Imperial College London

Art and (Bare) Life: A Biopolitical Inquiry


Josie Berry at an exhibition in Paris

Josephine Berry's latest book, Art and (Bare) Life, has been published by Sternberg Press.

The book, which analyses modern and contemporary art’s drive to blur with life, will be officially launched on Wednesday 13 February at 18:30, at The Word Bookshop SE14 6AF.

Art and (Bare) Life launch event details.

From today’s “creative cities” to the birth of modern democracy and art in the French Revolution, Art and (Bare) Life explores how the Enlightenment’s discovery of life itself is mirrored in politics and art. The galvanizing revelation that we are, in Michel Foucault’s words, “a living species in a living world,” free to alter our environment to produce specific effects, is compared here to the discovery that art is an autonomous system that can be piloted toward its own self-determined ends—art for art’s sake. But when both art and the capitalist state seek to change life rather than reflect it, they find themselves set on a collision course.

The book has received high praise from academics, including Dr Angela Dimitrakaki of the University of Edinburgh:

“Josephine Berry’s Art and (Bare) Life is an exemplary work. Here, for the first time, key concepts of contemporary political philosophy, such as biopower and biopolitics, are embedded within modern art history and theory. Erudite and sensitive to art’s complex field of intentions and outcomes, this in-depth study of aesthetics and politics is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding a foundational and regularly renewed dichotomy: ‘art’ and ‘life.’”

Read more about Art and (Bare) Life by Sternberg Press.

Josephine Berry teaches Imperial Horizons course Visual Culture, Knowlegde and Power to third and fourth year undergraduates.


Cleo Bowen

Cleo Bowen
Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication