[-empyre-] escape Artist

On Sep 12, 2007, at 5:58 PM, empyre-request@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au wrote:

Firstly, given how thoroughly I tend to agree with them usually, I am
a little surprised at Ryan and Kevin's concerns with escaping art as
context in the service of art as process (to be a bit ham-fisted
about the summary, please correct me if I have this wrong), as if
interdisciplinarity and the refusal to locate practice allows flight
from the power relations of assimilating cultural institutions. It
reminds me of a certain repetition of Conceptualism in the new media
arts sector; and also (as Brett perhaps suggests) a new media studies
repetition of "criticality" which seems not-well-enough-connected to
previous debates on the limits and exclusions inherent in the
critical enterprise's attempts to find distance from power.

Firstly, i would challenge your assertion of not saying "anything useful"! The gender critique, especially bringing up WACK is totally useful... while i didn't see the show, i did hear from many about its challenges and pitfalls. And one only has to look at the chosen cover of the exhibition catalog (from Rosler's "Body Beautiful" series) to see how much institutional reframing can really screw with context.
But anyway, to get to your question of my (i'll speak for myself, not Kevin) attempt at escaping Art, you may have me on that... but i think i also did a poor job of stating my questions. It's not so much a matter of "escaping" Art, as it is reframing the field that Art is situated within, perhaps. In other words, the "not just Art" signifies that Art operates in a field occupied by more than Art, as much as it does a practice of Art that also wants to "be" something else. Is there anything that is "just Art"?
This is why i wanted to point to that article by the RCRC, as i think this is what it is trying to analyze.
The question only seems to matter if the field of Art is less fenced in than such critiques suggest. Is Art even an adequate context?
WJT Mitchell wrote in his "What do pictures want" : "In short, I think it may be time to rein in our notions of the political stakes in a critique of visual culture and to scale down the rhetoric of the "power of images." Images are certainly not powerless, but they may be a lot weaker than we think."
Maybe we could say the same about Art, as it is perceived to be an auto-reproducing entity, with an internal logic and set of concerns.
This is what i find interesting and useful about "spatial" practice... the boundaries of space are defined through negotiation and those negotiations require more responsibility than Art (or its critical language) can take on its own.

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