Anthony Stott: Critical Space

I will be using my Fulbright to conduct research in Tokyo while affiliated with Waseda University. This research will be for my dissertation project, tentatively entitled Formations of Critical Space: Critique and its Limits After the Collapse of the Japanese New Left. My dissertation will consider formations of artists and intellectuals around two preeminent Japanese-language journals Critical Space (Hihyō kūkan, 1991–2002) and Hermes (Herumesu, 1984–1997), in order to shed light on the unexplored terrain of contemporary Japanese intellectual history and theory. By situating these figures’ art and thought historically, institutionally, and disciplinarily, I ask: How do these interdisciplinary formations grapple with their present through the lens of critique? Challenging muddled, abstracted, and limiting understandings of critique, I instead concretize the term as an embedded mode of writing and making that emerges through these groups’ negotiations of certain shared social problematics across both art and criticism. I also unsettle the tendency to subordinate Japanese theory and criticism to the study of art and to treat them as derivative of Euro-American theory. In the process, I show how these groups’ theoretical innovations contribute to recent debates around modernisms, structuralisms, and especially critique without reducing their work to these terms.