I wrote one of my graduate school qualifying papers on the theory of literary critic Harold Bloom, called “the anxiety of influence.” In a quick nutshell, the theory is about how a “poet simultaneously imitates and distorts the work of his predecessors in order to overcome the anxiety that their influence provokes” (my words). It has often been applied to artists as well as poets, as it was in my paper (in my case, to appropriation artists–Mike Bidlo and Sherrie Levine specifically).
I often worry that the artists and theories I’m interested in are passé; in Bloom’s case I believe he has fallen somewhat out of favor because… why was it again? Oh, yeah, cuz he’s a racist sexist jackass. But, much like Freud, his personal shortcomings do not completely invalidate his better ideas.
Anyhoo, I was pleased to see, in my e-flux reading (see parts 1 and 2), that an MFA graduate exhibition in Rotterdam used Bloom’s theory as the theme, and one of his books on the theory, The Map of Misreading, as the title.
Validation! The Witte de With Contemporary Art center in Rotterdam had an exhibition in 2005 on forms of reenactment in contemporary art; it included my guy Mike Bidlo, who is very out of fashion. Man, they really get me in Rotterdam!