[-empyre-] an 'ethico-aesthetic paradigm'

Christina McPhee christina at christinamcphee.net
Fri May 2 10:53:21 EST 2008

dear -empyre-

While awaiting Jennifer, I 've come upon a text by Felix Guattari  
which I really enjoy and that seems an ideal provocation surrounding  
this months' artists positions and production.

This quote comes from an excerpt from  "Chaosmosis: An Ethico- 
Aesthetic Paradigm" (1992), reprinted in Participation, the  
compilation edited by Claire Bishop-- l (London : Whitechapel and  
Cambride: MIT Press, 2006). The translation from the French is by Paul  
Bains and Julian Pefanis, and was  originally published in a book by  
the same title, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1995.

"The growth in artistic consumption we have witnessed in recent years  
should be placed, nevertheless, in relation to the increasing  
uniformity of the life of individuals in the urban context.  It should  
be emphasized that the quasi-vitaminic function of this artistic  
consumption is not univocalo.  It can move in a direction parallel to  
uniformization, or play the role of an operator in the bifuraction of  
subjectivity.... this is the dilemma every artist has to confront:   
'to go with the flow,' as advocated, for example, by the  
Transavantgarde and the apostles of postmodernism, or to work for the  
renewal of aesthetic practices relayed by other inovative sements of  
the Socius, at the rist of encountering incomprehension and of being  
iolated by the majority of people.

"Of course, it's not at all clear how one can claim to hold creative  
singularity and potential social mutations together... it nonetheless  
remains the case that the imense crisis sweeping the planet-- chronic  
unemployment, ecological devastation, dereugulation of modes of  
valorization uniquely based on profit or State assistance -- open
the fild up to a different deployment of aesthetic  components....  
today our societies have their backs up against the wall; to survive  
they will lhave to develop research, innoviation and creation still   
further -- the very dimensions which imply an awareness of the  
strictly aesthetic techniques of rupture and suture.   Something is  
detached and starts to work for itself,  just as it can work for you  
if you can 'agglomerate' yourself to such a process.  Such a  
questioning concerns every institutional domain; for example, the  
school.  How do you make a class operate like a work of art?  What are  
the possible paths to its singularization, the source of a 'purchase  
on existence' for the children who  compose it? And on the register of  
what I once called 'molecular revolutions,' the Third World conceals  
treasures which deserve to be explored....

"Perhaps artists today constitute the final lines along which  
primordial existential questions are foldeed.  How are the new fields  
of the possible going to be fitted out?  How are sounds and forms  
going to be arranged so that the subjectivity adjacent to them remains  
in movement, and really alive?


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