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31 December 2017
States of exception


Things happened and nobody in the world of art or art criticism said anything, at least anywhere other than the Facebook or Twitter walls. We had a pressing need to ask ourselves questions – which is what we like best – and to ask other authors to speak about it.

We pondered on the normalisation of exceptionality following the social and political events taking place in our most immediate environment, but also, in global terms, on an age in which power structures are showing symptoms of re-authoritarianism (affecting decisions in the spheres of economics, politics, ecology, security, peaceful coexistence, etc.).

In today’s accelerated rhythm of decision-making ,steps that are advertised as urgent, critical, are given preference to those that are settled with the necessary guarantees and balance of counter-powers, turning what has been imposed unilaterally into a new status quo.

Different ways of relating, travelling and being in the world, of loving and having sex are increasingly mediated by messages of urgency for motives of security, appearances, control, etc., and it will be difficult to ensure that these restrictions are withdrawn. Big brother is watching you — but not only that, you are big brother, too, now!

We began the month with an always brilliant Martí Manen in a text that often moved from the realm of the individual to the collective, leaping through time to try and understand the reason for so much exception: ‘We began to share and to explore other types of formulation beyond what is accepted. We destroyed history because the present didn’t allow itself to be destroyed, and we investigated the future as an emotional escape route too. To leave here right now yet with no idea of where to go. To leave now, to attempt to leave this continuous present that has replaced monotony with bewilderment.’

Marina Vives tried to analyse the Catalan issue (the process or the threat, according to who should be reading) weeks before the elections to the autonomous region, well aware of the tension that had been felt in Catalonia over the previous months, yet also homing in on a ruling party and a legal system full of exceptional irregularities that are being overlooked with too much impunity.

María Muñoz interviewed a lucid and necessary Franco Berardi, BIFO, who was in Barcelona briefly to present his latest book And: Phenomenology of the End, published by Caja Negra in 2017. Among other matters, they discussed – in philosophical terms – the current moment of mutation, the sense of finitude of and in contemporary society, and the bewilderment caused by ‘exceptionality’.

Last but not least, Jeffrey Schwartz signed a text in which he suggested the reasons for an active abstention, as regards both votes and ideology, in the face of a remote and corrupt system. Along the same lines, he considered the position (or lack of position) of the Catalan cultural classes and their options before a real occupation of the power and decision structures.

If that weren’t enough, we also discussed states of exception with Marina Garcés, Valentín Roma, Francesc Torres and Imma Prieto in an A*LIVE charged with reflection, held on 20 December at Escola Massana in Barcelona, documented on video and available here.

In the knowledge that the next day nothing would actually change, this collective thinking at least gave us a moment of composure to listen and speak calmly, while outside everything was still hurried and tense.

A*DESK, Independent Institute of Criticism and Contemporary Art, is dedicated to learning, publishing and research related to the criticism of contemporary art. Taking the view that critical thought makes individuals free, its mission is to defend actively the importance of criticism: to generate debate about contemporary art, to enable each individual to establish their own opinion and by doing so promote culture.


31 December 2017

States of exception

30 November 2017


31 October 2017


30 September 2017

Silence. Reflexion

"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)