Many artists, critics, social scientists, and philosophers who
stimulated my rethinking of contemporary society and art
are recognized in these pages. The sections that I devote to
Francis Alÿs, Carlos Amorales, León Ferrari, Antoni Munta-
das, and Gabriel Orozco are based on pieces that I was in-
vited to write for catalogues or books about their works and
on lengthy visits to their studios and exhibits.
To support theoretical arguments in a transnational eth-
nographic understanding of what is happening in the arts
and cultures today, one must spend a lot of time in work-
shops, galleries, museums, biennales, art fairs, and symposia
in many countries, talking with viewers who enjoy or reject
them. When we have the chance to think in company, some-
times in the company of the same people in different cities
and at institutions with differing strategies, and to continue
conversations and debates over email, our chances improve
of correcting a first impression or an intellectual habit that
otherwise might persist in our thinking when the world has
already moved on to other things. For this reason I owe a
debt of gratitude to, among others, Rita Eder, Andrea Giunta,
Manuel Gutiérrez Estévez, Nelly Richard, Graciela Sper-
anza, and George Yúdice.
The Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico
City gave me the research time I needed and made it possible
for me to take on these intellectual arguments in a graduate
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