Poetics and Place: The Architecture of Sign, Subject and Site

Kristen Kreider

Research output: Book/ReportBook


As the artworks in this book attest, language is haunted by a history of trauma. Through this, they continue to communicate. Within these artworks there is silence, but a silence that ‘speaks’ and solicits us to respond. How do these artworks ‘speak’, and how do we ‘listen’ and respond? These questions underlie the investigation here of Roni Horn’s Pair Object III: For Two Rooms, Emily Dickinson’s later manuscripts, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Passages Paysages, Fiona Templeton’s Cells of Release and Jenny Holzer’s Lustmord. Each chapter in Poetics and Place is dedicated to one of these five artworks, and is arranged in order to fulfil three main objectives: to understand how the artworks generate meaning through a material poetics in relation to place; to develop a critical methodology for engaging with them; and to investigate their ethical potential and political imperative. All of this, ultimately, facilitates the development of a triadic relation between theoretical concepts of sign, subjects and site at the crossover between poetry, art and spatial practices.

Together, the tenets of critical performance, art-writing and site-writing inform the critical method used in Poetics and Place. Positioning the critic as the artwork’s site of reception, the book engages creatively and critically with it. This extends each artwork beyond the dyad of a critical encounter in order to offer – and allow others to grasp – an appreciation of how the artwork figures meaningfully, as well as configures meaning, in the wider world of objects and things. The book concludes with a discussion of the ethics of reading from the second person, opening up a debate concerning the role of empathy within contemporary, politically-engaged practices in art and poetry.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherI.B. Tauris
Number of pages280
ISBN (Print)9781780763378
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • material poetics
  • poetics
  • place
  • architecture
  • site-writing
  • art-writing
  • critical performance
  • Fiona Templeton
  • Jenny Holzer
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
  • Roni Horn
  • Kristen Kreider
  • sign
  • subjects
  • site
  • critical aesthetics

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