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Relotionol Aestbetics
Collection Documents sur l'art
Nlcolos 8oottlooJ
1ranslaLed by Slmon leasance & lronza Woods wlLh Lhe parLlclpaLlon of MaLhleu Copeland
Available in French
Nicolas Bourriaud, Esthetique relationnelle. 1998
Lionel Bovier & Christophe Cherix. Prise directe, 2003
Dan Graham, Rock/Music Textes, 1999
Robert Nickas, Vivre libre ou mourir, 2000
Vincent Pecoil , (ed.), Prieres americaines, 2002
Fabian Stech, J'ai parle avec Lavier, Annette Messager, Sylvie
Fleury, Hirschhorn, Pierre Huyghe, Delvoye, D.G.-F., Hou
Hanru, Sophie Calle, Ming, Sans et Bourriaud, 2007
Nicolas Thely, Vu a la webcam (essai sur la web-intimite), 2002
Eric Troncy, Le docteur Olive dans la cuisine avec le revolver,
2002
Eric Troncy. Le colonel Moutarde dans la bibliotheque avec le chandelier, 1998
Elisabeth Wetterwald, Rue sauvage, 2003 Chen Zhen, Les entrefiens, 2003
Avalaible in english
Nicolas Bourriaud. Relational Aesthetics, 2002 Robert Nickas. Live Free or Die, 2000 Chen
Zhen, The Discussions, 2003
Les presses du reeI. 1998, 2009
Les presses du reeI 2002 (for the engIish transIation)
www.IespressesdureeI.com
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Foreword
Where do Lhe mlsundersLandlngs surroundlng 1990s arL come from, lf noL a LheoreLlcal
dlscourse compleLe wlLh shorLcomlngs? An overwhelmlng ma[orlLy of crlLlcs and phllosophers are
relucLanL Lo come Lo grlps wlLh conLemporary pracLlces. So Lhese remaln essenLlally unreadable, as
Lhelr orlglnallLy and Lhelr relevance cannoL be percelved by analyslng Lhem on Lhe basls of problems
elLher solved or unresolved by prevlous generaLlons. 1he ob- so-polofol facL has Lo be accepLed LhaL
cerLaln lssues are oo longer belng ralsed, and lL ls, by exLenslon, lmporLanL Lo ldenLlfy Lhose LhaL are
belng ralsed Lhese days by arLlsLs. WhaL are Lhe real challenges of conLemporary arL? WhaL are lLs
llnks wlLh socleLy, hlsLory, and culLure? 1he crlLlc's prlmary Lask ls Lo recreaLe Lhe complex seL of
problems LhaL arlse ln a parLlcular perlod or age, and Lake a close look aL Lhe varlous answers glven.
1oo ofLen, people are happy drawlng up an lnvenLory of yesLerday's concerns, Lhe beLLer Lo lamenL
Lhe facL of noL geLLlng any answers. 8uL Lhe very flrsL quesLlon, as far as Lhese new approaches are
concerned, obvlously has Lo do wlLh Lhe maLerlal form of Lhese works. Pow are Lhese apparenLly
eluslve works Lo be decoded, be Lhey ptocess-teloteJ or behavloural by ceaslng Lo Lake shelLer
behlnd Lhe slxLles arL hlsLory? LeL us quoLe several examples of Lhese acLlvlLles. 8lrkrlL 1lravanl[a
organlses a dlnner ln a collecLor's home, and leaves hlm all Lhe lngredlenLs requlred Lo make a 1hal
soup. hlllppe arreno lnvlLes a few people Lo pursue Lhelr favourlLe hobbles on.
May uay, on a facLory assembly llne. vanessa 8eecrofL dresses some LwenLy women ln Lhe same
way, compleLe wlLh a red wlg, and Lhe vlslLor merely geLs a gllmpse of Lhem Lhrough Lhe doorway.
Maurlzlo CaLLelan feeds raLs on "8el paese" cheese and sells Lhem as mulLlples, or exhlblLs recenLly
robbed safes. ln a Copenhagen square, !es 8rlnch and Penrlk llense !acobsen lnsLall an upLurned bus
LhaL causes a rlval rloL ln Lhe clLy. ChrlsLlne Plll works as a check-ouL asslsLanL ln a supermarkeL,
organlses a weekly gym workshop ln a gallery. CarsLen Poller recreaLes Lhe chemlcal formula of
molecules secreLed by Lhe human braln when ln love, bullds an lnflaLable plasLlc yachL, and breeds
chafflnches wlLh Lhe alm of Leachlng Lhem a new song. norlLoshl Plrakawa puLs a small ad ln a
newspaper Lo flnd a glrl Lo Lake parL ln hls show. lerre Puyghe summons people Lo a casLlng
sesslon, makes a 1v LransmlLLer avallable Lo Lhe publlc, and puLs a phoLograph of labourers aL work
on vlew [usL a few yards from Lhe bulldlng slLe. Cne could add many oLher names and works Lo such
a llsL. Anyhow, Lhe llvellesL facLor LhaL ls played ouL on Lhe chessboard of arL has Lo do wlLh
lnLeracLlve, user-frlendly and relaLlonal concepLs.
1hese days, communlcaLlons are plunglng human conLacLs lnLo monlLored areas LhaL dlvlde Lhe
soclal bond up lnLo (qulLe) dlfferenL producLs. ArLlsLlc acLlvlLy, for lLs parL, sLrlves Lo achleve modesL
connecLlons, open up (Cne or Lwo) obsLrucLed passages, and connecL levels of reallLy kepL aparL
from one anoLher. 1he much vaunLed "communlcaLlon superhlghways", wlLh Lhelr Loll plazas and
plcnlc areas, LhreaLen Lo become Lhe only posslble Lhoroughfare from a polnL Lo anoLher ln Lhe
human world. 1he superhlghway may well acLually help us Lo Lravel, fasLer and more efflclenLly, yeL
lL has Lhe drawback of Lurnlng lLs users lnLo consumers of mlles and Lhelr by-producLs. We feel
meagre and helpless when faced wlLh Lhe elecLronlc medla, Lheme parks, user-frlendly places, and
Lhe spread of compaLlble forms of soclablllLy, llke Lhe laboraLory raL doomed Lo an lnexorable
lLlnerary ln lLs cage, llLLered wlLh chunks of cheese.
1he ldeal sub[ecL of Lhe socleLy of exLras ls Lhus reduced Lo Lhe condlLlon of a consumer of Llme
and space. lor anyLhlng LhaL cannoL be markeLed wlll lnevlLably vanlsh. 8efore long, lL wlll noL be
posslble Lo malnLaln relaLlonshlps beLween people ouLslde Lhese Lradlng areas. So here we are
summonsed Lo Lalk abouL Lhlngs around a duly prlced drlnk, as a symbollc form of conLemporary
human relaLlons. ?ou are looklng for shared warmLh, and Lhe comforLlng feellng of well belng for
Lwo? So Lry our coffee... 1he space of currenL relaLlons ls Lhus Lhe space mosL severely affecLed by
general relflcaLlon. 1he relaLlonshlp beLween people, as symbollsed by goods or replaced by Lhem,
and slgnposLed by logos, has Lo Lake on exLreme and. clandesLlne forms, lf lL ls Lo dodge Lhe emplre
of predlcLablllLy. 1he soclal bond has Lurned lnLo a sLandardlsed arLefacL. ln a world governed by Lhe
dlvlslon of labour and ulLra- speclallsaLlon, mechanlsaLlon and Lhe law of proflLablllLy, lL behoves Lhe
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powers LhaL human relaLlons should be channelled Lowards accordlngly planned ouLleLs, and LhaL
Lhey should be pursued on Lhe basls of one or Lwo slmple prlnclples, whlch can be boLh monlLored
and repeaLed. 1he supreme "separaLlon"", Lhe separaLlon LhaL affecLs relaLlonal channels,
represenLs Lhe flnal sLage ln Lhe LransformaLlon Lo Lhe "SocleLy of Lhe SpecLacle" as descrlbed by Cuy
uebord. 1hls ls a socleLy where human relaLlons are no longer "dlrecLly experlenced", buL sLarL Lo
become blurred ln Lhelr "specLacular" represenLaLlon. Pereln lles Lhe mosL burnlng lssue Lo do wlLh
arL Loday: ls lL sLlll posslble Lo generaLe relaLlonshlps wlLh Lhe world, ln a pracLlcal fleld arL- hlsLory
LradlLlonally earmarked for Lhelr "represenLaLlon"? ConLrary Lo whaL uebord LhoughL, for all he saw
ln Lhe arL world was a reservolr of examples of whaL had Lo be Langlbly "achleved" ln day-Lo-day llfe,
arLlsLlc praxls appears Lhese days Lo be a rlch loam for soclal experlmenLs, llke a space parLly
proLecLed from Lhe unlformlLy of behavloural paLLerns. 1he works we shall be dlscusslng here ouLllne
so many hands-on uLoplas.
Some of Lhe followlng essays were orlglnally publlshed ln magazlnes -for Lhe mosL parL ln
uocumenLs sur l'arL, and exhlblLlon caLalogues
1
, buL have been conslderably reworked, noL Lo say re-
ordered, here. CLhers are prevlously unpubllshed. 1hls collecLlon of essays ls also rounded off by a
glossary, whlch readers may refer Lo whenever a problemaLlc concepL rears lLs head. 1o make Lhe
book LhaL much easler Lo come Lo grlps wlLh, may we suggesL Lo Lurn rlghL away Lo Lhe deflnlLlon of
Lhe word "ArL".
1
"Le paradlgme esLheLlque (lellx. CuaLLarl el CarL)" was publlshed by Lhe magazlne cblmetes. 1993, "8elaLlon ecran" was publlshed ln Lhe
caLalogue for Lhe 3rd Lyon ConLemporary ArL 8lennlal, 1993.
a g e | 4
Relational foim
ArLlsLlc acLlvlLy ls a game, whose forms, paLLerns and funcLlons develop and evolve accordlng Lo
perlods and soclal conLexLs, lL ls noL an lmmuLable essence. lL ls Lhe crlLlc's Lask Lo sLudy Lhls acLlvlLy
ln Lhe presenL. A cerLaln aspecL of Lhe programme of modernlLy has been falrly and squarely wound
up (and noL, leL us hasLen Lo emphaslse ln Lhese bourgeols Llmes, Lhe splrlL lnformlng lL). 1hls
compleLlon has dralned Lhe crlLerla of aesLheLlc [udgemenL we are helr Lo of Lhelr subsLance, buL we
go on applylng Lhem Lo presenL- day arLlsLlc pracLlces. 1he oew ls no longer a crlLerlon, excepL
among laLLer-day deLracLors of modern arL who, where Lhe much- execraLed presenL ls concerned,
cllng solely Lo Lhe Lhlngs LhaL Lhelr LradlLlonallsL culLure has LaughL Lhem Lo loaLhe ln yesLerday's arL.
ln order Lo lnvenL more effecLlve Lools and more valld vlewpolnLs, lL behoves us Lo undersLand Lhe
changes nowadays occurrlng ln Lhe soclal arena, and grasp whaL has already changed and whaL ls
sLlll changlng. Pow are we Lo undersLand Lhe Lypes of arLlsLlc behavlour shown ln exhlblLlons held ln
Lhe 1990s and Lhe llnes of Lhlnklng behlnd Lhem, lf we do noL sLarL ouL from Lhe same sltootloo as Lhe
arLlsLs?
contemporory ortistic proctice ond its cu/turo/ p/on
1he modern pollLlcal era, whlch came lnLo belng wlLh Lhe LnllghLenmenL, was based on Lhe
deslre Lo emanclpaLe lndlvlduals and people. 1he advances of Lechnologles and freedoms, Lhe
decllne of lgnorance, and lmproved worklng condlLlons were all bllled Lo free humanklnd and help Lo
usher ln a beLLer socleLy. 1here are several verslons of modernlLy, however. 1he 20Lh cenLury was
Lhus Lhe arena for a sLruggle beLween Lwo vlslons of Lhe world: a modesL, raLlonallsL concepLlon,
halllng from Lhe 18Lh cenLury, and a phllosophy of sponLanelLy and llberaLlon Lhrough Lhe lrraLlonal
(uada, Surreallsm, Lhe SlLuaLlonlsLs), boLh of whlch were opposed Lo auLhorlLarlan and uLlllLarlan
forces eager Lo gauge human relaLlons and sub[ugaLe people. lnsLead of culmlnaLlng ln hoped-for
emanclpaLlon, Lhe advances of Lechnologles and "8eason" made lL LhaL much easler Lo explolL Lhe
SouLh of planeL earLh, bllndly replace human labour by machlnes, and seL up more and more
sophlsLlcaLed sub[ugaLlon Lechnlques, all Lhrough a general raLlonallsaLlon of Lhe producLlon process.
So Lhe modern emanclpaLlon plan has been subsLlLuLed by counLless forms of melancholy. 1wenLleLh
cenLury avanL-garde, from uadalsm Lo Lhe SlLuaLlonlsL lnLernaLlonal, fell wlLhln Lhe LradlLlon of Lhls
modern pro[ecL (changlng culLure, aLLlLudes and menLallLles, and lndlvldual and soclal llvlng
condlLlons), buL lL ls as well Lo bear ln mlnd LhaL Lhls pro[ecL was already Lhere before Lhem, dlfferlng
from Lhelr plan ln many ways. lor modernlLy cannoL be reduced Lo a raLlonallsL Leleology, any more
Lhan lL can Lo pollLlcal messlanlsm. ls lL posslble Lo dlsparage Lhe deslre Lo lmprove llvlng and
worklng condlLlons, on Lhe preLexL of Lhe bankrupLcy of Langlble aLLempLs Lo do as much-shored up
by LoLallLarlan ldeologles and nalve vlslons of hlsLory? WhaL used Lo be called Lhe avanL-garde has,
needless Lo say, developed from Lhe ldeologlcal swlng of Lhlngs offered by modern raLlonallsm: buL lL
ls now re-formed on Lhe basls of qulLe dlfferenL phllosophlcal, culLural and soclal presupposlLlons. lL
ls evldenL LhaL Loday's arL ls carrylng on Lhls flghL, by comlng up wlLh percepLlve, experlmenLal,
crlLlcal and parLlclpaLory models, veerlng ln Lhe dlrecLlon lndlcaLed by LnllghLenmenL phllosophers,
roudhon, Marx, Lhe uadalsLs and Mondrlan. lf oplnlon ls sLrlvlng Lo acknowledge Lhe leglLlmacy and
lnLeresL of Lhese experlmenLs, Lhls ls because Lhey are no longer presenLed llke Lhe precursory
phenomena of an lnevlLable hlsLorlcal evoluLlon. CulLe Lo Lhe conLrary, Lhey appear fragmenLary and
lsolaLed, llke orphans of an overall vlew of Lhe world bolsLerlng Lhem wlLh Lhe clouL of an ldeology. lL
ls noL modernlLy LhaL ls dead, buL lLs ldeallsLlc and Leleologlcal verslon.
1oday's flghL for modernlLy ls belng waged ln Lhe same Lerms as yesLerday's, barrlng Lhe facL
LhaL Lhe avanL-garde has sLopped paLrolllng llke some scouL, Lhe Lroop havlng come Lo a cauLlous
sLandsLlll around a blvouac of cerLalnLles. ArL was lnLended Lo prepare and announce a fuLure world:
Loday lL ls modelllng posslble unlverses.
1he amblLlon of arLlsLs who lnclude Lhelr pracLlce wlLhln Lhe sllpsLream of hlsLorlcal modernlLy
ls Lo repeaL nelLher lLs forms nor lLs clalms, and even less asslgn Lo arL Lhe same funcLlons as lL. 1helr
a g e | S
Lask ls akln Lo Lhe one LhaL !ean-lrancols LyoLard allocaLed Lo posL- modern archlLecLure, whlch "ls
cooJemoeJ to cteote o setles of mloot moJlflcotloos lo o spoce wbose moJetolty lt lobetlts, ooJ
obooJoo oo ovetoll tecoosttoctloo of tbe spoce loboblteJ by bomookloJ". WhaL ls more, LyoLard
seems Lo half-bemoan Lhls sLaLe of affalrs: he deflnes lL negaLlvely, by uslng Lhe Lerm "condemned".
And whaL, on Lhe oLher hand, lf Lhls "condemnaLlon" represenLed Lhe hlsLorlcal chance whereby
mosL of Lhe arL worlds known Lo us managed Lo spread Lhelr wlngs, over Lhe pasL Len years or so?
1hls "chance" can be summed up ln [usL a few words: leotoloq to loboblt tbe wotlJ lo o bettet woy,
lnsLead of Lrylng Lo consLrucL lL based on a preconcelved ldea of hlsLorlcal evoluLlon. CLherwlse puL,
Lhe role of arLworks ls no longer Lo form lmaglnary and uLoplan realLles, buL Lo acLually be ways of
llvlng and models of acLlon wlLhln Lhe exlsLlng real, whaLever Lhe scale chosen by Lhe arLlsL.
AlLhusser sald LhaL one always caLches Lhe world's Lraln on Lhe move, ueleuze, LhaL "grass grow s
from Lhe mlddle" and noL from Lhe boLLom or Lhe Lop. 1he arLlsL dwells ln Lhe clrcumsLances Lhe
presenL offers hlm, so as Lo Lurn Lhe seLLlng of hls llfe (hls llnks wlLh Lhe physlcal and concepLual
world) lnLo a lasLlng world. Pe caLches Lhe world on Lhe move: he ls a LenanL of culLure. Lo borrow
Mlchel de CerLeau's expresslon
2
. nowadays, modernlLy exLends lnLo Lhe pracLlces of culLural do-lL-
yourself and recycllng, lnLo Lhe lnvenLlon of Lhe everyday and Lhe developmenL of Llme llved, whlch
are noL ob[ecLs less deservlng of aLLenLlon and examlnaLlon Lhan MesslanlsLlc uLoplas and Lhe
formal "novelLles" LhaL Lyplfled modernlLy yesLerday. 1here ls noLhlng more absurd elLher Lhan Lhe
asserLlon LhaL conLemporary arL does noL lnvolve any pollLlcal pro[ecL, or Lhan Lhe clalm LhaL lLs
subverslve aspecLs are noL based on any LheoreLlcal Lerraln. lLs plan, whlch has [usL as much Lo do
wlLh worklng condlLlons and Lhe condlLlons ln whlch culLural ob[ecLs are produced, as wlLh Lhe
changlng forms of soclal llfe, may neverLheless seem dull Lo mlnds formed, ln Lhe mould of culLural
uarwlnlsm. Pere, Lhen, ls Lhe Llme of Lhe "dolce uLopla", Lo use Maurlzlo CaLLelan's phrase....
4rtwork os socio/ interstice
1he posslblllLy of a telotloool arL (an arL Laklng as lLs LheoreLlcal horlzon Lhe realm of human
lnLeracLlons and lLs soclal conLexL, raLher Lhan Lhe asserLlon of an lndependenL and ptlvote symbollc
space), polnLs Lo a radlcal upheaval of Lhe aesLheLlc, culLural and pollLlcal goals lnLroduced by
modern arL. 1o skeLch a soclology of Lhls, Lhls evoluLlon sLems essenLlally from Lhe blrLh of a world-
wlde urban culLure, and from Lhe exLenslon of Lhls clLy model Lo more or less all culLural
phenomena. 1he general growLh of Lowns and clLles, whlch Look off aL Lhe end of Lhe Second World
War, gave rlse noL only Lo an exLraordlnary upsurge of soclal exchanges, buL also Lo much greaLer
lndlvldual moblllLy (Lhrough Lhe developmenL of neLworks and roads, and LelecommunlcaLlons, and
Lhe gradual freelng-up of lsolaLed places, golng wlLh Lhe openlng-up of aLLlLudes). 8ecause of Lhe
crampedness of dwelllng spaces ln Lhls urban world, Lhere was, ln Landem, a scallng-down of
furnlLure and ob[ecLs, now emphaslslng a greaLer manoeuvrablllLy. lf, for a long perlod of Llme, Lhe
arLwork has managed Lo come across as a luxury, lordly lLem ln Lhls urban seLLlng (Lhe dlmenslons of
Lhe work, as well as Lhose of Lhe aparLmenL, helplng Lo dlsLlngulsh beLween, Lhelr owner and Lhe
crowd), Lhe developmenL of Lhe funcLlon of arLworks and Lhe way Lhey are shown aLLesL Lo a
growlng otboolsotloo of Lhe arLlsLlc experlmenL. WhaL ls collapslng before our very eyes ls noLhlng
oLher Lhan Lhls falsely arlsLocraLlc concepLlon of Lhe arrangemenL of works of arL, assoclaLed wlLh
Lhe feellng of LerrlLorlal acqulslLlon. ln oLher words, lL ls no longer posslble Lo regard Lhe
conLemporary work as a space Lo be walked Lhrough (Lhe "owner's Lour" ls akln Lo Lhe collecLor's). lL
ls henceforLh presenLed as a perlod of Llme Lo be llved Lhrough, llke an openlng Lo unllmlLed
dlscusslon. 1he clLy has ushered ln and spread Lhe hands-on experlence: lL ls Lhe Langlble symbol and
hlsLorlcal seLLlng of Lhe sLaLe of socleLy, LhaL "stote of eocoootet lmposeJ oo people", Lo use
AlLhusser's expresslon
3
, conLrasLlng wlLh LhaL dense and "Lrouble-free" [ungle whlch Lhe oototol
stote once was, accordlng Lo !ean-!acques 8ousseau, a [ungle hamperlng any lasLlng encounLer.
Cnce ralsed Lo Lhe power of an absoluLe rule of clvlllsaLlon, Lhls sysLem of lnLenslve encounLers has
ended up produclng llnked arLlsLlc pracLlces: an arL form where Lhe subsLraLe ls formed by lnLer-
2
Michel do Certeau: Manieres de faire. Editions Idees-Gallimard.
3
Louis Althusser. Ecrits philosophiques el politiques. Editions Slock-IMEC. 1995. p. 557.
a g e | 6
sub[ecLlvlLy, and whlch Lakes belng-LogeLher as a cenLral Lheme, Lhe "encounLer" beLween beholder
and plcLure, and Lhe collecLlve elaboraLlon of meanlng. LeL us leave Lhe maLLer of Lhe hlsLorlclLy of
Lhls phenomenon on one slde: arL has always been relaLlonal ln varylng degrees, l.e. a facLor of
soclablllLy and a foundlng prlnclple of dlalogue. Cne of Lhe vlrLual properLles of Lhe lmage ls lLs
power of llokoqe (lr. tellooce), Lo borrow Mlchel Maffesoll's Lerm: flags, logos, lcons, slgns, all
produce empaLhy and sharlng, and all generaLe booJ
4
'. ArL (pracLlces sLemmlng from palnLlng and
sculpLure whlch come across ln Lhe form of an exhlblLlon) Lurns ouL Lo be parLlcularly sulLable when
lL comes Lo expresslng Lhls hands- on clvlllsaLlon, because lL tlqbteos tbe spoce of telotloos, unllke 1v
and llLeraLure whlch refer each lndlvldual person Lo hls or her space of prlvaLe consumpLlon, and
also unllke LheaLre and clnema whlch brlng small groups LogeLher before speclflc, unmlsLakable
lmages. AcLually, Lhere ls no llve commenL made abouL whaL ls seen (Lhe dlscusslon Llme ls puL off
unLll afLer Lhe show). AL an exhlblLlon, on Lhe oLher hand, even when lnerL forms are lnvolved, Lhere
ls Lhe posslblllLy of an lmmedlaLe dlscusslon, ln boLh senses of Lhe Lerm. l see and percelve. l
commenL, and l evolve ln a unlque space and Llme. ArL ls Lhe place LhaL produces a speclflc
soclablllLy. lL remalns Lo be seen whaL Lhe sLaLus of Lhls ls ln Lhe seL of "sLaLes of encounLer"
proposed by Lhe ClLy. Pow ls an arL focused on Lhe producLlon of such forms of convlvlallLy capable
of re-launchlng Lhe modern emanclpaLlon plan, by complemenLlng lL? Pow does lL permlL Lhe
developmenL of new pollLlcal and culLural deslgns? 8efore glvlng concreLe examples, lL ls well worLh
reconslderlng Lhe place of arLworks ln Lhe overall economlc sysLem, be lL symbollc or maLerlal, whlch
governs conLemporary socleLy. Cver and above lLs mercanLlle naLure and lLs semanLlc value, Lhe
work of arL represenLs a soclal lotetstlce. 1hls lotetstlce Lerm was used by karl Marx Lo descrlbe
Lradlng communlLles LhaL elude Lhe caplLallsL economlc conLexL by belng removed from Lhe law of
proflL: barLer, merchandlslng, auLarklc Lypes of producLlon, eLc. 1he lnLersLlce ls a space ln human
relaLlons whlch flLs more or less harmonlously and openly lnLo Lhe overall sysLem, buL suggesLs oLher
Lradlng posslblllLles Lhan Lhose ln effecL wlLhln Lhls sysLem. 1hls ls Lhe preclse naLure of Lhe
conLemporary arL exhlblLlon ln Lhe arena of represenLaLlonal commerce: lL creaLes free areas, and
Llme spans whose rhyLhm conLrasLs wlLh Lhose sLrucLurlng everyday llfe, and lL encourages an lnLer-
human commerce LhaL dlffers from Lhe "communlcaLlon zones" LhaL are lmposed upon us. 1he
presenL-day soclal conLexL resLrlcLs Lhe posslblllLles of lnLer-human relaLlons all Lhe more because lL
creaLes spaces planned Lo Lhls end. AuLomaLlc publlc LolleLs were lnvenLed Lo keep sLreeLs clean. 1he
same splrlL underplns Lhe developmenL of communlcaLlon Lools, whlle clLy sLreeLs are swepL clean of
all manners of relaLlonal dross, and nelghbourhood relaLlonshlps flzzle. 1he general mechanlsaLlon
of soclal funcLlons gradually reduces Lhe relaLlonal space. !usL a few years ago, Lhe Lelephone wake-
up call servlce employed human belngs, buL now we are woken up by a synLheslsed volce... 1he
auLomaLlc cash machlne has become Lhe LranslL model for Lhe mosL elemenLary of soclal funcLlons,
and professlonal behavlour paLLerns are modelled on Lhe efflclency of Lhe machlnes replaclng Lhem,
Lhese machlnes carrylng ouL Lasks whlch once represenLed so many opporLunlLles for exchanges,
pleasure and squabbllng. ConLemporary arL ls deflnlLely developlng a pollLlcal pro[ecL when lL
endeavours Lo move lnLo Lhe relaLlonal realm by Lurnlng lL lnLo an lssue.
When Cabrlel Crozco puLs an orange on Lhe sLalls of a deserLed 8razlllan markeL (ctozy 1ootlst,
1991), or sllngs a hammock ln Lhe MoMA garden ln new ?ork (nomoc eo lo motoo, 1993). he ls
operaLlng aL Lhe hub of "soclal lnfra-Lhlnness" (l'lnframlnce soclal), LhaL mlnuLe space of dally
gesLures deLermlned by Lhe supersLrucLure made up of "blg" exchanges, and deflned by lL. WlLhouL
any wordlng, Crozco's phoLographs are a documenLary record of Llny revoluLlons ln Lhe common
urban and seml-urban llfe (a sleeplng bag on Lhe grass, an empLy shoebox, eLc.). 1hey record Lhls
sllenL, sLlll llfe nowadays formed by relaLlonshlps wlLh Lhe oLher. When !ens Paanlng broadcasLs
funny sLorles ln 1urklsh Lhrough a loudspeaker ln a Copenhagen square (1otklsb Iokes, 1994), he
produces ln LhaL spllL second a mlcro-communlLy, one made up of lmmlgranLs broughL LogeLher by
4
Mlchel Maffesoll: lo cootemplotloo Jo mooJe. LdlLlons CrasseL. 1993.
a g e | 7
collecLlve laughLer whlch upseLs Lhelr exlle slLuaLlon, formed ln relaLlon Lo Lhe work and ln lL. 1he
exhlblLlon ls Lhe speclal place where such momenLary grouplngs may occur, governed as Lhey are by
dlfferlng prlnclples. And dependlng on Lhe degree of parLlclpaLlon requlred of Lhe onlooker by Lhe
arLlsL, along wlLh Lhe naLure of Lhe works and Lhe models of soclablllLy proposed and represenLed,
an exhlblLlon wlll glve rlse Lo a speclflc "arena of exchange". And Lhls "arena of exchange", musL be
[udged on Lhe basls of aesLheLlc crlLerla, ln oLher words, by analyslng Lhe coherence of lLs form, and
Lhen Lhe symbollc value of Lhe "world" lL suggesLs Lo us, and of Lhe lmage of human relaLlons
reflecLed by lL. WlLhln Lhls soclal lnLersLlce, Lhe arLlsL musL assume Lhe symbollc models he shows. All
represenLaLlon (Lhough conLemporary arL moJels more Lhan lL represenLs, and flLs lnLo Lhe soclal
fabrlc more Lhan lL draws lnsplraLlon Lherefrom) refers Lo values LhaL can be Lransposed lnLo socleLy.
As a human acLlvlLy based on commerce, arL ls aL once Lhe ob[ecL and Lhe sub[ecL of an eLhlc. And
Lhls all Lhe more so because, unllke oLher acLlvlLles, lts sole fooctloo ls to be exposeJ to tbls
commetce.
ArL ls a sLaLe of encounLer.
ke/otiono/ oesthetics ond rondom moterio/ism
8elaLlonal aesLheLlcs ls parL of a maLerlallsLlc LradlLlon. 8elng "maLerlallsLlc" does noL mean
sLlcklng Lo Lhe LrlLeness of facLs, nor does lL lmply LhaL sorL of narrow-mlndedness LhaL conslsLs ln
readlng works ln purely economlc Lerms. 1he phllosophlcal LradlLlon LhaL underplns Lhls telotloool
oestbetlcs was deflned ln a noLeworLhy way by Louls AlLhusser, ln one of hls lasL wrlLlngs, as a
"maLerlallsm of encounLer", or random maLerlallsm. 1hls parLlcular maLerlallsm Lakes as lLs polnL of
deparLure Lhe world conLlngency, whlch has no pre-exlsLlng orlgln or sense, nor 8eason, whlch mlghL
alloL lL a purpose. So Lhe essence of humanklnd ls purely Lrans-lndlvldual, made up of bonds LhaL llnk
lndlvlduals LogeLher ln soclal forms whlch are lnvarlably hlsLorlcal (Marx: Lhe human essence ls Lhe
seL of soclal relaLlons). 1here ls no such Lhlng as any posslble "end of hlsLory" or "end of arL",
because Lhe game ls belng forever re-enacLed, ln relaLlon Lo lLs funcLlon, ln oLher words, ln relaLlon
Lo Lhe players and Lhe sysLem whlch Lhey consLrucL and crlLlclse. PuberL uamlsch saw ln Lhe "end of
arL" Lheorles Lhe ouLcome of an lrksome muddle beLween Lhe "end of Lhe game" and Lhe "end of
play". A new game ls announced as soon as Lhe soclal seLLlng radlcally changes, wlLhouL Lhe meanlng
of Lhe game lLself belng challenged
3
. 1hls lotet-bomoo qome whlch forms our ob[ecL (uuchamp: "Att
ls o qome betweeo oll people of oll petloJs") neverLheless goes beyond Lhe conLexL of whaL ls called
"arL" by commodlLy. So Lhe "consLrucLed slLuaLlons" advocaLed by Lhe SlLuaLlonlsL lnLernaLlonal
belong ln Lhelr own rlghL Lo Lhls "game", ln splLe of Cuy uebord who ln Lhe flnal analysls, denled
Lhem any arLlsLlc characLer. lor ln Lhem, qulLe Lo Lhe conLrary, he saw "arL belng exceeded" by a
revoluLlon ln day-Lo-day llfe. 8elaLlonal aesLheLlcs does noL represenL a Lheory of arL. 1hls would
lmply Lhe sLaLemenL of an orlgln and a desLlnaLlon, buL a Lheory of form.
WhaL do we mean by fotm? A coherenL unlL, a sLrucLure (loJepeoJeot eotlty of looet
JepeoJeocles) whlch shows Lhe Lyplcal feaLures of a world. 1he arLwork does noL have an excluslve
hold on lL. lL ls merely a subseL ln Lhe overall serles of exlsLlng forms. ln Lhe maLerlallsLlc
phllosophlcal LradlLlon ushered ln by Lplcurus and LucreLlus, aLoms fall ln parallel formaLlons lnLo Lhe
vold, followlng a sllghLly dlagonal course. lf one of Lhese aLoms swerves off course, lL "cooses oo
eocoootet wltb tbe oext otom ooJ ftom eocoootet to eocoootet o plle-op, ooJ tbe blttb of tbe
wotlJ"... 1hls ls how forms come lnLo belng, from Lhe "devlaLlon" and random encounLer beLween
Lwo hlLherLo parallel elemenLs. ln order Lo creaLe a world, Lhls encounLer musL be a lostloq one: Lhe
elemenLs formlng lL musL be [olned LogeLher ln a form, ln oLher words, Lhere musL have been "o
settloq of elemeots oo ooe oootbet (tbe woy lce 'sets')". "lorm can be deflned as a lasLlng
encounLer". LasLlng encounLers, llnes and colours lnscrlbed on Lhe surface of a uelacrolx palnLlng,
Lhe scrap ob[ecLs LhaL llLLer SchwlLLers' "Merz plcLures", Chrls 8urden's performances: over and
above Lhe quallLy of Lhe page layouL or Lhe spaLlal layouL, Lhey Lurn ouL Lo be lostloq from Lhe
3
PuberL uamlsch: leoette joooe coJmlom. LdlLlons du Seull.
a g e | 8
momenL when Lhelr componenLs form a whole whose sense "holds good" aL Lhe momenL of Lhelr
blrLh, sLlrrlng up new "posslblllLles of llfe". All works, down Lo Lhe mosL crlLlcal and challenglng of
pro[ecLs, passes Lhrough Lhls vlable world sLaLe, because Lhey geL elemenLs held aparL (o meet. for
example, deaLh and Lhe medla ln Andy Warhol. ueleuze and CuaLLarl were noL saylng anyLhlng
dlfferenL when Lhey deflned Lhe work of arL as a "block of affecLs and percepLs". ArL keeps toqetbet
momenLs of sub[ecLlvlLy assoclaLed wlLh slngular experlences, be lL Cezanne's apples or 8uren's
sLrlped sLrucLures. 1he composlLlon of Lhls booJloq oqeot, whereby encounLerlng aLoms manage Lo
form a word, ls, needless Lo say, dependenL on Lhe hlsLorlcal conLexL. WhaL Loday's lnformed publlc
undersLands by "keeplng LogeLher" ls noL Lhe same Lhlng LhaL Lhls publlc lmaglned back ln Lhe 19Lh
cenLury. 1oday, Lhe "glue" ls less obvlous, as our vlsual experlence has become more complex,
enrlched by a cenLury of phoLographlc lmages, Lhen clnemaLography (lnLroducLlon of Lhe sequence
shoL as a new dynamlc unlLy), enabllng us Lo recognlse as a "world" a collecLlon of dlsparaLe elemenL
(lnsLallaLlon, for lnsLance) LhaL no unlfylng maLLer, no bronze, llnks. CLher Lechnologles may allow
Lhe human splrlL Lo recognlse oLher Lypes of "world-forms" sLlll unknown: for example, compuLer
sclence puL forward Lhe noLlon of program, LhaL lnflecL Lhe approach of some arLlsL's way of worklng.
An arLlsL's arLwork Lhus acqulres Lhe sLaLus of an ensemble of unlLs Lo be re-acLlvaLed by Lhe
beholder-manlpulaLor. l wanL Lo lnslsL on Lhe lnsLablllLy and Lhe dlverslLy of Lhe concepL of "form",
noLlon whose ouLspread can be wlLnessed ln ln[uncLlon by Lhe founder of soclology, Lmlle
uurckhelm, conslderlng Lhe "soclal facL" as a "Lhlng"... As Lhe arLlsLlc "Lhlng" someLlme offers lLself as
a "facL" or an ensemble of facLs LhaL happens ln Lhe Llme or space, and whose unlLy (maklng lL a
form, a world) cannoL be quesLloned. 1he seLLlng ls wldenlng, afLer Lhe lsolaLed ob[ecL, lL now can
embrace Lhe whole scene: Lhe form of Cordon MaLLa-Clark or uan Craham's work cannoL be
reduced Lo Lhe "Lhlngs" Lhose Lwo arLlsL "produce", lL ls noL Lhe slmple secondary effecLs of a
composlLlon, as Lhe formallsLlc aesLheLlc would llke Lo advance, buL Lhe prlnclple acLlng as a
Lra[ecLory evolvlng Lhrough slgns, ob[ecLs, forms, gesLures... 1he conLemporary arLwork's form ls
spreadlng ouL from lLs maLerlal form: lL ls a llnklng elemenL, a prlnclple of dynamlc aggluLlnaLlon. An
arLwork ls a doL on a llne.
lorm ond others' qote
lf, as Serge uaney wrlLes, oll fotm ls o foce lookloq ot os", whaL does a form become when lL ls
plunged lnLo Lhe dlmenslon of dlalogue? WhaL ls a form LhaL ls essenLlally telotloool? lL seems
worLhwhlle Lo dlscuss Lhls quesLlon by Laklng uaney's formula as a polnL of reference, preclsely
because of lLs amblvalence: as forms are looklng aL us, how are we Lo look aL Lhem? lorm ls mosL
ofLen deflned as an ouLllne conLrasLlng wlLh conLenL. 8uL modernlsL aesLheLlcs Lalks abouL "formal
beauLy" by referrlng Lo a sorL of (con)fuslon beLween sLyle and conLenL, and an lnvenLlve
compaLlblllLy of Lhe former wlLh Lhe laLLer. We [udge a work Lhrough lLs plasLlc or vlsual form. 1he
mosL common crlLlclsm Lo do wlLh new arLlsLlc pracLlces conslsLs, moreover, ln denylng Lhem any
"formal effecLlveness", or ln slngllng ouL Lhelr shorLcomlngs ln Lhe "formal resoluLlon". ln observlng
conLemporary arLlsLlc pracLlces, we oughL Lo Lalk of "formaLlons" raLher Lhan "forms". unllke an
ob[ecL LhaL ls closed ln on lLself by Lhe lnLervenLlon of a sLyle and a slgnaLure, presenL-day arL shows
LhaL form only exlsLs ln Lhe encounLer and ln Lhe dynamlc relaLlonshlp en[oyed by an arLlsLlc
proposlLlon wlLh oLher formaLlons, arLlsLlc or oLherwlse. 1here are no forms ln naLure, ln Lhe wlld
sLaLe, as lL ls our gaze LhaL creaLes Lhese, by cuLLlng Lhem ouL ln Lhe depLh of Lhe vlslble. lorms are
JevelopeJ, one from anoLher. WhaL was yesLerday regarded as formless or "lnformal" ls no longer
Lhese Lhlngs Loday. When Lhe aesLheLlc dlscusslon evolves, Lhe sLaLus of form evolves along wlLh lL,
and Lhrough lL.
ln Lhe novels of pollsh wrlLer WlLold Combrowlcz, we see how each lndlvldual generaLes hls own
fotm Lhrough hls behavlour, hls way of comlng across, and Lhe way he addresses oLhers. 1hls form
comes abouL ln Lhe borderllne area where Lhe lndlvldual sLruggles wlLh Lhe CLher, so as Lo sub[ecL
hlm Lo whaL he deems Lo be hls "belng". So, for Combrowlcz, our "form" ls merely a relaLlonal
a g e | 9
properLy, llnklng us wlLh Lhose who relfy us by Lhe way Lhey see us, Lo borrow a SarLrlan
Lermlnology. When Lhe lndlvldual Lhlnks he ls casLlng an ob[ecLlve eye upon hlmself, he ls, ln Lhe flnal
analysls, conLemplaLlng noLhlng oLher Lhan Lhe resulL of perpeLual LransacLlons wlLh Lhe sub[ecLlvlLy
of oLhers.
1he arLlsLlc form, for some, slde-sLeps Lhls lnevlLablllLy, for lL ls publlclsed by a wotk. Cur
persuaslon, conversely, ls LhaL form only assumes lLs LexLure (and only acqulres a real exlsLence)
when lL lnLroduces human lnLeracLlons. 1he form of an arLwork lssues from a negoLlaLlon wlLh Lhe
lnLelllglble, whlch ls bequeaLhed Lo us. 1hrough lL, Lhe arLlsL embarks upon a dlalogue. 1he arLlsLlc
pracLlce Lhus resldes ln Lhe lnvenLlon of relaLlons beLween consclousnesses. Lach parLlcular arLwork
ls a proposal Lo llve ln a shared world, and Lhe work of every arLlsL ls a bundle of relaLlons wlLh Lhe
world, glvlng rlse Lo oLher relaLlons, and so on and so forLh, ad lnflnlLum. Pere we are aL Lhe
opposlLe end of Lhls auLhorlLarlan verslon of arL whlch we dlscover ln Lhe essays of 1hlerry de uuve
6
,
for whom any work ls noLhlng oLher Lhan a "sum of [udgemenLs", boLh hlsLorlcal and aesLheLlc,
sLaLed by Lhe arLlsL ln Lhe acL of lLs producLlon. 1o palnL ls Lo become parL of hlsLory Lhrough plasLlc
and vlsual cholces. We are ln Lhe presence of a prosecuLor's aesLheLlcs, here, for whlch Lhe arLlsL
confronLs Lhe hlsLory of arL ln Lhe auLarky of hls own persuaslons. lL ls an aesLheLlcs LhaL reduces
arLlsLlc pracLlce Lo Lhe level of a peLLlfogglng hlsLorlcal crlLlclsm. racLlcal "[udgemenL", Lhus almed, ls
perempLory and flnal ln each lnsLance, hence Lhe negaLlon of dlalogue, whlch, alone, granLs form a
producLlve sLaLus: Lhe sLaLus of an "encounLer". As parL of a "relaLlonlsL" Lheory of arL, lnLer-
sub[ecLlvlLy does noL only represenL Lhe soclal seLLlng for Lhe recepLlon of arL, whlch ls lLs
"envlronmenL", lLs "fleld" (8ourdleu), buL also becomes Lhe qulnLessence of arLlsLlc pracLlce.
As uaney suggesLed, form becomes "face" Lhrough Lhe effecL of Lhls lnvenLlon of relaLlons. 1hls
formula, needless Lo add, calls Lo mlnd Lhe one acLlng as Lhe pedesLal for Lmmanuel Levlnas"
Lhlnklng, for whom Lhe face represenLs Lhe slgn of Lhe eLhlcal Laboo. 1he face, Levlnas asserLs, ls
"wbot otJets me to setve oootbet", wbot fotblJs me to klll"
7
. Any "lnLer-sub[ecLlve relaLlon"
proceeds by way of Lhe form of Lhe face, whlch symbollses Lhe responslblllLy we have Lowards
oLhers: "tbe booJ wltb otbets ls ooly moJe os tespooslblllty", he wrlLes, buL don'L eLhlcs have a
horlzon oLher Lhan Lhls humanlsm whlch reduces lnLer-sub[ecLlvlLy Lo a klnd of lnLer- servlllLy? ls Lhe
lmage, whlch, for uaney, ls a meLaphor of Lhe face, only Lherefore sulLable for produclng Laboos and
proscrlpLlons, Lhrough Lhe burden of "responslblllLy"? When uaney explalns LhaL oll fotm ls o foce
lookloq ot os", he does noL merely mean LhaL we are responslble for Lhls. 1o be persuaded of as
much, sufflce lL Lo reverL Lo Lhe profound slgnlflcance of Lhe lmage for uaney. lor hlm, Lhe lmage ls
noL "lmmoral" when lL puLs us "ln Lhe place where we were noL"
8
, when lL "Lakes Lhe place of
anoLher". WhaL ls lnvolved here, for uaney, ls noL solely a reference Lo Lhe aesLheLlcs of 8azln and
8osselllnl, clalmlng Lhe "onLologlcal reallsm" of Lhe clnemaLographlc arL, whlch even lf lL does lle aL
Lhe orlgln of uaney's LhoughL, does noL sum lL up. Pe malnLalns LhaL form, ln an lmage, ls noLhlng
oLher Lhan Lhe represenLaLlon of deslre. roduclng a form ls Lo lnvenL posslble encounLers, recelvlng
a form ls Lo creaLe Lhe condlLlons for an exchange, Lhe way you reLurn a servlce ln a game of Lennls.
lf we nudge uaney's reasonlng a blL furLher, form ls Lhe tepteseototlve of deslre ln Lhe lmage. lL ls
Lhe horlzon based on whlch Lhe lmage may have a meanlng, by polnLlng Lo a deslred world, whlch
Lhe beholder Lhus becomes capable of dlscusslng, and based on whlch hls own deslre can rebound.
1hls exchange can be summed up by a blnomlal: someone shows someLhlng Lo someone who
reLurns lL as he sees flL. 1he work Lrles Lo caLch my gaze, Lhe way Lhe new-born chlld "asks for" lLs
moLher's gaze. ln lo vle commooe, 1zveLan 1odorov has shown how Lhe essence of soclablllLy ls Lhe
need for acknowledgemenL, much more Lhan compeLlLlon and vlolence"
9
. When an arLlsL shows us
someLhlng, he uses a LranslLlve eLhlc whlch places hls work beLween Lhe "look-aL-me" and Lhe "look-
6
Thierry de Duve: Essais dates. Editions de La DiIIerence. 1987.
7
Lmmanuel Levlnas: tblpoe ct loflol. oche-8lbllo. p. 93.
8
Serge uaney: letsevetooce. Ldlllons .C.l... 1992. p. 38
9
1zvelan 1odorov: lo vle commooe. LdlLlons, du Seull, 1994.
a g e | 10
aL-LhaL". uaney's mosL recenL wrlLlngs lamenL Lhe end of Lhls "Show/See" palrlng, whlch represenLed
Lhe essence of a democracy of Lhe lmage ln favour of anoLher palrlng, Lhls one 1v-relaLed and
auLhorlLarlan, "romoLe/recelve", marklng Lhe advenL of Lhe "vlsual". ln uaney's Lhlnklng, oll fotm
ls o foce lookloq ot me"., because lL ls summonlng me Lo dlalogue wlLh lL. lorm ls a dynamlc LhaL ls
lncluded boLh, or Lurn by Lurn, ln Llme and space. lorm can only come abouL from a meeLlng
beLween Lwo levels of reallLy. lor homogenelLy does noL produce lmages: lL produces Lhe vlsual,
oLherwlse puL. "looped lnformaLlon".
a g e | 11
Art of tbe 1990s
Porticipotion ond tronsitivity
A meLal gondola encloses a gas rlng LhaL ls llL, keeplng a large bow l of waLer on Lhe boll.
Camplng gears ls scaLLered around Lhe gondola ln no parLlcular order. SLacked agalnsL Lhe wall are
cardboard boxes, mosL of Lhem open, conLalnlng dehydraLed Chlnese soups whlch vlslLors are free Lo
add Lhe bolllng waLer Lo and eaL. 1hls plece, by 8lrkrlL 1lravanl[a, produced for Lhe Apetto 93 aL Lhe
venlce 8lennlal, remalns around Lhe edge of any deflnlLlon: ls lL a sculpLure? an lnsLallaLlon? a
performance? an example of soclal acLlvlsm? ln Lhe lasL few years, pleces such as Lhls have lncreased
conslderably. ln lnLernaLlonal exhlblLlons we have seen a growlng number of sLands offerlng a range
of servlces, works proposlng a preclse conLracL Lo vlewers, and more or less Langlble models of
soclablllLy. SpecLaLor "parLlclpaLlon", Lheorlsed by lluxus happenlngs and performances, has become
a consLanL feaLure of arLlsLlc pracLlce. As for Lhe space of reflecLlon opened up by Marcel uuchamp's
"arL coefflclenL", aLLempLlng Lo creaLe preclse boundarles for Lhe recelver's fleld of acLlvlLy ln Lhe
arLwork, Lhls ls nowadays belng resolved ln a culLure of lnLeracLlvlLy whlch poslLs Lhe LranslLlvlLy of
Lhe culLural ob[ecL as a falL accompll. As such, Lhese facLors merely raLlfy a developmenL LhaL goes
way beyond Lhe mere realm of arL. 1he share of lnLeracLlvlLy grows ln volume wlLhln Lhe seL of
communlcaLlon vehlcles. Cn Lhe oLher hand, Lhe emergence of new Lechnologles, llke Lhe lnLerneL
and mulLlmedla sysLems, polnLs Lo a collecLlve deslre Lo creaLe new areas of convlvlallLy and
lnLroduce new Lypes of LransacLlon wlLh regard Lo Lhe culLural ob[ecL. 1he "socleLy of Lhe specLacle"
ls Lhus followed by Lhe socleLy of exLras, where everyone flnds Lhe llluslon of an lnLeracLlve
democracy ln more or less LruncaLed channels of communlcaLlon...
1ranslLlvlLy ls as old as Lhe hllls. lL ls a Langlble properLy of Lhe arLwork. WlLhouL lL, Lhe work ls
noLhlng oLher Lhan a dead ob[ecL, crushed by conLemplaLlon. uelacrolx wroLe ln hls dlary LhaL a
successful plcLure Lemporarlly "condensed" an emoLlon LhaL lL was Lhe duLy of Lhe beholder's eye Lo
brlng Lo llfe and develop. 1hls ldea of LranslLlvlLy lnLroduces lnLo Lhe aesLheLlc arena LhaL formal
dlsorder whlch ls lnherenL Lo dlalogue. lL denles Lhe exlsLence of any speclflc "place of arL", ln favour
of a forever unflnlshed dlscurslveness, and a never recapLured deslre for dlssemlnaLlon. lL ls agalnsL
Lhls closed concepLlon of arLlsLlc pracLlce, lncldenLally, LhaL !ean-Luc Codard rebelled agalnsL, when
he explalned LhaL lt tokes two to moke oo lmoqe. 1hls proposlLlon may well seem Lo borrow
uuchamp's, puLLlng forward Lhe noLlon LhaL lt's tbe bebolJet wbo moke plctotes, buL lL acLually Lakes
Lhlngs a sLep furLher by posLulaLlng dlalogue as Lhe acLual orlgln of Lhe lmage-maklng process. AL Lhe
ouLseL of Lhls, negoLlaLlons have Lo be underLaken, and Lhe CLher presupposed... Any arLwork mlghL
Lhus be deflned as a relaLlonal ob[ecL, llke Lhe geomeLrlc place of a negoLlaLlon wlLh counLless
correspondenLs and reclplenLs. lL seems posslble, ln our vlew, Lo descrlbe Lhe speclflc naLure of
presenL-day arL wlLh Lhe help of Lhe concepL of creaLlng relaLlons ouLslde Lhe fleld of arL (ln conLrasL
Lo relaLlons lnslde lL, offerlng lL lLs soclo-economlc underlay): relaLlons beLween lndlvlduals and
groups, beLween Lhe arLlsL and Lhe world, and. by way of LranslLlvlLy, beLween Lhe beholder and Lhe
world. lerre 8ourdleu regards Lhe arL world as a "spoce of objectlve telotloos betweeo posltloos", ln
oLher words, a mlcrocosm deflned by power plays and sLruggles whereby producers sLrlve Lo
"preserve or Lransform lL"
10
. Llke any oLher soclal arena, Lhe arL world ls essenLlally relaLlonal, lnsofar
as lL presenLs a "system of Jlffeteotlol posltloos" Lhrough whlch lL can be read. 1here are many ways
of sLaLlng Lhls "relaLlonal" readlng. As parL of Lhelr neLworklng works, Lhe 8amo nash Club
(uevauLour collecLlon arLlsLs) Lhus suggesLs LhaL "ott ls oo exttemely co-opetotlve system. 1be Jeose
oetwotk of lotetcoooectloos betweeo membets meoos tbot evetytbloq tbot boppeos lo lt wlll posslbly
be o fooctloo of oll membets". Whlch glves Lhem a chance Lo asserL LhaL "lt's ott tbot mokes ott, oot
10
Pierre Bourd ieu, Raisotis pratiques. Editions du Seuil. p, 68.
a g e | 12
ottlsts". 1hese laLLer are Lhus mere unwlLLlng lnsLrumenLs ln Lhe servlce of laws LhaL exceed Lhem,
llke napoleon or Alexander Lhe CreaL ln 1olsLoy's 1heory of PlsLory... l don'L go along wlLh Lhls cyber-
deLermlnlsLlc poslLlon, for lf Lhe lnner sLrucLure of Lhe arL world acLually ouLllnes a llmlLed seL of
"osslble", Lhls sLrucLure relles on a second order of exLernal relaLlons, produclng and leglLlmlslng
Lhe order of lnLernal relaLlons. ln a word, Lhe "ArL" neLwork ls porous, and lL ls Lhe relaLlons of Lhls
neLwork wlLh all Lhe areas of producLlon LhaL deLermlnes lLs developmenL. lL would be posslble,
furLhermore, Lo wrlLe a hlsLory of arL LhaL ls Lhe hlsLory of Lhls producLlon of relaLlons wlLh Lhe
world, by nalvely ralslng Lhe lssue of Lhe naLure of Lhe exLernal relaLlons "lnvenLed" by arLw orks. 1o
glve a broad hlsLorlcal plcLure, leL us say LhaL arLworks were flrsL slLuaLed ln a LranscendenL world,
wlLhln whlch arL almed aL lnLroduclng ways of communlcaLlng wlLh Lhe delLy. lL acLed as an lnLerface
beLween human socleLy and Lhe lnvlslble forces governlng lLs movemenLs, alongslde a naLure LhaL
represenLed Lhe model order. An undersLandlng of Lhls order made lL posslble Lo draw closer Lo
dlvlne deslgns. ArL gradually abandoned Lhls goal, and explored Lhe relaLlons exlsLlng beLween Man
and Lhe world. 1hls new, relaLlonal, dlalecLlcal order developed from Lhe 8enalssance on. a perlod
LhaL aLLached greaL lmporLance Lo Lhe physlcal slLuaLlon of Lhe human belng ln hls world, even lf Lhls
world was sLlll ruled by Lhe dlvlne flgure, wlLh Lhe help of new vlsual Lools such as AlberLl's
perspecLlve, anaLomlcal reallsm, and Leonardo da vlncl's "SfumaLo". 1hls arLwork's purpose was noL
radlcally challenged unLll Lhe arrlval of Cublsm whlch aLLempLed Lo analyse our vlsual llnks wlLh Lhe
world by way of Lhe mosL nondescrlpL everyday ob[ecLs and feaLures (Lhe corner of a Lable, plpes
and gulLars), based on a menLal reallsm LhaL relnsLaLed Lhe movlng mechanlsms of our acqualnLance
wlLh Lhe ob[ecL.
1he relaLlonal arena opened up by Lhe lLallan 8enalssance was Lhus gradually applled Lo more
and more llmlLed ob[ecLs. 1he quesLlon: "WhaL ls our relaLlonshlp Lo Lhe physlcal world?" had a
bearlng, flrsL and foremosL, on Lhe enLlreLy of Lhe real, Lhen on llmlLed parLs of Lhls same reallLy.
needless Lo say, Lhls ls ln no way a llnear progresslon. Cne llnds palnLers llke SeuraL, Lhe rlgorous
analysL of our ocular ways of percepLlon, llvlng aL Lhe same Llme as someone llke Cdllon 8edon, who
Lrled Lo see Lhrough our relaLlons wlLh Lhe ln vlslble. LssenLlally, Lhough, Lhe hlsLory of arL can be
read llke Lhe hlsLory of successlve exLernal relaLlonal flelds, propped up by pracLlces deLermlned by
Lhe lnLernal developmenL of Lhese flelds. lL ls Lhe hlsLory of Lhe producLlon of relaLlons wlLh Lhe
world, as publlclsed by a class of ob[ecLs and speclflc pracLlces. 1oday, Lhls hlsLory seems Lo have
Laken a new Lurn. AfLer Lhe area of relaLlons beLween Pumanklnd and delLy, and Lhen beLween
Pumanklnd and Lhe ob[ecL, arLlsLlc pracLlce ls now focused upon Lhe sphere of lnLer-human
relaLlons, as lllusLraLed by arLlsLlc acLlvlLles LhaL have been ln progress slnce Lhe early 1990s. So Lhe
arLlsL seLs hls slghLs more and more clearly on Lhe relaLlons LhaL hls work wlll creaLe among hls
publlc, and on Lhe lnvenLlon of models of soclablllLy. 1hls speclflc producLlon deLermlnes noL only an
ldeologlcal and pracLlcal arena, buL new formal flelds as well. 8y Lhls, l mean LhaL over and above Lhe
relaLlonal characLer lnLrlnslc Lo Lhe arLwork, Lhe flgures of reference of Lhe sphere of human
relaLlons have now become fully-fledged arLlsLlc "forms". MeeLlngs, encounLers, evenLs, varlous
Lypes of collaboraLlon beLween people, games, fesLlvals, and places of convlvlallLy, ln a word all
manner of encounLer and relaLlonal lnvenLlon Lhus represenL, Loday, aesLheLlc ob[ecLs llkely Lo be
looked aL as such, wlLh plcLures and sculpLures regarded here merely as speclflc cases of a
producLlon of forms wlLh someLhlng oLher Lhan a slmple aesLheLlc consumpLlon ln mlnd.
1ypology
connections ond meetinqs
lcLures and sculpLures are characLerlsed, by Lhelr symbollc avallablllLy. 8eyond obvlous maLerlal
lmposslblllLles (museum closlng Llmes, geographlcal remoLeness), an arLwork can be see aL any Llme.
lL ls Lhere before our eyes, offered Lo Lhe curloslLy of a LheoreLlcally unlversal publlc. now.
conLemporary arL ls ofLen marked by non-avallablllLy, by belng vlewable only aL a speclflc Llme, 1he
example of performance ls Lhe mosL classlc of all. Cnce Lhe performance ls over, all LhaL remalns ls
a g e | 13
documenLaLlon LhaL should noL be confused wlLh Lhe work lLself. 1hls Lype of acLlvlLy presupposes a
conLracL wlLh Lhe vlewer, an "arrangemenL" whose clauses have Lended Lo become dlverslfled slnce
Lhe 1960s. 1he arLwork ls Lhus no longer presenLed Lo be consumed wlLhln a "monumenLal" Llme
frame and open for a unlversal publlc, raLher, lL elapses wlLhln a facLual Llme, for an audlence
sommooeJ by Lhe arLlsL. ln a nuLshell, Lhe work prompLs meeLlngs and lnvlLes appolnLmenLs,
managlng lLs own Lemporal sLrucLure. MeeLlngs wlLh a publlc are noL necessarlly lnvolved. Marcel
uuchamp, for example, lnvenLed hls "8endez-vous d'arL". by arblLrarlly ordalnlng LhaL, aL a cerLaln
Llme of Lhe day, Lhe flrsL ob[ecL wlLhln hls reach would be Lransformed lnLo a ready made. CLhers
have summoned Lhe publlc Lo observe a speclflc phenomenon, Lhe woy 8oberL 8arry announced
LhaL aL "o cettolo momeot Jotloq tbe motoloq of tbe 5tb of Motcb 1969, bolf o coblc mette of bellom
wos teleoseJ loto tbe otmospbete" by hlm. 1he specLaLor ls Lhus prompLed Lo move ln order Lo
observe a work, whlch only exlsLs as an arLwork by vlrLue of Lhls observaLlon. ln !anuary 1970,
ChrlsLlan 8olLanskl senL a few acqualnLances an SCS leLLer LhaL was sufflclenLly vague ln lLs conLenL
Lo be a sLandard leLLer llke Cn kawara's Lelegrams lnformlng Lhelr addressees, llkewlse from 1970
onwards, LhaL he was "sLlll allve". 1oday, Lhe form of Lhe vlslLlng card fused by uomlnlque Conzalez-
loersLer, Llam Cllllck and !eremy ueller) and Lhe address book (some of karen klllmnlk's drawlngs),
Lhe growlng lmporLance of Lhe openlng as parL of Lhe exhlblLlon programme (arreno, !oseph,
1lravanl[a, Puyghe), LogeLher wlLh Lhe orlglnallLy endeavour made ln Lhe producLlon of lnvlLaLlons
(hanfover from mall- arL), lllusLraLe Lhe lmporLance of Lhls "rendez-vous" represenLed by Lhe arLlsLlc
arena, and whlch forms lLs relaLlonal dlmenslon.
convivio/ity ond encounters
A work may operaLe llke a relaLlonal devlce conLalnlng a cerLaln degree of randomness, or a
machlne provoklng and managlng lndlvldual and group encounLers. 1o menLlon [usL a few examples
from Lhe pasL Lwo decades, Lhls applles Lo 8raco ulmlLrl[evlc's cosool losset-by serles, whlch
exaggeraLedly celebraLe Lhe name and face of an anonymous passer-by on an adverLlsemenL-slzed
posLer, or alongslde Lhe busL of a celebrlLy. ln Lhe early 1970s, SLephen WlllaLs palnsLaklngly mapped
Lhe relaLlonshlps exlsLlng beLween Lhe lnhablLanLs of an aparLmenL block. And Sophle Calle's work
conslsLs largely ln descrlblng her meeLlngs wlLh sLrangers. WheLher she ls followlng a passer-by.
rummaglng Lhrough hoLel rooms afLer belng employed as a chambermald, or asklng bllnd people
whaL Lhelr deflnlLlon of beauLy ls, she formallses, afLer Lhe facL, a blographlcal experlence whlch
leads her Lo "collaboraLe" wlLh Lhe people she meeLs. LeL us furLher menLlon, Lhe Cn kawara's / met
serles, Lhe looJ resLauranL opened ln 1971 by Cordon MaLLa-Clark. Lhe dlnners organlzed by uanlel
Spoerrl and Lhe ludlc shop called lo ceJllle pol sootlt j1be 5mllloq ceJlllo] opened by Ceorge 8rechL
and 8oberL lllllou ln vlllefranche. 1he consLlLuLlon of convlvlal relaLlons has been an hlsLorlcal
consLanL slnce Lhe 1960s. 1he generaLlon of Lhe 1990s Look up Lhls seL of lssues, Lhough lL had been
relleved of Lhe maLLer of Lhe deflnlLlon of arL. so plvoLal ln Lhe 1960s and 1970s. 1he lssue no longer
resldes ln broadenlng Lhe boundarles of arL
11
, buL ln experlenclng arLs capaclLles of reslsLance wlLhln
Lhe overall soclal arena. 8ased on one and Lhe same famlly of acLlvlLles, Lwo radlcally dlfferenL seL of
problems emerge: yesLerday, Lhe sLress lald on relaLlons lnslde Lhe arL world, wlLhln a modernlsL
culLure aLLachlng greaL lmporLance Lo Lhe "new
r
" and calllng for llngulsLlc subverslon, Loday, Lhe
emphasls puL on exLernal relaLlons as parL of an eclecLlc culLure where Lhe arLwork sLands up Lo Lhe
mlll of Lhe "SocleLy of Lhe SpecLacle". Soclal uLoplas and revoluLlonary hopes have glven way Lo
everyday mlcro-uLoplas and lmlLaLlve sLraLegles, any sLance LhaL ls "dlrecLly" crlLlcal of socleLy ls
fuLlle, lf based on Lhe llluslon of a marglnallLy LhaL ls nowadays lmposslble, noL Lo say regresslve.
AlmosL LhlrLy years ago, lellx CuaLLarl was advocaLlng Lhose hands- on sLraLegles LhaL underpln
presenL-day arLlsLlc pracLlces: "Iost os l tblok lt ls lllosoty to olm ot o step-by-step ttoosfotmotloo of
soclety, so l tblok tbot mlctoscoplc ottempts, of tbe commoolty ooJ oelqbbootbooJ commlttee type,
tbe otqoolsotloo of Joy-ootsetles lo tbe focolty, ooJ tbe llke, ploy oo obsolotely ctoclol tole".
12
11
cf. wrlLlngs of Lucy Llppard such as uemotetlollzotbm of tbe ottwotk, and 8osallnd krauss, 5colptote lo tbe xpooJeJ llelJ, eLc.
12
FIix GuatUiri, Molecular Revolution. Penguin, 1984.
a g e | 14
1radlLlonal crlLlcal phllosophy (Lhe lrankfurL school, ln parLlcular) now only fuels arL ln Lhe form of
archalc folklore, a magnlflcenL buL lneffecLual Loy. 1he subverslve and crlLlcal funcLlon of
conLemporary arL ls now achleved ln Lhe lnvenLlon of lndlvldual and collecLlve vanlshlng llnes, ln
Lhose Lemporary and nomadlc consLrucLlons whereby Lhe arLlsL models and dlssemlnaLes
dlsconcerLlng slLuaLlons. Whence Lhe presenL-day craze for revlslLed areas of convlvlallLy, cruclbles
where heLerogeneous forms of soclablllLy are worked ouL. lor her show aL Lhe CCC ln 1ours, Angela
8ulloch seL up a cafe. When a cerLaln number of vlslLors saL down on Lhe seaLs, Lhese laLLer seL off
Lhe broadcasL of a plece of muslc by krafLwerk (1993)... lor Lhe kestootoot exhlblLlon ln arls, ln
CcLober 1993. Ceorglna SLalr descrlbed Lhe anxleLy she felL abouL "havlng supper on her own", and
wroLe a LexL LhaL was handed ouL Lo lone dlners ln Lhe resLauranL. 8en klnmonL, for hls parL,
proposed randomly selecLed people LhaL he would do Lhelr washlng-up, and kepL an lnformaLlon
neLwork around hls works. Cn several occaslons, Llncoln 1obler has seL up a radlo sLaLlon ln arL
gallerles, and lnvlLed Lhe publlc Lo a dlscusslon Lhen broadcasL over Lhe alrwaves.
hlllppe arreno has been parLlcularly lnsplred by Lhe noLlon of parLy. Pls exhlblLlon pro[ecL aL Le
ConsorLlum ln ul[on (!anuary 1993) conslsLed ln "occopyloq two boots of llme totbet tboo spoote
mettes of spoce", whlch lnvolved organlslng a parLy where all Lhe lngredlenLs ended up produclng
relaLlonal forms -clusLers of lndlvlduals around arL ob[ecLs ln slLuaLlon... 8lrkrlL 1lravanl[a, on Lhe
oLher hand, has explored Lhe soclo-professlonal aspecL of convlvlallLy, by lncludlng ln Lhe 5otfoces Je
tepototloo show (ul[on, 1994) a relaxaLlon area lnLended for Lhe arLlsLs ln Lhe exhlblLlon, equlpped ln
parLlcular wlLh a Lable fooLball game and a full frldge... 1o wlnd up Lhese convlvlal slLuaLlons belng
developed as parL of a "frlendshlp" culLure, leL us menLlon Lhe bar creaLed by Pelmo Zobernlg for
Lhe exhlblLlon uolte, and lranz WesL's losstocke. 8uL oLher arLlsLs are suddenly emerglng ln Lhe
relaLlonal fabrlc ln a more aggresslve way. uouglas Cordon's work, for example, explores Lhe "wlld"
dlmenslon of Lhls lnLeracLlvlLy, by acLlng paraslLlcally and paradoxlcally ln Lhe soclal space. So he
phoned Lhe cusLomers ln a cafe, and senL mulLlple "lnsLrucLlons" Lo selecLed people. 1he besL
example of unLlmely communlcaLlon upseLLlng communlcaLlon neLworks ls probably Angus
lalrhursL's plece, for whlch, wlLh Lhe help of alrwave-plraLlng equlpmenL, he llnked Lwo arL gallerles
Lelephonlcally LogeLher. Lach person aL Lhe oLher end of Lhe llne LhoughL lL was Lhe oLher person
who had called, so Lhelr exchanges would end up ln an lmprobable mlsundersLandlng... As creaLlons
and exploraLlons of relaLlonal schemes, Lhese works form relaLlonal mlcroLerrlLorles dlsplayed ln Lhe
depLh of Lhe conLemporary "soclus": experlences publlclsed by surface-ob[ecLs (Llam Cllllck's boards,
lerre Puyghe's posLers made ln Lhe sLreeL, and Lrlc uuyckaerLs' vldeo-lecLures), or else glven over
Lo lmmedlaLe experlence (Andrea Lraser's exhlblLlon Lours).
co//oborotions ond controcts
1hose arLlsLs proposlng as arLworks:
a/ momenLs of soclablllLy
b/ ob[ecLs produclng soclablllLy,
also someLlmes use a relaLlonal conLexL deflned ln advance so as Lo exLracL producLlon
prlnclples from lL. 1he exploraLlon of relaLlons exlsLlng beLween, for lnsLance, Lhe arLlsL and hls/her
gallery owner may deLermlne forms and a pro[ecL. uomlnlque Conzalez-loersLer, whose work
deals wlLh Lhe relaLlons whlch llnk llved llfe wlLh lLs medla, lmages, spaces and ob[ecLs, has Lhus
devoLed several exhlblLlons Lo Lhe blographles of her gallery owners. 8leoveooe o ce poe voos
ctoyez volt (welcome to wbot oo 1blok oo'te 5eeloq) (1988) lncluded phoLographlc
documenLaLlon abouL Cabrlelle Maubrle, and 1be uooqbtet of o 1oolst (1992) used a seL lnsplred
by lnLlmlsm Lo mlx LsLher Schlpper's chlldhood memorles wlLh ob[ecLs formally organlsed
accordlng Lo Lhelr evocaLlve poLenLlal and Lhelr colour range (here, a predomlnanL red). Conzalez-
loersLer Lhus explores Lhe unspoken conLracL LhaL blnds Lhe gallery owner Lo "hls/her" arLlsL, Lhe
former belng an lnLegral parL of Lhe oLher's personal hlsLory, and vlce versa. lL goes wlLhouL saylng
LhaL Lhose fragmenLed blographles, where Lhe maln facLors are provlded ln Lhe form of "hlnLs" and
"clues" by Lhe person commlsslonlng Lhe work, con[ure up Lhe porLralL LradlLlon, when Lhe
a g e | 1S
commlsslon formed Lhe soclal bond aL Lhe rooL of arLlsLlc represenLaLlon. Maurlzlo CaLLelan has
also worked dlrecLly on Lhe physlcal person of hls gallery owners: by deslgnlng a phalllc rabblL
cosLume for Lmmanuel erroLln, whlch he had Lo wear LhroughouL Lhe exhlblLlon, and by
earmarklng cloLhes for SLefano 8aslllco creaLlng Lhe llluslon LhaL he was carrylng gallery owner
lleana Sonnabend on hls shoulders... ln a more clrculLous way, Sam Samore asks gallery owners Lo
Lake phoLographs whlch he Lhen selecLs and reframe. 8uL Lhls arLlsL/curaLor palrlng, whlch ls an
lnLrlnslc parL of Lhe lnsLlLuLlon, ls [usL Lhe llLeral aspecL of lnLer-human relaLlons llkely Lo deflne an
arLlsLlc producLlon. ArLlsLs Lake Lhlngs furLher, by worklng wlLh specLacle flgures: whence
uomlnlque Conzalez-loersLer's work wlLh Lhe acLress Marla de Medelros (1990), Lhe scrles of
publlc acLlvlLles organlsed by hlllppe arreno for Lhe lmlLaLor ?ves Lecoq, Lhrough whlch lL was hls
lnLenL Lo refashlon, from wlLhln, Lhe lmage of a Lelevlslon person fun homme publlc, Marsellle.
ul[on, ChenL, 1994-1993). norlLoshl Plrakawa, for hls parL, produces forms based on seL up
meeLlngs. So for hls show aL Lhe lerre Puber Callery ln Ceneva (1994) he publlshed a small ad Lo
recrulL a glrl who would agree Lo Lravel wlLh hlm ln Creece, a vlslL LhaL would be Lhe maLerlal for
Lhe show. 1he lmages he exhlblLs are always Lhe ouLcome of a speclflc conLracL drawn up wlLh hls
model, who ls noL necessarlly vlslble ln Lhe phoLos. ln oLher lnsLances, Plrakawa uses a parLlcular
corporaLe body, as when he asked several forLune-Lellers Lo predlcL hls fuLure, Pe records Lhelr
predlcLlons LhaL could Lhen be llsLened Lo wlLh a walkman, alongslde phoLos and slldes con[urlng
up Lhe world of clalrvoyance. lor a serles Lllled Weddlng lece (1992), Allx LamberL lnvesLlgaLed
Lhe conLracLual bonds of marrlage: ln slx monLhs, she goL marrled Lo four dlfferenL people,
dlvorclng Lhem all ln record Llme. ln Lhls way, LamberL puL herself lnslde Lhe "adulL role-playlng"
represenLed by Lhe lnsLlLuLlon of marrlage, whlch ls a facLory where human relaLlons are relfled.
She exhlblLs ob[ecLs produced by Lhls conLracLual world- cerLlflcaLes, offlclal phoLos and oLher
souvenlrs... 1he arLlsL here becomes lnvolved ln form-produclng worlds (vlslL Lo Lhe forLune- Leller,
offlclallzaLlon of a llalson, eLc. ) whlch pre-exlsL hlm or her, maLerlal LhaL ls avallable for anyone Lo
use. Some arLlsLlc evenLs, wlLh unlLe sLlll Lhe besL example (llmLlny, !une 1993), enabled arLlsLs Lo
work ln a formless relaLlonal model, as Lhe one offered by Lhe resldenLs of a large houslng
complex. Several of Lhose Laklng parL worked dlrecLly on modlfylng and ob[ecLlvlzlng soclal
relaLlons, one such belng Lhe remlaLa ulLLa group, whlch sysLemaLlcally quesLloned Lhe
lnhablLanLs of Lhe bulldlng where Lhe exhlblLlon was belng held, so as Lo complle sLaLlsLlcs. 1hen
Lhere ls lareed Armaly, whose lnsLallaLlon based on sound documenLs lncluded lnLervlews wlLh
LenanLs, whlch could be llsLened Lo wlLh headphones. Clegg & CuLLman, for Lhelr parL presenLed ln
Lhe mlddle of Lhelr work a klnd of bookshelf unlL, Lhe shape of whlch suggesLed Lhe archlLecLure of
Le Corbusler. and was deslgned Lo hold on Lapes each lnhablLanL's favourlLe pleces of muslc. 1he
culLural cusLoms of Lhe resldenLs were Lhus ob[ecLlvlzed by an archlLecLonlc sLrucLure, and grouped
on Lape, floor by floor, Lhus formlng compllaLlons LhaL could be consulLed by all and sundry
LhroughouL Lhe exhlblLlon... As a form fuelled and produced by collecLlve lnLeracLlon. Clegg &
CuLLman's 8ecord lendlng llbrary, whose prlnclple was once more used for Lhe 8acksLage show aL
Lhe Pamburg kunsLvereln ln LhaL same year, embodles ln lLs own rlghL Lhls conLracLual sysLem for
Lhe conLemporary arLwork.
Professiono/ re/otion: c/iente/es
As we have seen, Lhese varlous ways of explorlng soclal bonds have Lo do wlLh already exlsLlng
Lypes of relaLlons, whlch Lhe arLlsL flLs lnLo, so LhaL he/she can Lake forms from Lhem. CLher
pracLlces are almed aL recreaLlng soclo-professlonal models and applylng Lhelr producLlon meLhods.
Pere, Lhe arLlsL works ln Lhe real fleld of Lhe producLlon of goods and servlces, and alms Lo seL up a
cerLaln amblgulLy, wlLhln Lhe space of hls acLlvlLy, beLween Lhe uLlllLarlan funcLlon of Lhe ob[ecLs he
ls presenLlng, and Lhelr aesLheLlc funcLlon. lL ls Lhls waverlng beLween conLemplaLlon and use LhaL l
have Lrled Lo ldenLlfy by Lhe Lerm: operaLlve reallsm
13
, wlLh arLlsLs as dlverse as eLer lend. Mark
ulon, uan eLerman and nlek van de SLeeg ln mlnd, as well as more or less parody-orlenLed
"buslnesses" llke lngold Alrllnes and remlaLa ulLLa. (1he same Lerm mlghL be used for ploneers such
as anamarenko and Lhe !ohn LaLham's "ArLlsL's lacemenL Croup"). WhaL Lhese arLlsLs have ln
common ls Lhe modelllng of a professlonal acLlvlLy, wlLh Lhe relaLlonal world lssulng Lherefrom, as a
13
Cn Lhls concepL, we should menLlon Lwo wrlLlngs: "Oo'est-ce poe le teollsme opetotlf. ln Lhe caLalogue for lt feot coosttolte f nocleoJo.
CCC 1ours. !anuary 1992. "rodulre des rapporLs au lnorLde". ln Lhe caLalogue for ,4petto, venlce 8lennlal. 1993.
a g e | 16
devlce of arLlsLlc producLlon. 1hese make-belleve phenomena whlch lmlLaLe Lhe general economy,
as ls Lhe case wlLh lngold Alrllnes. Servaas lnc., and Mark kosLabrs "sLudlo", are llmlLed Lo a
consLrucLlon of Lhe repllcas of an alrllne company, a flshery and a producLlon workshop, buL wlLhouL
learnlng any ldeologlcal and pracLlcal lessons from dolng so, and Lhus belng resLrlcLed Lo a parody-
llke dlmenslon of arL. 1he example of Lhe les teoJy-moJes oppottleooeot o toot !e mooJe (keoJy-
ootJes 8elooq to vetyooe) agency, headed by Lhe laLe hlllppe 1homas, ls a blL dlfferenL. Pe dld noL
have Llme Lo proceed ln a credlble way Lo a second sLage, because hls slgnaLure casLlng pro[ecL ran
somewhaL ouL of sLeam afLer Lhe lelvc loles (lole lltes) (1990) exhlblLlon aL Lhe Cape ln 8ordeaux,
8uL hlllppe 1homas
14
sysLem, ln whlch Lhe pleces produced are slgned by Lhelr purchaser, shed llghL
on Lhe cloudy relaLlonal economlcs LhaL underpln Lhe relaLlons beLween arLlsL and collecLor. A more
dlscreeL narclsslsm lles aL Lhe rooL of Lhe pleces shown by uomlnlque Conzalez-loersLer aL Lhe A8C
ln arls and Lhe Cape ln 8ordeaux". 1hese were 8lographlcal Cfflces where, wlLh no more Lhan an
appolnLmenL, Lhe vlslLor came Lo dlvulge Lhe sallenL facLs of hls llfe, wlLh a vlew Lo a blography LhaL
would Lhen be formallsed by Lhe arLlsL.
1hrough llLLle servlces rendered, Lhe arLlsLs flll ln Lhe cracks ln Lhe soclal bond. lorm Lhus really
becomes Lhe "face looklng aL me". 1hls ls ChrlsLlne Plll's modesL alm, when she becomes lnvolved ln
Lhe mosL menlal of Lasks (glvlng massages, shlnlng shoes, worklng aL a supermarkeL check-ouL.
organlslng group meeLlngs eLc. ), drlven by Lhe anxleLy caused by Lhe feellng of uselessness. So
Lhrough llLLle gesLures arL ls llke an angellc programme, a seL of Lasks carrled ouL beslde or beneaLh
Lhe real economlc sysLem, so as Lo paLlenLly re-sLlLch Lhe relaLlonal fabrlc. CarsLen Poller, for hls
parL, applles hls hlgh-level sclenLlflc Lralnlng Lo Lhe lnvenLlon of slLuaLlons and ob[ecLs whlch lnvolve
human behavlour: lnvenLlng a drug LhaL releases a feellng of love. 8aroque seLs, and para-sclenLlflc
experlmenLs. CLhers, llke Penry 8ond and Llam Cllllck as parL of Lhe uocomeots pro[ecLs embarked
upon ln 1990, ad[usL Lhelr funcLlon Lo a preclse conLexL 8y becomlng acqualnLed wlLh lnformaLlon
[usL as lL "came Lhrough" on press agency LeleprlnLers, 8ond and Cllllck would hasLen Lo Lhe places
where Lhe Lhlng was happenlng aL Lhe same Llme as Lhelr "colleagues", and brlng back an lmage LhaL
was compleLely ouL of synch when compared wlLh Lhe usual crlLerla of Lhe professlon. ln any evenL,
8ond and Cllllck sLrlcLly applled Lhe producLlon meLhods of Lhe malnsLream press, [usL as eLer lend,
wlLh hls CLCu company, and nlek van de SLeeg puL Lhemselves ln Lhe archlLecL's worklng condlLlons.
8y conducLlng Lhemselves lnslde Lhe arL world on Lhe basls of Lhe parameLers of "worlds" LhaL are
heLerogeneous Lo lL, Lhese arLlsLs here lnLroduce relaLlonal worlds governed by concepLs of cllenLele,
order or commlsslon, and pro[ecL. When labrlce PybelL exhlblLed aL Lhe Musee d'ArL Moderne de la
vllle de arls ln lebruary 1993. all Lhe lndusLrlal producLs acLually or meLaphorlcally conLalned ln hls
work, as dlrecLly dlspaLched by Lhelr manufacLurers and earmarked for sale Lo Lhe publlc Lhrough hls
company "ll8" (unllmlLed responslblllLy), he puLs Lhe beholder ln an awkward poslLlon. 1hls pro[ecL,
whlch ls as removed from Culllaume 8l[l's llluslonlsm as from an lmlLaLlve reproducLlon of mercanLlle
Lrade, focuses on Lhe deslrlng dlmenslon of Lhe economy. 1hrough hls lmporL-exporL acLlvlLy deallng
wlLh seaLlng bound for norLh Afrlca, and Lhe LransformaLlon of Lhe Musee d'ArL Modeme de la vlle
de arls lnLo a supermarkeL, PybelL deflnes alL as a soclal funcLlon among oLhers, a permanenL
"dlgesLlon of daLa", Lhe purpose of whlch ls Lo redlscover Lhe "lnlLlal deslres Lhal preslded over Lhe
manufacLure of ob[ecLs".
now to occupy o qo//ery
1he exchanges LhaL Lake place beLween people, ln Lhe gallery or museum space, Lurn ouL Lo be
as llkely Lo acL as Lhe raw maLLer for an arLlsLlc work. 1he openlng ls ofLen an lnLrlnslc parL of Lhe
exhlblLlon seL-up, and Lhe model of an ldeal publlc clrculaLlon: a proLoLype of Lhls belng ?ves kleln's
vexposltloo Jo vlJe, ln Aprll 1938. lrom Lhe presence of 8epubllcan guards aL Lhe enLrance Lo Lhe lrls
ClerL Callery Lo Lhe blue cockLall offered Lo vlslLors, kleln Lrled Lo conLrol every aspecL of Lhe rouLlne
openlng proLocol, by glvlng each one a poeLlc funcLlon deflnlng lLs ob[ecL: Lhe vold. 1hus, Lo menLlon
a work sLlll havlng repercusslons, Lhe work of !ulla Seller (5ecotlty by Iollo) conslsLs ln placlng
14
LxhlblLlon l'nlvet Je vomoot, and 1tofflc.
a g e | 17
survelllance apparaLus ln exhlblLlon venues. lL ls Lhe human flow of vlslLors, and lLs posslble
regulaLlon, whlch Lhus becomes Lhe raw maLerlal and Lhe sub[ecL of Lhe plece. 8efore long, lL ls Lhe
enLlre exhlblLlon process LhaL ls "occupled" by Lhe arLlsL.
ln 1962, 8en llved and slepL ln Lhe Cne Callery ln London for a forLnlghL, wlLh [usL a few essenLlal
props. ln nlce, ln AugusL 1990. lerre !oseph. hlllppe arreno and hlllppe errln also "llved ln" Lhe
Alr de arls Callery, llLerally and flguraLlvely, wlLh Lhelr show les Atellets Jo lotoJlse. lL mlghL be
hasLlly concluded LhaL Lhls was a remake of 8en's performance, buL Lhe Lwo pro[ecLs refer Lo Lwo
radlcally dlfferenL relaLlonal worlds, whlch are as dlfferenL ln Lerms of Lhelr ldeologlcal and aesLheLlc
foundaLlon as Lhelr respecLlve perlod can be. When 8en llved ln Lhe gallery, lL was hls lnLenL Lo
slgnlfy LhaL Lhe arena of arL was expandlng, and even lncluded Lhe arLlsL's sleep and breakfasLs. Cn
Lhe oLher hand, when !oseph. arreno and errln occupled Lhe gallery, lL was Lo Lurn lL lnLo a
producLlon workshop, a "phoLogenlc space" [olnLly managed by Lhe vlewer, ln accordance wlLh very
preclse rules of play. AL Lhe openlng of les Atellets Jo lotoJlse, where everyone was rlgged ouL ln a
personallsed 1-shlrL ("lear", "CoLhlc", eLc. ), Lhe relaLlons LhaL were sLruck up among vlslLors Lurned
lnLo a whlle-you-walL scrlpL, wrlLLen llve by Lhe fllm-maker Marlon vemoux on Lhe gallery compuLer.
1he lnLerplay of lnLer-human relaLlons was Lhus maLerlallsed ln compllance wlLh Lhe prlnclples of an
lnLeracLlve vldeo game, a "real Llme fllm" experlenced and produced by Lhe Lhree arLlsLs. A loL of
ouLslde people Lhus helped Lo bulld a space of relaLlons, noL only oLher arLlsL buL psychoanalysLs,
coaches, frlends... 1hls Lype of "real Llme" work, whlch Lends Lo blur creaLlon and exhlblLlon, was
Laken up by Lhe exhlblLlon wotk, wotk lo ltoqtess. wotk aL Lhe Andrea 8osen Callery (1992), wlLh
lellx Conzalez-1orres, MaLLhew McCaslln and Llz Lamer, and Lhen by 1bls ls tbe sbow ooJ tbe sbow ls
mooy tbloqs, whlch was held ln ChenL ln CcLober 1994, before flndlng a more LheoreLlcal form wlLh
Lhe 1tofflc exhlblLlon LhaL l curaLed. ln boLh lnsLances, each arLlsL was aL lelsure Lo do whaL he/she
wanLed LhroughouL Lhe exhlblLlon, Lo alLer Lhe plece, replace lL, or propose performances and
evenLs. WlLh each modlflcaLlon, as Lhe general seLLlng evolved, Lhe exhlblLlon played Lhe parL of a
flexlble maLLer, "lnformed" by Lhe work of Lhe arLlsL. 1he vlslLor here had a cruclal place, because hls
lnLeracLlon wlLh Lhe works helped Lo deflne Lhe exhlblLlon's sLrucLure. Pe was faced wlLh devlces
requlrlng hlm Lo make a declslon. ln Conzalez-1orres' SLacks and plles of sweeLs, for example, Lhe
vlslLor was auLhorlsed Lo Lake away someLhlng from Lhe plece (a sweeL, a sheeL of paper), buL lL
would purely and slmply dlsappear lf every vlslLor exerclsed (hls rlghL: Lhe arLlsL Lhus appealed Lo Lhe
vlslLor's sense of responslblllLy, and Lhe vlslLor had Lo undersLand LhaL hls gesLure was conLrlbuLlng
Lo Lhe break-up of Lhe work. WhaL poslLlon should be adopLed when looklng aL a work LhaL hands
ouL lLs componenL parLs whlle Lrylng Lo hang on Lo lLs sLrucLure? 1he same amblgulLy awalLed Lhe
vlewer of hls Co-go uancer (1991), a young man wearlng a g-sLrlng on a mlnlmal pllnLh, or Lhe
person looklng aL personnages vlvanLs a reacLlver, whlch lerre !oseph accommodaLes ln Lhe
exhlblLlons aL Lhe openlng. Looklng aL 1he female beggar brandlshlng her raLLle (no man's Llme, vllla
Arson, nlce, 1991), lL ls lmposslble noL Lo averL Lhe eye, enmeshed ln lLs aesLheLlc deslgns, whlch
relfles, no precauLlons Laken, a human belng by asslmllaLlng lL Lo Lhe arLworks surroundlng lL.
vanessa 8eecrofL [uggles wlLh a slmllar chord, buL keeps Lhe beholder aL a dlsLance. AL her flrsL one-
woman show, wlLh LsLher Schlpper ln Cologne, november 1994, Lhe arLlsL Look phoLos, among a
dozen glrls all wearlng ldenLlcal Lhln polo-neck [umpers and panLles, and all ln blonde wlgs, whlle a
barrler prevenLlng enLrance Lo Lhe gallery enabled Lwo or Lhree vlslLors aL a Llme Lo check ouL Lhe
scene, from a dlsLance. SLrange groups of people, under Lhe curlous gaze of a voyeur vlewer: lerre
!oseph characLers comlng from a fanLasLlc popular lmaglnary, Lwo Lwln slsLers exhlblLed beneaLh
Lwo plcLures by uamlen PlrsL (ArL Cologne. 1992), a sLrlpper performlng her show (ulke 8lalr), a
walker walklng on a movlng walkway, ln a Lruck wlLh see-Lhrough sldes followlng Lhe random
lLlnerary of a arlslan (lerre Puyghe, 1993), a sLallholder playlng a barrel-organ wlLh a monkey on a
lead (Meyer valsman, !ablonka Callery. 1990), raLs fed on "8el aese" cheese by Maorlzlo CaLLelan,
poulLry rendered lnebrlaLed by CarsLen Poller wl Lh Lhe help of blLs of bread soaked ln whlsky
(collecLlve vldeo. uoploqqeJ, 1993), buLLerflles aLLracLed by glue-sLeeped monochrome canvases
(uamleu PlrsL, lo ooJ oot of love, 1992), anlmals and human belngs bumplng lnLo each oLher ln
a g e | 18
gallerles acLlng as LesL-Lubes for experlmenLs Lo do wlLh lndlvldual and soclal behavlour. When
!oseph 8euys spenL a few days locked wl Lh a coyoLe (/ llke Ametlco ooJ Ametlco llkes me), he gave
hlmself over Lo a demonsLraLlon of hls powers, polnLlng Lo a posslble reconclllaLlon beLween man
and Lhe "wlld" world. Cn Lhe oLher hand, as far as mosL of Lhe above-menLloned pleces are
concerned, Lhelr auLhor has no preordalned ldea abouL whaL would happen: arL ls made ln Lhe
gallery, Lhe same way LhaL 1rlsLan 1zara LhoughL LhaL "LhoughL ls made ln Lhe mouLh".
a g e | 19
Space-time excbange factors
4rtworks ond exchonqes
8ecause arL ls made of Lhe same maLerlal as Lhe soclal exchanges, lL has a speclal place ln Lhe
collecLlve producLlon process. A work of arL has a quallLy LhaL seLs lL aparL from oLher Lhlngs
produced by human acLlvlLles. 1hls quallLy ls lLs (relaLlve) soclal Lransparency. lf a work of arL ls
successful, lL wlll lnvarlably seL lLs slghLs beyond, lLs mere presence ln space: lL wlll be open Lo
dlalogue, dlscusslon, and LhaL form of lnLer-human negoLlaLlon LhaL Marcel uuchamp called "Lhe
coefflclenL of arL"", whlch ls a Lemporal process, belng played ouL here and now. 1hls negoLlaLlon ls
underLaken ln a splrlL of "Lransparency" whlch hallmarks lL as a producL of human labour. 1he work
of arL acLually shows (or suggesLs) noL only lLs manufacLurlng and producLlon process, lLs poslLlon
wlLhln Lhe seL of exchanges, and Lhe place, or funcLlon, lL allocaLes Lo Lhe beholder, buL also Lhe
creaLlve behavlour of Lhe arLlsL (oLherwlse puL, Lhe sequence of posLures and gesLures whlch make
up hls/her work, and whlch each lndlvldual work passes on llke a sample or marker). So every
canvas produced by !ackson ollock so closely llnks Lhe flow of palnL Lo an arLlsL's behavlour, LhaL
Lhe laLLer seems Lo be Lhe lmage of Lhe former llke lLs "necessary producL", as PuberL uamlsch
13
has
wrlLLen. AL Lhe beglnnlng of arL we flnd Lhe behavlour adopLed by Lhe arLlsL LhaL seL of moods and
acLs whereby Lhe work acqulres lLs relevance ln Lhe presenL. 1he "Lransparency"" of Lhe arLwork
comes abouL from Lhe facL LhaL Lhe gesLures formlng and lnformlng lL are freely chosen or lnvenLed,
and ape parL of lLs sub[ecL. lor example, over and above Lhe popular lcon represenLed by Lhe lmage
of Marllyn Monroe, Lhe sense of Andy Warhol's Marllyn sLems from Lhe lndusLrlal producLlon
process adopLed by Lhe arLlsL, governed by an alLogeLher mechanlcal lndlfference Lo Lhe sub[ecLs
selecLed by hlm. 1hls "Lransparency" of arLlsLlc work conLrasLs, need lL be sald, wlLh Lhe sacred, and
wlLh Lhose ldeologles whlch seek ln arL Lhe means of glvlng Lhe rellglous a new look. 1hls relaLlve
Lransparency, whlch ls an a prlorl form of arLlsLlc exchange, seems lnLolerable Lo Lhe blgoL. We
know LhaL, once lnLroduced lnLo Lhe exchange clrculL, any klnd of producLlon Lakes on a soclal form
whlch no longer has anyLhlng Lo do wlLh lLs orlglnal usefulness. lL acqulres an exchange value LhaL
parLly covers and shrouds lLs prlmary "naLure". 1he facL ls LhaL a work of arL has no a prlorl useful
funcLlon-noL LhaL lL ls soclally useless, buL because lL ls avallable and flexlble, and has an "lnflnlLe
Lendency". ln oLher words, lL ls devoLed, rlghL away, Lo Lhe world of exchange and communlcaLlon,
Lhe world of "commerce", ln boLh meanlngs of Lhe Lerm. WhaL all goods have ln common ls Lhe facL
LhaL Lhey have a value, LhaL ls, a common subsLance LhaL permlLs Lhelr exchange. 1hls subsLance,
accordlng Lo Marx, ls Lhe "amounL of absLracL labour" used Lo produce Lhls lLem. lL ls represenLed by
a sum of money, whlch ls Lhe "absLracL general equlvalenL" of all goods beLween Lhem. lL has been
sald of arL, and Marx was Lhe flrsL, LhaL lL represenLs Lhe "absoluLe merchandlse", because lL ls Lhe
acLual lmage of Lhe value. 8uL whaL exacLly are we Lalklng abouL? AbouL Lhe arL ob[ecL noL abouL
arLlsLlc pracLlce, abouL Lhe work as lL ls assumed by Lhe general economy, and noL lLs own economy.
AlL represenLs a barLer acLlvlLy LhaL cannoL be regulaLed by any currency, or any "common
subsLance". lL ls Lhe dlvlslon of meanlng ln Lhe wlld sLaLe-an exchange whose form ls deflned by LhaL
of Lhe ob[ecL lLself, before belng so deflned by deflnlLlons forelgn Lo lL. 1he arLlsL's pracLlce, and hls
behavlour as producer, deLermlnes Lhe relaLlonshlp LhaL wlll be sLruck up wlLh hls work. ln oLher
words, whaL he produces, flrsL and foremosL, ls relaLlons beLween people and Lhe world, by way of
aesLheLlc ob[ecLs.
1he subject of the ortwork
Lvery arLlsL whose work sLems from relaLlonal aesLheLlcs has a world of forms, a seL of problems
and a Lra[ecLory whlch are all hls own. 1hey are noL connecLed LogeLher by any sLyle, Lheme or
lconography. WhaL Lhey do share LogeLher ls much more declslve, Lo wlL, Lhe facL of operaLlng wlLhln
one and Lhe same pracLlcal and LheoreLlcal horlzon: Lhe sphere of lnLer-human relaLlons. 1helr works
lnvolve meLhods of soclal exchanges, lnLeracLlvlLy wlLh Lhe vlewer wlLhln Lhe aesLheLlc experlence
belng offered Lo hlm/her, and Lhe varlous communlcaLlon processes, ln Lhelr Langlble dlmenslon as
Lools setvloq to llnk lndlvlduals and human groups LogeLher.
13
PuberL uamlsch. leoette joooe coJmlom. LdlLlons du Seull. p. 76.
a g e | 20
So Lhey are all worklng wlLhln whaL we mlghL call Lhe relaLlonal sphere, whlch ls Lo Loday's arL
whaL mass producLlon was Lo op ArL and Mlnlmal ArL.
1hey all rooL Lhelr arLlsLlc praxls wlLhln a ptoxlmlty whlch relaLlvlzes Lhe place of vlsuallLy ln Lhe
exhlblLlon proLocol, wlLhouL bellLLllng lL. 1he arLwork of Lhe 1990s Lurns Lhe beholder lnLo a
nelghbour, a dlrecL lnLerlocuLor. lL ls preclsely Lhe aLLlLude of Lhls generaLlon Loward
communlcaLlons LhaL makes lL posslble Lo deflne lL ln relaLlon Lo prevlous generaLlons. MosL arLlsLs
emerglng ln Lhe 1980s, from 8lchard rlnce Lo !eff koons by way of !enny Polzer, developed Lhe
vlsual aspecL of Lhe medla, whlle Lhelr successors show a preference for conLacL and LacLlllLy. 1hey
prefer lmmeJlocy ln (helr vlsual wrlLlng. 1hls phenomenon has a soclologlcal explanaLlon, glven LhaL
Lhe decade LhaL has [usL qooe by, marked as lL was by Lhe recesslon, Lurned ouL Lo be noL very
proplLlous Lo specLacular and showy underLaklngs. 1here are also purely aesLheLlc reasons for Lhls:
Lhe "back Lo" pendulum came Lo a halL ln Lhe 1980s on movemenLs from Lhe 1960s, and malnly op
ArL, whose vlsual effecLlveness underplns mosL of Lhe forms proposed by slmolotloolsm. lor beLLer
or for worse, our era ls ldenLlfled, rlghL down Lo lLs crlsls "amblence ", wlLh Lhe "poor" and
experlmenLal arL of Lhe 1970s. 1hls albelL superflclal vogulsh effecL made lL posslble Lo re-vlew Lhe
works of arLlsLs llke Cordon MaLLa-Clark and 8oberL SlmLhson, whlle Lhe success of Mlke kelley
recenLly encouraged a rereadlng of Callfornla!! "!unk ArL", from aul 1hek Lo 1eLsuml kudo. lashlon
also creaLes aesLheLlc mlcrocllmaLes, Lhe effecLs of whlch have repercusslons even on our readlng of
recenL hlsLory. CLherwlse puL, Lhe sleve organlses Lhe mesh of lLs neL ln dlfferenL ways, and "leLs
Lhrough" oLher Lypes of works-whlch, ln reLurn, lnfluence Lhe presenL.
1hls sald, we flnd ourselves, wlLh relaLlonal arLlsLs, ln Lhe presence of a group of people who, for
Lhe flrsL Llme slnce Lhe appearance of ConcepLual ArL ln Lhe mld slxLles, ln no way draw susLenance
from any re-lnLerpreLaLlon of Lhls or LhaL pasL aesLheLlc movemenL. 8elaLlonal arL ls noL Lhe revlval
of any movemenL, nor ls lL Lhe comeback of any sLyle. lL arlses from an observaLlon of Lhe presenL
and from a llne of Lhlnklng abouL Lhe faLe of arLlsLlc acLlvlLy. lLs baslc clalm-Lhe sphere of human
relaLlons as arLwork venue-has no prlor example ln arL hlsLory, even lf lL appears, afLer Lhe facL, as
Lhe obvlous backdrop of all aesLheLlc praxls, and as a modernlsL Lheme Lo cap all modernlsL Lhemes.
Sufflce lL merely Lo re-read Lhe lecLure glven by Marcel uuchamp ln 1934, LlLled "1he CreaLlve
rocess", Lo become qulLe sure LhaL lnLeracLlvlLy ls anyLhlng buL a new ldea... novelLy ls elsewhere. lL
resldes ln Lhe facL LhaL Lhls generaLlon of arLlsLs conslders lnLer-sub[ecLlvlLy and lnLeracLlon nelLher
as fashlonable LheoreLlcal gadgeLs, noL as addlLlves (allbls) of a LradlLlonal arLlsLlc pracLlce. lL Lakes
Lhem as a polnL of deparLure and as an ouLcome, ln brlef, as Lhe maln lnformers of Lhelr acLlvlLy. 1he
space where Lhelr works are dlsplayed ls alLogeLher Lhe space of lnLeracLlon, Lhe space of openness
LhaL ushers ln all dlalogue (Ceorges 8aLallle would have wrlLLen: "rlfL" ("Jecblmte")). WhaL Lhey
produce are relaLlonal space-Llme elemenLs, lnLer-human experlences Lrylng Lo rld Lhemselves of (hls
sLralL[ackeL of Lhe ldeology of mass communlcaLlons, ln a way, of Lhe places where alLernaLlve forms
of soclablllLy, crlLlcal models and momenLs of consLrucLed convlvlallLy are worked ouL. lL ls
neverLheless qulLe clear LhaL Lhe age of Lhe new Man, fuLure-orlenLed manlfesLos, and calls for a
beLLer world all ready Lo be walked lnLo and llved ln ls well and Lruly over. 1hese days, uLopla ls
belng llved on a sub[ecLlve, everyday basls, ln Lhe real Llme of concreLe and lnLenLlonally
fragmenLary experlmenLs. 1he arLwork ls presenLed as a soclol lotetstlce wlLhln whlch Lhese
experlmenLs and Lhese new "llfe posslblllLles" appear Lo be posslble. lL seems more presslng Lo
lnvenL posslble relaLlons wlLh our nelghbours ln Lhe presenL Lhan Lo beL on happler Lomorrows. 1haL
ls all, buL lL ls qulLe someLhlng. And ln any evenL lL represenLs a much-awalLed alLernaLlve Lo Lhe
depresslve, auLhorlLarlan and reacLlonary Lhlnklng whlch, ln lrance aL leasL, passes for arL Lheory ln
Lhe form of "common sense" redlscovered. ModernlLy, however, ls noL dead, lf we acknowledge as
modern a sofL spoL for aesLheLlc experlence and advenLurous Lhlnklng, as conLrasLed, wlLh Lhe
cauLlous forms of convenLlonallLy belng defended by our freelance phllosophers, Lhe neo-
LradlLlonallsLs ("8eauLy" accordlng Lo Lhe prlceless uave Plckey) and Lhose backward-looklng mlllLanL
such as !ean Clalr. WhaLever Lhese fundamenLallsLs cllnglng Lo yesLerday's qooJ toste may say and
Lhlnk presenL-day arL ls roundly Laklng on and Laklng up Lhe legacy of Lhe 20Lh cenLury avanL-gardes,
a g e | 21
whlle aL Lhe same Llme challenglng Lhelr dogmaLlsm and Lhelr Leleologlcal docLrlnes. 8esL assured
LhaL much ponderlng wenL lnLo Lhls lasL senLence: lL ls slmply Llme Lo wrlLe lL down. lor modernlsm
was sLeeped ln an "lmaglnary of conLrasLs", Lo borrow CllberL uurand's Lerm, whlch proceeded by
way of separaLlons and conLrasLs, readlly dlsquallfylng Lhe pasL ln favour of Lhe fuLure. lL was based
on confllcL, whereas Lhe lmaglnary of our day and age ls concerned wlLh negoLlaLlons, bonds and co-
exlsLences. 1hese days we are no longer Lrylng Lo advance by means of confllcLual clashes, by way of
Lhe lnvenLlon of new assemblages, posslble relaLlons beLween dlsLlncL unlLs, and alllances sLruck up
beLween dlfferenL parLners. AesLheLlc conLracLs, llke soclal conLracLs, are ablded by for whaL Lhey
are. nobody nowadays has ldeas abouL usherlng ln Lhe golden age on LarLh, and we are readlly
prepared [usL Lo creaLe varlous forms of modus vlvendl permlLLlng falrer soclal relaLlons, more
compacL ways of llvlng, and many dlfferenL comblnaLlons of ferLlle exlsLence. ArL, llkewlse, ls no
longer seeklng Lo represenL uLoplas, raLher, lL ls aLLempLlng Lo consLrucL concreLe spaces.
5poce-time foctors in 1990s' ort
1hese "relaLlonal" procedures (lnvlLaLlons, casLlng sesslons, meeLlngs, convlvlal and user-frlendly
areas, appolnLmenLs, eLc.) are merely a reperLory of common forms, vehlcles Lhrough whlch
parLlcular llnes of LhoughL and personal relaLlonshlps wlLh Lhe world are developed. 1he subsequenL
form LhaL each arLlsL glves Lo Lhls relaLlonal producLlon ls noL unalLerable, elLher. 1hese arLlsLs
percelve Lhelr work from a Lhreefold vlewpolnL, aL once aesLheLlc (how ls lL Lo be "LranslaLed" ln
maLerlal Lerms?), hlsLorlcal (how ls Lo be lncorporaLed ln a seL of arLlsLlc references?) and soclal (how
ls Lo flnd a coherenL poslLlon wlLh regard Lo Lhe currenL sLaLe of producLlon and soclal relaLlons?).
1hese acLlvlLles evldenLly acqulre Lhelr formal and LheoreLlcal marks ln ConcepLual ArL, ln lluxus and
ln Mlnlmal ArL, buL Lhey slmply use Lhese llke a vocabulary, a lexlcal basls. !asper !ohns, 8oberL
8auschenberg and Lhe new- 8eallsLs all relled on Lhe ready-made Lo develop boLh Lhelr rheLorlc
abouL Lhe ob[ecL, and Lhelr soclologlcal dlscourse. When relaLlonal arL makes reference Lo
concepLual and lluxus-lnsplred slLuaLlons and meLhods, or Lo Cordon MaLLa-Clark, 8oberL SmlLhson
and uan Craham, lL ls Lo convey llnes of LhoughL whlch have noLhlng Lo do wlLh Lhelr own Lhlnklng.
1he real quesLlon ls more llkely Lhls: whaL are Lhe tlqbt exhlblLlon meLhods ln relaLlon Lo Lhe culLural
conLexL and ln relaLlon Lo Lhe hlsLory of alL as lL ls belng currenLly updaLed? vldeo, for example, ls
nowadays becomlng a predomlnanL medlum. 8uL lf eLer Land, Cllllan Wearlng and Penry 8ond, Lo
name [usL Lhree arLlsLs, have a preference for vldeo recordlng, Lhey are sLlll noL "vldeo arLlsLs". 1hls
medlum merely Lurns ouL Lo be Lhe one besL sulLed Lo Lhe formallsaLlon of cerLaln acLlvlLles and
pro[ecLs. CLher arLlsLs Lhus produce a sysLemaLlc documenLaLlon abouL Lhelr work, Lhereby drawlng
Lhe lessons of ConcepLual ArL, buL on radlcally dlfferenL: aesLheLlc bases. 8elaLlonal arL, whlch ls well
removed from Lhe admlnlsLraLlve raLlonallLy LhaL underplns lL (Lhe form of Lhe noLarlsed conLracL,
ublqulLous ln Lhe slxLles' arL), Lends Lo draw lnsplraLlon more from Lhe flexlble processes governlng
ordlnary llfe. We can use Lhe Lerm communlcaLlons, buL here, Loo, Loday's arLlsLs are placed aL Lhe
oLher exLreme, compared wlLh how arLlsLs made use of Lhe medla ln Lhe prevlous decade. Where
Lhese arLlsLs Lackled Lhe vlsual form of mass communlcaLlons and Lhe lcons of pop culLure, Llam
Cllllck, MllLos ManeLas and !orge ardo work on scaled-down models of communlcaLlonal slLuaLlons.
1hls can be lnLerpreLed as a change ln Lhe collecLlve senslblllLy. PenceforLh Lhe group ls plLLed
agalnsL Lhe mass, nelghbourllness agalnsL propaganda, low Lech agalnsL hlgh Lech. and Lhe LacLlle
agalnsL Lhe vlsual. And above all, Lhe everyday now Lurns ouL Lo be a much more ferLlle Lerraln Lhan
"pop culLure" -a form LhaL only exlsLs ln conLrasL Lo "hlgh culLure", Lhrough lL and for lL.
1o head off any polemlc abouL a so-called reLurn Lo "concepLual" arL, leL us bear ln mlnd LhaL
Lhese works ln no way celebraLe lmmaLerlallLy. none of Lhese arLlsLs has a preference for
"performances" or concepL, words LhaL no longer mean a whole loL here. ln a word, Lhe work
process no longer has any supremacy over ways of renderlng Lhls work maLerlal (unllke rocess ArL
and ConcepLual ArL, whlch, for Lhelr parL, Lended Lo feLlshlze Lhe menLal process Lo Lhe deLrlmenL of
Lhe ob[ecL). ln Lhe worlds consLrucLed by Lhese arLlsLs, on Lhe conLrary, ob[ecLs are an lnLrlnslc parL
of Lhe language, wlLh boLh regarded as vehlcles of relaLlons Lo Lhe oLher. ln a way, an ob[ecL ls every
blL as lmmaLerlal as a phone call. And a work LhaL conslsLs ln a dlnner around a soup ls every blL as
a g e | 22
motetlol as a sLaLue. 1hls arblLrary dlvlslon beLween Lhe gesLure and Lhe forms lL produces ls here
called lnLo quesLlon, lnsofar as lL ls Lhe very lmage of conLemporary allenaLlon: Lhe cannlly
malnLalned llluslon,, even ln arL lnsLlLuLlons, LhaL ob[ecLs excuse meLhods and LhaL Lhe eoJ of arL
[usLlfles Lhe peLLlness of Lhe lnLellecLual and eLhlcal means, Cb[ecLs and lnsLlLuLlons, and Lhe use of
Llme and works, are aL once Lhe ouLcome of human relaLlons-far Lhey render soclal work concreLe-
and producers of relaLlons-for, conversely, Lhey organlse Lypes of soclablllLy and regulaLe lnLer-
human encounLers. 1oday's arL Lhus prompLs us Lo envlsage Lhe relaLlons beLween space and Llme ln
a dlfferenL way. LssenLlally, moreover, lL derlves lLs maln orlglnallLy from Lhe way Lhls lssue ls
handled. WhaL, acLually, ls cooctetely ptoJoceJ by arLlsLs such as Llam Cllllck. uomlnlque Conzalez-
loersLer and vanessa 8eecrofL? WhaL, ln Lhe flnal analysls, ls Lhe ob[ecL of Lhelr work? 1o lnLroduce
a few comparaLlve facLors, we should have Lo embark upon a hlsLory of Lhe use value of arL. When a
collecLor purchased a work by !ackson ollock or ?ves kleln, he was buylng, over and above lLs
aesLheLlc lnLeresL, a mllesLone ln a hlsLory on Lhe move. Pe became Lhe purchaser of a hlsLorlcal
slLuaLlon. ?esLerday, when you boughL a !eff koons, whaL was belng broughL Lo Lhe fore was Lhe
hyper-reallLy of arLlsLlc value. WhaL has one boughL when one owns a work by 1lravanl[a or uouglas
Cordon, oLher Lhan a relaLlonshlp wlLh Lhe world rendered concreLe by an ob[ecL, whlch, pet se
,
deflnes Lhe relaLlons one has Lowards Lhls relaLlonshlp: Lhe relaLlonshlp Lo a relaLlonshlp?
a g e | 23
)oint presence and availability: Tbe tbeoretical legacy of Felix Conzalez-Torres
1he work lnvolved here ls a smalllsh cube of paper, noL blg enough Lo glve an lmpresslon of
monumenLallLy, and Loo sLark Lo enable you Lo forgeL LhaL lL was [usL a sLack of ldenLlcal posLers. lL ls
sky-blue ln colour, wlLh broad whlLe plplng acLlng as a frame. Cn Lhe edge Lhe blue was helghLened
by Lhe plle of paper. 1he noLlce read: lellx Conzalez-1orres, uotltleJ (8loe Mlttot), 1990. Offset ptlot
oo popet, eoJless coples. Cne ls allowed Lo Lake one of Lhe posLers away wlLh hlm/her. 8uL whaL
happens lf loLs of vlslLors walk off ln Lurn wlLh Lhese sheeLs of paper offered Lo an absLracL publlc?
WhaL process would cause Lhe plece Lo change and Lhen vanlsh? lor Lhls work dld noL lnvolve a
"erformance", or a posLer hand-ouL, buL a work endowed wlLh a deflned form and a cerLaln
denslLy, a work noL dlsplaylng lLs consLrucLlon (or dlsmanLlemenL) process, buL tbe fotm of lts
pteseoce amld an audlence. 1hls seL of lssues Lo do wlLh Lhe convlvlal offerlng and Lhe avallablllLy of
Lhe work of arL, as produced and sLaged by Conzalez-1orres, Lurn ouL, Loday, Lo be meanlngful.. noL
only are Lhey aL Lhe hub of conLemporary aesLheLlcs, buL Lhey go a whole loL furLher Loo, exLendlng
Lo our relaLlons wlLh Lhlngs. 1hls ls why, afLer hls deaLh ln 1996, Lhe Cuban arLlsL's work calls for a
crlLlcal appralsal ln order Lo relnsLaLe lL ln Lhe presenL-day conLexL, Lo whlch lL has made a
consplcuous conLrlbuLlon.
nomosexuo/ity os o porodiqm of cohobitotion
lL would be Loo easy Lo comply wlLh a currenLly wldespread Lrend and reduce lellx Conzalez-
1orres' work Lo a neo-formallsL seL of problems or an agenda for gay acLlvlsm. lLs sLrengLh lles aL
once ln Lhe arLlsL's skllful lnsLrumenLallzaLlon of forms, and ln hls ablllLy Lo slde-sLep communlLy-
orlenLed ldenLlflcaLlons Lo geL Lo Lhe hearL of Lhe human experlence. So, for hlm, homosexuallLy
represenLed noL so much a dlscurslve Lheme Lhan an emoLlonal dlmenslon, a form of llfe creaLlng
forms of arL. lellx Conzalez- 1orres was probably Lhe very flrsL person Lo convlnclngly poslL Lhe
bases of a homo-sensual aesLheLlcs, ln Lhe sense LhaL lnsplred Mlchel loucaulL Lo advance a creaLlve
eLhlcs of love relaLlonshlps. WhaL ls lnvolved, ln boLh lnsLances, ls an enLhuslasm for Lhe unlversal,
and noL a caLegorlslng clalm. WlLh Conzalez-1orres, homosexuallLy dld noL seal a communlLy
asserLlon: qulLe Lo Lhe conLrary, lL became a llfe model LhaL could be shared by all, and ldenLlfled
wlLh by everyone. lurLhermore, lL gave rlse ln hls work Lo a speclflc realm of forms, hallmarked
malnly by a conLrasLless duallLy. 1he llgure "Lwo" ls ublqulLous, buL lL ls never a blnary conLrasL. We
Lhus see Lwo clocks wlLh Lhelr hands sLopped aL Lhe same Llme (uotltleJ (letfect lovets1991), Lwo
plllows on a crumpled bed, sLlll bearlng Lhe slgns of a body (24 posLers. 1991), Lwo bare flghL bulbs
flxed Lo Lhe wall, wlLh lnLerLwlned wlres (uotltleJ (Motcb 5tb) #2, 1991), Lwo mlrrors seL slde by slde
(uotltleJ (Motcb 5tb) #1, 1991): Lhe baslc unlL of Conzalez-1orres' aesLheLlc ls Lwofold, and dual.
1he feellng of lonellness ls never represenLed by Lhe "l", buL Lhe absence of Lhe "2". 1hls ls why hls
work was a slgnlflcanL momenL ln Lhe represenLaLlon of Lhe couple, a classlc flgure ln Lhe hlsLory of
arL. 1hls ls no longer Lhe addlLlon of Lwo lnevlLably heLerogeneous reallLles, complemenLlng one
anoLher ln a subLle lnLerplay of conLrasLs and dlsslmllarlLles, and drlven by Lhe amblvalence of Lhe
moLlons of aLLracLlon and repulslon (sufflce lL Lo Lhlnk of van Lyck's 1be Mottloqe of Clovoool
Atoolflol ooJ Clovoooo ceooml, or Lhe uuchamplan "klng and queen" symbollsm). Conzalez-1orres"
couple, on Lhe oLher hand, ls Lyplfled as a Lranqull, Lwofold unlL, or an elllpse (uotltleJ (uooble
lotttolt), 1991). 1he formal sLrucLure of hls work lles ln Lhls harmonlous parlLy, and ln Lhls lncluslon
of Lhe oLher ln Lhe self, whlch ls endlessly decllned and whlch cerLalnly represenLs lLs maln
paradlgm. lL ls LempLlng Lo descrlbe hls work as auLoblographlcal, glven Lhe many alluslons Lhe arLlsL
made Lo hls own llfe (Lhe hlghly personal Lone of Lhe pozzles, Lhe appearance of Lhe cooJy pleces
[usL when hls boyfrlend 8oss dled), buL Lhls ldea has someLhlng lncompleLe abouL lL. lrom sLarL Lo
flnlsh, Conzalez-1orres Lold Lhe Lale noL of an lndlvldual, buL of a couple, Lhus cohablLaLlon. 1he
work ls also dlvlded lnLo flgures whlch all have a close relaLlonshlp wlLh lovers llvlng LogeLher.
MeeLlng and comlng LogeLher (all Lhe "palrs"), knowledge of Lhe oLher (Lhe "porLralLs"): llfe shared,
presenLed llke a sLrlng of happy momenLs (Lhe llghL bulbs and Lhe Lravel flgures): separaLlon,
lncludlng all Lhe lmagery of absence whlch ls ublqulLous ln Lhe work, lllness (Lhe record of uotltleJ
(wooJwotks), 1989, Lhe red and whlLe beads of uotltleJ (8looJ), 1992), and lasL of all Lhe lamenL of
deaLh (SLeln and 1oklas' grave ln arls: Lhe black edglng on Lhe whlLe posLers). Cverall, Conzalez-
a g e | 24
1orres' work ls well and Lruly organlsed around an auLoblographlcal pro[ecL, buL a Lwo headed,
shared auLoblography. So from Lhe mld elghLles onward, when Lhe Cuban arLlsL had hls flrsL shows,
he foreshadowed a space based ln lnLer-sub[ecLlvlLy, whlch ls preclsely Lhe space LhaL would be
explored by Lhe mosL lnLeresLlng arLlsLs of Lhe nexL decade. 1o menLlon [usL a few, whose work ls
now comlng Lo maLurlLy, 8lrkrlL 1lravanl[a, uomlnlque Conzalez-loersLer, uouglas Cordon, !orge
ardo, Llam Cllllck and hlllppe arreno, who each develop Lhelr personal problem-seL, buL, also
flnd common ground around Lhe prlorlLy Lhey glve Lo Lhe space of human relaLlons ln Lhe
concepLlon and dlsLrlbuLlon of Lhelr works (Lhey express ways of producLlon based on lnLer-human
relaLlons). uomlnlque Conzalez-loersLer and !orge ardo are perhaps Lhe Lwo arLlsLs wlLh Lhe mosL
polnLs ln common wlLh Conzalez- 1orres: Lhe former by dlnL of hls exploraLlon of household
lnLlmacy as an lnLerface of Lhe movemenLs of Lhe publlc lmaglnary, Lurnlng Lhe mosL personal and
complex memorles lnLo clear, spare forms: Lhe laLLer as a resulL of Lhe mlnlmal, evanescenL, subLle
aspecL of hls formal reperLory, and hls ablllLy Lo solve space-Llme problems by Lhe geomeLrlzaLlon of
funcLlonal ob[ecLs. Conzalez-loersLer and ardo allke boLh puL colour aL Lhe cenLre of Lhelr
concerns. 1he facL ls LhaL lL ls ofLen posslble Lo recognlse Conzalez-1orres' "sLyle" by lLs chromaLlc
sofLness (blue sky and whlLe everywhere, red ls only lnLroduced Lo lndlcaLe blood, Lhe new flgure of
deaLh).
1he ldea of locloJloq tbe otbet ls noL [usL a Lheme.. lL Lurns ouL Lo be as essenLlal Lo Lhe formal
undersLandlng of Lhe work. 1here has been a greaL deal of emphasls on Lhe way Conzalez-1orres
"refllls" now hlsLorlclzed forms, and hls re-use of Lhe aesLheLlc reperLory of Mlnlmal ArL (Lhe paper
cubes, Lhe dlagrams resembllng Sol LeWlLL drawlngs), anLl-form and process arL (Lhe candy corners
call Lo mlnd 8lchard Serra ln Lhe laLe slxLles) and ConcepLual ArL (Lhe whlLe on black posLer-porLralLs
are remlnlscenL of kosuLh). 8uL here, Loo, whaL ls aL lssue ls palrlng and co-exlsLence. 1he perslsLenL
lssue ralsed, by Conzalez-1orres mlghL be summed up Lhus: "Pow can l llve ln your reallLy?" or: "Pow
can a meeLlng beLween Lwo reallLles alLer Lhem bllaLerally?"'..... 1he ln[ecLlon of Lhe arLlsL's lnLlmlsL
world lnLo Lhe arL sLrucLures of Lhe nlneLy slxLles creaLed brand new slLuaLlons, and reLrospecLlvely
swlLched our readlng of arL Lowards a less formallsL and more psychologlcally orlenLed llne of
Lhlnklng. needless Lo say, Lhls recycllng also represenLs an aesLheLlc cholce: lL shows LhaL arLlsLlc
sLrucLures are never llmlLed Lo [usL one seL of meanlngs. Cn Lhe oLher hand, Lhe slmpllclLy of Lhe
forms used by Lhe arLlsL conLrasLs flercely wlLh Lhelr Lraglc and mlllLanL conLenL. 8uL Lhe essence ls
sLlll Lhls merglng horlzon almed aL by Conzalez-1orres, Lhls demand for harmony and cohablLaLlon
whlch even encompasses hls relaLlonshlp wlLh arL hlsLory.
contemporory forms of the monument
1he common polnL beLween all Lhe Lhlngs LhaL we lnclude wlLhln Lhe umbrella Lerms of "work of
arL" lles ln Lhelr ablllLy Lo produce a sense of human exlsLence (and polnL Lo posslble Lra[ecLorles)
wlLhln Lhls chaos called reallLy. And lL ls ln Lhe name of Lhls deflnlLlon LhaL conLemporary arL sees
lLself belng dlsparaged- whole sale-Loday, usually by Lhose who see ln Lhe concepL of "sense" or
"meanlng" a noLlon pre-exlsLlng human acLlon. lor Lhem, a plle of paper cannoL be lncluded ln Lhe
masLerplece caLegory, as Lhey assume Lhe sense Lo be a pre-esLabllshed enLlLy, golng beyond soclal
exchanges and collecLlve consLrucLlons. 1hey do noL wanL Lo see LhaL Lhe world ls noLhlng oLher Lhan
a chaos LhaL eople sLand up Lo by means of words and forms. 1hey would llke Lhere Lo be ready-
made sense (and lLs Lranscendlng moral code), an orlgln acLlng as guaranLor of Lhls, sense (an order
Lo be redlscovered) and codlfled rules (palnLlng, now!). 1he arL markeL Lurns ouL Lo be qulLe aL one
wlLh Lhem, wlLh one or Lwo excepLlons. 1he lrraLlonal naLure of Lhe caplLallsL economy feels LhaL Lhe
sLrucLural need Lo flnd a flrm fooLhold ln Lhe cerLalnLles of falLh-noL for noLhlng does Lhe dollar blll
brandlsh lLs proud moLLo, "ln Cod We 1rusL", and ma[or lnvesLmenL ln alL veers usually Lowards
values rubbersLamped by common sense. So people worry aL seelng Loday's arLlsLs reveallng
processes and slLuaLlons. eople grumble abouL Lhe "overly concepLual" aspecL of Lhelr works (Lhus,
as Lhe slgn of a sure lnsLlncL ln lazlness, concedlng Lhe fallure Lo undersLand forms by Lhe use of a
Lerm whose meanlng ls noL known). 8uL Lhls relaLlve lmmaLerlallLy of Lhe nlneLles' arL (whlch ls more
a slgn of Lhe prlorlLy glven by Lhese arLlsLs Lo Llme ln relaLlon Lo space Lhan a deslre noL Lo produce
ob[ecLs) ls moLlvaLed nelLher by an aesLheLlc mlllLancy, nor by a mannerlsL refusal Lo creaLe ob[ecLs.
a g e | 2S
1hey dlsplay and explore Lhe process LhaL leads Lo ob[ecLs and meanlngs. 1he ob[ecL ls [usL a "happy
endlng" Lo Lhe exhlblLlon process, as hlllppe arreno explalns. lL does noL represenL Lhe loglcal end
of Lhe work, buL an evenL. A 1lravanl[a show, for example, does noL dodge maLerlallsaLlon, buL
deconsLrucLs Lhe meLhods of maklng Lhe arL ob[ecL lnLo a serles of evenLs, glvlng lL a proper Llme
frame, whlch ls noL necessarlly Lhe convenLlonal Llme frame of Lhe plcLure belng looked aL. We musL
sLlck Lo our guns on Lhls polnL. resenL-day arL has no cause Lo be [ealous of Lhe classlcal
"monumenL" when lL conles Lo produclng long-lasLlng effecLs. ConLemporary work ls more Lhan ever
Lhls "Jemoosttotloo, fot evetyooe to come, of tbe posslblllty of cteotloq slqolflcooce by lobobltloq tbe
eJqe of tbe obyss
16
.", Lo borrow Lhe words of Cornellus CasLorladls -a formal resoluLlon whlch
Louches on eLernlLy preclsely becoose lt ls speclflc ooJ tempototy. lellx Conzalez-1orres seems Lo
offer a perfecL example of Lhls amblLlon. Pe dled of AluS, afLer havlng rooLed hls work ln an acuLe
awareness of Llme spans, and of Lhe survlval of Lhe mosL lnLanglble of emoLlons. Pe pald close
aLLenLlon Lo producLlon meLhods, and focused hls pracLlce on a Lheory of exchange and dlvlslon. As
an acLlvlsL, he promoLed new forms of arLlsLlc commlLmenL. As a gay man, he managed Lo LransmuLe
hls llfe sLyle ln Lerms of eLhlcal and aesLheLlc values. ln a more preclse way, he ralsed Lhe lssue of Lhe
processes of maLerlallsaLlon ln arL, and of Lhe way our conLemporarles look aL new forms of
maLerlallsaLlon. lor mosL people, and ln splLe of Lechnologlcal developmenL whlch rldlcules Lhls Lype
of blas, Lhe Llme span of an lLem of lnformaLlon and Lhe capaclLy of a work of arL Lo confronL Llme
are llnked wlLh Lhe solldlLy of Lhe maLerlals chosen, and accordlngly, and Lhus lmpllclLly, wlLh
LradlLlon. 8y confronLlng and rubblng shoulders wlLh deaLh as an lndlvldual, Conzalez-1orres bravely
declded Lo puL Lhe problems of lnscrlpLlon aL Lhe core of hls work.
1. Pe would even broach lL from lLs mosL dellcaLe slde, ln oLher words, based on She dlfferlng
aspecLs of Lhe monumenLal: Lhe commemoraLlon of evenLs, Lhe conLlnulLy of memory, and Lhe
maLerlallsaLlon of Lhe lnLanglble. So Lhe appearance of Lhe sLrlng of elecLrlc llghLs ls connecLed wlLh
a secreL vlslon LhaL occurred ln arls ln 1983: '7 lookeJ op ooJ lmmeJlotely took o plctote, becoose
lt wos o boppy slqbt"
17
. Conzalez-1orres earmarked Lhe mosL monumenLal parL of hls work for Lhe
porLralLs LhaL he produced on Lhe basls of lnLervlews and conversaLlons wlLh Lhe people
commlsslonlng Lhem. As frlezes wlLh an ofLen chronologlcal successlon of prlvaLe memorles and
hlsLorlcal evenLs, Lhe porLralLs produced ln Lhe manner of wall-drawlngs fulfll an essenLlal funcLlon
of Lhe monumenL: Lhe con[uncLlon, wlLhln a unlque form, of an lndlvldual and hls Llmes. 8uL Lhls
styllsotloo of soclal forms conles across even more clearly ln Lhe ongolng conLrasL whlch Conzalez-
1orres seLs up beLween Lhe lmporLance of Lhe evenLs con[ured up, LogeLher wlLh Lhelr complexlLy
and Lhelr serlousness, and Lhe mlnlmal naLure of Lhe forms used Lo con[ure Lhem up. 1hus, for
example, an unlnformed vlslLor mlghL well look aL uotltleJ (21 uoys of 8looJwotk-5feoJy ueclloe) as
a seL of mlnlmallsL drawlngs. 1he flne grld and Lhe slngle dlagonal llne crosslng Lhe space do noL
dlrecLly evoke Lhe drop ln whlLe corpuscles ln Lhe blood of someone wlLh AluS. Cnce Lhe
connecLlon has been made beLween Lhese Lwo reallLles (Lhe dlscreeLness of Lhe drawlng, and Lhe
lllness), Lhe alluslve power of Lhe work Lakes on a Lerrlble scope whlch refers us Lo our consLanL
deslre noL Lo see LhaL, and unwlLLlngly deny Lhe posslblllLy and range of Lhe lllness. noLhlng ls ever
demonsLraLlve or expllclL ln Lhe pollLlcal, monumenLal sLraLegy Lo whlch Lhe arLlsL subscrlbes. ln hls
own words, "1wo clocks slJe by slJe ote mote of o tbteot to powet tboo tbe lmoqe of two qoys
qlvloq eocb otbet o blow job, becoose lt coooot ose me os o tollyloq polot lo lts sttoqqle to oblltetote
meooloq
18
."
Conzalez-1orres does noL dellver messages: he lncludes facLs ln forms, llke so many crypLlc
messages, or messages ln boLLles. Memory, here,, undergoes a process of absLracLlon slmllar Lo
Lhose LhaL affecL human bodles: "lt 's o totol obsttoctloo, bot lt's tbe boJy. lt's yoot llfe", he sald Lo
hls frlend 8oss, faced wlLh Lhe resulLs of a blood LesL. WlLh uotltleJ (Allce 8. 1oklos ooJ CetttoJe
5telos Ctove, lotls), a 1992 phoLograph deplcLlng flowers planLed on Lhe shared grave of Lhe Lwo
frlends, Conzalez- 1orres raLlfled a facL, he poslLed female homosexuallLy as an unquesLlonable
cholce, capable of demandlng respecL from Lhe mosL reacLlonary of 8epubllcan senaLors. Pere, wlLh
16
Cornellus CasLorladls, lo mootee Je l'loslqolflooce, LdlLlons du Seull, 1996
17
Cuggenhelm Museum caLalogue. 1993. p. 192.
18
lblJ., 7J.
a g e | 26
Lhe help of a slmple phoLographlc sLlll llfe, he redlscovered Lhe essence of Lhe monumenLal:
oLherwlse puL, Lhe producLlon of a moral emoLlon. 1he facL LhaL an arLlsL manages Lo Lrlgger Lhls
emoLlon, runnlng counLer Lo LradlLlonal procedures (a framed phoLo) and bourgeols moral codes (a
lesblan couple), ls noL Lhe leasL noLeworLhy aspecL of Lhls profoundly and lnLenLlonally Jlscteet work.
1he criterion of co-existence {works ond individuo/s)
Conzalez-1orres' arL Lhus glves prlde of place Lo Lhe negoLlaLlon and consLrucLlon of a
cohablLaLlon. lL also conLalns a beholder's eLhlc. As such, lL ls parL of a speclflc hlsLory, a hlsLory of
works prompLlng Lhe onlooker Lo become aware of Lhe seLLlng he flnds hlmself ln (Lhe happenlngs
and envlronmenLs of Lhe slxLles, and ln slLu lnsLallaLlons).
AL a Conzalez-1orres show, l saw vlslLors grabblng as many candles as Lhelr hands and pockeLs
could hold: m dolng so Lhey were belng referred Lo Lhelr soclal behavlour, Lhelr feLlshlsm and Lhelr
cumulaLlve concepL of Lhe world.... whlle oLhers dld noL dare, or walLed for Lhe person nexL Lo Lhem
Lo fllch a candy, before dolng llkewlse. 1he candy pleces Lhus ralse an eLhlcal problem ln an
apparenLly anodyne form: our relaLlonshlp Lo auLhorlLy and Lhe way museum guards use Lhelr
power, our sense of moderaLlon and Lhe naLure of our relaLlonshlp Lo Lhe work of arL. lnsomuch as
Lhls laLLer represenLs Lhe occaslon of a physlcal experlence based on exchange, lL has Lo be sub[ecL
Lo crlLerla slmllar Lo Lhose whlch underpln our appreclaLlon of any old consLrucLed soclal reallLy.
WhaL nowadays forms Lhe foundaLlon of arLlsLlc experlence ls tbe jolot pteseoce of bebolJets lo ftoot
of tbe wotk, be Lhls work effecLlve or symbollc. 1he flrsL quesLlon we should ask ourselves when
looklng aL a work of arL ls: - uoes lL glve me a chance Lo exlsL ln fronL of lL, or, on Lhe conLrary, does lL
deny me as a sub[ecL, refuslng Lo conslder Lhe CLher ln lLs sLrucLure? uoes Lhe space-Llme facLor
suggesLed or descrlbed by Lhls work, LogeLher wlLh Lhe laws governlng lL, Lally wlLh my asplraLlons ln
real llfe? uoes lL crlLlclse whaL ls deemed Lo be crlLlclsable? Could l llve ln a space-Llme sLrucLure
correspondlng Lo lL ln reallLy?
1hese quesLlons do noL refer Lo any exaggeraLedly anLhropomorphlc vlslon of arL, buL Lo a vlslon
LhaL ls qulLe slmply bomoo. lor all l know, an arLlsL addresses hls works Lo hls conLemporarles, unless
he regards hlmself as under senLence of deaLh, or Lermlnally lll, or unless he espouses a fasclsL-
fundamenLallsL verslon of PlsLory (Llme closed ln on lLs sense, and orlgln). Cn Lhe oLher hand,
arLworks whlch Loday seem Lo me worLhy of ongolng lnLeresL are Lhose whlch work llke lotetstlces,
llke space-Llme facLors governed by an economy golng beyond rules ln force conLrolllng Lhe
managemenL of dlfferenL klnds of publlc and audlence. WhaL sLrlkes us ln Lhe work of Lhls generaLlon
of arLlsLs ls, flrsL and foremosL, Lhe Jemoctotlc concern LhaL lnforms lL. lor arL does noL Lranscend
everyday preoccupaLlons, lL confronLs us wlLh reallLy by way of Lhe remarkable naLure of any
relaLlonshlp Lo Lhe world, Lhrough make-belleve. Who do we wanL Lo kld lnLo Lhlnklng LhaL an
ootbotltotloo ott ln fronL of lLs vlewers mlghL refer Lo anoLher real Lhan LhaL of an lnLoleranL socleLy,
be lL fanLaslsed or accepLed?
AL Lhe oLher end of Lhe scale, Lhe exhlblLlon slLuaLlons presenLed Lo us by arLlsLs such as
Conzalez-1orres, and Loday Angela 8ulloch, CarsLen Poller, Cabrlel Crozco and lerre Puyghe, are
governed by a concern Lo "glve everyone Lhelr chance", Lhrough forms whlch do noL esLabllsh any
precedence, a ptlotl of Lhe producer over Lhe beholder (leL us puL lL anoLher way: no dlvlne rlghL
auLhorlLy), buL raLher negoLlaLe open relaLlonshlps wlLh lL, whlch are noL resolved beforehand. 1hls
laLLer Lhus wavers beLween Lhe sLaLus of passlve consumer and Lhe sLaLus of wlLness, assoclaLe,
cusLomer, guesL, co-producer, and proLagonlsL. So beware: we know LhaL aLLlLudes become forms,
and we should now reallse LhaL forms prompL models of soclablllLy.
And Lhe forms LhaL exhlblLlons Lake do noL avold Lhese precauLlons. 1he spread of "curloslLy
cablneLs", whlch we have been wlLnesslng for some Llme, buL also Lhe ellLlsL aLLlLudes of cerLaln
people ln arL clrcles, aLLesL Lo an absoluLe loaLhlng of Lhe publlc place and shared aesLheLlc
experlmenLaLlon, ln favour of boudolrs earmarked for experLs. 1he avallablllLy of Lhlngs does noL
auLomaLlcally make Lhem commonplace. Llke one of Conzalez-1orres" plles of candles, Lhere can be
an ldeal balance beLween form and lLs programmed dlsappearance, beLween vlsual beauLy and
a g e | 27
modesL gesLures, beLween chlldllke wonder ln fronL of Lhe lmage and Lhe complexlLy of Lhe levels aL
whlch lL ls read.
1he ouro of ortworks hos shifted towords their pub/ic
1oday's arL, and l'm Lhlnklng of Lhe above-menLloned arLlsLs as well as Llncoln 1obler, 8en
klnmonL, and Andrea ZlLLel, Lo name [usL Lhree more, encompasses ln Lhe worklng process Lhe
presence of Lhe mlcro-communlLy whlch wlll accommodaLe lL. A work Lhus creaLes, wlLhln lLs
meLhod of producLlon and Lhen aL Lhe momenL of lLs exhlblLlon, a momenLary grouplng of
parLlclpaLlng vlewers.
ln a show aL Le Magasln ln Crenoble, Conzalez-1orres alLered Lhe museum cafeLerla by palnLlng
lL blue, puLLlng bunches of vloleLs on Lhe Lables, and provldlng vlslLors wlLh lnformaLlon abouL
whales. lor hls one-man show aL Lhe !ennlfer llay Callery ln 1993, uotltleJ (Ateoo!, he lnsLalled a
quadrllaLeral bounded by swlLched-on llghL bulbs, a palr of Walkman was provlded for vlslLors, so
LhaL Lhey could dance under Lhe falry llghLs, nolselessly ln Lhe mlddle of Lhe gallery. ln boLh lnsLances
Lhe arLlsL encouraged Lhe '''beholder" Lo Lake up a poslLlon wlLhln an arrangemenL, glvlng lL llfe,
complemenLlng Lhe work, and Laklng parL ln Lhe formulaLlon of lLs meanlng. no ouLcry abouL faclle
gadgeLs here. 1hls klnd of work (mlsLakenly called "lotetoctlve") derlves from Mlnlmal ArL, whose
phenomenologlcal backdrop speculaLed on Lhe presence of Lhe vlewer as an lnLrlnslc parL of Lhe
work. lL ls Lhls ocular "parLlclpaLlon" LhaL Mlchael lrled denounced, lncldenLally, under Lhe umbrella
LlLle of "LheaLrlcallLy": "1be expetleoce of lltetotlst ott jMlolmol Att] ls of oo object lo o sltootloo, ooe
wblcb, vlttoolly by Jefloltloo, locloJes tbe bebolJet".
19
ln lLs day, Mlnlmal ArL provlded Lhe Lools
requlred for a crlLlcal analysls of our percepLual condlLlons, and lL ls abundanLly clear LhaL a work llke
uotltleJ (Ateoo) no longer orlglnaLes [usL from ocular percepLlon: Lhe beholder conLrlbuLes hls whole
body, compleLe wlLh lLs hlsLory and. behavlour, and no longer an absLracL physlcal presence. 1he
space of Mlnlmal ArL was consLrucLed ln Lhe dlsLance separaLlng eye and work. 1he space deflned by
Conzalez-1orres' works, wlLh Lhe help of comparable formal wherewlLhal, ls worked ouL ln lnLer-
sub[ecLlvlLy, ln Lhe emoLlonal, behavloural and hlsLorlcal response glven by Lhe beholder Lo Lhe
experlence proposed. 1he encounLer wlLh Lhe work glves rlse noL so much Lo a space (as ln Lhe case
of Mlnlmal ArL) as Lo a rlme span. 1lme of manlpulaLlon, undersLandlng, declslon-maklng, golng
beyond Lhe acL of "roundlng off" Lhe work by looklng aL lL.
Modern arL wldely accompanled, dlscussed and preclplLaLed Lhe phenomenon of Lhe
dlsappearance of Lhe aura of Lhe work of arL, as brllllanLly descrlbed by WalLer 8en[amln ln 1933.
1he age of "unllmlLed mechanlcal reproducLlon" effecLlvely gave Lhls para-rellglous effecL a hard
Llme, an effecL deflned by 8en[amln as "Lhe sole appearance of a dlsLance" properLy convenLlonally
assoclaLed wlLh arL. AL Lhe same Llme, as parL of a general movemenL of emanclpaLlon, modernlLy
has sLrlven Lo crlLlclse Lhe predomlnance of Lhe communlLy over Lhe lndlvldual, and sysLemaLlcally
crlLlque forms of collecLlve allenaLlon. So whaL do we flnd ourselves looklng aL Loday? Sacredness ls
maklng a comeback, here, Lhere and everywhere. ln a muddled way, we are hoplng for Lhe reLurn of
Lhe LradlLlonal aura, and we don'L have enough words Lo shouL down conLemporary lndlvlduallsm. A
phase ln Lhe modern pro[ecL ls belng wound up. 1oday, afLer Lwo cenLurles of sLruggle for slngularlLy
and agalnsL group lmpulses, we musL brlng ln a new synLhesls whlch, alone, wlll be able Lo save us
from Lhe regresslve fanLasy LhaL ls abroad. 8elnLroduclng Lhe ldea of plurallLy, for conLemporary
culLure halllng from modernlLy, means lnvenLlng ways of belng LogeLher, forms of lnLeracLlon LhaL go
beyond Lhe lnevlLablllLy of Lhe famllles, gheLLos of Lechnologlcal user- frlendllness, and collecLlve
lnsLlLuLlons on offer. We can only exLend modernlLy Lo advanLage by golng beyond Lhe sLruggles lL
has bequeaLhed us. ln our posL-lndusLrlal socleLles, Lhe mosL presslng Lhlng ls no longer Lhe
emanclpaLlon of lndlvlduals, buL Lhe freelng- up of lnLer-human communlcaLlons, Lhe dlmenslonal
emanclpaLlon of exlsLence.
19
Mlchael lrled. "ArL & Cb[ecLhood" ln Cregory 8aLLock. Mlolmol Att. o ctltlcol Aotboloqy., uuLLorL. n?. p. 127.
a g e | 28
A cerLaln susplclon creeps ln wlLh regard Lo medlaLlve Lools, and LranslLlonal ob[ecLs ln general.
And Lhus, by exLenslon, Lo Lhe work of arL regarded as a medlum whereby an lndlvldual expresses
hls/her vlslon of Lhe world ln fronL of an audlence. 8elaLlons beLween arLlsLs and whaL Lhey produce
Lhus Lend Lowards Lhe feeJbock zone. lor some years now, Lhere has been an upsurge of convlvlal,
user-frlendly arLlsLlc pro[ecLs, fesLlve, collecLlve and parLlclpaLory, explorlng Lhe varled poLenLlal ln
Lhe relaLlonshlp Lo Lhe oLher. 1he publlc ls belng Laken lnLo accounL more and more. As lf.
henceforLh, Lhls "sole appearance of a dlsLance" represenLed by Lhe arLlsLlc aura were provlded by lL:
as lf Lhe mlcro-communlLy gaLherlng ln fronL of Lhe lmage was becomlng Lhe acLual source of Lhe
aura, Lhe "dlsLance" appearlng speclflcally Lo creaLe a halo around Lhe work, whlch delegaLes lLs
powers Lo lL. 1he aura of arL no longer lles ln Lhe hlnLer-world represenLed by Lhe work, nor ln form
lLself, buL ln fronL of lL, wlLhln Lhe Lemporary collecLlve form LhaL lL produces by belng puL on show.
lL ls ln Lhls sense LhaL we can Lalk of a communlLy effecL ln conLemporary arL. lL does noL lnvolve
Lhose corporaLe phenomena whlch Loo ofLen acL as a dlsgulse for Lhe mosL dle-hard forms of
conservaLlsm (ln Lhls day and age, femlnlsm, anLl-raclsm and envlronmenLallsm all operaLe Loo
frequenLly as lobbles playlng Lhe power game by enabllng lL never Lo have Lo call lLself lnLo quesLlon
ln a sLrucLural way). ConLemporary arL Lhus lnLroduces a radlcal shlfL ln relaLlon Lo modern arL,
lnsomuch as lL does noL Lurn lLs back on Lhe aura of Lhe work of arL, buL raLher moves lLs orlgln and
effecL. 1hls was Lhe LhrusL, some Llme back, of LhaL masLerplece produced by Lhe group Ceneral
ldea, 1owotJs oo ooJleoce vocoboloty (1977), whlch sklpped Lhe whole arL ob[ecL phase and spoke
dlrecLly Lo Lhe audlence, offerlng lL paLLerns of behavlour. 1he aura was recreaLed Lhere, by way of
free assoclaLlons. 8uL Lhe audlence concepL musL noL be myLhlclzed- Lhe ldea of a unlfled "mass" has
more Lo do wlLh a lasclsL aesLheLlc Lhan wlLh Lhese momenLary experlences, where everyone has Lo
hang on Lo hls/her ldenLlLy
20
. lL ls a maLLer of predeflned cordlng and resLrlcLed Lo a conLracL, and
noL a maLLer of a soclal blndlng hardenlng around LoLems of ldenLlLy. 1he aura of conLemporary arL ls
a free assoclaLlon.
8eouty os o so/ution ?
Among Lhe varlous reacLlonary LempLaLlons currenLly exerclslng Lhe culLural domaln, we flnd ln
prlde of place a pro[ecL Lo rehablllLaLe Lhe ldea of 8eauLy. 1hls concepL can be velled behlnd a varled
Lermlnology. We can credlL uave Plckey, Lhe arL crlLlc who ls Loday's champlon of Lhls reLurn Lo Lhe
norm, wlLh calllng a spade a spade. ln hls essay "lnvlslble dragon: lour essays on beauLy
21
", Plckey ls
qulLe vague abouL Lhe acLual conLenL of Lhls ldea.. 1he mosL: preclse deflnlLlon he comes up wlLh ls
Lhls: lL ls a maLLer of "tbe oqeocy tbot cooseJ vlsool pleosote lo tbe bebolJet, ooJ ooy tbeoty of
lmoqes tbot wos oot qtoooJeJ lo tbe pleosote of tbe bebolJet beqqeJ tbe poestloo of efflcocy, ooJ
JoomeJ ltself to locoosepoeoce."
1here are Lwo key noLlons lnvolved here: a/ efflcacy, and b/ pleasure.
lf l am Lo draw Lhe necessary concluslons from Lhls proposal, a work of arL ls Lhus
lnconsequenLlal lf lL ls noL efflcaclous, lf lL does noL show lLself Lo be useful (ln oLher words, by
procurlng a cerLaln degree of pleasure) Lo Lhose vlewlng lL. Powever l mlghL Lry Lo avold
dlsagreeable comparlsons, lL has Lo be sald LhaL Lhls Lype of aesLheLlc represenLs an example of
8eagan-1haLcherlLe eLhlcs applled Lo arL. nowhere does Plckey challenge Lhe naLure of Lhls
pleasure-glvlng "arrangemenL": does he regard as naLural Lhe concepLs of symmeLry, harmony,
sobrleLy and equlllbrlum, whlch ls Lo say, Lhe plllars of aesLheLlc LradlLlonallsm, whlch underlle Lhe
masLerpleces of boLh Lhe 8enalssance and Lhen nazl arL?
Plckey does neverLheless make Lhe odd polnL. We geL a much clearer ldea of whaL he ls referrlng
Lo when he wrlLes LhaL "beauLy sells". ArL, he goes on, musL noL be mlsLaken wlLh ldolaLry and
adverLlslng, buL "ldolaLry and adverLlslng are, lndeed, arL, and Lhe greaLesL works of arL are always
and lnevlLably a blL of boLh."
22
As l don'L geL off on elLher of Lhese Lhlngs, l'll leL Lhe auLhor assume
20
Cn Lhls sub[ecL, see Lhe worLs of Mlchel Maffesoll, ln parLlcular lo cootemplotloo Jo mooJe. LdlLlons CrasseL, 1993
21
uave Plckey. 1be lovlslble Jtoqoo. loot essoys oo beooty. ArL lssues ress, Los Angeles, 1993. p. 11
22
uave Plckey, op. clL, p. 17.
a g e | 29
responslblllLy for whaL he wrlLes. 1o geL back Lo Lhe lssue of beauLy ln arL. or Lo whaL passes for such,
ArLhur uanLo's "lnsLlLuLlonallse poslLlons (and for hlm ArL exlsLs when lnsLlLuLlons "recognlse" a
work) seem Lo me, alongslde Lhls LorrenL of feLlshlsL lrraLlonallsm, more ln compllance wlLh Lhe ldea l
have abouL LhoughL. 1he real "naLure" of Lhe agency called 8eauLy by Plckey ls exLremely relaLlve,
because lL ls negoLlaLlon, dlalogue, culLural frlcLlon and swapped vlewpolnLs whlch, generaLlon afLer
generaLlon, formulaLe Lhe rules LhaL govern LasLe. 1he dlscovery of Afrlcan arL, for example,
profoundly alLered our aesLheLlc canons, Lhrough a serles of medlaLlons and dlscusslons. LeL us recall
LhaL, aL Lhe end of Lhe 19Lh cenLury, all Ll Creco was good for was second-hand dealers, and "Lrue"
sculpLure dld noL exlsL beLween Creek AnLlqulLy and uonaLello, 8uL Lhe "lnsLlLuLlonal crlLerlon" dear
Lo uanLo seems Lo me Lo be a blL llmlLlng, Loo. ln Lhls ongolng sLruggle Lo deflne Lhe realm of arL.
many oLher people appear Lo come lnLo Lhe plcLure, from Lhe "savage" acLlvlLles of arLlsLs Lo relgnlng
ldeologles.
WlLh lellx Conzalez-1orres, however, we flnd an asplraLlon Lowards whaL Plckey calls beauLy: a
consLanL quesL for slmpllclLy and formal harmony. LeL's call lL an lmmense dellcaLeness, LhaL vlrLue
LhaL ls aL once vlsual and eLhlcal. never Lhe sllghLesL excess, or sLress on effecL. Pls work assaulLs
nelLher eye nor feellngs. LveryLhlng abouL lL ls lmpllclL, dlscreeL and fluld, unllke any cosmeLlc and
body-bullL concepLlon of "Lhe vlsual lmpacL". Pe ls forever [uggllng wlLh cllches, buL Lhese come back
Lo llfe ln hls hands: Lhe slghL of a cloudy sky, or Lhe phoLograph of a sandy beach prlnLed on saLln-
flnlsh paper, everyLhlng makes an lmpresslon alLhough Lhe beholder mlghL be lrked by so much
klLsch. Conzalez-1orres braces hlmself agalnsL subconsclous emoLlons. So l am grlpped by a chlldllke
sense of wonder ln fronL of Lhe glowlng, dazzllng hues of plles of candles. 1he ausLerlLy of Lhe
"sLacks" ls offseL by Lhelr fraglle precarlousness.
We mlghL ralse Lhe ob[ecLlon LhaL Lhe arLlsL plays here on faclle emoLlons, LhaL noLhlng ls more
ordlnary, accordlng Lo 8olLanskl, Lhan Lhese aesLheLlcs whlch swlfLly become emoLlonal blackmall.
8uL whaL maLLer ls whaL ls done wlLh Lhls Lype of emoLlon: whaL Lhey are sLeered Lowards, how Lhe
arLlsL organlses Lhem among Lhemselves, and Lo whaL lnLenL.
a g e | 30
Screen Relations
1odoy's ort ond its techno/oqico/ mode/s
1he modernlsL Lheory of arL posLulaLed LhaL arL and Lechnlcal means were conLemporary
bedfellows. lL belleved ln lndlssoluble bonds exlsLlng beLween Lhe soclal order and Lhe aesLheLlc
order. nowadays, we can come across ln a measured and clrcumspecL way wlLh regard Lo Lhe naLure
of Lhese bonds: by noLlng, for example, LhaL Lechnology and arLlsLlc pracLlces do noL always go hand-
ln-hand, and LhaL Lhls dlscrepancy does no harm Lo elLher. Cn Lhe one hand, Lhe world has
"broadened" under our very eyes. ?ou would have Lo be unbellevably eLhnocenLrlc noL Lo see LhaL
Lechnologlcal progress ls far from belng unlversal, and LhaL Lhe souLh of Lhe planeL, Lhe so- called
"developlng world", does noL en[oy Lhe same reallLy as Slllcon valley as far as Lechnlcal goods are
concerned, even Lhough boLh are parL of an ever-narrowlng world. Cn Lhe oLher hand, our opLlmlsm
wlLh regard Lo Lhe llberaLlng power of Lechnology has been conslderably blurred. We now know LhaL
compuLer sclence, lmage Lechnology and aLomlc energy represenL LhreaLs and Lools of sub[ugaLlon
as much as lmprovemenLs Lo dally llfe. So Lhe relaLlonshlps beLween arL and Lechnology are much
more compllcaLed Lhan Lhey were ln Lhe 1960s. LeL us recall LhaL, ln lLs day, phoLography dld noL
Lransform Lhe relaLlonshlps beLween Lhe arLlsL and hls maLerlal. Cnly Lhe ldeologlcal condlLlons of
plcLorlal pracLlce were affecLed, as can be seen wlLh lmpresslonlsm. Can we creaLe a parallel
beLween Lhe emergence of phoLography and Lhe presenL-day spread of screens ln conLemporary
exhlblLlons? lor our age ls noLhlng lf noL Lhe age of Lhe screen.
lL ls odd, moreover, LhaL one and Lhe same word ls Lhus used Lo descrlbe boLh a surface LhaL
arresLs llghL (ln Lhe clnema) and an lnLerface on whlch lnformaLlon ls wrlLLen. 1hls colluslon of
meanlngs polnLs Lo Lhe facL LhaL eplsLemologlcal upheavals (concernlng new percepLual sLrucLures),
sLemmlng from Lhe appearance of Lechnologles as dlfferenL as fllm, compuLers,, and vldeo, are
broughL LogeLher around a form (Lhe screen, Lhe Lermlnal) whlch encapsulaLes Lhelr varlous
properLles and poLenLlals. 8y falllng Lo concelve of Lhls compaLlblllLy aL work wlLhln our menLal
apparaLus Lo aLLaln new ways of seelng, we are doomed Lo a mechanlsLlc analysls of recenL arL
hlsLory.
4rt ond 6oods
1he Low of ke/ocotion
ArL hlsLorlans are prey Lo Lwo ma[or sLumbllng blocks. 1he flrsL ls ldeallsm, whlch lnvolves
seelng arL as an lndependenL realm governed excluslvely by lLs own laws. 8egardlng lL, ln oLher
words, Lo use AlLhusser's expresslon, llke a Lraln whose provenance, desLlnaLlon and sLops are
known ln advance. 1he second and opposlLe one lnvolves a mechanlsLlc concepLlon of hlsLory
whlch sysLemaLlcally deduces from any new Lechnologlcal apparaLus, a cerLaln number of changes
ln. ways of Lhlnklng. lL ls easy Lo see how Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween arL and Lechnology ls
conslderably less sysLemaLlc. 1he appearance of a ma[or lnvenLlon, phoLography, for example,
clearly alLers Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween arLlsLs and Lhe world, on Lhe one hand, and meLhods of
represenLaLlon as a whole, on Lhe oLher. Some Lhlngs now Lurn ouL Lo be of no use, buL oLhers
flnally become posslble. ln Lhe case of phoLography, lL ls Lhe funcLlon of reallsLlc represenLaLlon
whlch Lurns ouL Lo be more and more obsoleLe, whereas new vlewlng angles become leglLlmlsed
(uegas' frames) and Lhe operaLlonal meLhod of Lhe camera-Lhe renderlng of Lhe real Lhrough Lhe
lmpacL of llghL-grounds Lhe plcLorlal pracLlce of Lhe lmpresslonlsL. SubsequenLly, modern palnLlng
would focus lLs lssues on whaL lL conLalns ln Lerms of scallng Lhlngs down Lo mechanlcal recordlng
(maLLer, and gesLure, whlch would glve rlse Lo absLracL arL). 1hen, ln a Lhlrd phase, arLlsLs would
a g e | 31
approprlaLe phoLography as an lmage-produclng Lechnlque. 1hese Lhree aLLlLudes whlch, where
phoLography ls concerned, followed on one from, Lhe oLher ln Llme, may nowadays occur elLher
slmulLaneously or alLernaLely, helped by a speedlng-up of exchanges. Lvery Lechnlcal lnnovaLlon
LhaL has Laken place slnce Lhe Second World War has Lhus caused a wlde range of reacLlons among
arLlsLs, from Lhe adopLlon of predomlnanL producLlon meLhods (Lhe "mec-arL" of Lhe slxLles), Lo Lhe
preservaLlon, come whaL may, of Lhe plcLorlal LradlLlon (Lhe "purlsL" formallsm champloned by
ClemenL Creenberg). 1he mosL frulLful Lhlnklng, however, came from arLlsLs who. far from glvlng up
on Lhelr crlLlcal consclousness, worked on Lhe basls of Lhe posslblllLles offered, by new Lools, buL
wlLhouL represenLlng Lhem as Lechnlques. uegas amld MoneL Lhus produced a phoLographlc way of
Lhlnklng LhaL wenL well beyond Lhe shoLs of Lhelr conLemporarles. We are a long way from Lhe ldea
of asserLlng any klnd of superlorlLy of palnLlng over Lhe oLher medla. Cn Lhe oLher hand, we can say
LhaL all creaLes an awareness abouL producLlon meLhods and human relaLlonshlps produced by Lhe
Lechnologles of lLs day, and LhaL, by shlfLlng Lhese, lL makes Lhem more vlslble, enabllng us Lo see
Lhem rlghL down Lo Lhe consequences Lhey have on day-Lo-day llfe. 1echnology ls only of lnLeresL
Lo arLlsLs ln so far as lL puLs effecLs lnLo perspecLlve, raLher Lhan puLLlng up wlLh lL as an ldeologlcal
lnsLrumenL. 1hls ls whaL we mlghL call Lhe Law of 8elocaLlon. ArL only exerclses lLs crlLlcal duLy wlLh
regard Lo Lechnology from Lhe momenL when lL shlfLs lLs challenges. So Lhe maln effecLs of Lhe
compuLer revoluLlon are vlslble Loday among arLlsLs who do noL use compuLers. Cn Lhe oLher hand,
Lhose who produce so-called "compuLer graphlc" lmages, by manlpulaLlng synLheLlc fracLals and
lmages, usually fall lnLo Lhe Lrap of lllusLraLlon. AL besL, Lhelr work ls [usL sympLom or gadgeL, or,
worse sLlll, Lhe represenLaLlon of a symbollc allenaLlon from Lhe compuLer medlum, and Lhe
represenLaLlon of Lhelr own allenaLlon from meLhods dlcLaLed by producLlon. So Lhe funcLlon of
represenLaLlon ls played ouL ln behavloural paLLerns. 1hese days, lL ls no longer a quesLlon of
deplcLlng from wlLhouL Lhe condlLlons of producLlon, buL of lnLroduclng Lhe gesLural, and
declpherlng Lhe soclal relaLlons broughL on by Lhem. When Allghlero 8oeLLl geLs 3(x) weavers ln
eshawar, aklsLan, worklng for hlm, he represenLs Lhe work process of mulLlnaLlonal companles
much more effecLlvely Lhan lf he merely porLrayed Lhem and descrlbed how Lhey work. 1he
arL/Lechnology relaLlonshlp ls Lhus parLlcularly sulLed Lo Lhls operaLlonal reallsm whlch underplns
many conLemporary pracLlces, deflnable as Lhe arLwork waverlng beLween lLs LradlLlonal funcLlon
as an ob[ecL of conLemplaLlon, and lLs more or less vlrLual lncluslon ln Lhe soclo-economlc arena.
23
AL leasL Lhls Lype of pracLlce shows up Lhe fundamenLal paradox LhaL blnds arL and Lechnology
LogeLher: lf Lechnology can by deflnlLlon be lmproved, Lhe work of LuL cannoL. 1he whole dlfflculLy
encounLered by arLlsLs keen Lo embrace Lhe sLaLe of Lechnology, lf you'll forglve Lhe banallLy of Lhls
asserLlon, conslsLs ln manufacLurlng someLhlng LhaL wlll lasL, based on general, llfe- produclng
condlLlons whlch are essenLlally changeable. 1hls ls Lhe challenge of modernlLy: "1aklng Lhe eLernal
from Lhe LranslLory", yes, buL also, and above all, lnvenLlng a coherenL and falr work conducL ln
relaLlon Lo Lhe producLlon meLhods of Lhelr Llme.
1echno/oqy os on ideo/oqico/ mode/ {from troce to proqromme)
As a producer of goods, Lechnology expresses Lhe sLaLe of producLlon-orlenLed relaLlonshlps.
hoLography used Lo Lally wlLh a glven sLage of developmenL ln Lhe wesLern economy (hallmarked
by colonlal expanslon and Lhe sLreamllnlng of Lhe work process), a sLage whlch, ln a way, called for
lLs lnvenLlon. opulaLlon conLrol (Lhe lnLroducLlon of lu cards, and anLhropomeLrlc record cards),
Lhe managemenL of overseas wealLh (eLhno-phoLography), Lhe need Lo remoLe-conLrol lndusLrlal
Lools and flnd ouL abouL poLenLlal mlnlng slLes, all endowed Lhe camera wlLh a cruclal role ln Lhe
lndusLrlallsaLlon process. ln relaLlon Lo Lhls phenomenon, arL's funcLlon conslsLs ln approprlaLlng
percepLual and behavloural hablLs broughL on by Lhe Lechnlcal-lndusLrlal complex Lo mm Lhem lnLo
llfe posslbllltles, Lo borrow nleLzsche's Lerm. CLherwlse puL, reverslng Lhe auLhorlLy of Lechnology ln
order Lo make ways of Lhlnklng, llvlng and seelng creaLlve. 1he Lechnology relgnlng over Lhe culLure
of our day and age ls, needless Lo say, compuLlng, whlch we mlghL spllL lnLo Lwo branches. Cn Lhe
one hand, Lhe compuLer lLself and Lhe changes lL has lnLroduced and sLlll ls lnLroduclng lnLo our way
of percelvlng and processlng daLa. Cn Lhe oLher hand, Lhe rapld progress of user-frlendly
23
nlcolas 8ourrlaud, "Oo 'est-ce poe lf teol lo me opetotlf, ln Lhe caLalogue "ll foot coosttolte l 'bocleoJo", CCC 1ours, and "ltoJolte Jes
toppotts oo mooJe". ln Lhe caLalogue Apetto 9J, venlce 8lennla
a g e | 32
Lechnologles, from lrance's '"MlnlLel" sysLem [orlglnally a compuLerlsed Lelephone dlrecLory] Lo Lhe
lnLerneL, by way of Louch screens and lnLeracLlve vldeo games. 1he flrsL, whlch affecLs Man's
relaLlonshlp wlLh Lhe lmages he produces, ls maklng an amazlng conLrlbuLlon Lo Lhe way menLallLles
and aLLlLudes are changlng. WlLh compuLer graphlcs, lL ls acLually now posslble Lo produce lmages
whlch are Lhe ouLcome of calculaLlon, and no longer of human gesLures. All Lhe lmages we are
acqualnLed wlLh are Lhe resulL of a physlcal acLlon, from Lhe hand drawlng slgns Lo wleldlng a
camera. 1he exlsLence of synLheLlc lmages, for Lhelr parL, has no need of any analogous llnkage Lo
Lhe sub[ecL. lor "tbe pboto ls tbe wotkeJ tecotJloq of o pbyslcol lmpoct, whereas "tbe Jlqltol
lmoqe, fot lts pott tesolts oot ftom tbe movemeot of o boJy, bot ftom o colcolotloo
24
". 1he vlslble
lmage no longer represenLs Lhe Lrace of anyLhlng, unless aL be LhaL of a sequence of numbers, and
lLs form ls no longer Lhe "Lermlnal"' of a human presence. lmages "oow fooctloo oo tbelt owo"
(Serge uaney), llke !oe uanLe's Ctemllos whlch reproduced Lhemselves by pure vlsual
conLamlnaLlon. 1he conLemporary lmage ls Lyplfled preclsely by lLs generaLlve power, lL ls no longer
a Lrace (reLroacLlve), buL a programme (acLlve). lurLhermore, lL ls Lhls properLy of Lhe dlglLal lmage
LhaL lnforms conLemporary arL mosL powerfully. ln Lhe mldsL of slxLles" avanL-garde arL, Lhe work
came across less as an lndependenL reallLy Lhan as a programme Lo be carrled ouL, a model Lo be
reproduced (for example, Lhe games lnvenLed by 8rechL and llllon), an encouragemenL Lo be a
creaLlve oneself (8euys) or Lo do someLhlng (lranz Lrhard WalLer), ln Lhe nlneLles' arL, whlle
lnLeracLlve Lechnologles developed aL an exponenLlal raLe, arLlsLs were explorlng Lhe arcane
mysLerles of soclablllLy and lnLeracLlon. 1he LheoreLlcal and pracLlcal horlzon of LhaL decade's arL
was largely grounded ln Lhe realm of lnLer-human relaLlons. So exhlblLlons of Lhe work of 8lrkrlL
1lravaml[a, hlllppe arreno, Cars Len Poller, Penry 8ond, uouglas Cordon, and lerre Puyghe all
consLrucL models of soclablllLy sulLable for produclng human relaLlons, Lhe same way an
archlLecLure llLerally "produces" Lhe lLlnerarles of Lhose resldlng ln lL. 1hls does noL however lnvolve
works abouL "soclal sculpLure" Lhe way 8euys undersLood lL. lf Lhese arLlsLs do lndeed exLend Lhe
ldea of avanL-garde Lhrown ouL wlLh Lhe baLh waLer of modernlLy (we should sLress Lhls polnL, even
lf a Lerm wlLh fewer connoLaLlons should be found), Lhey are noL nalve or cynlcal enough "Lo go
abouL Lhlngs as lf" Lhe radlcal and unlversallsL uLopla were sLlll on Lhe agenda. ln Lhelr respecL, we
mlghL Lalk ln Lerms of mlcro-uLoplas, and lnLersLlces opened up ln Lhe soclal corpus.
1hese lnLersLlces work llke relaLlonal programmes: world economles where Lhere ls a reversal ln
Lhe relaLlonshlps beLween work and lelsure (arreno's exhlblLlon MoJe oo tbe 1
st
of Moy, Cologne,
May 1993), where everyone had a chance Lo come lnLo conLacL wlLh everybody else (uouglas
Cordon), where people once agaln learnL whaL convlvlallLy and sharlng mean (1lravanl[a's lLlneranL
cafeLerlas), where professlonal relaLlonshlps are LreaLed llke a fesLlve celebraLlon (Lhe notel
occlJeotol vldeo by Penry 8ond, 1993), where people are ln permanenL conLacL wlLh Lhe lmage of
Lhelr work (Puyghe). 1he work Lhus proposes a funcLlonal model and noL a maqueLLe, ln oLher
words, Lhe noLlon of dlmenslon does noL come lnLo Lhe plcLure, exacLly as ln Lhe dlglLal lmage whose
proporLlons may vary wlLh Lhe slze of Lhe screen, whlch-unllke Lhe frame-does noL enclose works ln
a preordalned formaL, buL renders vlrLuallLles maLerlal ln x dlmenslons. ro[ecLs embarked upon by
Loday's arLlsLs have Lhe same amblvalence as Lhe Lechnlques from whlch Lhey are lndlrecLly lnsplred.
As wrlLlngs ln and wlLh Lhe real and clnemaLlc works, Lhey do noL clalm Lo be reallLy,
noLwlLhsLandlng. Cn Lhe oLher hand, Lhey make up programmes, llke dlglLal lmages, buL wlLhouL
guaranLeelng Lhe appllcable characLer of Lhese laLLer, any more Lhan Lhe posslble Lranscodlng lnLo
formaLs oLher Lhan Lhe one for whlch Lhey have been deslgned. CLherwlse puL, tbe lofloeoce of
tecbooloqy oo tbe ott tbot ls lts cootempototy ls wlelJeJ wltblo llmlts cltcomsctlbeJ by tbls lottet
betweeo tbe teol ooJ tbe lmoqlooty.
1he compuLer and Lhe camera dellmlL producLlon posslblllLles, whlch Lhemselves depend on
general condlLlons of soclal producLlon, and Langlble relaLlonshlps exlsLlng beLween people. 8ased
on Lhls sLaLe of affalrs, arLlsLs lnvenL ways of llvlng, or else creaLe an awareness abouL a momenL M
ln Lhe assembly llne of soclal behavloural paLLerns, maklng lL posslble Lo lmaglne a furLher sLaLe of
our clvlllsaLlon.
24
lerre Levy, "lo Mocbloe oolvets. cteotloo, coqoltloo el coltote lofooootlpoe", LdlLlons olnLs-Seral, 3 987, p. 30.
a g e | 33
1he comero ond the exhibition
1he exhibition-set
As we can see, presenL-day arL ls belng developed ln-depLh by ways of seelng and Lhlnklng whlch
usher ln compuLlng, oll Lhe one hand, and Lhe vldeo camera on Lhe oLher. 1o geL a beLLer grasp of
Lhe degree of relaLlonshlp beLween Lhls palred fllm/programme facLor and conLemporary arL, we
musL come back Lo Lhe evoluLlon of Lhe sLaLus of Lhe arL exhlblLlon ln relaLlon Lo Lhe ob[ecLs lL
conLalns. Cur hypoLhesls ls LhaL Lhe exhlblLlon has become Lhe baslc unlL from whlch lL ls posslble Lo
concelve of relaLlonshlps beLween arL and ldeology ushered ln by Lechnologles, Lo Lhe deLrlmenL of
Lhe lndlvldual work. lL ls Lhe clnemaLographlc model, noL as sub[ecL buL as plan of acLlon, whlch
permlLLed Lhe developmenL of Lhe exhlblLlon-form ln Lhe slxLles. WhaL Marcel 8roodLhaers has done,
for lnsLance, ls evldence of Lhls shlfL from Lhe exhlblLlon-sLore (assembllng noLeworLhy ob[ecLs
separaLely) Lo Lhe exhlblLlon-seL (Lhe unlLary mlse-en-scene of ob[ecLs). ln 1973, 8roodLhaers
presenLed hls green room, Lhe laLesL verslon of Lhe WlnLer Carden shown Lhe prevlous year, as "Lhe
prlmer for Lhe ldea of uLCC8 LhaL mlghL be Lyplfled by Lhe ldea of Lhe ob[ecL relnsLaLed wlLh a real
funcLlon, ln oLher words, Lhe ob[ecL here ls no longer lLself consldered as arLwork (see also plnk
room and blue room.
23
" 1hls "relnsLaLemenL" of Lhe arL ob[ecL Lo Lhe funcLlonal arena, a reversal
whlch enabled 8roodLhaers Lo sLand up Lo Lhe "LauLology of relflcaLlon" whlch Lhe arLwork
represenLed for hlm, brllllanLly anLlclpaLed Lhe arLlsLlc acLlvlLles of Lhe 1990s, and Lhe amblgulLy
malnLalned by Lhls beLween exhlblLlon value and user value, an amblgulLy exempllfled by almosL all
Lhe arLlsLs of LhaL generaLlon (from labrlce PybelL Lo Mark ulon, and from lellx Conzalez- 1orres Lo
!ason 8hoades). 1he exhlblLlon Czone (devlsed ln 1988 by uomlnlque Conzalez-loersLer, 8ernard
!olsLen, lerre !oseph and hlllppe arreno, and puL on ln 1989 aL Lhe A!AC ln nevers and aL Lhe
l8AC Corslca), whlch conslderably opened up cruclal worklng avenues for our perlod, was Lhus
presenLed as a "phoLogenlc space", LhaL ls, ln accordance wlLh a clnemaLographlc model, Lhe space
of a vlrLual darkroom wlLhln whlch vlewers evolve llke a camera, called upon Lo frame for
Lhemselves Lhelr way of looklng, and cuL ouL vlewlng angles and blLs of meanlng. Cver and above Lhe
"decor/seL" accordlng Lo 8roodLhaers, deslgned Lo dodge Lhe lnevlLablllLy of relflcaLlon by Lhe
funcLlonallLy of Lhe elemenLs maklng lL up, Czone lnLroduced Lhe posslblllLy of an ongolng
manlpulaLlon of lLs componenLs, and Lhe adapLaLlon of Lhese Lo Lhe llfe of Lhelr posslble purchaser.
uevlsed as a "programme" glvlng rlse Lo forms and slLuaLlons (a "8ag" Lhus enabled Lhe collecLor Lo
puL hls own baggage LogeLher, user-frlendly accessorles such as seaLs and documenLs for
consulLaLlon were made avallable Lo vlslLors). Czone worked llke an "lconographlc fleld", a "seL of
lnformaLlon sLraLa" (whlch llkens lL Lo Lhe 8roodLhaers' model), whlle aL Lhe same Llme sLresslng
values of convlvlallLy and producLlvlLy whlch Llpped Lhe 8elglan arLlsL's soclal crlLlclsm ln Lhe
dlrecLlon of new horlzons: among oLher Lhlngs, Lhe horlzon of an arL based on lnLeracLlvlLy and Lhe
creaLlon of relaLlonshlps wlLh Lhe CLher. 1hls deflnlLlon of Lhe exhlblLlon as a "phoLogenlc space11
was subsequenLly emphaslsed wlLh now we Coooo 8ebove (!olsLen, !oseph & arreno, aL Lhe Max
PeLzler Callery, Cologne, 1991), where dlsposable cameras were placed aL Lhe Callery enLrance so
LhaL vlslLors could creaLe Lhelr vlsual caLalogues Lhemselves.
ln 1990, l Lrled Lo deflne Lhese acLlvlLles by Lalklng abouL a "dlrecLors' arL", Lurnlng Lhe
exhlblLlon/exposlLlon venue (by playlng on Lhe accepLed meanlng of Lhls Lerm ln phoLography) lnLo
a fllm less camera, a "sLlll shorL-movle": "1be wotk Joes oot (offet) ltself os o spotlol wbole tbot coo
be scoooeJ by tbe eye, bot os o tlme spoo to be ctosseJ, sepoeoce by sepoeoce, slmllot to o stlll
sbott-movle lo wblcb tbe vlewet bos to evolve by blmself''.
26
1he faLe of Lhe clnema (or compuLer
sclence), as a Lechnology LhaL can be used ln Lhe oLher arLs, Lhus has noLhlng Lo do wlLh Lhe form of
23
M. 8roodLhaers. ln Lhe caLalogue "l'ooqelos Je uoomlet". 1973.
26
nlcolas 8ourrlaud. "uo ott Je teotlsoteots". ArL ress, no. 147. May 1990. 1he exhlblLlon cootts- mettoqes lmmoblles was puL on for Lhe
1990 venlce 8lennlal.
a g e | 34
Lhe fllm, conLrary Lo whaL ls malnLalned by Lhe horde of opporLunlsLs who Lransfer on Lo fllm (or
compuLer) llnes of Lhlnklng halllng from Lhe 19Lh cenLury. So Lhere ls much more fllm ln an Allen
8uppersberg or CarLsen Poller show Lhan ln many, perforce, blurred "arLlsL's fllms", and much more
compuLer graphlc Lhlnklng ln Lhe rhlzomes of Lhe 8ama nash Club and uouglas Cordon's acLlvlLles
Lhan ln Lhose cobbled LogeLher synLheLlc lmages drlven by a crafLsmanshlp labelled as Lhe mosL
reacLlonary of Lhe momenL. Pow does fllm really lnform arL? 8y Lhe way lL handles Lhe Llme facLor,
by Lhe "lmage-movemenLs" (ueleuze) lL produces. So, as hlllppe arreno wrlLes, alL forms "a space
ln whlch ob[ecLs, lmages and exhlblLlons are spllL-seconds, scenarlos LhaL can be re- enacLed
27
xtros
1he exhlblLlon may have Lurned lnLo a seL, buL who comes Lo acL ln lL? Pow do Lhe acLors and
exLras make Lhelr way across lL, and ln Lhe mldsL of whaL klnd of scenery? Cne day, somebody oughL
Lo wrlLe Lhe hlsLory of arL uslng Lhe peoples who pass Lhrough lL, and Lhe symbollc/pracLlcal
sLrucLures whlch make lL posslble Lo accommodaLe Lhem. WhaL human flow, governed by whaL
forms, Lhus passes lnLo arL forms? Pow does vldeo, Lhe laLesL varlanL of vlsual recordlng, alLer Lhls
passage? 1he classlc form of Lhe onscreen presence ls LhaL of Lhe sommoos, of Lhe lnvolvemenL of
one or more acLors called upon Lo flll a sLage. So Lhose llvlng ln Warhol's facLory were one afLer Lhe
oLher press-ganged lnLo sLandlng ln fronL of Lhe camera. A fllm ls usually based on acLors, Lhose
proleLarlan workers who renL Lhelr lmage as a work force. "1be stoJlo sbot, wroLe WalLer 8en[amln,
ls pottlcolot lo tbot lt teploces tbe ooJleoce by tbe cometo
28
", and enables Lhe plcLure edlLlng process
Lo sLeal Lhe player's body. WlLh vldeo, Lhe dlfference beLween Lhe acLor and Lhe passer-by Lends Lo
dlmlnlsh. lL represenLs Lhe same developmenL ln relaLlon Lo Lhe fllm camera as LhaL announced by
Lhe lnvenLlon of palnL ln Lubes for Lhe lmpresslonlsL generaLlon. As llghL and easy-Lo-handle Lools,
Lhey make lL posslble Lo capLure Lhlngs oot of Joots, and permlL an offhandedness wlLh regard Lo Lhe
maLerlal fllmed-someLhlng LhaL was noL posslble wlLh heavy fllm equlpmenL. 1he predomlnanL form
of vldeographlc resldenL ls Lhus tbe poll, LhaL random foray lnLo Lhe crowd LhaL Lyplfles Lhe Lelevlslon
era. 1he camera asks quesLlons, records movemenLs, sLays aL pavemenL level. 1he ordlnary
humanold lnhablLs vldeo arL: Penry 8ond samples momenLs of soclablllLy, lerre Puyghe organlses
casLlng sesslons, MllLos ManeLas holds a dlscusslon around a cafe Lable. 1he camera Lurns lnLo an
lnsLrumenL for quesLlonlng people. Cllllan Wearlng Lhus asks passers-by Lo whlsLle lnLo a Coca-Cola
boLLle, Lhen edlLs Lhese sequences ln such a way LhaL Lhey produce a conLlnuous sound-allegory of
Lhe oplnlon poll. ln oLher respecLs, vldeo plays Lhe same heurlsLlc, exploraLory role as Lhe skeLch
played ln Lhe 19Lh cenLury. lL goes along wlLh arLlsLs, such as Sean Landers who fllms from hls car,
Angela 8ulloch who records her [ourney from London Lo Cenoa where she has Lo puL up a show, and
1lravanl[a, agaln, who fllms hls Lrlp beLween Cuadala[ara and Madrld. lnformaLlon abouL Lhe work
process, Loo, as wlLh Cheryl uonegan who fllms herself produclng palnLlngs. 8uL Lhe manoeuvrablllLy
of vldeo also means LhaL lL can be used as a relfled replacemenL for presence. Pence Lhe lnsLallaLlon
by Lhe lLallan group remlaLa ulLLa, placlng on Lhe Lable, where a conference was golng on, a 1v seL
broadcasLlng Lhe plcLure of a man eaLlng, obllvlous Lo everyLhlng golng an around hlm, con[ures up
Lhose acclalmed vldeoLapes porLraylng a flreplace, an aquarlum, or a "dlsco llghL". 1he grapes of
Zeuxls are sLlll [usL as green for posL-modern blrds.
Post vck ort
kewind/p/oy/fostforword
1he manoeuvrablllLy of Lhe vldeo lmage ls conveyed lnLo Lhe area where lmages and arL forms
are handled and manlpulaLed. 1he baslc operaLlons we carry ouL wlLh a vC8 (rewlnd, hold, freeze
frame, eLc. ) are now parL of Lhe array of aesLheLlc declslons of any arLlsL. 1hls applles Lo channel-
fllcklng, for example. Llke fllms, accordlng Lo Serge uaney, exhlblLlons are becomlng "dlsparaLe,
27
hlllppe arreno'. "Ooe exposltloo setolt-elle sloe exposltloo soos cometo?". LlberaLlon, 27 May 1993
28
W. Benjamin, Essais II. Editions Denoel-GonthEer. 1983. p. 305.
a g e | 3S
zappable llLLle programmes", where Lhe vlslLor can make up hls/her own lLlnerary. 8uL probably
Lhe greaLesL change lles ln Lhe new approaches Lo Llme broughL on by Lhe presence of home
vldeo. As we have seen, Lhe work of arL ls no longer presenLed as Lhe mark of a pasL acLlon, buL as
Lhe announcemenL of a forLhcomlng evenL (Lhe "Lraller effecL"), or Lhe proposal of a vlrLual
acLlon
29
. ln any evenL, lL ls presenLed as a maLerlal Llme span whlch every exhlblLlon evenL has Lo
updaLe and revlve. 1he work becomes a sLlll, a frozen momenL, buL one LhaL does noL do away
wlLh Lhe flow of gesLures and forms from whlch lL sLems. 1hls laLLer caLegory Lurns ouL Lo be by far
Lhe mosL numerous. 1o menLlon [usL a few arLlsLs who have recenLly emerged, lerre !oseph's
ersonnages vlvanLs a reacLlver, LogeLher wlLh hlllppe arreno's Arbre d'annlversalre, vanessa
8eecrofL's llvlng plcLures (Lableaux vlvanLs) LogeLher wlLh labrlce PyberL's elnLures
homeopaLhlques, all are presenLed as unlfled and speclflc Llme spans whlch can be re-enacLed,
and on whlch lL ls posslble Lo lnlay oLher elemenLs and LransmlL a dlfferenL rhyLhm (fasL forward),
[usL llke Lhe vldeos whlch Lhey ofLen end up becomlng. lor lL would seem qulLe normal, Loday,
LhaL a plece, an acLlon or a performance should end up becomlng documenLaLlon on vldeoLape.
1hls forms Lhe work's concenLraLed focus, whlch may well become waLered down by
heLerogeneous exhlblLlon seLLlngs. vldeo, as we have noLed [usL as much ln Lhe legal domaln (wlLh
Lhe 8odney klng assaulL, fllmed by an "amaLeur", showlng klng belng beaLen up by Lhe Los
Angeles pollce) and Lhe debaLe sLemmlng from Lhe khaled kelkal affalr, works llke evldence. ln arL,
lL slgnlfles and demonsLraLes reallLy, Lhe concreLeness of a pracLlce aL Llmes Loo dlspersed and all
over Lhe place Lo he dlrecLly grasped (l'm Lhlnklng of 8eecrofL, eLer Land. CarsLen Poller, LoLhar
Pempel). 1hls arLlsLlc use of Lhe vldeo plcLure does noL [usL happen, however. 1he aesLheLlcs of
concepLual arL ls already a facLual, wlLnesslng aesLheLlcs, Lo do wlLh evldence and proof: recenL
acLlvlLles are merely followlng up Lhls deslgnaLlon of Lhe "compleLely admlnlsLered world"
(Adorno) ln whlch we llve, ln Lhe casual and llLeral mode represenLed by vldeo, lnsLead of Lhe
analyLlcal and deconsLrucLlve mode of concepLual arL.
1owords o democrotisotion of viewpoints?
vldeo apparaLus ls parL of Lhe democraLlsaLlon of Lhe plcLure- producLlon process (as a loglcal
follow-on from phoLography), buL lL also has an effecL on our day-Lo-day llfe Lhrough Lhe
generallsaLlon of elecLronlc survelllance, Lhe safeLy-orlenLed counLerpolnL Lo famlly vldeo sesslons.
8uL do Lhese laLLer noL have someLhlng Lo do wlLh survelllance? Are Lhey noL also parL of a world
monlLored, noL Lo say hounded, by lenses, and bogged down ln procedures whereby lL keeps a close
eye on lLself, conLlnually recycllng Lhe forms lL produces and handlng Lhem ouL agaln ln dlfferenL
forms? lost vck ott renders forms nomadlc and fluld, encouraglng Lhe analogous reconsLrucLlon of
aesLheLlc ob[ecLs of Lhe pasL-"refllls" of hlsLorlclzed forms. ln dolng so, lL explalns Serge uaney's
predlcLlon abouL fllm: "1be ooly tbloq tbot wlll be tetoloeJ (ftom ott) ls wbot coo be temoJe
J0
"... So
Mlke kelley and aul MacCarLhy have had vlLo Acconcl's performances "re- enacLed" by models, ln
soap opera seLs (lresh Acconcl. 1993), and lerre Puyghe fllmed a scene-by-scene remake of Alfred
PlLchcock's keot wloJow, ln a arls houslng esLaLe. 8uL lf vldeo enables (more or less) anyone Lo
make a movle, lL also makes lL easler for (more or less) anyone Lo capLure plcLures of us. When we
move abouL a clLy, we are under survelllance. Cur very culLural works are submlLLed for re-
readlng/recycllng, aLLesLlng Lo Lhe ublqulLy of opLlcal lnsLrumenLs, and Lhelr currenL prevalence over
any oLher producLlon Lool. 1he 5ecotlty by Iollo programme, an arLlsLlc vldeo survelllance pro[ecL
"dlrecLed" by !ulla Sher, explores Lhe pollce, and securlLy, relaLed dlmenslon of Lhe vldeo camera.
laylng on securlLy lconography (grllls, alr-park seLLlngs, monlLor screens), !ulla Sher Lurns Lhe
exhlblLlon lnLo a space where everyone comes boLh Lo be seen and Lo see Lhelr own vlslblllLy. ln a
group show, Lhe uanlsh arLlsL !ens Paanlng seL up an auLomaLlc closure mechanlsm whlch shuL Lhe
vlslLor away ln an empLy room, wlLh [usL a vldeo-spy ln lL. CaughL llke an lnsecL, Lhe beholder was
Lransformed lnLo Lhe sub[ecL of Lhe arLlsL's eye, represenLed by Lhe camera. Cver and above Lhe
obvlous eLhlcal problems posed by Lhls klnd of acLlon (ln whlch, ln no Llme, relaLlons beLween arLlsL
and publlc become sado-masochlsLlc), we have no opLlon buL Lo noLe LhaL afLer lteseot cootloooos
29
nlcolas 8ourrlaud, "1be 1tollet ffect" ln 8ash ArL. 3 989.
30
Serge uaney. "Iootool Je 1oo posse". 1raflc, no.]. WlnLer 3991
a g e | 36
post(s), uan Craham's exLraordlnary 1974 lnsLallaLlon, whlch broadcasL Lhe plcLure of anyone
venLurlng lnLo lL, buL wlLh a sllghL Llme lapse, Lhe fllmed vlslLor shlfLed from Lhe sLaLus of a LheaLrlcal
"characLer" caughL ln an ldeology of represenLaLlon Lo LhaL of a pedesLrlan sub[ecLed Lo a represslve
ldeology of urban movemenL . 1he sub[ecL of Lhe conLemporary vldeo ls rarely free. 1hls ls because
he/she collaboraLes ln Lhe greaL vlsual census, aL once lndlvldual, sexual and eLhnlc, ln whlch all
forms of power agency ln our socleLy are currenLly lndulglng.
1he fuLure of arL, as an lnsLrumenL of emanclpaLlon, and as a pollLlcal Lool almed aL Lhe
llberaLlon of forms of sub[ecLlvlLy, depends on dle way arLlsLs deal wlLh Lhls lssue. lor arL, no
Lechnlque or Lechnology ls a sub[ecL. 8y puLLlng Lechnology ln lLs producLlve conLexL, by analyslng lLs
relaLlons wlLh Lhe supersLrucLure and Lhe layer of obllgaLory behavlour underplnnlng lLs use, lL
becomes conversely posslble Lo produce models of relaLlons wlLh Lhe world, headlng ln Lhe dlrecLlon
of modernlLy. lalllng whlch, arL wlll become an elemenL of blqb tecb deco ln an lncreaslngly
dlsconcerLlng socleLy.
a g e | 37
Towards a policy of forms
cohobitotions
Notes on some possib/e extensions of o re/otiono/ oesthetics
visuo/ systems
Lyes used Lo have Lo be ralsed Lowards Lhe lcon, whlch gave Lhe dlvlne presence a maLerlal form
as an lmage. ln Lhe 8enalssance, Lhe lnvenLlon of cenLrlsL, monocular perspecLlve Lurned Lhe
absLracL beholder lnLo a Langlble, physlcal lndlvldual, Lhe place alloLLed Lo hlm by Lhe plcLorlal devlce
llkewlse lsolaLed hlm from oLhers. needless Lo say, everyone can look aL Lhe frescoes of lero del la
lransesca and uccello from several vlewpolnLs. 8uL perspecLlve slngles ouL a symbollc place for Lhe
eye and glves Lhe beholder hls/her place ln a symbollc soclal seL-up. Modern arL alLered Lhls
relaLlonshlp by permlLLlng many slmulLaneous ways of looklng aL plcLures. 8uL should we noL be
Lalklng ln Lerms of lmporLs, slnce Lhls manner of readlng Lhlngs exlsLed already, ln dlfferenL forms, ln
Afrlca and Lhe CrlenL? 8oLhko and ollock lncluded ln Lhelr work Lhe need for a vlsual "envelope",
for Lhe plcLure was supposed Lo encompass, noL Lo say submerge, Lhe beholder ln a chromaLlc
amblence. We have ofLen referred Lo Lhe slmllarlLles exlsLlng beLween Lhe "enveloplng" effecL of
AbsLracL Lxpresslonlsm and Lhe effecL soughL by palnLers of lcons. And ln boLh cases lL ls an absLracL
humanlLy LhaL ls under conslderaLlon, casL whole lnLo Lhe plcLorlal space. ulscusslng Lhls space
enveloplng Lhe beholder ln an amblence or consLrucLed envlronmenL, Lrlc 1roncy refers Lo an "all
around" effecL, as opposed Lo Lhe "all over" sLyle whlch can only be applled Lo flaL surfaces.
1he imoqe is o moment
A represenLaLlon ls [usL a momenL M of Lhe real. All lmages are momenLs, [usL as any polnL ln
space ls boLh Lhe memory of a Llme x, and Lhe reflecLlon of a space y. ls Lhls Lemporal facLor frozen,
or Lo Lhe conLrary, ls lL a producer of poLenLlallLles? WhaL ls an lmage LhaL does noL conLaln any
forLhcomlng developmenL, any "llfe posslblllLy", aparL from a dead lmage?
whot ortists show
So reallLy ls whaL l Lalk abouL wlLh a Lhlrd parLy. lL can only be deflned as a producL of
negoLlaLlon. Lscaplng from reallLy ls "mad". Somebody sees an orange rabblL on my shoulder, buL l
can'L see lL. So dlscusslon weakens and shrlnks. 1o flnd a negoLlaLlng space, l musL pteteoJ Lo see
Lhls orange rabblL on my shoulder. lmaglnaLlon seems llke a prosLhesls afflxed Lo Lhe real so as Lo
produce more lnLercourse beLween lnLerlocuLors. So Lhe goal of all ls Lo reduce Lhe mechanlcal share
ln us. lLs alm ls Lo desLroy any o ptlotl agreemenL abouL whaL ls percelved. Slmllarly, meanlng and
sense are Lhe ouLcome of an lnLeracLlon beLween arLlsL and beholder, and noL an auLhorlLarlan facL.
ln modern arL, l musL, as beholder, make an efforL Lo produce sense ouL of ob[ecLs LhaL are ever
llghLer, ever more lmpalpable and ever more volaLlle. Where Lhe decorum of Lhe plcLure used Lo
offer a frame and a formaL, we musL now ofLen be conLenL wlLh blLs and pleces. leellng noLhlng
means noL maklng enough efforL.
1he boundories of individuo/ subjectivity
WhaL ls fasclnaLlng abouL CuaLLarl ls hls deLermlnaLlon Lo produce sub[ecLlvlzlng machlnes, and
mark ouL every manner of slLuaLlon, so as Lo flghL agalnsL She "mass-medla manufacLurlng" we are
sub[ecL Lo, whlch ls a levelllng devlce. 1he relgnlng ldeology would have Lhe arLlsL be a loner,
lmaglnlng hlm sollLary and lrredenLlsL: "wrlLlng ls always done alone", "we have Lo Lake refuge
behlnd Lhe world", blah, blah, blah... 1hls raLher nalve lmagery muddles Lwo qulLe dlfferenL noLlons:
Lhe arLlsL's refusal of Lhe communal rules currenLly ln force, and Lhe refusal of Lhe collecLlve. lf we
musL re[ecL arL manner of lmposed communal lsm, lL ls preclsely Lo replace lL by lnvenLed relaLlonal
neLworks.
a g e | 38
Accordlng Lo Cooper, madness ls noL "lnslde" a person, buL ln Lhe sysLem of relaLlonshlps of
whlch LhaL person ls lnvolved. eople don'L become "mad" all on Lhelr own, because we never Lhlnk
all on our own, excepL for posLulaLlng LhaL Lhe world has a cenLre (8aLallle). no one wrlLes or palnLs
alone. 8uL we have Lo make Lhe preLence of so dolng.
1he enqineerinq of intersubjectivity
1he nlneLles saw Lhe emergence of collecLlve forms of lnLelllgence and Lhe "neLwork" mode ln
Lhe handllng of arLlsLlc work. 1he popularlsaLlon of Lhe lnLerneL web, as well as Lhe collecLlvlsL
pracLlces golng on ln Lhe Lechno muslc scene, and more generally Lhe lncreaslng collecLlvlsaLlon of
culLural lelsure, have all produced a relaLlonal approach Lo Lhe exhlblLlon. ArLlsLs look for
lnLerlocuLors. 8ecause Lhe publlc ls always a somewhaL unreal enLlLy, arLlsLs wlll lnclude Lhls
lnLerlocuLor ln Lhe producLlon process lLself. 1he sense of Lhe work lssues from Lhe movemenL LhaL
llnks up Lhe slgns LransmlLLed by Lhe arLlsL, as well as from Lhe collaboraLlon beLween people ln Lhe
exhlblLlon space. (AfLer all. reallLy ls noLhlng oLher Lhan Lhe passlng resulL of whaL we do LogeLher, as
Marx puL lL).
4n ort with no effects ?
1hese relaLlonal arLlsLlc pracLlces have been repeaLedly crlLlclsed. 8ecause Lhey are resLrlcLed Lo
Lhe space of gallerles and arL cenLres, Lhey conLradlcL Lhe deslre for soclablllLy underplnnlng Lhelr
meanlng. 1hey are also reproached for denylng soclal confllcL and dlspuLe, dlfferences and
dlvergences, and Lhe lmposslblllLy of communlcaLlng wlLhln an allenaLed soclal space, ln favour of
an lllusory and ellLlsL modelllng of forms of soclablllLy, by belng llmlLed Lo Lhe arL world. 8uL do we
deny Lhe lnLeresL of op ArL because lL reproduces codes of vlsual allenaLlon? uo we crlLlclse
ConcepLual ArL for perpeLraLlng an angellc vlew of meanlng? 1hlngs are noL Lhls sLralghLforward.
1he prlnclpal argumenL held agalnsL relaLlonal arL ls LhaL lL supposedly represenLs a waLered down
form of soclal crlLlque.
WhaL Lhese crlLlcs overlook ls LhaL Lhe conLenL of Lhese arLlsLlc proposals has Lo be [udgedln a
formal way: ln relaLlon Lo arL hlsLory, and bearlng ln mlnd Lhe pollLlcal value of forms (whaL l call Lhe
"crlLerlon of co-exlsLence", Lo wlL, Lhe LransposlLlon lnLo experlence of spaces consLrucLed and
represenLed by Lhe arLlsL, Lhe pro[ecLlon of Lhe symbollc lnLo Lhe real). lL would be absurd Lo [udge
Lhe soclal and pollLlcal conLenL of a relaLlonal "work" by purely and slmply sheddlng lLs aesLheLlc
value, whlch would be Lo Lhe llklng of Lhose who see ln a 1lravanl[a or Cars Len Poller show noLhlng
more Lhan a phonlly uLoplan panLomlme, as was noL so very long ago belng advocaLed by Lhe
champlons of a "commlLLed" arL, ln oLher words, propagandlsL arL.
For these approaches do not stem Irom a "social" or "sociological" Iorm oI art. They are aimed at the Iormal space-
Llme consLrucLs LhaL do noL represenL allenaLlon, whlch do noL exLend Lhe dlvlslon of labour lnLo
forms. 1he exhlblLlon ls an lnLersLlce, deflned ln relaLlon Lo Lhe allenaLlon relgnlng everywhere else.
AL Llmes lL reproduces and shlfLs Lhe forms of Lhls allenaLlon-as ln Lhe hlllppe arreno show Made
on Lhe 1
sL
of May (1993), Lhe hub of whlch was a lelsure acLlvlLy assembly llne. So Lhe exhlblLlon
does noL deny Lhe soclal relaLlonshlps ln effecL, buL lL does dlsLorL Lhem and pro[ecL Lhem lnLo a
space-Llme frame encoded by Lhe arL sysLem, and by Lhe arLlsL hlm/herself. ln a 1lravanl[a
exhlblLlon, for example, lL ls posslble Lo see a form of nalve anlmaLlon, and lamenL Lhe sllghLness
and arLlflclallLy of Lhe momenL of convlvlallLy on offer. 1o my eye, Lhls would be mlsLaklng Lhe
ob[ecL of Lhe pracLlce. lor Lhe purpose ls noL convlvlallLy, buL Lhe producL of Lhls convlvlallLy,
oLherwlse puL. a complex form LhaL comblnes a formal sLrucLure, ob[ecLs made avallable Lo vlslLors,
and Lhe fleeLlng lmage lssulng from collecLlve behavlour. ln a way, Lhe user value of convlvlallLy
lnLermlngles wlLh lLs exhlblLlon value, wlLhln a vlsual pro[ecL. lL ls noL a maLLer of represenLlng
angellc worlds, buL of produclng Lhe condlLlons Lhereof.
1he po/itico/ deve/opment of forms
Cur day and age ls cerLalnly noL shorL of pollLlcal pro[ecLs, buL lL ls awalLlng forms capable of
embodylng lL, and Lhus of enabllng lL Lo become maLerlal. lor form produces and shapes sense,
sLeers lL, and passes lL on lnLo day-Lo-day llfe. 1he revoluLlonary culLure has creaLed and popularlsed
a g e | 39
several Lypes of soclablllLy. 1he assembly (sovleLs, agoras), Lhe slL-ln, Lhe demonsLraLlon and lLs
processlons, Lhe sLrlke and lLs varlous devlces (banners, LracLs, spaLlal organlsaLlon eLc. ).
Curs explores Lhe realm of stosls. crlppllng sLrlkes, llke Lhe one ln uecember 1993, where Llme ls
dlfferenLly organlsed. lree parLles lasLlng several days, Lhus exLendlng Lhe concepL of sleep and
wakefulness, exhlblLlons on vlew for a whole day, and packed away afLer Lhe openlng, compuLer
bugs selzlng up Lhousands of sofLware sysLems slmulLaneously...
Cur age acqulres lLs pollLlcal effecLlveness ln Lhe freezlng of machlnery, and Lhe freeze-frame.
1he enemy we have Lo flghL flrsL and foremosL ls embodled ln a soclal form: lL ls Lhe spread of
Lhe suppller/cllenL relaLlons Lo every level of human llfe, from work Lo dwelllng-place by way of all
Lhe LaclL conLracLs whlch deflne our prlvaLe llfe.
lrench socleLy ls all Lhe more affecLed because lL suffers from a Lwofold block: naLlonal
lnsLlLuLlons are shorL on democracy, and Lhe global economy ls Lrylng Lo force on lL meLhods of
relflcaLlon whlch Lrlckle lnLo every aspecL of llfe.
1he relaLlve fallure of May' 68 ln lrance can be seen ln Lhe low level of lnsLlLuLlonallsaLlon where
freedoms are concerned. 1he wldespread fallure of modernlLy can be found here Lhrough Lhe way
lnLer-human relaLlons are Lurned lnLo producLs, along wlLh Lhe lmpoverlshmenL of pollLlcal
alLernaLlves, and Lhe devaluaLlon of work as a non-economlc value, Lo whlch no developmenL of free
Llme corresponds.
ldeology exalLs Lhe sollLude of Lhe creaLlve person and. mocks all forms of communlLy.
lLs effecLlveness conslsLs ln promoLlng Lhe lsolaLlon of auLhors by cloaklng Lhem ln a smarL-
producL exLolllng Lhelr "orlglnallLy", buL ldeology ls lnvlslble: lLs form ls belng form-free. honey
mulLlpllclLy ls lLs greaLesL Lrlck: Lhe range of posslblllLles ls abrldged every day, whlle Lhe names
descrlblng Lhls lmpoverlshed reallLy prollferaLe.
kehobi/itotinq experimentotion
Who are we Lrylng Lo kld LhaL lL mlghL be helpful and beneflclal Lo sLage a reLurn Lo aesLheLlc
values based on LradlLlon, masLery of Lechnology, and respecL for hlsLorlcal convenLlons? lf Lhere ls
an area where chance does noL exlsL, lL ls lndeed Lhe realm of arLlsLlc creaLlon*: when we wanL Lo klll
off democracy, we sLarL by muzzllng experlmenLs, and we end up by accuslng freedom of havlng
rables.
ke/otiono/ oesthetics ond constructed situotions
1he SlLuaLlonlsL "consLrucLed slLuaLlon" concepL ls lnLended Lo replace arLlsLlc represenLaLlon by Lhe
experlmenLal reallsaLlon of arLlsLlc energy ln everyday seLLlngs. lf Cuy uebord's dlagnosls abouL Lhe
process of produclng specLacles may sLrlke us as harsh, Lhe SlLuaLlonlsL Lheory overlooks Lhe facL
LhaL lf Lhe specLacle deals flrsL and foremosL wlLh forms of human relaLlons (lL ls "o soclol
telotloosblp betweeo people, wltb lmoqety os tbe qo-betweeo"), lL can only be analysed and foughL
Lhrough Lhe producLlon of new Lypes of relaLlonshlps beLween people.
1he facL ls LhaL Lhe ldea of slLuaLlon does noL necessarlly lmply a co-exlsLence wlLh my fellow men. lL
ls posslble Lo lmaglne "consLrucLed slLuaLlons" for prlvaLe use, and even lnLenLlonally barrlng oLhers.
1he ldea of "slLuaLlon" exLends Lhe unlLy of Llme, place and acLlon, ln a LheaLre LhaL does noL
necessarlly lnvolve a relaLlonshlp wlLh Lhe CLher. ArLlsLlc pracLlce ls always a relaLlonshlp wlLh Lhe
oLher, aL Lhe same Llme as lL represenLs a relaLlonshlp wlLh Lhe world. 1he coosttocteJ sltootloo does
noL necessarlly correspond Lo a telotloool wotlJ, formulaLed on Lhe basls of a flgure of exchange. ls lL
by colncldence LhaL uebord dlvldes Lhe Llme of Lhe specLacle lnLo Lwo, beLween Lhe "exchangeable
Llme" of work ("eoJless occomolotloo of epolvoleot lotetvols") and Lhe "consumable Llme" of
holldays, whlch lmlLaLes naLural cycles whlle aL Lhe same Llme belng a specLacle "to o mote loteose
Jeqtee"! 1he ldea of "exchangeable Llme" Lurns ouL, here, Lo be purely negaLlve: Lhe negaLlve
elemenL ls noL Lhe exchange per se, whlch ls a facLor of llfe and soclablllLy. WhaL uebord ldenLlfles,
posslbly wrongly, wlLh Lhe lnLer-human exchange are tbe copltollst fotms of excbooqe. 1hese forms
of exchange sLem from Lhe "meeLlng" beLween Lhe accumulaLlon of caplLal (Lhe employer) and Lhe
avallable work force (Lhe employee-worker), ln Lhe form of a conLracL. 1hey do noL represenL
a g e | 40
exchange ln absoluLe Lerms, buL an hlsLorlcal form of producLlon (caplLallsm). Work Llme ls Lhus less
an "exchangeable Llme" ln Lhe fullesL sense, Lhan a boyoble Llme ln Lhe form of a salary or wage-
packeL. 1he work LhaL forms a "relaLlonal world", and a soclal lnLersLlce, updaLes SlLuaLlonlsm and
reconclles lL, as far as lL ls posslble, wlLh Lhe arL world.
1he oesthetic porodiqm (le/ix 6uottori ond ort)
lellx CuaLLarl's work, cuL shorL by hls unLlmely passlng, does noL form a seL of clear-cuL pleces,
wlLh a sub-seL deallng speclflcally wlLh Lhe lssue of aesLheLlcs. ArL, for hlm, was a form of llvlng
maLLer raLher Lhan a caLegory of LhoughL, and Lhls dlfference lnforms Lhe very splrlL of hls
phllosophlcal underLaklng. Cver and above genres and caLegorles, he wroLe: "1be lmpottoot tbloq ls
to koow wbetbet o wotk mokes oo effectlve coottlbotloo to o cbooqloq ptoJoctloo of stotemeot
(ptoJoctloo J'eoooclotloo)", and noL Lo dellmlL Lhe speclflc boundarles of Lhls or LhaL Lype of
uLLerance. 1he psycbe on Lhe one hand, and Lhe soclos on Lhe oLher are consLrucLed on producLlve
agencles, wlLh arL belng [usL one of Lhese, even lf lL en[oys a speclal place. CuaLLarl's concepLs are
amblvalenL and supple, so much so LhaL Lhey can be LranslaLed lnLo many dlfferenL sysLems. WhaL ls
Lhus lnvolved ls Lhe deflnlLlon of a poteotlol aesLheLlcs, whlch only assumes a real conslsLency
provlded LhaL lL can be glven a permanenL Lranscodlng. lor whlle Lhe pracLlLloner ln La 8orde's
psychlaLrlc cllnlc has always granLed a predomlnanL place Lo Lhe "aesLheLlc paradlgm" ln Lhe
developmenL of hls Lhlnklng, he has wrlLLen very llLLle abouL arL. properly so-called, aparL from Lhe
paper for a lecLure on 8alLhus, and one or Lwo passages ln hls ma[or works, lncorporaLed wlLhln a
more general sub[ecL maLLer.
1hls aesLheLlc paradlgm ls neverLheless belng pracLlsed already ln wrlLlng lLself. 1he sLyle, lf we
may use tbls word, or leL us raLher say Lhe CuaLLarl scrlpLorlal flow, encompasses every concepL ln a
rafL of lmages. 1he processes of LhoughL are usually descrlbed here as physlcal phenomena,
endowed wlLh a speclflc LexLure-drlfLlng "plaLes" and doveLalled "planes", "machlnery", and so on.
Serene maLerlallsm, where, Lo be effecLlve, concepLs musL assume Lhe flnery of Langlble reallLy, and
become LerrlLorlallzed on lmages. CuaLLarl"s wrlLlng ls lnformed by an obvlous vlsual and plasLlc, noL
Lo say sculpLural concern, yeL appears Lo be llLLle boLhered by synLacLlcal clarlLy. AL Llmes, CuaLLarl's
language may seem obscure. 1hls ls because he does noL shrlnk from comlng up wlLh neologlsms
("naLlonallLarlan", "rlLournelllze") and porLmanLeau words, or uslng Lngllsh and Cerman Lerms as
Lhey sprlng Lo mlnd and flow from hls pen. nor does he shrlnk from embarklng on proposlLlons wlLh
regard for Lhe reader, or [uggllng wlLh Lhe lesser meanlngs of an ordlnary word. Pls phraslng ls
Lhoroughly oral, chaoLlc, "wlld and ouLrageous" (dellranL), off-Lhe-cuff and llLLered wlLh decepLlve
shorL-cuLs, qulLe unllke Lhe concepLual order LhaL presldes over Lhe wrlLlngs of accompllce and
fellow Cllles ueleuze.
CuaLLarl may sLlll seem slgnlflcanLly under-esLlmaLed Lo us, and he ls ofLen reduced Lo Lhe role of
ueleuze's foll, yeL lL does Loday seem easler Lo acknowledge hls speclflc conLrlbuLlon Lo Lhe co-
auLhored wrlLlngs, from Aotl OeJlpos (1972) Lo wbot ls lbllosopby? (1991)... lrom Lhe '"rlLournelle"
concepL Lo Lhe masLerful passages deallng wlLh Lypes of sub[ecLlvlzaLlon, Lhe CuaLLarl slgnaLure
sLands ouL qulLe clearly, rlnglng ouL ever louder ln Lhe conLemporary phllosophlcal debaLe. 1hrough
lLs exLreme parLlcularness, and Lhe aLLenLlon lL pays Lo Lhe "producLlon of sub[ecLlvlLy" and lLs
preferred vehlcles, Lhe works, lellx CuaLLarl's Lhlnklng llnks up rlghL away wlLh Lhe producLlve
machlnery wlLh whlch presenL-day arL ls rlddled. ln Lhe currenL dearLh of aesLheLlc LhoughL, lL Lhus
seems Lo us Lo be lncreaslngly useful, whaLever Lhe degree of arblLrarlness affecLlng Lhls operaLlon
may be, Lo proceed Lo a klnd of qtoftloq of CuaLLarl's Lhlnklng ln Lhe domaln of presenL-day arL, Lhus
creaLlng a "polyphonlc lnLerlaclng", rlch ln posslblllLles. lL ls a quesLlon, henceforLh, of Lhlnklng abouL
arL wlLh CuaLLarl, and wlLh Lhe toolbox he has bequeaLhed us.
a g e | 41
5ubjectivity pursued ond produced
ue-noturo/isinq subjectivity
1he ldea of sub[ecLlvlLy ls cerLalnly Lhe maln Lhread of CuaLLarl's research. Pe would devoLe hls llfe
Lo dlsmanLllng Lhe LorLuous mechanlsms and sysLems of sub[ecLlvlLy and puLLlng Lhem back
LogeLher agaln, explorlng lLs consLlLuenLs and escape modes, and even golng so far as Lo make lL Lhe
keysLone of Lhe soclal edlflce. sychoanalysls and all? 1wo sorLs of sub[ecLlvlLy producLlon, lnLer-
connecLed. Lwo operaLlonal sysLems, Lwo preferred Lool sysLems, whlch are [olned LogeLher ln Lhe
posslble soluLlon Lo Lhe "Malalse of ClvlllsaLlon"... 1he plvoLal poslLlon glven by CuaLLarl Lo
sub[ecLlvlLy deflnes hls concepLlon of arL, and arL's value, from sLarL Lo flnlsh. ln Lhe CuaLLarl order
of Lhlngs, sub[ecLlvlLy as producLlon plays Lhe role of a fulcrum around whlch forms of knowledge
and acLlon can freely plLch ln, and soar off ln pursulL of Lhe laws of Lhe soclus. Whlch, lncldenLally, ls
whaL deflnes Lhe fleld of vocabulary' used Lo descrlbe arLlsLlc acLlvlLy. ln lL Lhere ls no hlnL of Lhe
feLlshlzaLlon LhaL ls common ln Lhls level of dlscourse. ArL, here, ls deflned as a process of non-
verbal semloLlzaLlon, noL as a separaLe caLegory of global producLlon. uprooLlng feLlshlsm Lo asserL
arL as a llne of LhoughL and an "lnvenLlon of llfe posslblllLles" (nleLzsche): Lhe end purpose of
sub[ecLlvlLy ls noLhlng oLher Lhan an lndlvlduaLlon sLlll Lo be won. ArLlsLlc pracLlce forms a speclal
Lerraln for Lhls lndlvlduaLlon, provldlng poLenLlal models for human exlsLence ln general. 1hls ls
where we can deflne CuaLLarl's Lhlnklng as a colossal underLaklng lnvolvlng Lhe de-naLurallsaLlon of
sub[ecLlvlLy, lLs deploymenL ln Lhe area of producLlon, and Lhe LheorlsaLlon of lLs lncluslon ln Lhe
framework of Lhe general economy of Lrade. 1here ls noLhlng less naLural Lhan sub[ecLlvlLy. 1here ls
also noLhlng more consLrucLed, formulaLed and worked on. new forms of sub[ecLlvlzaLlon are
creaLed Lhe same way LhaL a vlsual arLlsL creaLes now forms from Lhe paleLLe aL hls dlsposal
31
.
WhaL maLLers ls our capaclLy Lo creaLe new arrangemenLs and agencles wlLhln Lhe sysLem of
collectlve focllltles formed by Lhe ldeologles and caLegorles of LhoughL, a creaLlon LhaL shows many
slmllarlLles wlLh arLlsLlc acLlvlLy. CuaLLarl's conLrlbuLlon Lo aesLheLlcs would be lncomprehenslble lf
we dld noL underllne hls efforL Lo de-naLurallze and deLerrlLonallze sub[ecLlvlLy, expel lL from hls
earmarked domaln, Lhe sacrosancL sub[ecL, and Lackle Lhe dlsconcerLlng shores wlLh Lhelr
prollferaLlon of mechanlsLlc devlces and exlsLenLlal LerrlLorles ln Lhe process of belng formed. 1hey
are dlsconcerLlng because Lhe non-human ls an lnLrlnslc parL of Lhem, conLrary Lo Lhe
phenomenologlcal plans wlLh whlch humanlsL Lhlnklng ls rlddled. rollferaLlon, because lL Lurns ouL
Lo be henceforLh posslble Lo declpher Lhe enLlreLy of Lhe caplLallsL sysLem ln Lerms of sub[ecLlvlLy.
Wherever Lhls sysLem holds sway, Lhe more forcefully lL ls caughL ln lLs neLs, and kldnapped on
behalf of lLs lmmedlaLe lnLeresLs. lor jost llke tbe soclol mocbloes tbot coo be ottoyeJ ooJet tbe
qeoetol beoJloq of collectlve focllltles, so tbe tecbooloqlcol mocbloes of lofotmotloo ooJ
commoolcotloo opetote ot tbe beott of bomoo sobjectlvlty
J2
". We musL Lhus learn Lo "selze,
eobooce ooJ teloveot" sub[ecLlvlLy, for oLherwlse we shall see lL Lransformed lnLo a rlgld collecLlve
apparaLus aL Lhe excluslve servlce of Lhe powers LhaL be.
5totus ond operotion of subjectivity
1hls declaraLlon of Lhe Je focto naLurallsaLlon of human sub[ecLlvlLy ls an lnpuL of paramounL
lmporLance. henomenology wlelded lL as Lhe unsurpassable symbol of reallLy, beyond whlch
noLhlng can exlsL, whereas sLrucLurallsm saw ln lL aL Llmes someLhlng supersLlLlous, and aL oLhers Lhe
effecL of an ldeology. Pere CuaLLarl offers a complex and dynamlc readlng, conLrasLlng wlLh Lhe
delflcaLlon of Lhe sub[ecL whlch ls common currency ln Lhe phenomenologlcal vulgaLe, buL [usL as
lmpervlous Lo Lhe fosslllsaLlon belng broughL abouL by Lhe sLrucLurallsLs, by placlng lL aL Lhe
crossroads of Lhe lnLerplay of slgnlflers. We mlghL say LhaL CuaLLarl's meLhod conslsLs ln btloqloq to
boll Lhe sLrucLures flxed by Lacan, AlLhusser and Levl-SLrauss: by replaclng Lhe sLaLlc order by
sLrucLural analyses, and Lhe "slow movemenLs" of 8raudellan hlsLory by Lhe novel, dynamlc and
undulaLory llnkages whlch maLLer Lakes on when lL ls reorganlsed by Lhe effecL of heaL. CuaLLarl's
31
lellx CuaLLarl , Chaosmosls: An eLhlcoaesLheLlc paradlgm, lndlana ress. ! only refer Lo preclse works when She senLences quoLed, refer Lo
a developmenL ln Lhe auLhor. lor example, some quoLaLlons wlll noL be annoLaLed, because Lhelr conLenL refers Lo several passages or several
books.
32
Chaosmosls.
a g e | 42
sub[ecLlvlLy ls deLermlned by a chaoLlc order, and no longer, as lL was Lhe case for Lhe sLrucLurallsLs,
by Lhe quesL for cosmoses hldden beneaLh everyday lnsLlLuLlons. ",4 cettolo bolooce stlll bos to be
foooJ betweeo sttoctotollst Jlscovetles, wblcb ote cettololy cooslJetoble, ooJ tbelt ptoqmotlc
moooqemeot, so os oot to temotely foooJet lo soclol post-moJeto obooJoolsm.
JJ
1hls balance only
comes abouL provlded LhaL Lhe soclus ls observed aL lLs proper LemperaLure, aL Lhe heaL of lnLer-
human relaLlonshlps, and noL arLlflclally "cooled", Lhe beLLer Lo slngle ouL Lhe sLrucLures... 1hls
chaoLlc urgency glves rlse Lo a cerLaln number of operaLlons. 1he flrsL conslsLs ln unsLlcklng Lhe
sub[ecLlvlLy of Lhe sub[ecL, and dolng away wlLh Lhe bonds LhaL make lL Lhe naLural aLLrlbuLe of Lhls
laLLer. So a mapplng of lL has Lo be drawn whlch spllls conslderably beyond Lhe llmlLs of Lhe
lndlvldual. 8uL lL ls by exLendlng Lhe LerrlLory of Lhe sub[ecLlve Lo Lhe regulaLory lmpersonal
machlnery of soclablllLy LhaL CuaLLarl can call on lLs "re-slngularlzaLlon", golng beyond Lhe LradlLlonal
noLlon of lJeoloqy. Cnly a masLery of Lhe "collecLlve agencles" of sub[ecLlvlLy makes lL posslble Lo
lnvenL parLlcular agencles. 8eal lndlvlduaLlon proceeds by way of Lhe lnvenLlon of eco-menLal
recycllng devlces, [usL as Lhe demonsLraLlon of economlc allenaLlon by Marx enables hlm Lo work on
an emanclpaLlon of man wlLhln Lhe world of labour. All CuaLLarl does ls lndlcaLe Lhe degree Lo whlch
sub[ecLlvlLy ls allenaLed and dependenL on a menLal supersLrucLure, and polnL Lo llberaLlon
posslblllLles.
1hls MarxlsL backdrop Lurns ouL Lo be readable even ln Lhe Lerms whereby CuaLLarl deflnes
sub[ecLlvlLy: "All tbe cooJltloos mokloq lt posslble fot loJlvlJool ooJ/ot collectlve oqeocles to be lo o
poslLlon Lo emerge as sul-referenLlal exlsLenLlal 1errlLory, ad[acenL Lo or ln a relaLlon of dellmlLaLlon
wlLh an oLherness LhaL ls lLself sub[ecLlve
34
". CLherwlse puL, sub[ecLlvlLy can only be deflned by Lhe
presence of a second sub[ecLlvlLy. lL does noL form a "LerrlLory" excepL on Lhe basls of Lhe oLher
LerrlLorles lL comes across, as an evolvlng formaLlon, lL ls modelled on Lhe dlfference whlch forms lL
lLself, on Lhe prlnclple of oLherness. lL ls ln Lhls plural, polyphonlc deflnlLlon of sub[ecLlvlLy LhaL we
flnd Lhe perspecLlve Lremor LhaL CuaLLarl lnfllcLs on phllosophlcal economy. Sub[ecLlvlLy, he
explalns, cannoL exlsL ln an lndependenL way. and ln no case can lL ground Lhe exlsLence of Lhe
sub[ecL. lL only exlsLs ln Lhe palrlng mode: assoclaLlon wlLh "human groups, soclo-economlc
machlnes, lnformaLlonal machlnes
33
". lnvolved here ls declslve, dazzllng lnLulLlon. lf Lhe force of
Marx's lmpacL, ln hls 1heses on leuerbach, conslsLed ln deflnlng Lhe crux of man as "Lhe seL of
soclal relaLlons", CuaLLarl, for hls parL, deflned sub[ecLlvlLy as Lhe seL of relaLlons LhaL are creaLed
beLween Lhe lndlvldual and Lhe vehlcles of sub[ecLlvlLy he comes across, be Lhey lndlvldual or
collecLlve, human or lnhuman. 1hls ls a declslve breakLhrough: Lhe essence of Lhe sub[ecLlvlLy of Lhe
sub[ecL was soughL, and we flnd lL, permanenLly off-cenLre, caughL ln "a-slgnlflcanL semloLlc
sysLems"... Pere. CuaLLarl shows hlmself Lo be sLlll rellanL on Lhe world of sLrucLurallsL references.
!usL as ln Lhe Levl-SLrauss foresL, Lhe slgnlfler relgns supreme ln CuaLLarl's "machlne-llke
subconsclous"
36
. 1he "producLlon of collecLlve sub[ecLlvlLy" provldes as much by Lhe score, servlng
Lo consLrucL "mlnlmum LerrlLorles" wlLh whlch Lhe lndlvldual can ldenLlfy. WhaL are Lhe fluld
slgnlflers LhaL make up Lhe producLlon of sub[ecLlvlLy? llrsL and foremosL, Lhe culLural envlronmenL
("famlly, educaLlon, envlronmenL, rellglon, arL, sporL"), Lhen, culLural consumerlsm ("Lhlngs made
by Lhe medla and fllm lndusLry, eLc"), ldeologlcal gadgeLs, spare parLs of Lhe sub[ecLlve machlnery...
And lasL of all Lhe seL of lnformaLlonal machlnery, whlch forms Lhe a- semlologlcal, a-llngulsLlc
chord of conLemporary sub[ecLlvlLy, by "operaLlng ln Landem wlLh or lndependenLly of Lhe facL LhaL
Lhey produce meanlngs". 1he process of slngularlsaLlon conslsLs, as lL happens, ln lncorporaLlng
Lhese slgnlflers ln personal "exlsLenLlal LerrlLorles", as Lools helplng Lo lnvenL new relaLlons "Lo Lhe
body, Lo fanLasy, Lo Llme passlng, Lo Lhe 'mysLerles' of llfe and deaLh", and helplng, Loo, Lo
wlLhsLand Lhe unlformlzaLlon of Lhlnklng and behavlng
37
. lrom Lhls angle, soclal producLlons musL
be puL Lhrough Lhe sleve of a "menLal ecosophy". lndlvldual sub[ecLlvlLy ls Lhus formed from Lhe
processlng of Lhe producLs of Lhls machlnery: as Lhe ouLcome of dlssensus, of gaps and dlfferences,
of allenaLlng operaLlons, lL cannoL be separaLed from all Lhe oLher soclal relaLlons, [usL llke
33
Chaosmosls.
34
Chaosmosls.
33
lellx CuaLLarl, 1he Lhree ecologles, ALlllone ress, 2001.
36
L'mcoLLsclenl machlmque. Lssal de schlzoanaLyse, 8echerches, arls, 1979.
37
1he Lhree ecologles.
a g e | 43
problems connecLed wlLh Lhe envlronmenL cannoL be deLached from all oLher producLlon relaLlons.
1hls deLermlnaLlon Lo handle exlsLence llke a neLwork of lnLerdependenL facLors, sLemmlng from a
unlfylng ecology, deflnes CuaLLarl's relaLlonshlp wlLh Lhe arL Lhlng: lL ls [usL one fleld of senslblllLy
among oLhers, assoclaLed wlLh a global sysLem. Pls Lhlnklng on ecology also led CuaLLarl Lo become
aware, before mosL people ln Lhe "aesLheLlcs Lrade", of Lhe obsolescence of Lhe 8omanLlc models
sLlll ln force when lL comes Lo descrlblng modem arL. CuaLLarl's verslon of sub[ecLlvlLy Lhus provldes
aesLheLlcs wlLh an operaLlonal paradlgm, whlch ls ln reLurn leglLlmlsed by Lhe pracLlce of arLlsLs
over Lhe pasL Lhree decades.
5ubjectivitotion units
lf kanL admlLLed landscapes and all naLural forms ln Lhe fleld of applled aesLheLlcs, we know LhaL
Pegel relned ln Lhls domaln by reduclng lL excluslvely Lo LhaL speclflc class of ob[ecLs formed by
works of Lhe mlnd. 8omanLlc aesLheLlcs, from whlch we may very well noL have really emerged
38
,
posLulaLes LhaL Lhe work of arL, as a producL of human sub[ecLlvlLy, expresses Lhe menLal world of a
sub[ecL. uurlng Lhe 20Lh cenLury, many Lheorles dlscussed Lhls 8omanLlc verslon of creaLlon, buL
wlLhouL ever LoLally Loppllng lLs foundaLlons. LeL us menLlon Lhe work of Marcel uuchamp. Whose
"ready-mades" reduced Lhe auLhor's own acLlon or lnLerference Lo merely selecLlng a mass-
produced ob[ecL and lncorporaLlng lL ln a personal llngulsLlc sysLem, Lhus redeflnlng Lhe arLlsL's role
ln Lerms of responslblllLy Lowards Lhe real. Cr, alLernaLlvely, Lhe generallsed aesLheLlcs of 8oger
Calllols, who puL forms produced by accldenL, growLh and mould on Lhe same fooLlng as Lhose
orlglnaLlng from a pro[ecL
39
. CuaLLarl's Lheses may head ln Lhe same dlrecLlon, by refuslng Lhe
8omanLlc ldea of genlus and deplcLlng Lhe arLlsL as an operaLor of meanlng, raLher Lhan a pure
"creaLor" relylng on crypLo- dlvlne lnsplraLlon, buL Lhey do noL Lally wlLh Lhose sLrucLurallsL anLhems
abouL Lhe "deaLh of Lhe auLhor". lor CuaLLarl, a phoney problem ls lnvolved here. lL ls Lhe processes
of sub[ecLlvlLy producLlon whlch need redeflnlng wlLh a vlew Lo Lhelr collecLlvlsaLlon. 8ecause Lhe
lndlvldual does noL have a monopoly on sub[ecLlvlLy, Lhe model of Lhe AuLhor and hls alleged
dlsappearance are of no lmporLance: "uevlces for produclng sub[ecLlvlLy may exlsL ln Lhe scale of
megalopolls as well as on Lhe scale of an lndlvldual's llngulsLlc games"
40
. 1he 8omanLlc conLrasL
beLween lndlvldual and socleLy, whlch lnforms arLlsLlc role-playlng and lLs mercanLlle sysLem, has
become Lruly null and vold. Cnly a "LransversallsL" concepLlon of creaLlve operaLlons, lessenlng Lhe
flgure of Lhe auLhor ln favour of LhaL of Lhe arLlsL-cum operaLor, may descrlbe Lhe "muLaLlon" under
way: uuchamp, 8auschenberg, 8euys and Warhol all consLrucLed Lhelr work on a sysLem of
exchanges wlLh soclal movemenLs, unhlnglng Lhe menLal "lvory Lower" myLh allocaLed Lo Lhe arLlsL
by Lhe 8omanLlc ldeology. lL ls noL haphazard lf Lhe gradual demaLerlallzaLlon of Lhe arLwork,
LhroughouL Lhe 20Lh cenLury, came wlLh an upsurge of Lhe work wlLhln Lhe sphere of work. 1he
slgnaLure, whlch seals lnLo Lhe arLlsLlc economy Lhe exchange mechanlsms of sub[ecLlvlLy (an
excluslve form of lLs dlsLrlbuLlon, Lurnlng lL lnLo a commodlLy), lmplles a loss of "polyphony", of LhaL
rough form of sub[ecLlvlLy represenLed by many-volceness, ln favour of a sLerlllslng, relfylng
fragmenLaLlon. ln Chaosmosls, ln order Lo lamenL lLs loss, CuaLLarl refers Lo a pracLlce currenL ln
archalc socleLles whlch conslsLs ln glvlng a large number of proper names Lo one and Lhe same
lndlvldual.
olyphony ls neverLheless resLored aL anoLher level, ln Lhese seLs of sub[ecLlvlzaLlon whlch blnd
heLerogeneous arenas LogeLher. 1hese blocks, "lndlvldual - group - machlne - mulLlple exchanges"
41
whlch "offet o petsoo tbe posslblllty of qettloq bock toqetbet os oo exlsteotlol cotpotelty, ooJ
becomloq pottlcolot ooce oqolo" ln Lhe framework of a psychoanalyLlcal Lherapy. Sufflce lL Lo accepL
Lhe facL LhaL sub[ecLlvlLy does noL sLem from any homogenelLy. Cn Lhe conLrary, lL develops lL by
38
Marc Shenlngham. lnLroducLlon a la phllosophlc esLheLlque, LdlLlons ayoL, arls, 1993.
39
8oger CalLlols. Coherences avenLureuses, LdlLlons ldees-CalllmardL
40
Chaosmosls.
41
Chaosmosls.
a g e | 44
cuLs, segmenLlng and dlsmemberlng Lhe lllusory unlLs of psychlc llfe. "lt ls oot fomlllot wltb ooy
pteJomlooot oqeocy of Jetetmlootloo steetloq otbet oqeocles lo occotJooce wltb oo ooomblqooos
coosollty
42
." When applled Lo arLlsLlc pracLlces, Lhls facL causes Lhe LoLal collapse of Lhe noLlon of
sLyle. Lndowed wlLh Lhe auLhorlLy of Lhe slgnaLure, Lhe arLlsL ls usually lnLroduced as Lhe conducLor
of manual and menLal faculLles colled around a slngle prlnclple, lLs style. 1he modern, wesLern arLlsL
ls deflned, flrsL and foremosL, as a sub[ecL whose slgnaLure acLs as a "unlfler of sLaLes of
consclousness", produclng a calculaLed muddle beLween sub[ecLlvlLy and sLyle. 8uL can we sLlll Lalk ln
Lerms of Lhe creaLlve sub[ecL, Lhe auLhor and hls masLery, when Lhe "componenLs of
sub[ecLlvlzaLlon", whlch "each work more or less on Lhelr own behalf"
43
, only appear unlfled by Lhe
effecL of a consensual llluslon, Lhe accredlLed guardlans of whlch are slgnaLure and sLyle, guaranLors
of Lhe goods'?
1he CuaLLarl sub[ecL ls made up of lndependenL plaLes, llnklng up wlLh dlfferenL palrlngs drlfLlng
Lowards heLerogeneous flelds of sub[ecLlvlsaLlon. 1he "lnLegraLed World CaplLallsm" [lWC],
descrlbed by CuaLLarl only cares abouL Lhe "exlsLenLlal LerrlLorles" whlch lL ls arL's mlsslon Lo
produce. 1hrough Lhe excluslve enhancemenL of Lhe slgnaLure, a facLor of behavloural
homogenlsaLlon and relflcaLlon, lL can carry on ln lLs role, l.e. Lransformlng Lhese LerrlLorles lnLo
producLs. CLherwlse puL, wherever arL proposes "llfe posslblllLles", lWC presenLs us wlLh Lhe blll. And
whaL lf real sLyle, as ueleuze and CuaLLarl wrlLe, were noL Lhe repeLlLlon of relfled "maklng" buL Lhe
"movemenL of LhoughL"? CuaLLarl conLrasLs Lhe homogenlsaLlon and sLandardlsaLlon of Lypes of
sub[ecLlvlLy wlLh Lhe need Lo lnvolve Lhe belng ln "heLerogeneLlc processes". 1hls ls Lhe prlmary
prlnclple of menLal ecosophy: arLlculaLlng parLlcular worlds and rare llfe forms, culLlvaLlng per se
dlfferenLness, before movlng lL over lnLo Lhe soclal. 1he whole CuaLLarl argumenL proceeds from Lhls
prellmlnary, lnner modelllng of soclal relaLlons. noLhlng ls posslble wlLhouL a far-reachlng ecologlcal
LransformaLlon of sub[ecLlvlLles, wlLhouL an awareness of Lhe varlous forms of foundlng
lnLerdependence of sub[ecLlvlLy. As such, lL llnks up mosL of Lhe cenLury's avanL-gardes, whlch called
for a [olnL LransformaLlon of aLLlLudes and soclal sLrucLures. uadalsm, Surreallsm, and Lhe
SlLuaLlonlsLs, all Lhus Lrled Lo promoLe a LoLal revoluLlon, posLulaLlng LhaL noLhlng could change ln
Lhe lnfrasLrucLure (Lhe devlces of producLlon) lf Lhe supersLrucLure (ldeology) were noL llkewlse far-
reachlngly refashloned. CuaLLarl's plea for Lhe "1hree Lcologles" (envlronmenLal, soclal, and menLal)
under Lhe aegls of an "aesLheLlc paradlgm" llkely Lo llnk up Lhe varlous human clalms and challenges,
Lhus lles ln Lhe malnsLream of modern arLlsLlc uLoplas.
1he oesthetic porodiqm
1he critique of scientistic porodiqm
ln CuaLLarl's "schlzoanalyLlcal" world, aesLheLlcs has a place all of lLs own. lL represenLs a
"paradlgm", a flexlble agency capable of operaLlng on several levels and on dlfferlng planes of
knowledge. And, flrsL and foremosL, as Lhe pedesLal LhaL enables lL Lo propound lLs "ecosophy", as
a sub[ecLlvlLy-produclng model, as an lnsLrumenL used for enrlchlng psychlaLrlc and
psychoanalyLlcal pracLlce. CuaLLarl calls upon aesLheLlcs Lo offseL Lhe hegemony of Lhe "sclenLlsLlc
superego", whlch lays down analyLlcal pracLlces ln formulae. WhaL he has agalnsL Lhe "psy people"
ls Lhe way Lhey Lurn Lowards Lhe pasL by manlpulaLlng lreudlan and Lacanlan concepLs as so many
lnsurmounLable cerLalnLles. 1he subconsclous lLself ls llkened Lo an "lnsLlLuLlon, a collecLlve
amenlLy"... ermanenL revoluLlon ln meLhod? "1he same should go [...] for palnLlng and llLeraLure,
areas wlLhln whlch Lhe Lask of each concreLe performance ls Lo evolve, lnnovaLe, and usher ln
forward-looklng openlngs, wlLhouL Lhelr auLhors managlng Lo lay clalm Lo guaranLeed LheoreLlcal
foundaLlons or Lhe auLhorlLy of a group, school, conservaLory or academy
44
". 1he only Lhlng LhaL
maLLers ls Lhe "Work ln progress". 1houghL orlglnaLes from an arL, whlch ls noL synonymous wlLh
42
Chaosmosls.
43
1he Lhree ecologles.
44
1he Lhree ecologles
a g e | 4S
rheLorlc... So lL should come as no surprlse Lo read Lhe deflnlLlon glven by ueleuze/CuaLLarl Lo
phllosophy, "Lhe arL of formlng, lnvenLlng, and manufacLurlng concepLs
43
". ln a more general way,
lL was CuaLLarl's lnLenL Lo reshape Lhe whole of sclence and Lechnology based on an "aesLheLlc
paradlgm". "My lnLenLlon conslsLs ln conveylng Lhe human sclences and Lhe soclal sclences from
sclenLlsLlc paradlgms Lo eLhlcal-aesLheLlc paradlgms", he explalns. An lnLenL LhaL ls akln Lo a form
of sclenLlflc scepLlclsm. lor hlm, Lheorles and concepLs merely have Lhe value of "models of
sub[ecLlvlzaLlon", lnLer alla, and no cerLalnLy ls lrrevocable, 1he prlmary crlLerlon of sclenLlflclLy, as
sLaLed by opper, ls falslflablllLy, ls lL noL? Accordlng Lo CuaLLarl, Lhe aesLheLlc paradlgm ls called
upon Lo conLamlnaLe every chord of dlscourse, and lnoculaLe Lhe venom of creaLlve uncerLalnLy
and ouLrageous lnvenLlon ln every fleld of knowledge. uenlal of clalmed sclenLlflc "neuLrallLy":
"whaL wlll henceforLh he on Lhe agenda ls Lhe clearance of fuLurlsLlc' and "consLracLlvlsL' flelds of
vlrLuallLy
46
". orLralL of Lhe psychoanalysL as an arLlsL: "[usL as an arLlsL borrows from hls precursors
and hls conLemporarles Lhe feaLures LhaL sulL hlm, so l lnvlLe Lhose who read me Lo freely accepL
and re[ecL my concepLs
47
".
kitourne//e, symptom ond work
Llke nleLzsche's aesLheLlcs, from whlch CuaLLarl's broadly orlglnaLe, Lhe laLLer only conslders Lhe
creaLor's vlewpolnL. ln lL Lhere ls no slgn of conslderaLlons Lo do wlLh aesLheLlc recepLlon, aparL from
Lhose pages deallng wlLh Lhe noLlon of "rlLournelle". lL Lakes for example Lhe facL of looklng aL
Lelevlslon. lor swlLchlng on Lhe 1v seL ls Lo expose "your feellng of personal ldenLlLy" Lo Lemporary
break-up. 1he 1v vlewer Lhus exlsLs aL Lhe crossroads of several sub[ecLlve nodes: Lhe "percepLual
fasclnaLlon" caused by elecLronlc lmage scannlng, Lhe "capLure" obLalned by narraLlve conLenL,
enllvened by percepLlve "paraslLes" happenlng ln Lhe room, Lhe Lelephone, for example, and lasLly,
Lhe "world of fanLasles" aroused by Lhe programme, percelved as an "exlsLenLlal moLlf' worklng llke
an "aLLracLor" wlLhln Lhe "percepLlble and slgn ldeaLlonal chaos".
lural sub[ecLlvlLy here ls "rlLournelllzed", "caughL" by whaL ll looks aL, a prelude Lo Lhe
formaLlon of an "exlsLenLlal LerrlLory". Pere agaln, conLemplaLlon of form comes across noL as any
old klnd of "suspenslon of Lhe wlll" (Schopenhauer), buL raLher as a Lhermodynamlc process, a
phenomenon of condensaLlon and accumulaLlon of psychlc energy on a "moLlf", wlLh a vlew Lo
acLlon. ArL flxes energy, and "rlLournelllzes" lL, dlverLlng lL from everyday- llfe: a maLLer of
repercusslon and rlcocheL.. As a pure "closb betweeo o wlll ooJ o motetlol
48
", arL, for CuaLLarl, mlghL
be compared wlLh Lhe Lhoroughly nleLzschean acLlvlLy LhaL conslsLs ln ouLllnlng texts ln Lhe cboos of
Lhe world. ln oLher words, ln Lhe acL of "lnLerpreLlng and assesslng"... 1he "exlsLenLlal moLlfs"
offered for aesLheLlc conLemplaLlon, ln a broad sense, caLch Lhe dlfferenL componenLs of sub[ecLlvlLy
and gulde Lhem. ArL ls Lhe Lhlng upon and around whlch sub[ecLlvlLy can reform lLself, Lhe way
several llghL spoLs are broughL LogeLher Lo form a beam, and llghL up a slngle polnL. 1he opposlLe of
Lhls condensaLlon, for whlch arL provldes Lhe mosL concluslve example, ls neurosls, ln whlch Lhe
"rlLournelle",, hallmarked by fluldlLy, '"hardens" lnLo obsesslon, buL psychosls, Loo, whlch makes Lhe
personallLy lmplode by maklng Lhe "parLlal componenLs" leave sub[ecLlvlLy "ln halluclnaLory,
dellrlous llnes
49
"... Whlch suggesLs Lo us LhaL Lhe object lLself ls neuroLlc: unllke Lhe fluldlLy of
"rlLournelllzaLlon", whose successlve crysLalllsaLlons bounce on supple parLlal ob[ecLs, neurosls
"hardens" whaLever lL Louches. lnLegraLed caplLallsm, whlch Lurns exlsLenLlal LerrlLorles lnLo goods
and shunLs sub[ecLlve energy Lowards producLs, Lhus funcLlons ln neuroLlc mode. lL produces an
"lmmense vold ln sub[ecLlvlLy", a "machlne-llke sollLude
30
", rushlng lnLo spaces lefL vacanL by Lhe
deserLlflcaLlon of dlrecL Lradlng areas, Avold whlch can only be fllled by drawlng up a new conLracL
wlLh Lhe lnhuman, l.e. Lhe machlne.
43
ueleuze/CuaLLarl, WhaL ls phllosophy. verso, London, 1994.
46
1he Lhree ecologles
47
Chaosmosls.
48
cboosmosls. See also: lellx CuaLLarl. "ctocks ln tbe 5tteet", ln llash ArL. no. 133, Summer 1987.
49
Chaosmosls
30
lellx CuaLLarl. "kefooJet les ptotlpoes socloles", ln Le Monde dlplomaLlque, "l'oqoole Je lo coltote", CcLober 1993
a g e | 46
CuaLLarl's Lhlnklng ls organlsed around an analyLlcal perspecLlve, Lhe cure for whlch forms Lhe
dlsLanL horlzon. lnvarlably, Lhe meLhod of parLlal heallng emerges Lo re-form Lhe shaLLered plcLure of
forms of sub[ecLlvlzaLlon. ArL ls never LhaL far removed from Lhe sympLom,, buL does noL overlap
wlLh lL. 1hls laLLer "opetotes llke oo exlsteotlol tltootoelle ftom tbe momeot wbeo lt ls tepeoteJ",
when Lhe rlLournelle "ls emboJleJ lo o 'botJeoeJ' tepteseototloo, fot exomple, oo obsesslve tltool".
8uL lf Lhe analogy beLween Lhe slck paLlenLs assumpLlon of lndependence and arLlsLlc creaLlon ls aL
Llmes pushed very far, CuaLLarl flghLs shy of "llkeoloq psycbosls to o wotk of ott, ooJ tbe
psycboooolyst to oo ottlst"... LxcepL LhaL boLh deal wlLh Lhe same sub[ecLlve maLerlal, whlch musL be
broughL forward ln order Lo "heal" Lhe dlsasLrous effecLs of homogenlsaLlon, LhaL vlolence wlelded
by Lhe caplLallsL sysLem Lowards Lhe lndlvldual, suppresslon of forms of dlssenL and dlsagreemenL
LhaL can only be founded by hls sub[ecLlvlLy. ln any evenL, arL and psychlc llfe are lnLerwoven ln Lhe
same agencles. CuaLLarl only descrlbes arL ln lmmaLerlal Lerms Lhe beLLer Lo maLerlallse Lhe
mechanlsms of Lhe psycbe. ln analysls as ln arLlsLlc acLlvlLy, "tlme stops beloq soffeteJ, lt ls wotkeJ,
otleoteJ, os tbe object of poollflcotlve cbooqes". lf Lhe analysL's role conslsLs ln "cteotloq motoot focl
of sobjectlvlzotloo", Lhe formula mlghL easlly be applled Lo arLlsLs.
1he work of ort os portio/ object
1he work of arL ls only of lnLeresL Lo CuaLLarl lnsomuch as lL ls noL a maLLer of a "passlvely
represenLaLlve lmage", oLherwlse puL, a producL. 1he work glves a maLerlal quallLy Lo exlsLenLlal
LerrlLorles, wlLhln whlch Lhe lmage Lakes on Lhe role of sobjectlvlzotloo vectot or "shlfLer", capable of
deLerrlng our percepLlon before "hooklng lL up agaln", Lo oLher posslblllLles: LhaL of an "opetotot of
jooctloos lo sobjectlvlty''. Pere agaln, Lhe work of arL cannoL clalm anyLhlng excluslve, even lf lL offers
Lhe model of LhaL "paLhlc knowledge" whlch ls Lhe parLlcular feaLure of aesLheLlcs, LhaL "non-
dlscurslve experlence of Lhe Llme span"... 1hls type of knowledge ls ooly posslble provlded LhaL we
do noL see mere dellghL ln Lhe conLemplaLlon of Lhe arLwork. CuaLLarl prowls ln Lhe vlclnlLy of
nleLzsche, Lransposlng Lhe vlLallsm of Lhe Cerman phllosopher ("A problem LhaL besLlrs us Lo exceed
ourselves ls beauLlful") lnLo Lhe psycho-ecologlcal area of vocabulary for whlch he has a sofL spoL. ln
aesLheLlc conLemplaLlon he Lhus sees a process of "sub[ecLlvlzaLlon Lransfer"'. 8orrowed from
Mlkhall 8akhLlne, Lhls concepL earmarks Lhe momenL when Lhe "maLLer of expresslon" becomes
"formally creaLlve"
31
, a spllL-second ln Lhe LellLale passage beLween auLhor and beholder.
Pere, CuaLLarl's posLulaLes Lurn ouL Lo be very akln Lo Lhose uLLered by Marcel uuchamp ln hls
famous 1934 PousLon lecLure on ""Lhe creaLlve process"
32
: Lhe beholder ls Lhe [olnL creaLor of Lhe
work, venLurlng lnLo Lhe mysLerles of creaLlon by way of Lhe "coefflclenL of arL", whlch ls Lhe
"Jlffeteoce betweeo wbot [Lhe arLlsL] had planned Lo make and whaL he dld". uuchamp descrlbed
Lhls phenomenon ln Lerms noL unllke Lhose of psychoanalysls: lL ls lndeed a quesLlon of a "Lransfer"
of whlch "Lhe arLlsL ls ln no way- aware", and Lhe reacLlon of Lhe beholder ln fronL of Lhe work
occurs ln a klnd of "aesLheLlc osmosls whlch Lakes place Lhrough Lhe lnerL maLLer: colour, plano,
marble, eLc." 1hls ttoosltloool Lheory of Lhe work of arL was Laken up by CuaLLarl, who Lurned lL lnLo
dle pedesLal for hls own hunches abouL Lhe fluld naLure of sub[ecLlvlLy, whose componenL parLs
operaLe, as we have seen, by Lemporarlly cllnglng Lo heLerogeneous "exlsLenLlal LerrlLorles". 1he
work of arL doesn'L halL Lhe eye. lL's Lhe spellblndlng, para-hypnoLlc process of Lhe aesLheLlc way of
looklng LhaL crysLalllses around lL Lhe dlfferenL lngredlenLs of sub[ecLlvlLy, and redlsLrlbuLes Lhem
Lowards new vanlshlng polnLs. 1he work ls Lhe opposlLe of Lhe buffer deflned by classlcal aesLheLlc
percepLlon, exerclsed on flnlshed ob[ecLs and closed enLlLles. 1hls aesLheLlc fluldlLy cannoL be
deLached from a quesLlonlng addressed aL Lhe work's lndependence. CuaLLarl deflned Lhls laLLer as
a "parLlal ob[ecL", whlch derlves advanLage solely from a "relaLlve sub[ecLlve auLonomlzaLlon", llke
ob[ecL a ln Lhe Lacanlan subconsclous"
33
. Pere, Lhe aesLheLlc ob[ecL acqulres Lhe sLaLus of a "parLlal
enunclaLor", whose assumpLlon of auLonomy makes lL posslble Lo "fosLer new flelds of reference".
1hls deflnlLlon embraces Lhe developmenL of arL forms ln a very frulLful way: Lhe Lheory of Lhe
31
cboosmosls
32
Marcel uuchamp, "le ptocessos cteotlf , ln uocbomp Jo slqoe, LdlLlons llamlLlarlcn, arls.
33
cboosmosls.
a g e | 47
aesLheLlc parLlal ob[ecL as "semloLlc segmenL" separaLe from collecLlve sub[ecLlve producLlon so as
Lo sLarL "worklng on lLs own behalf perfecLly descrlbes Lhe mosL wldespread arLlsLlc producLlon
meLhods Loday: sampllng of plcLures and daLa, recycllng now soclallsed and hlsLorlclzed forms,
lnvenLlon of collecLlve ldenLlLles... Such are Lhe procedures of presenL-day arL, sLemmlng from a
hyper-lnflaLlonal sysLem of lmagery. 1hese sLraLegles for parLlal ob[ecLs lncorporaLe Llre work ln Lhe
conLlnuum of a devlce of exlsLence, lnsLead of endowlng lL wlLh Lhe LradlLlonal lndependence of Lhe
masLerplece ln Lhe sysLem of concepLual masLery. 1hese works are no longer palnLlngs,, sculpLures
or lnsLallaLlons, all Lerms correspondlng wlLh caLegorles of masLery and Lypes of producLs, buL
slmple surfaces, volumes and devlces, whlch are doveLalled wlLhln sLraLegles of exlsLence. Pere we
are borderlng on Lhe llmlLs of Lhe deflnlLlon of arLlsLlc acLlvlLy proposed by ueleuze and CuaLLarl ln
WhaL ls hllosophy: "knowledge of Lhe world Lhrough percepLs and affecLs"... lor how could Lhe
very ldea of a parLlal ob[ecL referrlng Lo a slngularlsaLlon movemenL of Lhe heLerogeneous
lngredlenLs of sub[ecLlvlLy brlng on an ldea of LoLallLy: "Lhe parLlal enunclaLor" LhaL forms Lhe work
of arL does noL depend on a speclflc caLegory of human acLlvlLy, so how could lL be llmlLed Lo Lhls
parLlcular arrangemenL suggesLed by Lhe level of "affecLs" and "percepLs"? 1o be fully an arLwork, lL
musL also puL forward concepLs necessary for Lhe worklng of Lhese affecLs and percepLs, as parL of a
LoLal experlence of LhoughL. lor wanL of such, Lhe caLegorlsaLlon foughL agalnsL by funcLlon ls
lnevlLably reformed aL Lhe level of Lhe maLerlals LhaL ground LhoughL. So lL would seem Lo be more
sound, ln Lhe llghL of CuaLLarl's wrlLlngs Lhemselves, Lo deflne arL as a consLrucLlon of concepLs wlLh
Lhe help of percepLs and affecLs, almed aL a knowledge of Lhe world
lor on ortistic, ecosophic proctice
1he ecosophlc facL conslsLs ln an eLhlcal-cum-pollLlcal arLlculaLlon beLween Lhe envlronmenL, Lhe
soclal and sub[ecLlvlLy. lL ls a quesLlon of re-formlng a losL pollLlcal LerrlLory, losL by belng rlven by
Lhe deLerrlLorlallzlng vlolence of "lnLegraLed World CaplLallsm". "8y exocetbotloq tbe ptoJoctloo of
motetlol ooJ lmmotetlol qooJs, to tbe Jettlmeot of tbe cooslsteocy of loJlvlJool ooJ collectlve
exlsteotlol 1ettltotles, tbe cootempototy petloJ bos qlveo tlse to oo lmmeose volJ lo sobjectlvlty
wblcb ls teoJloq to become mote ooJ mote obsotJ ooJ wltboot tecootse
54
". And ecosophlc pracLlce,
geared Lo ldeas of globalness and lnLerdependence, alms Lo re-form Lhese exlsLenLlal LerrlLorles
based on operaLlonal meLhods of sub[ecLlvlLy hlLherLo palnsLaklngly underplayed. Lcosophy may
clalm "to teploce tbe olJ lJeoloqles wblcb oseJ to mlstokeoly JlvlJe tbe soclol, tbe ptlvote ooJ tbe
clvll loto sectots
55
". lrom Lhls angle, arL ls sLlll a valuable auxlllary, lnsofar as lL provldes a "plane of
lmmanence"
36
, aL once hlghly- organlsed and very "absorbenL", for Lhe exerclse of sub[ecLlvlLy. All
Lhe more so because conLemporary arL has developed ln Lhe sense of a denlal of Lhe lndependence
(and Lhus of Lhe secLorlzaLlon) glven lL by Lhe formallsL Lheorles of "modernlsm", of whlch ClemenL
Creenberg was Lhe prlme advocaLe. nowadays, arL ls noL deflned as a place LhaL lmporLs meLhods
and concepLs, a zone of forms of hybrldlsaLlon. As one of Lhe drlvlng splrlLs behlnd Lhe lloxos
movemenL, 8oberL lllllou sald LhaL arL offers an lmmedlaLe "rlghL of asylum" Lo all devlanL pracLlces
whlch cannoL flnd Lhelr place ln Lhelr naLural bed. So many forceful works of Lhe lasL Lhree decades
only arrlved ln Lhe realm of arL for Lhe slmple reason LhaL Lhey had reached a llmlL ln oLher realms.
Marcel 8roodLhaers Lhus found a way of carrylng poeLry on ln lmagery, and !oseph 8euys found a
way of pursulng pollLlcs ln form. CuaLLarl seems Lo have recorded Lhese shlfLs, Lhls capaclLy of
modern arL Lo embrace Lhe mosL varled of producLlon sysLems. Pe readlly crlLlclses arL as a speclflc
acLlvlLy, conducLed by a parLlcular corporaLe body. 1he experlence of Lhe cllnlc accounLs for a loL ln
Lhls asLonlshmenL ln fronL of Lhls fragmenLaLlon of knowledge, Lhls "corporaLlsL sub[ecLlvlLy" LhaL ls
ln Lhe end qulLe recenL, a corporaLlsL sub[ecLlvlLy LhaL leads us, for example, lnLo a reflex of
"secLorlzaLlon", Lo "oestbetlclze o cove oo ltl wblcb evetytbloq soqqests tbot lt boJ oo esseotlolly
tecbooloqlcol ooJ coltotol tooqe".
1he exhlblLlon ltlmltlvlsm lo 20tb ceototy Att, recenLly held aL Lhe MoMA ln new ?ork, Lhus
feLlshlzes "fotmol, fotmollst ooJ lo tbe eoJ totbet sopetflclol cottelotloos", beLween works LhaL are
34
1be tbtee ecoloqles.
33
cboosmosls.
36
wbot ls pbllosopby.
a g e | 48
wrenched ouL of Lhelr conLexL, "oo tbe ooe booJ ttlbol, etbolc ooJ mytblcol, oo tbe otbet coltotol,
blstotlcol ooJ ecooomlc". 1he rooL of arLlsLlc pracLlce lles ln Lhe producLlon of sub[ecLlvlLy, lL maLLers
llLLle whaL Lhe speclflc producLlon meLhod may be. 8uL Lhls acLlvlLy neverLheless Lurns ouL Lo be
deLermlned by Lhe eoooclotlve oqeocy chosen.
1he behoviouro/ economy of present-doy ort
"How do you render a school class as an artwork?", asks Guattari
57
... Pe Lhus poses Lhe flnal problem of
aesLheLlcs, LhaL of lLs use, and lLs posslble ln[ecLlon lnLo fabrlc rendered rlgld by Lhe caplLallsL
economy. LveryLhlng consplres Lo make us Lhlnk LhaL modernlLy has been consLrucLed, from Lhe laLe
19Lh cenLury on, on Lhe ldea of "llfe as arLwork". 8ased on Cscar Wllde's formula, modernlLy ls Lhe
momenL when "lL ls noL arL lmlLaLlng llfe, buL llfe lmlLaLlng arL"... Marx ls headed ln Lhe same
dlrecLlon, by crlLlclslng Lhe classlcal dlsLlncLlon beLween raxls (Lhe acL of self- LransformaLlon) and
polesls (Lhe necessary, servlle acLlon almed aL produclng and Lransformlng maLLer). Marx LhoughL,
on Lhe conLrary, LhaL "praxls moves consLanLly lnLo polesls, and vlce versa". LaLer on, Ceorges
8aLallle bullL hls work on Lhe crlLlque of Lhls "renunclaLlon of exlsLence ln exchange for funcLlon"
whlch grounds Lhe caplLallsL economy. 1he Lhree orders -sclence, flcLlon and acLlon- shaLLer human
exlsLence by callbraLlng lL on Lhe basls of preordalned caLegorles
38
. CuaLLarl's brand of ecosophy
llkewlse poslLs Lhe LoLallLy of exlsLence as a precondlLlon for Lhe producLlon of sub[ecLlvlLy. ln lL, Lhls
laLLer Lakes prlde of place, Lhe place earmarked by Marx for labour, and whlch 8aLallle glves Lo lnner
experlence, ln an efforL lnvolvlng Lhe lndlvldual and collecLlve reformaLlon of losL sub[ecLlvlLy. lor
"Lhe only accepLable end purpose of hlLman acLlvlLles," wrlLes CuaLLarl, "ls Lhe producLlon of a
sub[ecLlvlLy LhaL ls forever self-enrlchlng lLs relaLlonshlp wlLh Lhe world''
39
. A deflnlLlon LhaL ldeally
applles Lo Lhe pracLlces of conLemporary arLlsLs: by creaLlng and sLaglng devlces of exlsLence
lncludlng worklng meLhods and ways of belng, lnsLead of concreLe ob[ecLs whlch hlLherLo bounded
Lhe realm of arL, Lhey use Llme as a maLerlal. 1he form holds sway over Lhe Lhlng, and movemenLs
over caLegorles. 1he producLlon of gesLures wlns ouL over Lhe producLlon of maLerlal Lhlngs. 1hese
days, beholders are prompLed Lo cross Lhe Lhreshold of "caLalysL-llke Llme modules", raLher Lhan
conLemplaLe lmmanenL ob[ecLs closed ln on Lhelr world of reference. 1he arLlsL goes as far as Lo
come across as a world of sub[ecLlvlzaLlon on Lhe move, llke Lhe mannequln of hls own sub[ecLlvlLy.
Pe Lhus becomes Lhe Lerraln of speclal experlences and Lhe synLheLlc prlnclple of hls work, a
developmenL LhaL foreshadows Lhe enLlre hlsLory of modernlLy. ln Lhls behavloural economy, Lhe arL
ob[ecL acqulres a klnd of decepLlve aura, an agenL of reslsLance Lo lLs commerclal dlsLrlbuLlon and a
mlmeLlc paraslLe of Lhe same.. ln a menLal world where Lhe ready-made represenLs a parLlcular
model, as a collecLlve producLlon (Lhe mass-produced ob[ecL) assumed and recycled ln an auLo-
poleLlc vlsual devlce. CnaL fan's llnes of Lhlnklng help us Lo conslder Lhe changes currenLly under way
ln presenL-clay arL. 8uL Lhls, however, was noL Lhe prlmary alm of Lhelr auLhor, for whom aesLheLlcs
musL above all else go hand ln hand wlLh socleLal changes, and lnflecL Lhem... 1he poeLlc funcLlon,
whlch conslsLs ln re-formlng worlds of sub[ecLlvlzaLlon, posslbly would noL have any meanlng lf lL,
Loo, were noL able Lo help us Lo negoLlaLe Lhe "otJeol of botbotlty, meotol lmplosloo, ooJ cboosmlc
sposm wblcb ote tokloq sbope oo tbe botlzoo, to toto tbem loto tlcbes ooJ oofoteseeoble
pleosotes
60
"...
37
cboosmosls.
38
Ceorges 8aLallle, "l'Apptetllt sotclet". ln uenls Polller, le colleqe Je socloloqle. LdlLlons ldees-Calllrrlard.
39
cboosmosls
60
cboosmosls
a g e | 49
GLOSSARY
Academicism
1. An attitude that involves clinging lo the deIunct signs and Iorms oI one's day, and rendering them aesthetic.
1. Synonym: pompous (pompier).
"And whv wouldnt he do something pompous, if it pavs off?" (Samuel Beckett).
Aesthetics
An idea that sets humankind apart from other animal species. In the end oI the day, burying the dead, laughter, and
suicide are just the corollaries oI a deep-seated hunch, the hunch that liIe is an aesthetic, ritualised, shaped Iorm.
Art
1. General term describing a set oI objects presented as part oI a narrative known as art historv. This narrative draws
up the critical genealogy and discusses the issues raised by these objects, by way oI three sub-sets: painting,
sculpture, architecture,
1. Nowadays, the word "art" seems to be no more than a semantic leItover oI this narrative, whose more accurate
deIinition would read as Iollows: Art is an activity consisting in producing relationships with the world with the help
oI signs, Iorms, actions and objects.
Art (The end of)
"The end oI art" only exists in an idealistic view oI history. We can nevertheless, and not without irony, borrow
Hegel's Iormula whereby "art, Ior us, is a thing oI the past", and turn it into a Iigure oI style: let us remain open to
what is happening in the present, which invariably exceeds, a priori, our capacities oI understanding.
Artist
When Benjamin Buchloch reIerred to the conceptual and minimal generation oI the 1960s, he deIined the artist as a
"scholar/philosopher/craItsman", who hands society "the objective results oI his labour". For Buchloch, this Iigure
was heir to that oI the artist as "mediumic and transcendental subject", represented by Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana
and Joseph Beuys. Recent developments in art merely modiIy Buchloch's hunch. Today's artist appears as an
operator oI signs, modelling production structures so as to provide signiIicant doubles. An
entrepreneur/politician/director. The most common denominator shared by all artists is that they something.
The act oI showing suIIices to deIine the artist, be it a representation or a designation.
Behaviour
1. Beside those two established genres, the history oI things and the history oI Iorms, we still need to come up with a
history oI artistic behaviour. It would be naive to think that the history oI art represents a whole capable oI
perennially replacing these three sub-groups. An artist's microbiographv would point up the things he has achieved
within his ceuvre,
1. Artist, producer oI time.
All totalitarian ideologies show a distinctive wish to control the time in which they exist. They replace the versatility
oI time invented by the individual by the Iantasy oI a central place where it might be possible to acquire the overall
meaning oI society. Totalitarianism systematically tries to set up a Iorm oI temporal motionlessness, and rendering
the time in which it exists uniIorm and collective, a Iantasy oI eternity aimed Iirst and Ioremost at standardising and
monitoring patterns oI behaviour. Foucault thus rightly stressed the Iact that the art oI living clashed with "all forms
of fascism, be thev alreadv there or lurking".
Co-existence criterion
All works oI art produce a model oI sociability, which transposes reality or might be conveyed in it. So there is a
question we are entitled to ask in Iront oI any aesthetic production: "Does this work permit me to enter into
dialogue? Could I exist, and how, in the space it deIines?" A Iorm is more or less democratic. May I simply remind
you, Ior the record, that the Iorms produced by the art oI totalitarian regimes are peremptory and closed in on
themselves (particularly through their stress on symmetry). Otherwise put, they do not give the viewer a chance to
complement them, (see: Relational (aesthetics)).
a g e | S0
Context
In situ art is a Iorm oI artistic activity that encompasses the space in which it is on view. This consideration by the
artist oI the exhibition venue consisted, yesterday, in exploring its spatial and architectural conIiguration. A second
possibility, prevalent in the art oI the 1990s, consists in an investigation oI the general context oI the exhibition: its
institutional structure, the socio-economic Ieatures encompassing it, and the people involved. This latter method calls
Ior a great deal oI subtlety: although such contextual studies have the merit oI reminding us that the artistic doing
does not drop out oI the sky into a place unblemished by any ideology, it is nevertheless important to Iit this
investigation into a prospect that goes beyond the primary stage oI sociology. It is not enough to extract,
mechanically, the social characteristics oI the place where you exhibit (the art centre, the city, the region, the
country... ), to "reveal" whatever it may be. For some artists whose complicated thinking represents an architecture
oI meanings, no more nor less (Dan Asher, Daniel Buren, JeI Geys, Mark Dion), how many conceptual hacks are
there who laboriously "associate", Ior their show in Montelimar, nougat production and unemployment Iigures? The
mistake lies in thinking that the sense oI an aesthetic Iact lies solelv in the context.
2. Art aIter criticism
Once art "overtook" philosophy (Joseph Kosuth), it nowadays goes beyond critical philosophy, where conceptual ait
has helped to spread the viewpoint. Doubt can be cast over the stance oI the "critical" artist, when this position
consists in judging the world as he were excluded Irom it by divine grace, and played no part in it. This idealistic
attitude can be contrasted with Lacanian intuition that the unconscious is its own analyst. And Marx's idea that
explains that real criticism is the criticism oI reality that exists through criticism itselI. For there is no mental place
where the artist might exclude himselI Irom the world he represents.
Critical materialism
The world is made up oI random encounters (Lucretius, Hobbes, Marx, Althusser). Art, too, is made up oI chaotic,
chance meetings oI signs and Iorms. Nowadays, it even creates spaces within which the encounter can occur. Present-
day art does not present the outcome oI a labour, it is the labour itselI, or the labour-to-be.
Factitiousness
Art is not the world oI suspended will (Schopenhauer), or oI the disappearance oI contingency (Sartre), but a space
emptied oI the factitious. It in no way clashes with authenticity (an absurd value where art is concerned) but replaces
coherences, even phoney noones, with the illusory world oI "truth". It is the bad lie that betrays the hack, whose at
best touching sincerity inevitably ends up as a Iorked tongue,.
Form
Structural unity imitating a world. Artistic practice involves creating a Iorm capable oI "lasting", bringing
heterogeneous units together on a coherent level, in order to create a relationship to the world.
Gesture
Movement oI the body revealing a psychological, state or designed to express an idea. Gesturality means the set oI
requisite operations introduced by the production oI artworks, Irom their manuIacture to the production oI peripheral
signs (actions, events, anecdotes).
Image
Making a work involves the invention oI a process oI presentation. In this kind oI process, the image is an act.
Inhabiting
Having imagined architecture and art oI the Iuture, the artist is now proposing solutions Ior inhabiting them. The
contemporary Iorm oI modernity is ecological, haunted by the occupancy oI I orms and the use oI images..
Modern
The ideals oI modernity have not vanished, they have been adapted. So "the total work oI an." comes about today
in its spectacular version, emptied oI its teleological content. Our civilisation makes up Ior the hyperspecialization oI
social Iunctions by the progressive unity oI leisure activities. It is thus possible to predict, without too much risk
attaching thereto, that I he aesthetic experience oI the average late 20th century individual might roughly resemble
what early 20th century avant-gardes imagined. Between the interactive video- disk, the CD-ROM, ever more multi-
media-oriented games consoles, and the extreme sophistication oI mass recreational venues, discotheques and theme
parks, we are heading towards the condensation oI leisure in uniIying Iorms. Towards a compact art? Once CD-ROM
and CD-I drives are available, which have enough autonomy, books, exhibitions and Iilms will be in competition with
a g e | S1
a Iorm oI expression that is at once more comprehensive and more thought-restricting, circulating writing, imagery
and sound in new Iorms.
Operational realism
Presentation oI the Iunctional sphere in an aesthetic arrangement. The work proposes a Iunctional model and not a
maquette. In other words, the concept oI dimension does not come into it, just as in the digital image, whose
proportions may vary depending on the size oI the screen, which, unlike the Irame, does not enclose works within a
predetermined Iormat, but rather renders virtualitv material in x dimensions.
Ready-made
Artistic Iigure contemporary with the invention oI Iilm. The artist takes his camera-subjectivity into the real, deIining
himselI as a cameraman: the museum plays the part oI the Iilm, he records. For the Iirst time, with Duchamp, art no
longer consists in translating the real with the help oI signs, but in presenting this same real as it is (Duchamp, the
Lumiere brothers... )
Relational (aesthetics)
Aesthetic theory consisting in judging artworks on the basis oI the inter-human relations which they represent,
produce or prompt. (See: co-existence criterion).
Relational (art)
A set oI artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point oI departure the whole oI human relations
and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.
Semionaut
The contemporary artist is a semionaut, he invents trajectories between signs.
Society of extras
The society oI the spectacle has been defined by Guy Debord as the historical moment when merchandise achieved
"the total occupation oI social liIe", capital having reached "such a degree oI accumulation" that it was turned into
imagery. Today, we are in the Iurther stage oI spectacular development: the individual has shiIted Irom a passive and
purely repetitive status to the minimum activity dictated to him by market Iorces. So television consumption is
shrinking in Iavour oI video games; thus the spectacular hierarchy encourages "empty monads", i.e. programmeless
models and politicians; thus everyone sees themselves summoned to be Iamous Ior IiIteen minutes, using a TV game,
street poll or news item as go-between. This is the reign oI "InIamous Man", whom Michel Foucault deIined as the
anonymous and "ordinary" individual suddenly put in the glare oI media spotlights. Here we are summoned to turn
into extras oI the spectacle, having been regarded as its consumers. This switch can be historically explained: since
the surrender oI the Soviet bloc, there are no obstacles on capitalism's path to empire. It has a total hold oI the social
arena, so it can permit itselI to stir individuals to Irolic about in the Iree and open spaces that it has staked out. So,
aIter the consumer society, we can see the dawning oI the society oI extras where the individual develops as a part-
time stand-in Ior Ireedom, signer and sealer oI the public place.
Style
The movement oI a work, its trajectory. "The style oI a thought is its movement" (Gilies Deleuze and Felix
Guattari).
Trailer
Having been an event per se (classical painting), then the graphic recording oI an event (the work oI Jackson Pollock,
with photographic documents describing a perIormance or an action), today's work oI art oIten assumes the role oI a
trailer Ior a Iorthcoming event, or an event that is put oII Iorever.
a g e | S2
INDEX
Acconcl (vlLo) 77
Adorno 76
AlberLl 27
Alexander Lhe CreaL 27
AlLhusser (Louls) 13, 13, 18, 24. 66, 90, 110
A8C 36. 37
Armaly (lareed) 34
8akhLlne (Mlkhall) 99
8alLhus 86
8arry ( 8oberL) 29
8aslllco (SLefano) 33
8aLallle (Ceorges) 44, 81, 103, 103
8eecrofL (vanessa) 8, 39. 48, 76
8en 38
8en[amln (WalLer) 60, 74, 78
8euys (!oseph) 40, 70, 93, 102, 108
8l[l (Culllaume) 37
8lalr (ulke) 39
8oeLLl (Allghlero) 68
8uchloch (8en[amln) 108
8olLanskl (ChrlsLlan) 29. 64
8ond (Penry) 36, 37, 46, 70, 74
8ourdleu (lerre) 22, 26, 40
8rechL (Ceorge) 30, 70
8rlnch (!es) 8
8roodLhaers (Marcel) 72, 73, 78. 102
8ulloch (Angela) 31, 38, 73
8urden (Chrls) 19
8uren (uanlel) 20, 110
Calllols (8oger) 93, 104
Calle (Sophle) 30
Cape 36
CasLorladls (Cornellus) 34, 64
CaLLelan (Maurlzlo) 8, 14, 33, 40
CerLeau (Mlchel de) 14, 24
Cezanne (aul) 20
Clegg & CuL em an 34, 33
ClerL Callery (lrls) 37 uada 12
uamlsch (PuberL) 18, 24, 48
uaney (Serge) 21, 23, 24, 69, 73, 77, 78
uanLe (!oe) 69
uanLo (ArLhur) 63
ue uuve (1hlerry) 24
uebord (Cuy) 9. 19, 83, 113
uegas (Ldgar) 67
uelacrolx (Lugene) 19, 26
ueleuze (Cllles) 13, 20, 74, 87, 93, 96, 100, 103, 114
ueller (!eremy) 30
a g e | S3
uevauLour 27
ulmlLrl[evlc (8raco) 30
ulon (Mark) 33, 72, 110
uonalello 63
uonegan (Cheryl) 73
uuchamp (Marcel) 19, 23, 26,29, 41,44, 92,93, 99. 103, 112
uurand (CllberL) 43
uuyckaerLs (Lrlc) 32
Ll Creco 63
Lplcurus 19 #
lalrhursL (Angus) 32
lend (eLer) 33, 37
lllllou (8oberL) 30, 102
lluxus 23, 46, 102
loucaulL (Mlchel) 30, 109, 113
lrankfurL school 31
lraser (Andrea) 32
lrled (Mlchael) 39, 64
Ceneral ldea 61
Cllllck (Llam) 30, 32, 36, 37, 47, 48, 31
Codard (!ean-Luc) 26
Combrowlcz (WlLold) 21. 22
Conzalez-loersLer (uomlnlque) 30, 33, 34, 36. 48, 31, 32, 72
Conzalez-1orres (lellx) 38, 39, 49, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 33, 36, 38, 39, 63, 72
Cordon (uouglas) 32, 48, 31, 70, 73
Craham (uan) 20, 46. 78
Creenberg (ClemenL) 67, 101
CuaLLarl (lellx) 10, 20, 31, 40, 80, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93,94.93.96.97,98,99, 100, 101, 102,
103, 104, 103, 114
Paanlng (!ens) 17, 77
Pempel (LoLhar) 76
Plckey (uave) 43, 62, 63, 64
Plll (ChrlsLlne) 8, 36
Plrakawa (norlLoshl) 8, 34
PlrsL (uamlen) 39. 40
Poller (CarsLen) 8, 36, 40, 38, 70, 73, 76, 82
Polzer (!enny) 43
Puber Callery (lerre) 34
Puyghe (lerre) 8, 30, 32, 40, 38, 70, 71, 74, 77
PyberL (labrlce) 37, 72, 76
lngold Alrllnes 33
!ohns (!asper) 46
!olslen (8ernard) 72, 73
!oseph (lerre) 30, 38, 39, 72. 73. 76
kanL 92
kawara (Cn) 30
kelley (Mlke) 44. 77
klllmnlk (karen) 30
klnmonL (8en) 31. 38
kleln (?ves) 37. 48. 108
koons (!eff) 43. 48
a g e | S4
kosLabl (Mark) 33
kosuLh (!oseph) 32, 110
krafLwerk 31
kudo (1eLsuml) 44
La 8orde 86
Lacan 90
LamberL (Allx) 34
Land (eLer) 46. 76
Landers (Sean) 73
Lamer (Llz) 38
LaLham (!ohn) 33
Le Corbusler 33
Lecoq (?ves) 34
Leonardo da vlncl 27
Levl-SLrauss 90, 91
Levlnas (Lmmanuel) 23, 24
LeWlLL (Sol) 32
LucreLlus 19. 110
LyoLard (!ean-lrancls) 13, 24
MacCarLhy (aul) 77
Maffesoll (Mlchel) 13, 24. 64
ManeLas (MllLos) 47, 74
Marx (karl) 16, 42, 81. 90, 103
MaLLa-Clark (Cordon) 20, 30, 44. 46
Maubrle (Cabrlelle) 33
McCaslln (MaLLhew) 38
Medelros (Marla de) 34
Mondrlan (leL) 12
MoneL (Claude) 67
napoleon 27
new 8eallsLs 46
nleLzsche 69, 88. 97, 99
Crozco (Cabrlel) 17. 38
anamarenko 33
ardo (!orge) 47, 31, 32
arreno (hlllppe) 7. 30, 32. 34. 38. 31. 34. 70. 72. 73. 74.76. 78. 82
errln (hlllppe) 38
erroLln (Lmmanuel) 33
eLerman (uan.) 33
lenge !acobsen (Penrlk) 8
ollock (!ackson) 41. 48, 79, 114
opper 96
remlaLa ulLLa 34. 33. 73
rlnce (8lchard) 43
roudhon 12
8amo nash Club 27, 73
8auschenberg (8oberL) 46. 93
8edon (Cdllon) 28
8hoades(!ason) 72
8osen Callery (Andrea) 38
8oLhko (Mark) 79
a g e | SS
8ousseau (!ean-!acques) 13
8uppersberg (Allen) 73
Samore (Sam) 33
Scher (!ulla) 37
Schlpper (LsLher) 33. 39
Schopenhauer 97, 110
SchwlLLers (kurL) 19
Serra (8lchard) 32
Servaas lnc 33
SeuraL (Ceorges) 28
SlLuaLlonlsL lnLernaLlonal 12, 19
SlLuaLlonlsLs 12, 93
SmlLhson (8oberL) 44. 46
Sonnabend (lleana) 33
Spoerrl (uanlel) 30
SLarr (Ceorglna) 31
Surreallsm 12, 93
1hek (aul) 44
1homas (hlllppe) 36
1lravanl[a (8lrkrlL) 23, 30, 32, 48, 31, 34, 70. 73, 82. 83
1obler (Llncoln) 32, 38
1odorov (1zveLan) 23, 24
1olsLoy 27
1roncy (Lrlc) 80
valsman (Meyer) 40
vandeSLeeg (nlek) 33, 37
vernoux (Marlon) 38
WalLer (lranz Lrhard) 70
Warhol (Andy) 20, 42, 74, 93
Wearlng (Cllllan) 46, 73
WlllaLs (SLephen) 30
ZlLLel (Andrea) 38
Zobernlg (Pelmo) 32
a g e | S6
Contents
2 Foiewoiu
4 Relational Foim
4 Contemporory ortistic proctice onJ its culturol plon
S Artwork os sociol interstice
7 Relotionol oestbetics onJ ronJom moteriolism
8 Iorm onJ otbers' qoze
11 Ait of the 199us
11 Porticipotion onJ Tronsitivity
12 Typoloqy
12 Connections onJ meetinqs
1S Conviviolities onJ encounters
14 Colloborotions onJ controcts
1S Professionol relotions: clienteles
16 Eow to occupy o qollery
19 Space-time exchange factois
19 Artworks onJ excbonqes
19 Tbe subject of tbe ortwork
21 Spoce-time foctors in 1990s' ort
2S }oint piesence anu availability: The theoietical legacy of Felix uonzalez-Toiies
2S Eomosexuolity os o poroJiqm of cobobitotion
24 Con temporory forms of tbe monument
26 Tbe criterion of co-existence {works onJ inJiviJuols)
27 Tbe ouro of ortworks bos sbifteJ toworJs tbeir public
28 Beouty os o solution?
Su Scieen ielations
S0 ToJoy's ort onJ its tecbnoloqicol moJels
S0 Art onJ qooJs
Su Tbe low of relocotion
S1 Tecbnoloqy os on iJeoloqicol moJel {from troce to proqromme)
SS Tbe comero onJ tbe exbibition
a g e | S7
SS Tbe exbibition-set
S4 Fxtros
S4 Post vCR ort
S4 RewinJ,ploy,fost forworJ
SS ToworJs o Jemocrotisotion of viewpoints?
S7 Towaius a policy of foims
S7 Cobobitotions
Notes on some possible extensions of o relotionol oestbetics
S7 visuol systems
S7 Tbe imoqe is o moment
S7 Wbot ortists sbow
S7 Tbe bounJories of inJiviJuol subjectivity
S8 Tbe enqineerinq of intersubjectivity
S8 An ort witb no effect?
S8 Tbe politicol Jevelopment of forms
S9 Rebobilitotinq experimentotion
S9 Relotionol oestbetics onJ constructeJ situotions
4u Tbe oestbetic poroJiqm {Ielix 6uottori onJ ort)
41 Subjectivity pursueJ onJ proJuceJ
41 Be-noturolisinq subjectivity
41 Stotus onJ operotion of subjectivity
4S Subjectivizotion units
Tbe oestbetic poroJiqm
Tbe critique of scientistic poroJiqm
Ritournelle, symptom onJ work
Tbe work of ort os portiol object
47 Ior on ortistic-eco sopbicol proctice
48 Tbe beboviourol economy of present-Joy ort
ulossaiy
Inuex