Sunday, March 16, 2008

saying without meaning

The excellent IT extends her polemic to the artworld:

Indeed, what does happen when there is publicness without a public sphere? When the language of philosophy and politics is used everywhere, at all times, but without referent? We are afloat in a world in which the endless invocation of theoreticians, philosophers and political theorists serves very little purpose other than to bolster the cultural capital pretensions of an artworld detached from anything other than its communicative connectivity and its obscure economic value in an economy of fleeting and faddish desires.

The transient set of references of artspeak should not of course be opposed to an authentic realm of coherent, serious philosophical discourse (as if any such thing existed any longer, or ever did), but nevertheless, the total lack of correspondence between concept and referent invokes a kind of abyssal fear. As Virno puts it, ‘if the publicness of the intellect does not yield to the realm of a public sphere, of a political space in which the many can tend to common affairs, then it produces terrifying results.’


Pick up any gallery catalogue, read the blurb stuck to any gallery wall and this conflation will come back to you: creativity is communication, and vice versa, and all is well in the world. Whilst there is no doubt a real immaterial practice that corresponds to the happy belief that creativity is communication, it is increasingly the case that the artworld simply is the unfolding of a series of ‘creative communications’ – and that it is in fact quite pleased to think of itself in this way.

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