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Art Is To Be Questioned

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Avital Ronell

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:37 am    Post subject: Art Is To Be Questioned Reply with quote

One of our brilliant essayists has perched on top of a traditional question of art, please take joy in it. AR


Art Is To Be Questioned

James Broder

If someone is ignorant of art history they invariably present themselves as more susceptible of being taken for an original. However one understands this tack, whether as a proof of respectability and a deviation from tutelage to the old masters, or as a free valley opening into vast deep notes of cerulean, one speaks about the artist. The age, the times, move outside the artist.

This or that person might, when presented with a thousand catalogs and pieces of documentation, while agreeing to their factual authenticity, still refuse to accept Neo Rauch’s painting titled Paranoia, 2007, Oil on canvas, 19-¾ x 59-1/8", as a work of art. And no unleashing of gross evidences would ever turn that base canvas into true gold, for alchemists have never existed in this world. On the other hand, if someone were to decide, from a deep primitive impulse, that they believed this or that object to be a work of art, though unrecognized by everyone else, it could happen that, in that case as well, no one would shake them from that view.

In this way it seems to me we can not rely on the individual to establish what is or is not art. But, in history, there is a general consensus which establishes, from within, and not only as convention or rule, what art is. In like manner, almost everyone, if they are asked if cannibalism is unnatural will genuinely, seeking their own council, reject that practice as revolting. So that even if this or that extreme case or boring exception can be found, it is of no matter to us here. Note that whoever might be later called a genius, in the mode of someone ‘ahead of their time’ might as likely have fallen into the vague abyss and remained in joyless beclouding for eternity.

If we ask about Neo Rauch’s painting Paranoia, we speak of a painting painted in the midst of an atmosphere, both visible and invisible. One of Samuel Beckett’s biographers called him the last modernist, with good reason. Whatever the Wikipedia entry says this title speaks, because had Beckett lived a little later he could not have avoided becoming aware of postmodernism, of what is commonly called multiculturalism. If we ask about the current writer, even the one who has rejected or given no thought to such things, we will find the stamp on them. It is for that reason that seen from a little distance all that art which seems so magically different in its own hour falls into a sameness, as if it all filled one dark well.

What is art? It is the thing that is artistic. And who is the artist, the one who is artistic? But before we can go further with any question at all we must know what it is to question at all. Do we question from within history? Yes, because we have all the things that were said about what it is to question at our disposal, but at the same time when we question it is the question that asks us. An absurd notion!

It seems, in fact, that what comes prior to language, to expressions which stand there as this or that answer to the question about art, is a question. However, does this question then refer to, for example, the anxiety stirred up at the sight of Rauch’s Paranoia? Is it something born from the fact that what the eyes and the hands come to troubles us, or that what the nose finds in the studio of the artist rouses peculiar and new feelings in the one who concerns themselves with all that? Yet, if that were so, the question about art would have to come from this or that painting or work of art, from the thing that stands here or there that people regard as art.

If we were satisfied then to build a hermeneutic circle, in the style of the Germans of the last centuries, we would go from the artistic, as it stands expressed by what is said about the artistic, and the thing there that can be pointed at, and would be happy if we could at least avoid any gross historiological errors of interpretation, based on ignorance about the atmosphere prevalent in this or that era. No! this procedure can no longer captivate us, for it palls….

However, then what? Where does the question call from, where is it to be sought? We must prepare ourselves to release ourselves to what is happening, to the peculiar manner in which the question questions us. Although in recent years the professors of philosophy have written long tracks about the notion of truth, what is to be said is here put in a word: There are three truths, so far known to human beings which guide us in this emprise. First that of correctness in calculation, the way that with numbers we can seize upon the scientific conceptualization of mathematical nature. Secondly the truth Heidegger yields decisively to the poets, to Goethe who dug it back out of the black moist soil during the period of romanticism, truth as correspondence. It is that truth that reigned in the medieval period, it is of vision, of the seeing of the thing.

But what of the truth that is set by the questioning of the question. It is connected to the amalgam of things that present themselves as available to language to be made clear, to be brought into knowledge in the expression. The subject matter of the artistic, of art, could have been called out by the name Kunst, by some Chinese scrawl, it was sitting there in the vague ambiguity of its clumped arrangement, waiting to be drawn up the well into the light. In this way we stand before the way things in their being have their place in a world. When we want to let the question question us, we then have to fall bellow the things in the way they come to the eye and the touch, and hearing. These things Heidegger seeds to the name Heraclitus. It is what one calls time that hurls us, through the rough going path, the way that questions.

We must have an example. Chus Martinez says that an artist called Ortiz allowed a clock, manifestly a small rainforest, she quotes the artist as calling it ‘regulative principle’, to stand amidst a succession of exhibitions, in different galleries and at different scientifically-measured hours. It is not that we are here asked only to look, but it is that we are supposed to let the thinking of the whole suppose us, violently; such that we might make a leap into this complex; such that no permanent and immutable account of time is the dominant regulator. Yet, one speaks here of no cheap and degenerate concept of deterritorialization. The existence must change.
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Mark Stocks

Joined: 28 Jul 2012
Posts: 721
Location: Wood Green, London

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Avital

How beautiful is the sound image we make?

Does it bear sweet fruit in front of our very noses?

Art thou touched through graceful heart?

For example, if I gave you an egg sample of yourself before you were born, how would you treat it?

Gaze up and lift yourself and witness before you your own figure of speech. Then let speck spike for itself through the awesome gaze of membranes memory brain.

That is art

It is the life we now have through the senses. By now detachment and all sense proper to witness.

May the Wit of Witness be enjoyed by the tearful and the torn.

How do we bear ourselves now? How do we treat ourselves now before we bear

If for example I am autistic, what is that? It is the artistic ability to unravel social confusion by bearing myself through careful environmental placement.

That is art

How are we bearing?

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