Cover of The Arts of Logistics by Michael Shane Boyle
The Arts of Logistics
Artistic Production in Supply Chain Capitalism
Michael Shane Boyle

SERIES: Post*45

September 2024
296 pages.
from $32.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503640047
Paperback ISBN: 9781503640436



We live in a world where nothing is untouched by supply chains—art included. In this major contribution to the study of contemporary culture and supply chains, Michael Shane Boyle has assembled a global inventory of aesthetics since the 1950s that reveals logistics to be a pervasive means of artistic production. The Arts of Logistics provides a new map of supply chain capitalism, scrutinizing how artists retool technologies designed for circulating commodities. What emerges is a magisterial account of the logistics revolution that foregrounds the role played by art in the long downturn of global capitalism.

With chapters on art produced from technologies including ships, barrels, containers, and drones, Boyle narrates the long history of art's connection to logistics, beginning in the transatlantic slave trade and continuing today in Silicon Valley's dreams of automation. The global reach of the artists considered reflects the geographies of supply chain capitalism itself. In taking stock of how performance, sculpture, and popular culture are entangled in trade and racialized labor regimes, Boyle profiles influential work by artists such as Christo and Allan Kaprow alongside that of contemporary figures including Cai Guo-Qiang and Selina Thompson. This incisive study demonstrates that art and logistics are linked by the infrastructures and violence that keep supply chains moving.

About the author

Michael Shane Boyle is Senior Lecturer in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London.

"This is the book about logistics and art that we have been waiting for. Both broad and deep enough to do justice to its topic, it is engagingly written and a pleasure to read."

—Susan Zieger, University of California Riverside

"This book is by far one of the most brilliant books in a crop of very brilliant books on logistics. It is original, beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated, and it fizzes and pops with imagination, righteous outrage, hefty analysis, and humor."

—Laleh Khalili, University of Exeter

"A brilliant examination of the logistical mode of artistic production. This is aesthetic theory down at the docks and across the sea—in solidarity, antagonistic, yet alive to the repurposing of logistical infrastructures within an artistic imagination."

—Ned Rossiter, Western Sydney University