The Berlin-based art historian and author of How to Do Things with Art – The Meaning of Art’s Performativity, Dorothea von Hantelmann, gives a lecture and. Dorothea von Hantelmann “Why exhibitions became a modern ritual (and what they tell us about the society in which they take place)”. Dorothea von Hantelmann – Notizen zur Ausstellung. How can it be that the Artistic Director of the dOCUMENTA (13) can talk about a certain kind of.
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How are experiences shaped in and by specific artworks? How do they produce meaning for viewers? And how might experience be understood as an artistic medium?
Public Lecture by Dorothea von Hantelmann/ The Curatorial Course
In the past ten to fifteen years the word performative has advanced from a hantelmxnn term used by a few linguistic philosophers to a key rubric within the discourse of contemporary art and aesthetics.
Today any artwork that in some formal, thematic, or structural way alludes to ideas of embodiment, enactment, staging, or theater is called performative. Any visual artwork that relates to a here-and-now, and thus in some way or another refers hanyelmann the idea of performance without being a performance, is called a performative artwork.
There is no performative artwork because there is no nonperformative hantelman. He argued that in certain cases something that was said produced an effect beyond the realm of language. In other words, under certain conditions signs can produce reality; one can do things with words. It makes little sense to speak of a performative artwork because every artwork has a reality-producing dimension. To speak about the performative in relation to art is not about defining a new class of artworks.
Rather, it involves outlining a specific level of the production of meaning that basically exists in every artwork, although it is not always consciously shaped or dealt with, namely, its reality-producing dimension. In this sense, a specific methodological orientation goes along with the performative, creating a different perspective on what produces meaning in an artwork.
What the notion of the hantemann brings into vno is the contingent and elusive realm of impact and effect that art brings about both situationally—that is, in a given spatial and discursive context—and relationally, that is, in relation to a viewer or dorotthea public.
It recognizes the productive, reality-producing dimension of artworks and brings them into the discourse.
Consequently we can ask: What kind of situation does an artwork produce? How does it situate its viewers? What kind of values, conventions, ideologies, and meanings are inscribed into this situation? Understood in this way, it indeed offers a very interesting and challenging change of perspective. Used as a label to categorize a certain group of contemporary artworks, however, it makes little sense.
Yet the fact that the performative is not a label does not mean that we cannot use it to shed light on those art phenomena to which it is most often applied. Although I am aware that hatnelmann new notion will cause new problems, I want to suggest the experiential turn as a term that might be more appropriate and useful to describe these ongoing tendencies in contemporary art.
The competing hypothesis, then, would be that for a few decades visual hantelmaann has increasingly turned toward the production of experiences. What does this mean? Every artwork produces some kind of aesthetic experience. How are experiences created, shaped, and reflected in artworks, and how do they produce meaning?
First, I look at the issue from an art historical perspective, outlining its birth in certain artistic positions within Minimal Art and drawing a line from them to more recent and present tendencies.
Dorothea von Hantelmann | Contemporary Art | Hatje Cantz
Referencing sociological theories such as those put forth by Gerhard Schulze in The Experience SocietyI propose that the artistic vln toward the creation of experiences should be seen in the context of a general revaluation of experiences as a central focus of cultural, social, and economic activity.
Certain positions within Minimal Art during the s fundamentally changed the relationship between the object and its viewer, between art and its venue, by completely shifting the meaning of the dorotgea to the experience had with and through it. They suggested a situational focus in the visual arts through the way in which they introduced a consciousness of the space and the bodily situatedness of the viewer. It incorporates an act of creation that habtelmann its ground and essence.
With Minimal Art, the focus shifts from this interior ground to an outward effect.
The artwork is no longer seen as representing a mental, internal space or consciousness. Instead dorothes forms part of an external space—which it shares with its viewer—in which meaning is produced in relation to a given situational reality. The works of Carl Andre and Robert Irwin are, in very different ways, based on these premises.
Both artwork and viewer occupy the same nonmetaphorical and nonsymbolic space. Andre was interested in horizontality because it extended into, and hence revealed, its surroundings—and also because it struck at the traditional concept dorithea sculpture as a vertical and anthropomorphic form. Horizontality, as Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Krauss have argued, is the plane of bassesse and thus something decidedly unmonumental.
Vln were artworks that you could walk on. Robert Irwin began his career in the s as a painter before he turned to making objects such as discs and acrylic columns. The presentation and placement of these works then became more and more crucial, and Irwin eventually sought to dissolve the distinction between the edge of the sculpture and its environment. He gave up studio art and started creating works that responded to specific situations.
Considered part of the Light and Space movement—a branch of Minimalism originating in Southern California in the s—Irwin produced site-specific works that addressed the scale and structural parameters of the space, setting and challenging the limits of perception.
The investigation of perception and phenomenological experience—even the exploration of art as an inquiry into the nature of thought and experience—became the core of his interventions. He started integrating experiential relationships into the architectural dorotheea, but he also designed gardens and took on landscape projects.
The properties of the mirrored glass cause one side of a pavilion to be either more reflective or more transparent than the other, depending on which receives more light. Two-way mirrors used in office buildings are always totally reflective on the exterior and totally dorothew for the workers within, so that hantelmanb kind of surveillance power is given to the corporate side.
Although for artists like Andre, Irwin, and Graham the visual remains an important factor in art, their works dismiss a reflexive spectator-object relationship, in which meaning is determined only by the optical exchange across the visual field, in favor of a felt and lived experience of corporeality, a haptic or tactile phenomenology of the body as it encounters the physical world. These changes, which were induced by Minimalist aesthetics and its phenomenological model of experience, which conceptual art later replaced with a semiotic model of experience, led to a paradigmatic reconception of both the notion of the object and the idea of the viewing subject that became essential to a generation of artists working in the s.
Viewing the slides, we communicate not with the sensitivity or the specific subjectivity of the artist—as we might do when contemplating other artworks, for example, drawings—but with ourselves and others who enter into the same experience.
They address a subject for whom looking is as much dorotgea body as the eyes, a subject whose body engages in an active encounter with the physical world. The increased emphasis on experience that can be observed in visual art since the s is not limited to the aesthetic realm. This tendency has been discussed by various observers; 11 its most comprehensive analysis so far, however, comes from the German sociologist Gerhard Schulze, 12 according to whom the new focus on the experiential must be understood in relation to the profound economic transformations of Western societies in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
What Schulze refers to is the transition from societies of lack to those of affluence, a process that became apparent in North America in the s and in Western Europe in the s. For the first time in the history of Western civilizations, material needs were covered for a majority of the population, a novelty that the British economist John Maynard Keynes had predicted in the s and that John Kenneth Galbraith documented in the mids.
Even though the ecological and economic consequences of this transformation have by now reached public consciousness, the cultural impact—at least as an impact of this process—is much less present. The transformation from a society of lack to a society of affluence, according to Schulze, produces a change in the way individuals relate to themselves.
With the increase in both income and leisure time, more and more people can and need to shape their lives according to their own needs and preferences. People have to learn how to relate to their living context in a mode of selection—and their selection criteria are no longer primarily purpose-oriented—that is, driven by necessity—but are also, and increasingly, aesthetic.
And in Western societies since the s dorotthea s, the realm of the nonnecessary, the aesthetic, has gained an extreme importance. The emerging affluent society might still celebrate its new wealth—as they say, more is more—but for the individual in the advanced affluent society, aesthetic criteria, such as quality and intensity of experience, have become a main point of orientation.
It is important, however, to understand this as a gradual project in a dorothwa perspective. Schulze does not claim that today we want or are able to orient our lives according to our experiences.
What he says is that a historical and intercultural comparison reveals that there is now a relatively large focus on experience for the construction of the social world.
How do we want to live? What does it mean to lead a good hanetlmann today? This new focus on the subject and the intersubjective goes hand in hand with a changed relation to the material world. In a hantelmsnn that is focused on the production of goods—a society dorotheq lack, in other words—relating to things basically means adjusting to their characteristics.
In an affluent postindustrial consumer society, the focus shifts from producing things to selecting them. Choosing things, however, means that their criteria are adjusted to me.
This change of perspective leads to encounters with the self. Aside from things, the subject finds the theme of itself. The more saturated the status quo of scientific and technological development, the more apparent becomes the necessity for a different mode, one that is less determined by breaking boundaries and expanding possibilities, and more oriented toward ideas of how to shape and give form to the status quo. With the dorohtea of both income and leisure, more people can and must engage with techniques and practices of the self—the freedom to choose is also the obligation to choose.
When material needs are satisfied to a certain extent, inner experiences become a focus of individual behavior, and a need for refinement, for the shaping of character, arises. And the realm that answers to this need is, in a secular society, no longer religion but the realm of culture. This, to hantemlann certain extent, might explain why in Western societies the aesthetic is gaining more and more significance for the practice of life.
A notion of the aesthetic, however, that slowly seems to hantelmsnn loosening its obligatory tie to the object or artifact and increasingly orienting itself to the subjective and intersubjective. And again we are speaking about a long historical process that runs through modernity.
A modern notion of visual art developed along with the rise of bourgeois societies. And what characterized the dorotyea bourgeois culture, in opposition to the preceding aristocratic and court cultures, was the attachment of the individual to the material object.
In aristocratic culture, objects played a role too, as signs of taste, wealth, and status. But ultimately they formed part of an aesthetics of manner and style; they accessorized a subject that aimed to transform itself into another, more refined personage. The aristocracy, however, was able to place such a high premium on pursuits like conversation and sociability only because it was exonerated from labor. And as Thorstein Veblen has shown, it even needed to cultivate dorotbea practices in order to demonstrate that it had plenty of free time, which clearly distinguished it from a productive lower class that was concerned with covering its basic requirements.
In this new social order, cultural refinement and economic production entered a kind of droothea relationship.
With the disappearance of feudal bonds, wealth and status were no longer obtained by birthright but were earned through labor and production. Just as material production became the source of wealth for potentially voon, everyone should have access to the realm of cultural refinement, at least in theory.
The rise of material uantelmann as the dominant source of wealth was accompanied by a new ambition to democratize culture, which brought the fields of culture and production closer together.
So if bourgeois culture was essentially based on a connection between the individual and the material object, then visual art became a kind of practicing ground in which this specific connection between materiality and subjectivity was both practiced and reflected on a purpose-free level. Not only because the artwork itself has, as a material object, a relation to the realm of material production—and yet can also designate this object as a source of cultural significance and aesthetic refinement—but also because the exhibition constituted a kind of ritualistic cultivation of the idea of an individual who relates to the material object.
I also mean questions about aesthetic judgment, about quality and depth. Questions that until now have been asked primarily in critical discourse: What, after all, is experienced? The experience of having had an experience? Does the strong focus on the subject play into the hands of a narcissistic consumer culture? Dorohhea empirical data on which the book is based stem from the late s. There are, however, two misconceptions inherent in this critique.