited a special issue of the journal Third Text on “Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology” (no. 120, January 2013).

Demos is also the author of The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp (MIT Press, 2007), which places Duchamp’s installations and mixed-media projects – including his “portable museum,” La Boîte-en-valise – in relation to geopolitical and aesthetic displacement during the early twentieth century’s periods of world war and nationalism; and Dara Birnbaum: Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman (MIT Press/Afterall Books, 2010), which examines Birnbaum’s art practice in relation to postmodernist appropriation, media analysis, and feminist politics, and explores the artist’s pioneering attempts to open up the transformative capacities of video as a medium.