“The history of human progress amounts to a series of Promethean acts. But autonomy is also attained in the daily workings of individual lives by means of many small Promethean disobediences, at once clever, well thought out, and patiently pursued, so subtle at times as to avoid punishment entirely. All that remains in such a case is an equivocal, diluted form of guilt. I would say that there is good reason to study the dynamics of disobedience, the spark behind all knowledge.”
–Gaston Bachelard, Fragments of a Poetics of Fire
It is perfectly understandable that the dandy, the man who is never ill at ease, would be the ideal of a society that had begun to experience a bad conscience with respect to objects. What compelled the noblest names of England, and the regent himself, to hang on every word that fell from Beau Brummell’s lips was the fact that he presented himself as the master of science that they could not do without. To men who had lost their self-possession, the dandy, who makes of elegance and the superfluous his raison d’être, teaches the possibility of a new relation to things, which goes beyond both the enjoyment of their use-value and the accumulation of their exchange value. He is the redeemer of things, the one who wipes out, with his elegance, their original sin: the commodity.
-Giorgio Agamben (1)
In recent years, in addition to critiques of the market and of the cycles of exploitation In recent years, in addition to critiques of enacted by commodity exchange, a new set of sensibilities has been introduced in critical contemporary art, dealing with the ways in which the commodity and it’s surrounding economy activate us. One can say that the commodity is only really true to itself as art, and thus the exhibition becomes a format that enables us to see the commodity as it is. In order to understand objects, we must first acknowledge that every artwork is first and foremost a commodity.
In his three-part essay “Art and Thingness”, Sven Lütticken examines the art object as a transient object subjected to commodification through a series of processes. (2) Among the many virtues of the text is how Lütticken points out a shift in the object right from the start: “Things’ are no longer passively waiting for a concept, theory, or sovereign subject to arrange them in ordered ranks of objecthood.” (3) To my mind, however, this impressive survey neglects to examine the commodity as an entity prior to the art object, as the thing that precedes any object, including art objects.
“The biopolitical moulding of bodies integrated with a rather crude sorting mechanism determined by economic powers and class is an increasingly transparent and evident worldwide process. What was formerly a part of social reproduction has become an important part of capitalist production and turning it into an expanding site of capitalist accumulation. This is perhaps the main structural change since the institutional landscape of the 1960s. There is nothing surprising to this, but more and more people even within the middle class are feeling the inherent sorting mechanisms imposed by institutional production of today as they enter the educational system. Franco Basaglia already pointed this out in relation to the treatment of the mentally ill in Italy in the 1960s, in stating that there were two kinds of psychiatry, one for the rich and one for the poor. At the time he rejected any demands for reform, his analysis led to a call for ‘The Destruction of the Mental Hospital as a place for institutionalisation.’ Joseph Berke’s analysis of the state-sanctioned University leading to the establishment of the Antiuniversity had a similar radicality: ‘The schools and universities are dead. They must be destroyed and rebuilt in our own terms. These sentiments reflect the growing belief of students and teachers all over Europe and the United States as they strip aside the academic pretensions from their ‘institutions of higher learning’ and see them for what they are—rigid training schools for the operation and expansion of reactionary government, business, and military bureaucracies.”
*Excerpt from an essay titled: “The pedagogy of negating the institution - Some reflections on the antihospital and the antiuniversity.” 2012.
Hoy en día, se considera que las voces de los artistas son importantes para darle forma a la sociedad y que el arte es útil. Además el Estado, la iniciativa privada y la sociedad le atribuyen al arte un valor político decisivo por lo que por un lado, invierten en cultura con el objetivo de generar plusvalía política y económica y por otro, el arte y las prácticas culturales tienen cabida en la misma red de estrategias y preguntas que los movimientos sociales (en la Infoesfera). En un contexto en el que el campo político y mediático están profundamente unidos, las prácticas culturales contemporáneas indican un nuevo orden social en el que el arte se ha fusionado con la vida y en el que se privilegian la experiencia vivida, la comunicación colectiva y la política performativa. A su vez, la mercantilización de la cultura y su utilización como un recurso, al igual que la unión de arte, política y medios, han impactado significativamente la forma en la que operan las economías capitalistas.
Titulo: La hora de los hornos: Notas y testimonios sobre el neocolonialismo, la violencia y la liberación
Duración: 260 min.
Director: Fernando E. Solanas, Octavio Getino
Guión: Fernando E. Solanas, Octavio Getino
Música: Roberto Lar, Fernando E. Solanas
Fotografía: Juan Carlos Desanzo, Fernando E. Solanas
Productora: Grupo Cine Liberacion / Solanas Productions
Género: Documental, Bélico, Histórico, Política
Sinopsis: Documental dividido en tres partes: “Neocolonialismo y violencia”, “Acto para la liberación” (dividido a su vez en dos grandes momentos:”Crónica del peronismo (1945-1955)” y “Crónica de la resistencia (1955-1966)” y “Violencia y liberación”. Muestra la dependencia económica, social y cultural de la Argentina y ofrece pautas sobre cómo superarla. Es un documental político-histórico, de difusión y adoctrinamiento político. Es, también, una muestra de un cine tan distinto a todo lo hecho antes en la Argentina, que bien podría decirse inaugura un género aparte, inscripto en un movimiento mundial con exponentes en varios países del denominado Tercer Mundo.
Can artistic practices still play a critical role in a society where the difference between art and advertizing have become blurred and where artists and cultural workers have become a necessary part of capitalist production? Scrutinizing the ‘new spirit of capitalism’ Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello have shown how the demands for autonomy of the new movements of the 1960’s had been harnessed in the development of the post-Fordist networked economy and transformed in new forms of control. The aesthetic strategies of the counter-culture: the search for authenticity, the ideal of self-management, the anti-hierarchical exigency, are now used in order to promote the conditions required by the current mode of capitalist regulation, replacing the disciplinary framework characteristic of the Fordist period. Nowadays artistic and cultural production play a central role in the process of capital valorization and, through ‘neo-management’, artistic critique has become an important element of capitalist productivity.
This has led some people to claim that art had lost its critical power because any form of critique is automatically recuperated and neutralized by capitalism. Others, however, offer a different view and see the new situation as opening the way for different strategies of opposition. Such a view can be supported by insights from Andre Gorz for whom ‘When self-exploitation acquires a central role in the process of valorization, the production of subjectivity becomes a terrain of the central conflict… Social relations that elude the grasp of value, competitive individualism and market exchange make the latter appear by contrast in their political dimension, as extensions of the power of capital. A front of total resistance to this power is made possible. It necessarily overflows the terrain of production of knowledge towards new practices of living, consuming and collective appropriation of common spaces and everyday culture.’
Two words are so indispensable to the vocabulary of the contemporary humanities that they barely seem to warrant discussion: ‘culture’ and ‘discourse’. The one has been argued over endlessly in the past, and while it continues to form the subject of studies both learned and polemical by leading scholars (Mulhern, 1999; Eagleton, 2000), few if any of them ever actually challenge the received usage of the term. The other has become at least as ubiquitous but more, it seems, by default than by design. Having slipped out of a corner of Foucault’s work that he never expected anyone to see (he remarked more than once that he never expected The Archaeology of Knowledge to be widely read), and having long-ago escaped the rigorous limitations of socio-linguistics (e.g. the work of Norman Fairclough), ‘discourse’ is a term which is now everywhere used and nowhere adequately defined. My contention in this paper will be that the vectors which these two terms — ‘culture’ and ‘discourse’ - have travelled on converge in a conceptual space that is still difficult to delineate using the vocabularies of mainstream cultural theory, but which is crucial to any effective understanding of the dynamics of culture in the twenty-first century (or, for that matter, any other century), and which is exactly that being opened up by the search for a cultural theory which can properly address the experiential dimension of ‘affect’.
Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. Born into a German-Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organisations. In 1941 she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York. She held a number of academic positions at various American universities until her death in 1975. She is best known for two works that had a major impact both within and outside the academic community. The first, The Origins of Totalitarianism, published in 1951, was a study of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes that generated a wide-ranging debate on the nature and historical antecedents of the totalitarian phenomenon. The second, The Human Condition, published in 1958, was an original philosophical study that investigated the fundamental categories of the vita activa (labor, work, action). In addition to these two important works, Arendt published a number of influential essays on topics such as the nature of revolution, freedom, authority, tradition and the modern age. At the time of her death in 1975, she had completed the first two volumes of her last major philosophical work, The Life of the Mind, which examined the three fundamental faculties of the vita contemplativa (thinking, willing, judging).
This full-length documentary examines the work of Krzysztof Wodiczko, an artist who has taken his art out of museums to project it onto the sides of buildings. The film explores Wodiczko’s philosophy of art as social contract and shows examples of his provocative work, which has lit up walls from London’s Trafalgar Square to Zion Square in Jerusalem.
What critical frameworks have been developed for analysing socially engaged practises and how can they be applied? Analysing the critical fields for participation in socially engaged practises. This paper will explore the conflicting theoretical models for analysis of participation in socially engaged art forms. It will address two key questions; what frameworks of evaluation are in play when such practices are discussed and how socially engaged art forms can be analysed. The idea of “relational art” has become very widely used in recent years but suffers from a lack of critical definition. It is used to describe almost any art based event involving interaction between groups of people. I have chosen three critical writers whose recent publications have established different criteria for analyzing socially engaged art. I will not discuss the language of participation rather its prominent role and function within socially active artworks in relation to the critical theory. By aligning different examples of works with these theoretical positions an overview will be developed that identifies conflicting aspects in the area of discussion. Finally I will try to resolve some of these conflicts by discussing their relevance in the wider context of participatory culture, presenting an overview of how these critical theories have developed our understanding of new public art. Public art works that are based around audience interaction and engagement (with each other and the space) that reflect a current urgency in participatory culture. By turning to these expanding fields of participatory culture, a wider understanding of how these critical positions can benefit trends in contemporary arts and culture.
Technological advances have enabled publishing and producing of individual content that in turn has affected art and its audiences. Public interactive art is becoming more audience led and collective based, for example, sound-trails and flash-mobs all ask the viewer to participate with the people and place around them. By looking at how the critical theories that have been developed in relation to socially engaged practises, a wider understanding can be developed by addressing these issues in relation to participatory works inspired by the interactivity of web 2.0.
This is a text only version of Chapter Three of The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994: 23-57). It was original posted here with the permission of the author and the MIT Press. Sorry :( the notes where not available.
Photography’s sesquicentennial year opened, fittingly enough, with an international drama turning on the credibility of photographs as evidence—on a claim that the camera does not lie. On January 4, 1989, US Navy fighters shot down two Libyan MiG-23s over the Mediterranean near the Libyan coast. Libya denounced the action and called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to condemn it. Ali Sunni Muntasser, Libya’s UN ambassador, said that the planes were unarmed reconnaissance craft on a routine mission. A US spokesman challenged that assertion and noted, “We have the pictures to prove they were not unarmed,” which means, he added, that “the Libyan ambassador to the UN is a liar.” The Libyan diplomat responded in kind: “The man who said that I am a liar, he is a liar, because we are sure that our planes were not armed.” Later, US Ambassador Vernon Walters exhibited blurred photographs of what he claimed was one of the MiGs visibly armed with air-to-air missiles (figure 3.1). “Do you think this is a bouquet of roses hanging under the wing?” he demanded. Libyan Ambassador Muntasser immediately suggested that the photographs were doctored. “It is completely fake,” he protested, “It is untrue!” The pictures were “fabricated,” they were “directed in the Hollywood manner.” 
Oliver Ressler, We Have a Situation Here. 2011. photo series
By way of clarification, there are contested views of what constitutes citizenship. Some argue that it is implicitly bounded by the nation-state and therefore is meaningless without a legislative and juridical system that polices an individual’s status within a geopolitical space. This view focuses on the rights of an individual in terms of the benefits they accrue under a state’s protection. Conflicts arise between state and citizen due to the reality of migration, dual identities, resident aliens, minorities within a population where governments, particularly in the United States, struggle to justify democratic commitments and values (articulated in the Constitution) while exploiting those who are not recognised as citizens but who contribute to a nations economy, its labor force and social fabric.
Others argue that citizenship is a psycho-social set of behaviors that extend beyond a formal system of legal protections and instead captures a dimension of belonging that promotes our democratic aspirations such as liberty, equity and fraternity. Membership in this sense involves ‘participation’. And participation is a technique (or a ‘technology’) through which members form, and can potentially reform, the democratic state.