Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, CLAIRE BISHOP OCTOBER 110,

Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, CLAIRE BISHOP


이 글은 Palais de Tokyo의 개관에 맞추어서 이 기관의 방향성과 특성에 대해 이야기한다. fundamentally skeptical. Nicoloas Bourriaud의 relational aesthetic이 too idealistic 하다고 이야기한다. 

The palais de Tokyo

The Palais de Tokyo’s improvised relationship to its surroundings has subsequently become paradigmatic of a visible tendency among European art venues to reconceptualize the “white cube” model of displaying contemporary art as a studio or experimental “laboratory.”2 (51)

The curators promoting this “laboratory” paradigm—including Maria Lind, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Barbara van der Linden, Hou Hanru, and Nicolas Bourriaud— have to a large extent been encouraged to adopt this curatorial modus operandi as a direct reaction to the type of art produced in the 1990s: work that is openended, interact ive, and resist ant to closure, often appear ing to be “work-in-progress” rather than a completed object. (52)

Venues such as the Baltic in Gateshead, the Kunstverein Munich, and the Palais de Tokyo have used metaphor s like “laboratory,” “construction site”, and “art factory” to differentiate themselves from bureaucracy-encumbered collection-based museums; their dedicated project spaces create a buzz of creativity and the aura of being at the vanguard of contemporar y production.4 (52)

One could argue that in this context , project-based works-in-progress and artists-in-residence begin to dovetail with an “experience economy,” the marketing strategy that seeks to replace goods and services with scripted and staged personal experiences.5 Yet what the viewer is supposed to garner from such an “experience” of creativity, which is essentially institutionalized studio activity, is often unclear. (52)

이 laboratory 를 하나의 contemporary tendency라고 보고 있다. 

in turn present these as works of art.6 An effect of this insistent promotion of these ideas of artist-as-designer, function over contemplation, and open-endedness over aesthetic resolution is often ultimately to enhance the status of the curator, who gains credit for stage-managing the overall laboratory experience. (53)

Relational Aesthetics

Bourriaud’s book is an important first step in identifying recent tendencies in contemporary art. It also comes at a time when many academics in Britain and the U.S. seem reluctant to move on from the politicized agendas and intellectual battles of 1980s art (indeed, for many, of 1960s art), and condemn everything from installation art to ironic painting as a depoliticized celebration of surface, complicitous with consumer spectacle.

Bourriaud’s book—written with the  hands-on insight of a curator—promises to redefine the agenda of contemporary art criticism, since his starting point is that we can no longer approach these works from behind the “shelter” of sixties art history and its values. (53)

Bourriaud argues that art of the 1990s takes as its theoretical horizon “the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private  symbolic space” (RA , p. 14). (54)

The implication is that this work inverses the goals of Greenbergian modernism.9 Rather than a discrete, portable, autonomous work of art that transcends its context, relational art is entirely beholden to the contingencies of its environment and audience. (54)

He considers it to be a means of locating contemporary practice within the culture at large: relational art is seen as a direct response to the shift from a goods to a service-based economy.10 It is also seen as a response to the virtual relationships of the Internet and globalization, which on the one hand have prompted a desire for more physical and face-to-face interaction between people. (54)

But Bourriaud is at pains to distance contemporary work from that of previous generations. The main difference, as he sees it, is the shift in attitude toward social change: instead of a “utopian” agenda, today’s artists seek only to find provisional solutions in the here and now; instead of trying to change their environment, artists today are simply “learning to inhabit the world in a better way”; instead of looking forward to a future utopia, this art sets up functioning “microtopias” in the present (RA , p. 13).  attitude에 차이가 있다. 전복적이지 않다. 

부리요가 제시하는 relational aesthetic의 작가군들은, 영국의 YBA하고는 거의 대척점이다. 

Liam Gillick, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Phillippe Parreno, Pierre Huyghe, Carsten Höller, Christine Hill, Vanessa Beecroft, Maurizio Cattelan, and Jorge Pardo, all of whom will be familiar to anyone who has attended the international biennials, triennials, and Manifestas that have proliferated over the last decade. The work of these artists differs from that of their better known YBA contemporaries in several respects. Unlike the selfcontained (and formally conservative) work of the British, with its accessible references to mass culture, European work is rather low-impact in appearance, […]

rather than forming a coherent and distinctive transformation of space (in the manner of Ilya Kabakov’s “total installation,” a theatrical mise-en-scène), relational art works insist upon use rather than contemplation.11 And unlike the distinctively branded personalities of young British art, it is often hard to identify who has made a particular piece of “relational” art, since it tends to make use of existing cultural forms—including other works of art—and remixes them in the manner of a DJ or programmer.12 (55)

(12 footnote: 12. This strategy is referred to by Bourriaud as “postproduction,” and is elaborated in his follow-up book to Relational Aesthetics: “Since the early nineties, an ever-increasing number of art works have been created on the basis of preexisting works; more and more artists interpret, reproduce, reexhibit, or use works made by others or available cultural products. . . . These artists who insert their own work into that of others contribute to the eradication of the traditional distinction between production and consumption, creation and copy, readymade and original work. The material they manipulate is no longer primary.” Bourriaud argues that postproduction differs from the ready-made, which questions authorship and the institution of art, because its emphasis is on recombining existing cultural artifacts in order to imbue them with new meaning. See Bourriaud, Postproduction (New York: Lukas and Sternberg, 2002).

I have chosen to discuss the examples of Gillick and Tiravanija because they seem to me the clearest expression of Bourriaud’s argument that relational art privileges intersubjective relations over detached opticality. Tiravanija insists that the viewer be physically present in a particular situation at a particular time. (61)

This interest in the contingencies of a “relationship between”—rather than the object itself—is a hallmark of  Gillick’s work and of his interest in collaborative practice as a whole… (61)

This idea of considering the work of art as a potential trigger for participation is hardly new—think of Happenings, Fluxus instructions, 1970s performance art, and Joseph Beuys’s declaration that “everyone is an artist.” Each was accompanied by a rhetoric of democracy and emancipation that is very similar to Bourriaud’s defense of relational aesthetics.27  이 개념은 결ㄹ코 새로운 것이 아니다. (62).

The problem that arises with Bourriaud’s notion of “structure” is that it has an erratic relationship to the work’s  stensible subject matter, or content. (64)

Unhinged both from artistic intentionality and consideration of the broader context in which they operate, relational art works become, like Gillick’s pinboards, just “a constantly changing  portrait of the heterogeneity of everyday life,” and do not examine their relationship to it.37 (65)

I am simply wondering how we decide what the “structure” of a relational art work comprises, and whether this is so detachable from the work’s ostensible subject matter or permeable with its context. (65)

I dwell on this theory in order to suggest that the relations set up by relational aesthetics are not intrinsically democratic, as Bourriaud suggests, since they rest too comfortably within an ideal of subjectivity as whole and of community as immanent togetherness. (67)

The content of this dialogue is not in itself democratic, since all questions return to the hackneyed nonissue of “is it art?48 (68)

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