Jasper Bernes

Dissertation Fellow
2011-2012
Image of Jasper Bernes.

Arguing that labor is central to the understanding of aesthetic activity, Jasper Bernes’s research in English asks what the work of art shares with work in general. Titled “The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization,” his dissertation approaches this question historically, by articulating a logic of labor that appears in the literature and art of the 1960s and 1970s, when political and economic crises forced a restructuring of the labor process and capitalism in general. Examining an aesthetics of distribution and administration (rather than one of production and “things”), Mr. Bernes presents case studies of poets like John Ashbery and conceptual artists like Dan Graham, as well as others, such as Bernadette Mayer and Hannah Weiner, who were at the same time poets and conceptual artists, presenting their poems in the form of installations or performances. His dissertation thus offers both an alternative account of the cultural transformations of the period and a prehistory of the present, one which seeks to explain how, today, innovative art has come to seem a form of information management.