On Contemporary Art
César Aira and Katherine Silver
Translated into English for the first time, On Contemporary Art , a speech by the renowned novelist César Aira, was delivered at a 2010 colloquium in Madrid dedicated to bridging the gap between writing and the visual arts. On Aira’s dizzying and dazzling path, everything comes under question— from reproducibility of art works to the value of the written word itself. In the end, Aira leaves us stranded on the bridge between writing and art that he set out to construct in the first place, flailing as we try to make sense of where we stand. Aira’s On Contemporary Art exemplifies what the ekphrasis series is dedicated to doing—exploring the space in which words give meaning to objects, and objects shape our words.
Like the great writers Walter Benjamin and Hermann Broch before him, Aira operates in the space between ficiton and essay writing, art and analysis. Pursuing quesitions about reproducibility, art making, and limits of language, Aira’s unique voice adds new insights to the essentia; conversations that continue to inform our undertanding of art.