Art relations and the presence of absence

Kenning, Dean (2009) Art relations and the presence of absence. Third Text, 23(4), pp. 435-446. ISSN (print) 0952-8822

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If relational aesthetics aims at fostering connections between atomised individuals, how can this be compared to reconceived philosophies of community, especially as trends connected with relational art have paradoxically reinforced both the authorial presence of the artist, and competitive individualism amongst artists? The author considers Claire Bishop’s critique of relational aesthetics, and, through an analysis of Santiago Sierra’s ‘remunerative’ method, finds that her necessary introduction of ‘antagonism’ into any meaningful discussion of social relations nevertheless ends up reinforcing the status and divisions of art. By conceiving of antagonism in terms of quality rather than equality (aesthetics rather than politics), Bishop’s focus remains stuck on the individual reception of artworks, rather than on the possibility of transforming art world structures. Examining the work of Paul McCarthy, the author describes how an attack on individualism might be accomplished through ‘self‐ridicule’, whereby the artist is exposed as ‘absent’ – atomised competitor; figure without social function – through his/her physical presence.

Item Type: Article
Research Area: Art and design
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture
Depositing User: Automatic Import Agent
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2012 12:58
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2013 13:43

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