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Unformatted text preview: iece produces; could I live, for inst ance, in a world structured by
the organizing pr inciples of a Mondr ian paint ing? Or, what “social form” is produced
by a Surrealist object? The problem that ar ises with Bourr iaud’s not ion of “structure” is that it has an errat ic relat ionship to the work’s ostensible subject matter, or
content . For example, do we value the fact that Surrealist object s recycle outmoded
commodit ies— or t he fact t hat t heir imager y and disconcert ing juxt aposit ions
explore the unconscious desires and anxiet ies of their maker s? With the hybr id
inst allat ion/per formances of relat ional aest het ics, which rely so heav ily on context and the viewer’s literal engagement , these quest ions are even more difﬁcult
to answer. For example, what Tiravanija cooks, how and for whom, are less import ant to Bourr iaud than the fact that he gives away the result s of his cooking for
free. Gillick’s bullet in boards can be similarly quest ioned: Bourr iaud does not discuss t he text s or images referred to on t he indiv idual clipping s pinned to t he
boards, nor the formal arrangement and juxt aposit ion of these clippings, but only
Gillick’s democrat izat ion of mater ial and exible format . (The owner is at libert y
to modify these var ious element s at any given t ime according to per sonal t astes
and current event s.) For Bourr iaud, t he st ructure is t he subject matter— and in
this he is far more formalist than he acknowledges.36 Unhinged both from art ist ic
intent ionalit y and consider at ion of t he broader context in which t hey oper ate,
relat ional art works become, like Gillick’s pinboards, just “a const ant ly changing
Rosalind Krauss, A Voyage on the North Sea (London: Thames and Hudson, 1999), p. 56. Elsewhere,
Krauss suggest s that after the late 1960s, it was to a “conceptual- cum- architectural site that art pract ice
would become ‘speciﬁc,’ rat her t han to any aest het ic medium”— as best exempliﬁed in t he work of
Marcel Broodthaer s (Krauss, “Per forming Art ,” London Review of Books, November 12, 1998, p. 18). While I
agree to an extent with Krauss on the point of self-reﬂexive cr it icalit y, I am troubled by her reluct ance to
countenance other ways in which contemporar y inst allat ion art might successfully operate.
See t he conclusion to my fort hcoming book, Inst allat ion Ar t and t he Viewer (London: Tate
This is reﬂected in Bourr iaud’s discussion of Felix Gonzales -Torres, an art ist whose work he consider s to be a crucial forerunner of relat ional aesthet ics. Before his death from AIDS in 1996, Gonzales Torres gained recognit ion for his emot ive reworkings of Minimalist sculpture using piles of sweet s and
st acks of paper, to which visitor s are encouraged to help themselves. Through this work, Gonzales -Torres
made subt le allusions to polit ically charged issues such as the AIDS cr isis (a pile of sweet s matched the
weight of his partner Ross, who...
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This document was uploaded on 02/20/2014 for the course PHILOSOPHY 244 at University of Tennessee.
- Spring '09