Relational Aesthetics – from my notes

Relational Aesthetics – from my notes

All quotes and references below from Nicolas Bourriaud’s book Relational Aesthetics. Read it once, nothing really registered. Read again, underlined and made note margins. Read again to create this synopsis and to gather thoughts.

Some people are happy ‘drawing up and inventory of yesterday’s concerns’ instead of challenging self. Interactive, user-friendly relational concepts offer a proposed solution. The spread of ‘compatible’ forms of sociability’ via various platforms leaves us (myself included) with a disconnect. ‘Anything that cannot be marketed will vanish and disappear’ maybe that’s ok? We are relying on the ‘Society of Spectacle’ where relations are no longer directly experienced.

Yet opportunities for artistic praxis could disrupt this – carve out new spaces to ‘be’ in the world in a better way. Utopian yes, but fleeting and changing. I like the idea of these microtopias. Something new, bonding us together for a moment. An archetype, a symbol – a shared visual language. Making a space for an encounter – exchange something in that space – form something. Form connecting with material, form through behavior, form through language. A relationship formed through exchange. What context does to an exchange – if it occurred in a gallery, then it is already art.

When the exchange is in uncharted territory then the unknowing increases. Has an object been produced? If yes, has it ‘use value’ if not, what is it? Pulling a sheet off a stack of posters presented in a gallery (Torres) what has transpired. Dismantling the piece has become a collective reality within the artwork. Torres celebrates the negotiation that occurs with audience participation, happy to share the space. Permission to touch and take the artwork away.

When faced with the reality of mechanical reproduction how precious is a fleeting moment of free association. Have aesthetics been sacrificed by emotional blackmail. In this, the age of the screen, is aesthetics slipping from the hand to only be in the eye. Has art become illustration, over-saturating our view from every angle? As artists our largest challenge is to invent a way of living. In all of this chaos the exhibition still remains a constant, a platform that hits the pause button, presenting work to connect with audience. Marx said ” reality is nothing other than the passing of what we do together” .

There is an underlying need to create a feel good factor with relational work, idealistic as it may appear there’s a danger in working on shifting ground, it calls for experimentation, unpredictable results, changing viewpoints and perspective. The same piece of work can evolve in different contexts, that offers a challenging framework to push your practice. I struggled greatly reading this book, it was hard and yet I have learned a lot, it flowed strangely – I’d like to think that was because it was translated from French but more likely because I have lots to learn.