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Unformatted text preview: e of self into
somet hing quest ionable. When played out on a social level, ant agonism can be
For Lacan, the subject is not equivalent to a conscious sense of agency: “Lacan’s ‘subject’ is the
subject of the unconscious . . . inescapably divided, castrated, split” as a result of his/her entr y into lang u a g e ( D y l a n E v a n s , A n I n t ro d u c t o r y D i c t i o n a r y o f L a c a n i a n P s y c h o a n a l y s i s [ L o n d o n : R o u t l e d g e ,
1996], pp. 195–96).
“ . . . the subject is part ially self- determined. However, as this self- determinat ion is not the expression of what the subject already is but the result of it s lack of being instead, self- determinat ion can only
proceed through processes of ident iﬁcat ion” (Ernesto Laclau, New Reﬂect ions on the Revolut ion of Our Time
(1990), quoted in Deconstruct ion and Pragmat ism, ed. Chant al Mouffe [London: Rout ledge, 1996], p. 55).
Ernesto Laclau and Chant al Mouffe, Hegemony and Sot Strategy (London: Ver so, 1985), p. 125. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics 67 viewed as the limit s of societ y’s abilit y to fully const itute it self. Whatever is at the
boundar y of the social (and of ident it y), seeking to deﬁne it also destroys it s ambit ion to const itute a full presence: “As condit ions of possibilit y for the existence of
a pluralist democracy, conﬂict s and ant agonisms const itute at the same t ime the
condit ion of impossibilit y of it s ﬁnal achievement .”41
I dwell on this theor y in order to suggest that the relat ions set up by relat ional aesthet ics are not intr insically democrat ic, as Bourr iaud suggest s, since they
rest too comfort ably within an ideal of subject ivit y as whole and of communit y as
immanent toget herness. There is debate and dialogue in a Tir av anija cooking
piece, to be sure, but t here is no inherent fr ict ion since t he situat ion is what
Bourr iaud calls “microtopian”: it produces a communit y whose member s ident ify
with each other, because they have something in common. The only subst ant ial
account that I can ﬁnd of Tiravanija’s ﬁr st solo exhibit ion at 303 Galler y is by Jerr y
Salt z in Art in America, and it runs as follows:
At 303 Galler y I regularly sat with or was joined by a stranger, and it was
nice. The galler y became a place for shar ing, jocular it y and frank t alk.
I had an amazing run of meals with art dealer s. Once I ate with Paula
Cooper who recounted a long, complicated bit of professional gossip.
A n o t h e r d a y, L i s a S p e l l m a n r e l a t e d i n h i l a r i o u s d e t a i l a s t o r y o f
intr igue about a fellow dealer tr ying, unsuccessfully, to woo one of her
art ist s. About a week later I ate with David Zwirner. I bumped into him
on t he st reet , and he said, “not hing’s going r ight today, let’s go to
Rirkr it’s.” We did, and he t alked about a lack of excitement in the New
York art world. Anot her t ime I ate wit h Gav in Brown, t h...
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- Spring '09