April 18, 2007

For Whom are Your Soldiers Fighting?

A friend forwarded an email to me from Lane Relyea who has a class at Northwestern University on "Relational Aesthetics". The class has a blog, so we can follow along. From the masthead::

Relational Aesthetics & The Instrumentalization of Everyday Art.
In what ways do the networked forms of recent art, from relational aesthetics to artist cooperatives to multiple and fictive artist-identities, oppose the New Economy's promotion of entrepreneurialism, flexible management, participatory architectures, and loose and mobile social commitments? Or does relational art instead romanticize and idealize such current conditions and behaviors, thus serving as an ideological asset rather than a critique?

Now that's a mouthful.

"...rather than a critique." A fine criteria at face value, critique. But for me, the notion of critique qua critique often leads to a strange place, art-wise. Even critique can be co-opted for mercantile objectives (I'm thinking of the artworld at the end of the 80's). Reading through the jargon above (even though I try to keep my own jargon closer to the street, I'm sure the language in this blog can be too specialized for people outside of the artworld), it seems to me that the question should instead be: "Throughout all the types of networked forms of artmaking, when do they serve curiousity and when do they serve ambition... and how can we know the difference?"

The identification of the "New Economy" as a problem is alirght, I guess. But a vibrant and expanding artworld economy is what we all wanted, isn't it? The problem is that the discourse (academic, intellectual, intra-artist or otherwise) seems to have waned as the New Economy waxed. Is a zero sum game necessary here? Does the economy have to take a hit before the cream of intrisic curiosity can rise to the top? Many people seem to think so with collectors' inventories bulging with art as investment rather art for its' own sake, they seem to long for a recession to wash the streets clean again with another collapse of the art market.

I prefer to think that art that is made for its' own sake still exists, even in this New Economy. The question is how can one recognise the curious mind in a bloated environment?

Posted by Dennis at April 18, 2007 3:59 PM

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