Bourriard defends himself

In this article, Bourriard answers to Jacques Rancière’s criticisms concerning aesthetics and politics in relational art. It also could function as a response to the criticisms in the Claire Bishop article.

Sorry for the wholesale excerpts, but just wanted to pull out some things that seemed relevant to our recent discussions, perhaps leading to further discussion…

“When we look at artistic production today, we see that in the heart of the global economic machine that favours unbridled consumerism and undermines everything that is durable, a culture is developing from the bankruptcy of endurance that is based on that which threatens it most, namely precariousness. My hypothesis is that art not only seems to have found the means to resist this new, instable environment, but has also derived specific means from it. A precarious regime of aesthetics is developing, based on speed, intermittence, blurring and fragility. Today, we need to reconsider culture (and ethics) on the basis of a positive idea of the transitory, instead of holding on to the opposition between the ephemeral and the durable and seeing the latter as the touchstone of true art and the former as a sign of barbarism.”

“Generally speaking, we could say that contemporary artworks have no absolute rights as to their conceptual status. In the end, the question amounts to an interrogation: what gives you the right to set foot on artistic soil? Do you have the correct papers, the deeds that give you the right to occupy the land? From the perspective of a precarious aesthetic, the question runs differently: what matters is to know whether the object generates activity, communication, thought, what its degree of productivity is within the aesthetic sphere. Here agrarian thought (the durable bond with the land) is replaced by concepts of trade (the cross-border encounter between an object and its users). The contemporary artwork does not rightfully occupy a position in a field, but presents itself as an object of negotiation, caught up in a cross-border trade which confronts different disciplines, traditions or concepts. It is this ontological precariousness that is the foundation of contemporary aesthetics.”

“Thus, precariousness cannot be reduced to the use of fragile materials or short durations, because it impregnates the whole of artistic production, constituting a substratum of reflection and playing the role of an ideological support for passing forms. In short, precariousness now impregnates the whole of contemporary aesthetics, in its negative as well as its positive versions.”



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