Matthew Jesse Jackson


Matthew Jesse Jackson’s recent scholarship has focused on two related phenomena: the performative character of scholarly activity (the lecture) and the fictive character of scholarly narration (the text). Most of his work of the preceding decade, often produced with collaborators under the rubric of Our Literal Speed, has been dedicated to investigating how lectures and texts might manifest wisdom and knowledge.

He is the author of The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant-Gardes (University of Chicago Press, 2010; paperback, 2016), winner of the Robert Motherwell Book Award from The Dedalus Foundation for outstanding publication in the history and criticism of modernism in the arts, as well as the Vucinich Book Prize for the most important contribution to Russian, Eurasian, and East European studies in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES). The volume was also named runner-up for Book of the Year in art history and criticism at the American Publishers (PROSE) Awards, and placed on the short list for Book of the Year by the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages (AATSEEL). Reviews appeared in Artforum, Art in America, Art Journal, Art Monthly, Artkhronika, Kunsttexte, The Nation, Oxford Art Journal, Russian Review, Slavic Review, Slavic and East European Journal, and Third Text.

Later he co-authored and co-curated the book/exhibition Vision and Communism, while several of his texts appeared as the voice of the character “Matthew Jesse Jackson” in Christian Matthiessen’s (rather remarkable) novel OTMA & LUNL: On Tour Mit Art & Language und Niklas Luhmann/Ein Theorie Roman in the Style of the Jackson Pollock Bar (Kulturverlag Kadmos, 2012).

For more years than he’d care to mention he’s been “doing” Our Literal Speed—about which Artforum once wrote, “The messy, unresolved productiveness—at times brilliance—of ‘Our Literal Speed’ lay in its complicated challenge to the neutralizing assumptions about a ‘community’ constituting an artwork peddled by and after relational aesthetics.” When not in disrepute and/or despair, the project’s managed to participate in the Whitney Independent Study Program as a Studio Fellow, received a Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts Grant, an Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts/Creative Capital Foundation Arts Writers Grant, the Epson Fondazione Antonio Ratti Prize for Artistic Research, and was named a Paul D. Fleck Fellow at the Banff Centre.

Jackson’s own research has been supported by fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Clark Art Institute, the Getty Research Institute, and the Social Science Research Council. He earned a PhD in History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley thanks to Anne M. Wagner and T.J. Clark, and is also ABD in Russian Literature, having been awarded MPhil and MA degrees from Columbia University. He graduated summa cum laude with a BA in French and German from the Florida State University (three national championships and counting…).

His writings about art and artists have been translated into Catalan, German, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, and Turkish, and he was truly humbled to have been a guest on the legendary Viewpoint with Randy Williams on Selma, Alabama’s WBBW AM 1490 Radio.

He’s the editor and co-translator from the Russian of Ilya Kabakov: On Art (forthcoming, University of Chicago Press, 2018) and he’s hard at work on two other interrelated projects: Everythingism and Vernacular Modernism All Over the Deep South.

Jackson was born, raised, and (barely) graduated from high school among the gently rolling hills of Shelby County, Alabama.


Vision and Communism

Editor with Robert Bird, Christopher Heuer, Tumelo Mosaka and Stephanie Smith, The New Press

The Experimental Group: Ilya Kabakov, Moscow Conceptualism, Soviet Avant-Gardes

University of Chicago Press

Ilya Kabakov. On Art, Introduction, Editor and translator, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2018)


“If You Can Already Think It, It’s Probably Not Worth Thinking About: The Art of TaniaBruguera,” in Tania Bruguera: The Francis Effect, ed. Noah Simblist (New York: Guggenheim, forthcoming 2018) Produced by Our Literal Speed


“Vernacular Modernism All Over the Deep South,” in C. 1970: The Ends of Painting, eds. Paris Lettau and David Homewood (Melbourne: Discipline Publishing, forthcoming 2019) Produced by Our Literal Speed


“The Elimination of Utopianism Is Yet Another Form of Utopianism,” in Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: Not Everyone Will Be Taken Into the Future, ed. Juliet Bingham (London: Tate Modern, 2017)


“The Artist as Performer as Artist,” in Thinking Pictures: The Visual Field of Moscow Conceptualism, ed. Jane Sharp (New Brunswick, NJ: Zimmerli Museum, 2016)


“Our Literal Speed,” in Comparativism in Art History, ed. Jas Elsner (London: Routledge, 2016) Produced by Our Literal Speed


“Emergencia,” in Art History and Emergency, eds. David Breslin and Darby English (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016) Produced by Our Literal Speed


“What Art & Language, Ilya Kabakov and Kazimir Malevich Have in Common,” in The Non Objective World, ed. Jill Silverman (London: Galleria Sprovieri, 2016)


Review of Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Formalism and Historicity: Models and Methods in Twentieth-Century Art, Critical Inquiry (Spring 2016) Produced by Our Literal Speed



Our Literal Speed: Über die Asthetische Erziehung des Menschen, Princeton University, 2012

Vision and Communism, Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 2011

Our Literal Speed: An Exhibition Accompanying a Conference, Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2009

Our Literal Speed, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM), Karlsruhe, 2008


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