Art exhibitions are elaborate and expensive works of political the-
ater. They have their own special unique rhetorical styles, social
teachings, and cultural agendas. I have'always been interested in the
pelitical subtexts of such aesthetic productions, particularly when
they are staged in museum settings, and this book develops my
readings of several art exhibitions in their cultural, economic, polit-
ical, and social contexts during the late 1980s and early 19905. Over
the past five years, I have been visiting, and then writing about, art
shows for
Art Papers,
which is a nationally recognized, regionally
based journal of contemporary art published in Atlanta. Each of the
chapters in this book first appeared either as extended review essays
or short critical articles in
Art Papers,
and they are reprinted here in
revised form with permission. Without the supportive encourage-
ment of Glenn Harper, the editor of
Art Papers,
this book never
would have come together; along with Barbara Schreiber, an asso-
ciate editor of
Art Papers,
he provided many helpful editorial sug-
gestions. I thank them both for all of their efforts.
At the same time many other people aided me with their com-
ments and criticisms of this manuscript, including Ben Agger, John
Bokina, James Der Derian, Suzi Gablik, Gerard Toal, Florinda
Volpacchio, and Stephen K. White. In addition to putting up with
my unending fascination with art shows, my wife, Kay Heid-
breder, read and reacted to every chapter, contributing many im-
portant insights. I also sincerely appreciate the work of Lawrence
Malley and Jean Brady of Duke University Press, who guided the
review and editing of this manuscript with constant consideration,
great skill, and strong support. Kim Hedge, Terry Kingrea, and
Maxine Riley in the Department of Political Science at Virginia
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