Nicole Prutsch – La Méthode
MUSA Museum Startgalerie Artothek, Vienna

[*photos of the exhibition: link]

Discerning the precise relationship between various fields of truth, knowledge, meaning or sense production, whatever the task at hand may be, leads to a constant re-articulation of what is or could be denoted by the term science, mathematics, and art — what are their constitutive procedures that define and distinguish them from each other. This may resemble the now distant (although sometimes still to present) tendencies of grand systematisation, however the questions that seem to be most prevalent in this regard are not too concerned with the apparent autonomy of the mentioned fields, but rather with traversing their differences, tracing underlying commonalities and most importantly forming their implicit genealogies.

It is this line of questioning that defines the artistic practice of Nicole Prutsch, at least as presented at her recent exhibition La Méthode at the MUSA Museum Startgalerie Artothek in Vienna.  Continue reading “CUT-“

Aestheticisation of Moral Valuation

Exploring the notion of the artwork as a societal tool by analysing the work of Iza Pavlina and Jacques Ranciere. Setting ground for a critique of moralistic logic of sensation.

Entry point:

Critical reflection of contemporary artworks can be often found in the company of moral judgments, whose main purpose is to form a personal canon, a set of positive or negative evaluated artworks, formed not so much in accordance with the Kantian judgment of taste (nor the value of beauty that it entails), but rather with the individual’s world view, understood as a set of personal stances and/or beliefs by which one economically solves everyday political or ethical issues (preserving the energy and time that would otherwise be spent on conscious or maybe even critical valuation).

The problem with this occurrence is not so much in the fact that the described moral apparatus is in close relation with the aesthetic judgment, but more so that it is covered with an apparent a-moral valuation, to which one usually prescribes the status of being progressive.


To figure out the precise workings of this ‘loaded’ valuation and the consequences that it holds for the evaluated artworks and their creators, the artists, a case study is in order. In this regard, I would like to start with an art project of a young Slovene artist Iza Pavlina that due to its specific structure offers itself almost as a paradigmatic example. Continue reading “Aestheticisation of Moral Valuation”

Pedagogical Impossibilities

Rethinking the curatorial approach of the 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts in light of its ambition to bypass its institutional snares and give space to the “emancipated spectator”. While also addressing some of the ambivalences regarding Ranciere’s conception of emancipation and the notion of subjectivity that it implies.

Ever since the supposed occurrence of the pedagogical turn (O’Neill & Wilson, 2010) in the past decade or so, the discussion of emancipatory potential of contemporary art and its correlating institutions seems to be at a certain high. The question not only how to critically engage the audience — which has already been raised by various art practices that served as the basis for conception of relational aesthetics (Bishop, 2004) and supposedly produce the so-called microutopias (ibid., pp. 54), changing society here and now on a micro level, relieved of the pressure of a total breakage with the present in the sense of revolutionary emancipation — but also how to envision an alternative production of knowledge that would in the basic Foucauldian sense correspond to this microutopistic production of subjectivity (1) (therefore creating a form of resistance immanent to the productive mechanisms of power (2)) is ever more represented in the discourse on curating and production of contemporary art.

Its basic theoretical influences seem to be Foucault’s conception of power (which is not restrictive but rather productive, manifesting through the production of knowledge and subjectivity — see Foucault,1980, 1995, etc.) and Ranciere’s idea of an emancipated spectator (Ranciere, 2009), closely linked to his conception of the politics of aesthetics (Ranciere, 2013) and his idea of alternative production of knowledge (especially its emancipatory potential) as presented in The Ignorant Schoolmaster (Ranciere, 1991). Both represent a de-hierarchical and disseminated conception of the triad subject-knowledge-power, out of which (as already described in the context of relational aesthetics by Bishop — see Bishop, 2004, pp. 52) the majority of art projects (3) derive the idea of an artwork in flux or in other words an artwork that is “[…] open-ended, interactive and resistant to closure, often appearing to be ‘work-in-progress’ rather than a completed object” (ibid.). An artwork that functions more as a riddle or a learning tool, producing the same emancipatory effects as originally conceptualised by the two theorists, although it remains unclear if and how they actually achieve this.

The 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts, held last year in Ljubljana, is a clear example of this conception of microutopistic potentials of contemporary art, its curatorial needs, and its misunderstandings. Titled Over you / you and curated by Nicola Lees, it explored “the sociopolitical characteristics associated with graphic arts, particularly in relation to reproduction, publicity and community” (Lees, 2015, pp. 8), referring to the democratic potentials of the graphic medium in general as well as to the biennial’s own structure and history as a space — albeit heavily conditioned by specific political conditions of the former Yugoslavia (especially its role in the Non-Aligned Movement) — where ideas could be exchanged, mixed and distributed. Continue reading “Pedagogical Impossibilities”