:: participation and spectacle ::

Instead of a “utopian” agenda, today’s artists seek only to find provisional solutions in the here and now; instead of trying to change their environment, artists today are simply “learning to inhabit the world in a better way”; instead of looking forward to a future utopia, this art sets up functioning “microtopias” in the present.
-Claire Bishop, Antagonism & Relational Aesthetics [p54]

Through this week’s readings I found most value in speaking towards the relationship of the virtual to the physical, the potential conceptual through the ideological manifestation. Adopting an intense affinity towards Situationism, the phrase Never Work, Never Make Art has always stuck out as a life philosophy in the sense that one should never commodify what it is they find pleasurable in life. If the process of art is a pleasurable, cathartic experience, then why make it one that has a closed process under terms of self-validation within an authoritative system. Claire Bishop provides a strikingly gorgeous account for participatory arts within a relational system of civic responsibility. Through her analysis, and Miwon Kwon’s writing on site-specificity, the artist as producer is de-emphasized and what is concentrated upon becomes the role of encounter within a social composition. This is a fascinating note, and one that I still can not comprehend in the context of this reading, but where is there a boundary between “art” and the role of “social practice”. Yes, art is social practice and exists in every moment of our experience… but it is the gallery-centric approach within our provided examples which confuses my perspective of art. However, let’s not dwell on that.

Current Western thought dictates that all interaction must be centered around improving market capital, and to hear Claire articulate that, “all relations that permit ‘dialogue’ are automatically assumed to be democratic and therefore good. But what does “democracy” really mean in this context” is truly a chance to take a stance against disingenuous forms of dialogue. If relational art is that which produces human relations, how can we discuss the politics of the relationships which are produced? I don’t aim to answer this question… but between Eco, Althusser, Bourriaud, Bishop, and the numerous projects we have at hand, there is nothing but room for debate.

Categories: Reflective Posts


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