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Ranciere Ref Curating

Ranciere Ref Curating

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Published by aharezlak

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: aharezlak on Apr 03, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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file:///Volumes/Amanda's%20MAXTOR/wimb:Chelsea%20Collab/2007/TEXTS/seminar%20texts/ Jacques%20Ranciere-%20The%20Politics%20of%20Aesthetics%20%7C%20KEIN%20THEATER.webarchiveJacques Ranciere: The Politics of Aesthetics
Mon, 08/09/2004 - 20:20 — Bojana Cvejic
The politics of aestheticsI shall start from a little fact borrowed from the actuality of art life .A Belgian foundation , the Evens Foundation , created a prize calledCommunity art collaboration . The prize is aimed at supportingartistic projects encouraging " the invention of new social coherencebased on diversity of identities " . Last year , the laureate projectwas presented by a French group of artists called Urban Campment. The project , called"I and us" proposed to create , in a poor andstigmatized suburb of Paris a special place , "extremely useless ,fragile and non-productive" , a place at remove , available to all butthan can be used only by one person at once .So a prize destined toart was given to the project of an empty place where nothingdesignates the specificity of any art . And a prize aimed at creatingnew forms of community was given to a one seater place . Somepeople would probably see there the derision of contemporary artand of its political pretensions . I shall take an opposite way . Ithink that this little example can lead us to the core of our problem.The first point that it reminds us is the following . Art is not politicalowing to the messages and feelings that it conveys on the state of social and political issues. Nor is it political owing to the way itrepresents social structures, conflicts or identities . It is political byvirtue of the very distance that it takes with respect to thosefunctions . It is political insofar as it frames not only works or
monuments , but also a specific space-time sensorium , as thissensorium defines ways of being together or being apart , of beinginside or outside , in front of or in the middle of , etc. It is politicalas its own practices shape forms of visibility that reframe the way inwhich practices , manners of being and modes of feeling and sayingare interwoven in a commonsense , which means a "sense of thecommon" embodied in a common sensorium .It does so becausepolitics itself is not the exercise of power or struggle for power.Politics is first of all the configuration of a space as political , theframing of a specific sphere of experience , the setting of objectsposed as "common" and of subjects to whom the capacity isrecognized to designate these objects and discuss about them.Politics first is the conflict about the very existence of that sphere of experience , the reality of those common objects and the capacityof those subjects. A well known aristotelian sentence says thathuman beings are political because they own the power of speechthat puts into common the issues of justice and injustice whileanimals only have voice to express pleasure or pain. It could seemto follow from this that politics is the public discussion on matters of  justice among speaking people who are all able to do it. But there isa preliminary matter of justice : How do you recognize that theperson who is mouthing a voice in front of you is discussing mattersof justice rather than expressing his or her private pain ? Politics isin fact about that preliminary question : who has the power todecide about this? In another well-known statement Plato says thatartisans have no time to be elsewhere outside of their work .Obviously this "lack of time" is not an empirical matter , it is themere naturalization of a symbolical separation . Politics preciselybegins when they who have "no time" to do anything else than theirwork take that time that they have not in order to make themselvesvisible as sharing in a common world and prove that their mouthindeed emits common speech instead of merely voicing pleasure orpain. That distribution and re-distribution of times and spaces ,places and identities , that way of framing and re-framing the
visible and the invisible , of telling speech from noise and so on , iswhat I call the partition of the sensible . Politics consist inreconfigurating the partition of the sensible , in bringing on thestage new objects and subjects , in making visible that which wasnot visible, audible as speaking beings they who where merelyheard as noisy animals . To the extent that it sets up such scenes of dissensus , politics can be characterized as an "aesthetic" activity ,in a way that has nothing to do with that adornment of power thatBenjamin called "aestheticization of politics" .The issue "aestheticsand politics" can thus be rephrased as follows: there is an"aesthetics of politics" in the sense that I tried to explain.Correspondingly, there is a "politics of aesthetics". This means thatthe artistic practices take part in the partition of the perceptibleinsofar as they suspend the ordinary coordinates of sensoryexperience and reframe the network of relationships betweenspaces and times, subjects and objects ,the common and thesingular. There is not always politics, though there always are formsof power . Nor is there always art, though there always are poetry ,painting , music , theatre, dance , sculpture and so on . Politics andart are not two separate and permanent realities about which oneshould ask whether they have to be connected or not . Each of them is a conditional reality , that exists or not according to aspecific partition of the sensible . Plato's Republic is a good case inpoint. It is sometimes misunderstood as the "political" proscriptionof art. But politics itself is withdrawn by the platonician gesture .The same partition of the sensible withdraws a political stage bydenying to the artisans any time for doing something else than theirown job and an "artistic" stage by closing the theater where thepoet and the actors would embody another personality than theirown . The same configuration of the space-time of the communitywithdraws for both of them the possibility of making two things atonce . It puts the artisan out of politics and the mimetician out of the city . Democracy and the theatre are two forms of the samepartition of the sensible , two forms of heterogeneity , that are

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