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Unformatted text preview: entered” (Sierra, quoted in Sant iago Sierra, p. 46). 74 OCTOBER Sierra. Wall Enclosing a Space. Spanish Pavilion, Venice
Biennale, 2003. Left photo: Pablo Leon de la Barra.
Right photo: Charles LaBelle. being ﬂuid and unconstrained by exposing how all our interact ions are, like public space, r iven with social and legal exclusions.58
The work of Thomas Hir schhorn (born in 1957) often addresses similar
issues. His pract ice is convent ionally read in terms of it s contr ibut ion to sculptural
tradit ion—his work is said to reinvent the monument , the pavilion, and the alt ar
by immer sing t he v iewer among found images, v ideos, and photocopies, bound
together in cheap, per ishable mater ials such as cardboard, brown t ape, and t infoil. Beyond occasional references to the tendency of his work to get vandalized or
looted when situated out side the galler y, the role of the viewer is rarely addressed
in wr it ing on his art .59 Hir schhorn is well-known for his assert ion that he does not
make polit ical art , but makes art polit ically. Signiﬁcant ly, t his polit ical commitment does not t ake the form of literally act ivat ing the viewer in a space:
I do not want to inv ite or oblige v iewer s to become inter act ive wit h
what I do; I do not want to act ivate the public. I want to give of myself,
to engage myself to such a degree t hat v iewer s confronted wit h t he
work can t ake part and become involved, but not as actor s.60
Hir schhorn’s work represent s an import ant shift in the way that contemporar y art
conceives of it s viewer, one that is matched by his assert ion of art’s autonomy. One
As Laclau and Mouffe conclude, polit ics should not found it self on postulat ing an “essence of
the social” but , on the contrar y, on afﬁrmat ion of the cont ingency and ambiguit y of ever y “essence”
and on the const itut ive character of social division and ant agonism. See Laclau and Mouffe, Hegemony,
The most subst ant ial example of this approach is Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “Cargo and Cult :
T h e D i s p l a y s o f T h o m a s H i r s c h h o r n ,” A r t f o r u m ( N o v e m b e r 2 0 0 1 ). T h e p e r i p h e r a l l o c a t i o n o f
Hir schhorn’s sculptures has on occasion meant that their content s have been stolen, most not ably in
Glasgow, 2000, before the exhibit ion had even opened.
Hir schhorn, inter v iew wit h Okwui Enwezor, in Thomas Hirschhorn: Jumbo Spoons and Big Cake
(Chicago: Art Inst itute of Chicago, 2000), p. 27. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics 75 of the presumpt ions underlying Relat ional Aesthet ics is the idea— introduced by the
histor ical av ant- garde and reiter ated ever since — t hat art should not be a pr iv ileged and independent sphere but instead fused with “life.” Today, when art has
become all too subsumed into ever yday life —as leisure, entert ainment , and business—art ist s such as Hir schhorn are reassert ing the autonomy of art ist ic act ivit y.
As a consequence, Hir schhorn does not regard his work to be “open- ended” or to
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- Spring '09