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Unformatted text preview: t ion) and thereby redirect s the argument back to art ist ic intent ionalit y rather than issues of recept ion.30 His posit ion also differ s from
Eco in one other import ant respect : Eco regarded the work of art as a reﬂect ion of
the condit ions of our existence in a fragmented modern culture, while Bourr iaud
sees the work of art producing these condit ions. The interact ivit y of relat ional art is
therefore super ior to opt ical contemplat ion of an object , which is assumed to be
passive and disengaged, because the work of art is a “social form” capable of producing posit ive human relat ionships. As a consequence, t he work is automat ically
polit ical in implicat ion and emancipator y in effect .
Beuys is ment ioned infrequent ly in Relat ional Aest het ics, and on one occasion is speciﬁcally
invoked to sever any connect ion bet ween “social sculpture” and relat ional aesthet ics (p. 30).
Umberto Eco, “ The Poet ics of the Open Work” (1962), in Eco, The Open Work (Boston: Har vard
Univer sit y Press, 1989), pp. 22–23.
Eco cites Merleau-Pont y in The Phenomenology of Percept ion: “How can anything ever present itself
truly to us since it s synthesis is never completed? How could I gain the exper ience of the world, as I
would of an individual actuat ing his own existence, since none of the views or percept ions I have of it
can exhaust it and t he hor izons remain forever open?. . . This ambiguousness does not represent an
imper fect ion in the nature of existence or in that of consciousness; it is it s ver y deﬁnit ion” (Eco, “ The
Poet ics of the Open Work,” p. 17).
It could be argued t hat t his approach actually forecloses “open- ended” reading s, since t he
meaning of the work becomes so synonymous with the fact that it s meaning is open. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics 63 Aesthet ic Judgment
To anyone acquainted with Althusser’s 1969 essay “Ideolog y and Ideological
St ate Apparatuses,” this descr ipt ion of social forms producing human relat ionships
will sound familiar. Bourr iaud’s defense of relat ional aest het ics is indebted to
Althusser’s idea that culture —as an “ideological st ate apparatus”— does not reﬂect
societ y, but produces it . As t aken up by feminist art ist s and ﬁlm cr it ics in the 1970s,
Althusser’s essay permitted a more nuanced expression of the polit ical in art . As
Lucy Lippard has noted, it was in form (rather than content) that much art of the
late 1960s aspired to a democrat ic outreach; the insight of Althusser’s essay heralded
recognit ion t hat a cr it ique of inst itut ions by circumvent ing t hem had to be
reﬁned.31 It was not enough to show that art work’s meaning is subordinate to it s
framing (be this in a museum or magazine); the viewer’s own ident iﬁcat ion with
the image was deemed to be equally import ant . Rosalyn Deut sche usefully summar izes t his shift in her book Ev ict ions: Ar t and Spat ial Polit ics (1996) when she
compares Hans Haacke to t he subsequent gener at ion of art ist s t hat include...
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This document was uploaded on 02/20/2014 for the course PHILOSOPHY 244 at University of Tennessee.
- Spring '09