Poems and Parables on the Political Utility of Art

Poems and Parables on the Political Utility of Art is a small book. It looks like poetry, but it is perhaps better described as a kind of criticism (peak inside here). Taking up some recent disqualifications of art’s political potential, it refutes them in a threefold movement: against the notion of commodification of works of art; against the notion that art can be denounced as always-already reified from the safe position of a pure, untouched theory; against the notions that art must either reveal our alienation, or produce immediate effects on the social sphere. Outlining art’s transformative possibilities in the figure of labor, the argument unfolds among fables of donkeys, apes and accountants, shoemakers and barricades, German angels and non-German angels, zebras from Gaza, and a poem from Emily Dickinson.

Poems and Parables is an attempt to achieve a certain lightness in the critical and theoretical work I normally undertake in other formats.

Karl Katz Lydén
Poems and Parables on the Political Utility of Art
Cover and interior design: Robin Watkins
ISBN 978-3-96436-052-6
92 Pages

Press / Reviews:
Två lustfyllda sidor av samma mynt” (Sv), Fredrik Svensk, Aftonbladet
Critic on the Loose” (En) / ”Kritiker på grönbete” (Sv), Matthew Rana, Kunstkritikk

The book is available online for €16 at Bom Dia Books
Distributed by les presses du réel
Bookstores: After 8 Books (Paris), Printed Matter (New York), The Word Is Change (New York), Perdu (Amsterdam), Hopscotch Reading Room (Berlin), Aniara (Gothenburg), Anti (Malmö), Konsthallens bokhandel (Malmö), Aspuddens bokhandel, Index, Rönnells Antikvariat, Söderbokhandeln (Stockholm), Antikvariat Viktoriagatan (Halmstad), YNKB/BCAB (Copenhagen); until sold out.

A Spanish translation will appear: Poemas y Parábolas sobre la Utilidad Política del Arte, trans. Carlos Soto-Roman, Carbon Libros, Santiago 2023/24 (forthcoming).