Aesthetic Separation, Aesthetic Community: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art
"There are two ways of coping with the rupture. The first way opposes to the undecidable effect of the representational mediation a being together without mediation. Such was the conclusion of Rousseau’s Letter: the evil does not only lie in the content of the representation. It lies in its structure. It lies in the separation between the stage and the audience, between the performance of the bodies on the stage and the passivity of the spectators in the theatre. What must take the place of the mimetic mediation is the immediate ethical performance of a collective that ignores any separation between performing actors and passive spectators. What Rousseau opposes to the play of the hypocrite is the Greek civic festival where the city presents itself to itself, where it sings and dances its own unity. The model is not new. Plato had already opposed the ethical immediacy of the choros to the passivity and the lie of the theatre. Nevertheless it could pass on as the modern sense of anti-representation: the theatre turned into the ‘cathedral of the future’ without any separation between the stage and the audience; the living community, expressing in its attitudes the law of its being together."
"We purport to be far from such utopias. Our artists have learnt to use this form of hyper-theatre for the optimisation of the show rather than for the celebration of the revolutionary identity of art and life. But what remains vivid, both in their practice and in the criticism they undergo, is precisely the ‘critique of the spectacle’, the idea that art has to give us more than a spectacle, more than something dedicated to the delight of passive spectators, because it has to act in favour of a society where everybody should be active. The ‘critique of the spectacle’ often remains the alpha and the omega of the ‘politics of art’. What this identification discards is the investigation of a third term of efficiency that gets out of the dilemma of representational mediation and ethical immediacy. I assume that this ‘third term’ is aesthetic efficiency itself. Aesthetic efficiency means a paradoxical kind of efficiency that is produced by the very break of any determined link between cause and effect."
"The archaeology of the aesthetic regime of art is not a matter of romantic nostalgia. Instead I think that it can help us to set up in a more accurate way the issue of what art can be and can do today."