BLOCK 15/II UNTOUCHABLE / UNACCEPTABLE / INTANGIBLE_ about the imaginative aesthetics of change
CURATED BY PIERRE RUBIO
1 May-29 August 2015
Yupik Shaman Nushagak
What is the possible relationship between art and social change? When forced into the corner of economic demands on the one hand and the need for aesthetic subversion on the other, a lot of artist workers feel the need to defend their ‘right to be’ through critical strategies and political transparency. In defence of the power of aesthetics this block tries to pry open the difficult paradox between criticality and imagination, between the power of the subject and the passive resistance of the object, between political critique and artistic re-imagineering strategies.
In a famous essay, Isabelle Stengers borrows from Dostoevski, through Deleuze, a conceptual character : the Idiot. Stubbornly believing that “there is always something more important”, the Idiot slows everybody down and consequently opens ‘interstices in the soil of good reasons’. During this block, we will use this Idiot figure as a conceptual totem, ‘in the presence of which’ we might challenge our aesthetic certainties and ethical values.
Over the past decade a renewed interest occurred in the arts in practices that have been labelled as ‘neo-animism’, ‘neo-shamanism’, ‘object oriented performance art’, ‘speculative’, etc…. These movements seem inseparable from the general crisis of modernist avant-garde forms of art that, one way or another, based their authority on the exclusive reference to progress, universality, authoritarian formalism, self-referentiality, critical conceptualism and so on and so on…. In that sense they announce a large and deep unfolding crisis, because one does not get rid so easily of the Modernist agenda of aesthetic and political concerns that has served as a compass for the Euro-American art scene since its unfolding at the beginning of the 20th century. Nevertheless, a necessary crisis, because the aesthetic mind frames of the current arts scene are blind to the actual novelty of the current era, marked by a reevaluation, through practice, of the models of production of aesthetics and subjectivity. New models that pose a threat to the accepted contemporary artist identity and its well-defined role within society. “New Age fabulation!, Idiotic!, Superficial!, Overly therapeutical!, Dangerously spiritual!, Fuzzy dreams!, Pseudo-Metaphysical!, Not serious enough!…”, a whole bunch of despising critiques erupt regularly. Mocking what produces discomfort and what demands a redefinition of the ways one reads art and ultimately of who one is.
Here in a.pass, when we practice and discuss the outcomes of aesthetic speculations, of magical practices and of spiritual performativity, it is because these practices/modes of thought are too often defined as purely utopian, ineffable, abstract or just disconnected imaginations unable to get a grip on reality. In response, we want to consider them as forms of agency, concerns, as localized potentialities. The sense we can make out of such unacceptable, untouchable, intangible proposals are linked to their consequences, to the modifications in the understanding of the present they perform.
Animating objects to animate our agencies.
Fictionalising the real as a critique to produce alternatives to ideology.
Speculating on the impossible to construct a possible.
Considering imagination not as escapism but as an operative vehicle for change.
The unacceptable reveals the limitations of the acceptable.
The untouchable foreshadows the adventurous discovery of difference.
The intangible offers a speculative sense towards the radically other.
Pierre Rubio, March 2015