Future Ruins: The Art of Abstractive Democracy will examine ways in which representation feels unmoored in early 21st-century United States. A useful term for coordinating legal, linguistic, and aesthetic dimensions of contemporary life, this book considers representation as a philosophical project, a mode of address, a category of image making, and more. In examining performance and art of the last decade, Future Ruins will dwell in a contemporary disciplinary indistinction that broadens the space between image and meaning, word and thought. Future Ruins will pair its disciplinary approach with the condition it observes, bringing together methods, terms and objects from art history, performance studies, political philosophy, black studies, and queer theory to articulate a modernist genealogy that has introduced instability to the normative representational schema. In the performances and artworks discussed, broad questions of sovereignty and subjectivity are entangled with political failures, contested authority, and radical action. Future Ruins will seek out the limits of the avant-garde, the racialization of form, and a reorganization of public and private.


Malik Gaines is a writer and performer whose book, Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left: A History of the Impossible traces a transnational circulation of political ideas through performances of the sixties and beyond. He has published articles in Women & Performance, Artforum, Art Journal, and many essays and interviews about art and performance for journals, magazines, museum publications, and monographs for artists Mark Bradford, Andrea Bowers, Sharon Hayes, Charles Gaines, Glenn Ligon, and Wangechi Mutu. Gaines has performed and exhibited with collaborators Jade Gordon and Alexandro Segade as the group My Barbarian, whose work has been shown at MoMA, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Kitchen, LACMA, MOCA LA, ICA Philadelphia, Toronto’s Power Plant, Amsterdam’s De Appel, Madrid’s El Matadero, Cairo’s Townhouse Gallery, and many others locations, has had solo exhibitions at the New Museum and Participant Inc., the Hammer Museum, Human Resources, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Gallery 400, Transformer Gallery, Museo El Eco, and Yaffo 23 and has received awards and grants from United States Artists, Foundation for Contemporary Art, Creative Capital, Art Matters, and the City of Los Angeles. Gaines is Associate Professor of Performance Studies in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.