W urs. Nicolas Bourriaud. Relational Aesthetics. Translated by Simon Pleasance & Fronza Woods with the participation of Mathieu Copeland les presses du rée!. From Relational Aesthetics - Nicolas Bourriaud (). Relational form. Artistic activity is a game, whose forms, patterns and functions develop and evolve. Relational Aesthetics - Nicolas dingharbasuppprom.ga - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online.
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Download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd. Flag for inappropriate Relational aesthetics is a theory of aesthetics in which artworks are judged based . On the occasion of its opening in , the Palais de Tokyo immediately struck the visitor as different from other contemporary art venues that had recently. Excerpts from Relational Aesthetics, The work of art as social interstice. The possibility of a relational art (an art that takes as its theoretical horizon the.
Some relational art cannot be further away from ideas and purposes than other relational art, therefore a struggle occurs where it is difficult to place them under the same 'Relational Aesthetics' term, as they would maybe sit more comfortably in between pieces of other times and other mediums, that had more similar approach to ethics and ways of organising and exhibiting.
Claire Bishop does, however, oversimplify the matter when she writes: 'I am not suggesting that relational art works need to develop a greater social conscience—by making pinboard works about international terrorism, for example, or giving free curries to refugees. Santiago Sierra's or Tania Bruguera's works are valuable not only because they are aesthetically pleasing, but because they do politically and relationally what they set out to with convincing execution of these aims.
Agnes Deane's 'Wheatfield' 6 or even Tiravanija's 'Untitled Free ' in Gallery are struggling to achieve similar effects because of their hierarchical, micro-topian language which weakens the work rather than making it stronger. If utopia suggests perfection, microtopia defines adaptation. So it is not the ethical vs. Subsequently, the medium does not necessarily have to come into this.
The same is to say about Bourriaud's attempt to single out 'Altermodern' as a new kind of art that has arrived at the end of the post-modern period, made in today's global context, as a a reaction against cultural standardisation.
Yet again, he fails to recognise the continuous global expansion of capitalism, something that has started about two centuries ago and what has led to a birth of modernism. There are definitely examples of some shift towards a new way of organising society hence producing a new kind of art, but Bourriaud fails to bring these examples to support his theory therefore completely missing the opportunity.
Because if Bourriaud thinks that we are past post- modern, he must be able to recognise the shifts of society as we know it, but his arguments for that 6. Created during a six-month period in the spring, summer, and fall of when Denes, with the support of the Public Art Fund, planted a field of golden wheat on two acres of rubble-strewn landfill near Wall Street and the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and then distributed the grown seeds worldwide.
His notion of the shift is very liberal rather than revolutionary, but for the strength of the movement that he wants, liberal won't work.
Bourriaud is trying to play Baudelaire here with Baudelaire's famous words: 'It is true that this great tradition has been lost, and that the new one is not yet established'. Once again, his examples of the pieces in this exhibition struggle to support his manifesto: 1.
The end of postmodernism 2. Cultural hybridisation 3. Travelling as a new way to produce forms 4. The expanding formats of art 'Under threat from fundamentalism and consumer driven uniformisation, menaced by massification and the enforced re-abandonment of individual identity, art today needs to reinvent itself, and on a planetary scale. Because for as long as there will be this hypocrisy, neither Altermodern or Relational Aesthetics can be held as strong fundamentals possessing theories.
As Dr. Jeanne S. Ok, so I just looked at pictures of Nicolas Bourriaud, which are very much public on Facebook, and so I can say, yeah, he is not Ready yet; 8. I get the feeling is that his heart is kind of in the right place, but is so accustomed to his ways of life and art that he really struggles to see anything beyond that that completely cripples all of his work..
When modernism was 'announced', there were still artists that were engaged in 'feudal' art, when post-modernism kicked in there were still artists working with the themes of industrial revolution, the same goes with the attempt to break away from post-modernism.
Bourriaud is still stuck within the post-modern thought, because he is stuck in the capitalist thought as well. Only a strong break from that, in my opinion, creates anything else than post-modernism and there are artists and collectives that are beyond that. Baudelaire of 'bad faith' due to the many contradictions in his life and work. However, a self- destructive poet and drug addict, who lived in debt on the run from creditors, while, at the same time, taking part in the intellectual and artistic life of Paris, can hardly be expected to be consistent.
The very times of Baudelaire were paradoxical. Although the future is uncertain, the problems of the past are. The XIXth century critical outlook had the benefit of the doubt - technology was the hope for a better world and it was easier to look away.
In the present, this is argument is invalid so therefore Bourriaud objectively cannot attempt to disassociate himself from the past as he is very much intertwined with it in the present.
It is not 'a multicultural explosion' that Bourriaud offers, it is rather a petty liberal attempt to recognise the changes in the approach the status quo society seems to adopting, however failing to present in a truly radical way, so that he could claim as recognising a Start of Something New. The 20th century was thus the arena for a struggle between two visions of the world: a modest, rationalist conception, hailing from the 18th century, and a philosophy of spontaneity and liberation through the irrational Dada, Surrealism, the Situationists , both of which were opposed to authoritarian and utilitarian forces eager to gauge human relations and subjugate people.
Instead of culminating in hoped-for emancipation, the advances of technologies and "Reason" made it that much easier to exploit the South of planet earth, blindly replace human labour by machines, and set up more and more sophisticated subjugation techniques, all through a general rationalisation of the production process. So the modern emancipation plan has been substituted by countless forms of melancholy. Twentieth century avant-garde, from Dadaism to the Situationist International, fell within the tradition of this modern project changing culture, attitudes and mentalities, and individual and social living conditions , but it is as well to bear in mind that this project was already there before them, differing from their plan in many ways.
For modernity cannot be reduced to a rationalist teleology, any more than it can to political messianism. Is it possible to disparage the desire to improve living and working conditions, on the pretext of the bankruptcy of tangible attempts to do as much-shored up by totalitarian ideologies and naive visions of history?
What used to be called the avant-garde has, needless to say, developed from the ideological swing of things offered by modern rationalism: but it is now re-formed on the basis of quite different philosophical, cultural and social presuppositions.
It is evident that today's art is carrying on this fight, by coming up with perceptive, experimental, critical and participatory models, veering in the direction indicated by Enlightenment philosophers, Proudhon, Marx, the Dadaists and Mondrian. If opinion is striving to acknowledge the legitimacy and interest of these experiments, this is because they are no longer presented like the precursory phenomena of an inevitable historical evolution.
Quite to the contrary, they appear fragmentary and isolated, like orphans of an overall view of the world bolstering them with the clout of an ideology. It is not modernity that is dead, but its idealistic and teleological version. Today's fight for modernity is being waged in the same terms as yesterday's, barring the fact that the avant-garde has stopped patrolling like some scout, the troop having come to a cautious standstill around a bivouac of certainties.
Art was intended to prepare and announce a future world: today it is modelling possible universes. The ambition of artists who include their practice within the slipstream of historical modernity is to repeat neither its forms nor its claims, and even less assign to art the same functions as it.
Their Page 5 task is akin to the one that Jean-Francois Lyotard allocated to post- modern architecture, which "is condemned to create a series of minor modifications in a space whose modernity it inherits, and abandon an overall reconstruction of the space inhabited by humankind". What is more, Lyotard seems to half-bemoan this state of affairs: he defines it negatively, by using the term "condemned".
And what, on the other hand, if this "condemnation" represented the historical chance whereby most of the art worlds known to us managed to spread their wings, over the past ten years or so? This "chance" can be summed up in just a few words: learning to inhabit the world in a better way, instead of trying to construct it based on a preconceived idea of historical evolution.
Otherwise put, the role of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and Utopian realties, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real, whatever the scale chosen by the artist. Althusser said that one always catches the world's train on the move; Deleuze, that "grass grow s from the middle" and not from the bottom or the top.
The artist dwells in the circumstances the present offers him, so as to turn the setting of his life his links with the physical and conceptual world into a lasting world.
He catches the world on the move: he is a tenant of culture. Nowadays, modernity extends into the practices of cultural do-it- yourself and recycling, into the invention of the everyday and the development of time lived, which are not objects less deserving of attention and examination than Messianistic Utopias and the formal "novelties" that typified modernity yesterday.
There is nothing more absurd either than the assertion that contemporary art does not involve any political project, or than the claim that its subversive aspects are not based on any theoretical terrain. Its plan, which has just as much to do with working conditions and the conditions in which cultural objects are produced, as with the changing forms of social life, may nevertheless seem dull to minds formed, in the mould of cultural Darwinism.
Here, then, is the time of the "dolce Utopia", to use Maurizio Cattelan's phrase Artwork as social interstice The possibility of a relational art an art taking as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space , points to a radical upheaval of the aesthetic, cultural and political goals introduced by modern art.
To sketch a sociology of this, this evolution stems essentially from the birth of a world- wide urban culture, and from the extension of this city model to more or less all cultural phenomena. The general growth of towns and cities, which took off at the end of the Second World War, gave rise not only to an extraordinary upsurge of social exchanges, but also to much greater individual mobility through the development of networks and roads, and telecommunications, and the gradual freeing-up of isolated places, going with the opening-up of attitudes.
Because of the crampedness of dwelling spaces in this urban world, there was, in tandem, a scaling-down of furniture and objects, now emphasising a greater manoeuvrability. If, for a long period of time, the artwork has managed to come across as a luxury, lordly item in this urban setting the dimensions of the work, as well as those of the apartment, helping to distinguish between, their owner and the crowd , the development of the function of artworks and the way they are shown attest to a growing urbanisation of the artistic experiment.
What is collapsing before our very eyes is nothing other than this falsely aristocratic conception of the arrangement of works of art, associated with the feeling of territorial acquisition. In other words, it is no longer possible to regard the contemporary work as a space to be walked through the "owner's tour" is akin to the collector's.
It is henceforth presented as a period of time to be lived through, like an opening to unlimited discussion. The city has ushered in and spread the hands-on experience: it is the tangible symbol and historical setting of the state of society, that "state of encounter imposed on people", to use Althusser's expression3, contrasting with that dense and "trouble-free" jungle which the natural state once was, according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a jungle hampering any lasting encounter.
Once raised to the power of an absolute rule of civilisation, this system of intensive encounters has ended up producing linked artistic practices: an art form where the substrate is formed by inter- 2 Michel do Certeau: Manieres de faire. Editions Idees-Gallimard. Ecrits philosophiques el politiques. Page 6 subjectivity, and which takes being-together as a central theme, the "encounter" between beholder and picture, and the collective elaboration of meaning.
Let us leave the matter of the historicity of this phenomenon on one side: art has always been relational in varying degrees, i. One of the virtual properties of the image is its power of linkage Fr.
Art practices stemming from painting and sculpture which come across in the form of an exhibition turns out to be particularly suitable when it comes to expressing this hands- on civilisation, because it tightens the space of relations, unlike TV and literature which refer each individual person to his or her space of private consumption, and also unlike theatre and cinema which bring small groups together before specific, unmistakable images.
Actually, there is no live comment made about what is seen the discussion time is put off until after the show. At an exhibition, on the other hand, even when inert forms are involved, there is the possibility of an immediate discussion, in both senses of the term.
I see and perceive. I comment, and I evolve in a unique space and time. Art is the place that produces a specific sociability. It remains to be seen what the status of this is in the set of "states of encounter" proposed by the City. How is an art focused on the production of such forms of conviviality capable of re-launching the modern emancipation plan, by complementing it?
How does it permit the development of new political and cultural designs? Before giving concrete examples, it is well worth reconsidering the place of artworks in the overall economic system, be it symbolic or material, which governs contemporary society. Over and above its mercantile nature and its semantic value, the work of art represents a social interstice.
This interstice term was used by Karl Marx to describe trading communities that elude the capitalist economic context by being removed from the law of profit: barter, merchandising, autarkic types of production, etc.
The interstice is a space in human relations which fits more or less harmoniously and openly into the overall system, but suggests other trading possibilities than those in effect within this system. This is the precise nature of the contemporary art exhibition in the arena of representational commerce: it creates free areas, and time spans whose rhythm contrasts with those structuring everyday life, and it encourages an inter- human commerce that differs from the "communication zones" that are imposed upon us.
The present-day social context restricts the possibilities of inter-human relations all the more because it creates spaces planned to this end. Automatic public toilets were invented to keep streets clean. The same spirit underpins the development of communication tools, while city streets are swept clean of all manners of relational dross, and neighbourhood relationships fizzle. The general mechanisation of social functions gradually reduces the relational space. Just a few years ago, the telephone wake- up call service employed human beings, but now we are woken up by a synthesised voice The automatic cash machine has become the transit model for the most elementary of social functions, and professional behaviour patterns are modelled on the efficiency of the machines replacing them, these machines carrying out tasks which once represented so many opportunities for exchanges, pleasure and squabbling.
Contemporary art is definitely developing a political project when it endeavours to move into the relational realm by turning it into an issue. Without any wording, Orozco's photographs are a documentary record of tiny revolutions in the common urban and semi-urban life a sleeping bag on the grass, an empty shoebox, etc. They record this silent, still life nowadays formed by relationships with the other.
When Jens Haaning broadcasts funny stories in Turkish through a loudspeaker in a Copenhagen square Turkish Jokes, , he produces in that split second a micro-community, one made up of immigrants brought together by 4 Michel Maffesoli: La contemplation du monde. Editions Grasset. Page 7 collective laughter which upsets their exile situation, formed in relation to the work and in it.
The exhibition is the special place where such momentary groupings may occur, governed as they are by differing principles.
And depending on the degree of participation required of the onlooker by the artist, along with the nature of the works and the models of sociability proposed and represented, an exhibition will give rise to a specific "arena of exchange".
And this "arena of exchange", must be judged on the basis of aesthetic criteria, in other words, by analysing the coherence of its form, and then the symbolic value of the "world" it suggests to us, and of the image of human relations reflected by it.
Within this social interstice, the artist must assume the symbolic models he shows. All representation though contemporary art models more than it represents, and fits into the social fabric more than it draws inspiration therefrom refers to values that can be transposed into society.
As a human activity based on commerce, art is at once the object and the subject of an ethic. And this all the more so because, unlike other activities, its sole function is to be exposed to this commerce.
Art is a state of encounter. Relational aesthetics and random materialism Relational aesthetics is part of a materialistic tradition. Being "materialistic" does not mean sticking to the triteness of facts, nor does it imply that sort of narrow-mindedness that consists in reading works in purely economic terms.
The philosophical tradition that underpins this relational aesthetics was defined in a noteworthy way by Louis Althusser, in one of his last writings, as a "materialism of encounter", or random materialism.
This particular materialism takes as its point of departure the world contingency, which has no pre-existing origin or sense, nor Reason, which might allot it a purpose.
So the essence of humankind is purely trans-individual, made up of bonds that link individuals together in social forms which are invariably historical Marx: the human essence is the set of social relations. There is no such thing as any possible "end of history" or "end of art", because the game is being forever re-enacted, in relation to its function, in other words, in relation to the players and the system which they construct and criticise.
Hubert Damisch saw in the "end of art" theories the outcome of an irksome muddle between the "end of the game" and the "end of play". A new game is announced as soon as the social setting radically changes, without the meaning of the game itself being challenged5. This inter-human game which forms our object Duchamp: "Art is a game between all people of all periods" nevertheless goes beyond the context of what is called "art" by commodity. So the "constructed situations" advocated by the Situationist International belong in their own right to this "game", in spite of Guy Debord who in the final analysis, denied them any artistic character.
For in them, quite to the contrary, he saw "art being exceeded" by a revolution in day-to-day life. Relational aesthetics does not represent a theory of art. This would imply the statement of an origin and a destination, but a theory of form. What do we mean by form? A coherent unit, a structure independent entity of inner dependencies which shows the typical features of a world. The artwork does not have an exclusive hold on it.
In the materialistic philosophical tradition ushered in by Epicurus and Lucretius, atoms fall in parallel formations into the void, following a slightly diagonal course. If one of these atoms swerves off course, it "causes an encounter with the next atom and from encounter to encounter a pile-up, and the birth of the world" This is how forms come into being, from the "deviation" and random encounter between two hitherto parallel elements.
In order to create a world, this encounter must be a lasting one: the elements forming it must be joined together in a form, in other words, there must have been "a setting of elements on one another the way ice 'sets' ".
Lasting encounters, lines and colours inscribed on the surface of a Delacroix painting, the scrap objects that litter Schwitters' "Merz pictures", Chris Burden's performances: over and above the quality of the page layout or the spatial layout, they turn out to be lasting from the 5 Hubert Damisch: Fenetre jaune cadmium. Editions du Seuil.
Page 8 moment when their components form a whole whose sense "holds good" at the moment of their birth, stirring up new "possibilities of life".
All works, down to the most critical and challenging of projects, passes through this viable world state, because they get elements held apart o meet: for example, death and the media in Andy Warhol. Deleuze and Guattari were not saying anything different when they defined the work of art as a "block of affects and percepts". Art keeps together moments of subjectivity associated with singular experiences, be it Cezanne's apples or Buren's striped structures.
The composition of this bonding agent, whereby encountering atoms manage to form a word, is, needless to say, dependent on the historical context. What today's informed public understands by "keeping together" is not the same thing that this public imagined back in the 19th century. Today, the "glue" is less obvious, as our visual experience has become more complex, enriched by a century of photographic images, then cinematography introduction of the sequence shot as a new dynamic unity , enabling us to recognise as a "world" a collection of disparate element installation, for instance that no unifying matter, no bronze, links.
Other technologies may allow the human spirit to recognise other types of "world-forms" still unknown: for example, computer science put forward the notion of program, that inflect the approach of some artist's way of working.
An artist's artwork thus acquires the status of an ensemble of units to be re-activated by the beholder-manipulator.
I want to insist on the instability and the diversity of the concept of "form", notion whose outspread can be witnessed in injunction by the founder of sociology, Emile Durckheim, considering the "social fact" as a "thing" As the artistic "thing" sometime offers itself as a "fact" or an ensemble of facts that happens in the time or space, and whose unity making it a form, a world cannot be questioned. The setting is widening; after the isolated object, it now can embrace the whole scene: the form of Gordon Matta-Clark or Dan Graham's work cannot be reduced to the "things" those two artist "produce"; it is not the simple secondary effects of a composition, as the formalistic aesthetic would like to advance, but the principle acting as a trajectory evolving through signs, objects, forms, gestures The contemporary artwork's form is spreading out from its material form: it is a linking element, a principle of dynamic agglutination.
An artwork is a dot on a line. What is a form that is essentially relational? It seems worthwhile to discuss this question by taking Daney's formula as a point of reference, precisely because of its ambivalence: as forms are looking at us, how are we to look at them? Form is most often defined as an outline contrasting with content. But modernist aesthetics talks about "formal beauty" by referring to a sort of con fusion between style and content, and an inventive compatibility of the former with the latter.
We judge a work through its plastic or visual form. The most common criticism to do with new artistic practices consists, moreover, in denying them any "formal effectiveness", or in singling out their shortcomings in the "formal resolution". In observing contemporary artistic practices, we ought to talk of "formations" rather than "forms".
Conflict can be productive if it is given space for expression. Nurturing the constructive power and limiting the adversarial power of conflict requires continuous work. This connection helps to explain the emphasis with which Marxist organisations have long sought to create and maintain a unitary artistic style, seeking to limit diversity and a supposed fragmentation of the struggle.
After MST leaders considered her proposal, it was decided that she could not perform the dance and her performance was censored on the basis that it was considered too vulgar.
Cristina Chaves also documents examples of members being expelled from a march to Brasilia. But if dissonance need not necessarily result in obliteration, how might conflict be articulated in a more productive manner?
Can contemporary art interventions, diverse as they are, even move social movement theory forward in this respect? Jardim de passagem 8 An example of such segregation is the Brazilian shopping, or mall. Privatised spaces for leisure an In a city where segregation, violence and aggressive zoning are uncontrolled processes that capture symbolic as well as spatial terrain Caldeira , interventions that propose a reuse or rethinking of how the city should be accessed and experienced are highly politicised.
For Jardim de Passagem, 26 performers waited at different bus stops along a specific route, all carrying large plants of different varieties, and waiting for a specific pre-indicated bus. I was the third person to board, and when I did, I sat down unobtrusively towards the back of the long, articulated vehicle. Gradually however, as the bus kept on stopping, and another person carrying a large plant with foliage or exotic blooms came aboard, the murmurs and laughter began to grow.
As the journey continued, there were so many people carrying plants and flowers, that the bus began to resemble a form of mobile garden centre, with hanging baskets suspended on hand rails and the entire bus corridor disappearing behind thick green shrubbery. The man seated next to me ignored the whole intervention, and by the manner he pushed past me to disembark, seemed perhaps quite annoyed.
Another man, due to the sheer amount of plants filling up the space, grew irritated as the foliage from a hanging basket repeatedly poked him in the face. Other passengers, having been initially curious, laughed and smiled once they understood that it was an intervention, and asked what we were doing, saying that the flowers were beautiful. As more and more performers got on board, the atmosphere became ever more light-hearted, and a sense of community sprang up, not just between the 26 performers, most of whom had not previously met each other, but also between the performers and fellow passengers with whom we conversed freely.
This nascent sense of community was playful and unexpected, given that we had been directed to not specifically open conversation, but clearly not everyone wanted to participate: the bus journey was in the early afternoon and there were people who just wanted to get home, or listen to music through headphones. In front of me, I watched as one of the performers chatted with a fellow passenger. We had been directed to offer our plants as a gift to passengers at the end of the journey and the performer in front of me, having struck up a conversation, now offered her plant as a gift.
I would… Thank you, thank you! The space was redevelo As we all got off the bus, passengers and other people passing through the terminal accepted the plants that we, the performers, were giving away. Shortly after this discussion we all went our separate ways. In all, five hours passed between the performers coming together, acquiring a plant and then separating again and very little survives of the intervention.
What contrasts with this lack of materiality is the feeling of community that manifested itself in a space that passengers themselves commented was one where conversations rarely occur. The intervention did not try to perpetuate this sense of community: as quickly as relations had been created, they were then left to disperse, without any attempt to engage people beyond that experience. In this manner, no names were written down, or messages exchanged to prolong the state of encounter; the sum of what occurred is video footage that has been compressed into a five minute film, 11 and a defunct WhatsApp group that the performers used to communicate logistical details.
The intervention did not speak to any particular political debate or articulate itself to any kind of slogan. There was no sense that performers were advocating a particular cause, and yet fellow passengers were curious to know what was happening and why.