Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics. Claire Bishop


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Presentation on Claire Bishop's article. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, published October 2004.

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  • Claire Bishop: One of the first critics to really critique Relational Aesthetics In Art Forum Article “ The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents” she argues creativity behind socially engaged art is said to “rehuminize” a numb and fragmented” society.. However she believes socially engaged art has fallen prey to circumscribed critical examinations. Through this article, Bishop draws on the importance to antagonise this relatively new movement called Relational Aesthetics
  • Exhibiting open-ended, interactive work, resistant to closure Difficulty of discerning a work whose identity is willfully unstable
  • Desire to be seen as the vanguard of contemporary production Problems with this: ease with which the “Laboratory” becomes marketable as a space of leisure and entertainment
  • A marketing strategy that seeks to replace goods and services with scripted and staged personal experiences. … businesses events: the memory itself becomes the product - the "experience"… Similarly contemporary artists design or trouble shoot amenities within the museum Art is now used as a kind of social glue to replace the role of the paternalistic state…
  • My work… I’ve fallen prey… Making works that have more function over contemplation Inevitably the curator takes credit for stage managing the overall lab experience (or in this case bar)
  • Relational Aesthetics, 1997 Collection of Essays. Nicola Bourriaud
  • All our attention was on YBAs in 1990s Bourriaud made the Important first step in identifying new and recent tendencies in contemporary art DIFFERENCES Relational Aesthetics: works meaning is elaborately collective rather than privately consumed Heavy emphasis on the importance of the viewer in the work
  • Relational Aesthetics: a decisive break with modernism Artists were also working COLLECTIVELY Audience is seen as a community (however temporary or utopian this may be) Shift from a Goods to a service based economy: instead of making an object and selling it, artists were offering services, literally- like Christine Hill massaging visitors to her exhibition at documneta X Response to the virtual relationships of the Internet and globalization. a more D.I.Y approach DIY microtopian ethos is what Bourriaud perceives to be the core political significance of Relational Aesthetics
  • The increasing importance of the viewer… Refer to performance art of 60s- our first hand encounter with the artist’s body Sprung from Installation Art. This image is from Alter Modern exhibition… But Nicolas Bourriaud is at pains to distance contemporary art from previous generation. Claiming there is a shift in attitude toward social change. Problems in critiquing Installation art: one more form of post-modern spectacle. diverse media divorces it from a medium specific tradition Bourriaud reluctant to acknowledge Relational Aesthetics strong links to Installation art
  • Nicolas Bourriaud: Today’s artists are simply “learning to inhabit the world in a better way” rather than looking to a future utopia.
  • Liam Gillick “Ben Lewis is dangerous”
  • Most Artists European…
  • Key Artists in Relational Aesthetics text
  • Rirkrit Tiravanija from Thailand, New York Based. Best Known for cooking veggie curry or pad thai for people attending the museum or gallery where he has been invited to work. The involvement of the audience is the main focus of his work USE OVER CONTEMPLATION Critique: Janet Kraynak “although Tiravanija ‘s dematerialized projects revive strategies of critique from the 60s and 70s, it is arguable that in the context of today’s dominant economic model of globalization, Tiravanija’s itinerant ubiquity does not self-reflexively question this logic, but merely reproduces it”
  • Interdisciplinary- sculpture, installation, graphic design, curating, art criticism, novellas. Production of relationships through our environment Early work investigated the space between sculpture and functional design minimalist sculpture and post-minimalist installation art They differ in that they are not concerned with making the viewer aware of his/her physical movement around the work while also drawing attention to the space, Gillick is happy for viewers to ju st stand with their backs to the work and talk to each other Gillick seeks an open-endedness in which his art is a backdrop to activity USE Rather than contemplation
  • “ The final questions for Gillick circle around models of social behavior and the problem of how to create new forms of address within loaded ideological sites…” From Biennale Catalogue Critique: Gillick’s writing is frustratingly intangible- full of deferral and possibility, rather than present and actual, despite this he has been invited to trouble shoot practical projects such as a traffic system for Porsche in Stuttgart and to design intercom systems for a housing project in Brussels. Gillick has no conflict between this type of work and “white cube” exhibitions.
  • Happenings, Fluxus instructions, 1970s performance Art, Joseph Beuy’s declaration “everyone is an artist” Theoretical underpinnings: Walter Benjamin’s “Author as Producer” (1934) Roland Barthe’s “Death of the Author” and “birth of reader” (1968) Umberto Eco’s “The Open Work” (1962)
  • From the 1960s till today, Stephen Willats has situated his artistic practice at the intersection between art and other disciplines, such as cybernetics, systems research, behaviourism, communications theory or computer technology. This practice has constructed and developed a language for conceptual art that is collaborative, interactive and participatory. Stephen Willats has edited and published Control Magazine since 1965.
  • use value of artwork and the development of communicative situations EVERY work of art is open, unlimited possible readings Bourriaud only applies them to a certain type of work (literal interactive) Eco regarded the work of art as a reflection of the conditions of our existence in a fragmented modern culture, while Bourriaud sees the work of art producing these conditions. From Image to Structure Althusser: 1968 essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” Social Forms producing human relationships Culture does not reflect society but produces it Lucy Lippard: It was in form rather than content that much of the art of the late 1960s aspired to a democratic outreach Rosalyn Deutsche: The viewers identification with the image was deemed to be equally important .
  • Bourriaud: We must judge the re lations that are produced by relational art works. Do es this work permit me to enter to enter into dialogue? Could I exist, and how, in the space it defines?
  • Bishop: Who is the Public? How else shall we critique he work? What types of relations are being produced by these works? What does democracy mean in this context? How is culture made? All relations that permit dialogue are automatically assumed to be democratic and therefore good? Gillick: few clear recipes in his work. Abstract when it comes to defining his work and perhaps relies too much on referencing architecture as a safe way to engage in social issues. Speech at the Biennale “Iwanted it to compete but in a soft way, for somehow to allow there to be this conjunction without a reflection, I would encourage people to read the text and to walk around the building in relation to the other exhibitions, because it’s not something to be conceived to be viewed in isolation but definitely in relations to other things and that’s all I’m going to say apart from thank you ” .
  • Laclau and Mouffe’s theory of democracy as antagonism relate much better to these two artists. Sierra: Spanish. Hirschhorn: Swiss.
  • Sierra: Sets boundaries. Participants, money, location. Importance of context. Sierra creates Antagonism between two different spheres By sustaining an antagonism he raises questions. “ I can’t change anything. There is no possibility that we can change anything with our artistic work. We do our work because we are making art, and because we believe art should be something, something that follows reality. But I don’t believe in the possibility of change ”
  • Context in Gillick and Tiravanija’s work: their work does little to address what the context of their work is. Perhaps it does in Gillicks Biennale work though? There wasn’t a happy ending, Sierra sustained a tension between the two systems
  • Reasserting the autonomous artist and critiquing the assumption that art must be fused with life Hirschhorn, does not regard the work to be open-ended or require completion from the viewer, politics of his practice are derived from how the work is made. “ I do not want to invite or oblige viewers to become interactive with what I do; I do not want to activate the public. I want to give of myself, to engage myself to such a degree that viewers confronted with the work can take part and become involved, but not as actors” Choice of signature materials and the context in which he shows the work that makes it political.
  • Reinvent the monument, the pavilion, the alter but with his signature materials Does not make political art but makes work politically Documenta X1. Nordstadt, suburb of Kassel miles form main venue. 3 Installaitons. This bar run by a local family
  • Tree and a reading room housing a library of books and videos grouped around five Bataillean themes: word, sex, image, art and sport All installations designed to provide familiarity with Bataill Turkish cab company Influx of Art public came to a non art area Hirschhorn’s project made visitors feel like haples intruders rather than animals in a zoo being watched. Residents were relaxed with the work. The residents were Bataille readers. Caused uproar in the Art word, calling Hirschhorn patronizing. Unease lay bare the international art worlds intellectual pretensions
  • Bishop Prefers these artists: Tougher, more disruptive approach to re lations than that proposed by Bourriraud And remoteness from socially engaged public art projects that have sprung up since 1980s ne w genre public art The work of Gillick and Tiravanija is mixed up in the cosy glamorous art world. And collapses into entertainment. Sierra and Hirshchhorn’s acknowledges the limitations of what is possible as art. I am not an animator, teacher or social-worker It is no longer enough to say that activating the viewer is a democratic act
  • Bishop’s example newspapers X factor phone ins- but who actually controls the programme
  • Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics. Claire Bishop

    1. 1. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics Claire Bishop. October Journal. Mark Lewis. The Fight
    2. 2. Palais de Tokyo “Site for contemporary creation”
    3. 3. Art Factories…
    4. 4. The Experience Economy Carsten Holler. The Unilever Series
    5. 5. Public Art to Regenerate
    6. 7. YBAs / Relational Aesthetics
    7. 8. Greenberg / Bourriaud Clement Greenberg 1909 - 1994 “ the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space” Nicolas Bourriaud 1965
    8. 9. Relationship to other mediums… Installation Art Peter Coffin Untitled (Spiral Staircase) 2006 1960s Performance Art Gunter Brus Wiener Spaziergang 1965
    9. 10. “ relational art works insist upon use rather than contemplation” Jorge Pardo’s Pier for Skulpture. Projekte Munster (1997)
    10. 11. Ben Lewis Art Safari <ul><li>A new ism must develop from an old ism </li></ul><ul><li>A New ism is a new way of thinking about Art </li></ul><ul><li>Artists of an ism must hang out together </li></ul><ul><li>A new ism in invented by an Art critic </li></ul><ul><li>A new era leads to a new ism </li></ul>
    11. 12. Key Artists <ul><li>Traffic CAPC Bordeaux 1996 </li></ul><ul><li>Rirkrit Tiravanija </li></ul><ul><li>Phillippe Parreno </li></ul><ul><li>Pierre Huyghe </li></ul><ul><li>Carston Holler </li></ul><ul><li>Christine Hill </li></ul><ul><li>Vanessa Beecroft </li></ul><ul><li>Maurizio Cattelan </li></ul><ul><li>Jorge Pardo </li></ul>
    12. 13. Gillick / Tiravanija
    13. 14. Rirkrit Tiravanija Rirkrit Tiravanija Untitled (Free). 303 Gallery, New York, 1992 ?
    14. 15. Liam Gillick Pinboard Project. (1992) Prototype Erasmus Table No. 2 (1994)
    15. 16. Liam Gillick German Pavilion 2009 How are You going to Behave? A kitchen cat speaks
    16. 17. Nothing New…
    17. 18. Stephen Willats Around the Networks. January 2002
    18. 19. <ul><li>The poetics of the “work in movement” (and partly that of the “open” work ) sets in motion a new cycle of relations between the artist and his audience, a new mechanics of aesthetic perception, a different status for the artistic product in contemporary society. It opens a new page in sociology and in pedagogy, as well as a new chapter in the history of art. It poses new practical problems by organizing new communicative situations . In short, it installs a new relationship between the contemplation and the utilization of a work of art. </li></ul><ul><li>Umberto Eco. The Open Work 1962 </li></ul><ul><li>Bourriaud Structure of an art work produces a social relationship </li></ul>Theorists
    19. 20. Grant Kester <ul><li>“ The emphasis is on the character of this interaction, not the physical or formal integrity of a given artifact or the artist’s experience in producing it”. Conversation Pieces page 10 </li></ul>
    20. 21. <ul><li>Bourriaud relies too heavily on the works’ relational content </li></ul>Problems… Felix Gonzales-Torres Untitled (Placebo), 1991
    21. 22. How do we critique the works? democracy? Who is the public? types of relations, whom and why? How else shall we critique the work?
    22. 23. antagonism Antagonism Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe A democratic society is one in which relations in conflict must be sustained and not erased. Without antagonism there is only the imposed consensus of authoritarian order.
    23. 24. Sierra / Hirschhorn
    24. 25. Santiago Sierra Similarly involves the literal setting up of relations … the relations are marked by sensations of unease and discomfort rather than belonging Collaborates with participants from a diverse economic background
    25. 26. 2001 Venice Biennale
    26. 27. Thomas Hirschhorn 1957
    27. 28. T.H Bateille Monument
    28. 29. Familiarity Bataillean themes: word, sex, image, art and sport
    29. 30. Experience/ Honesty Relational Antagonism is predicted not on social harmony but on exposing that which is repressed in sustaining the semblance of this harmony.
    30. 31. X factor!