Contemporaneous Extension

To be one of this world

I was bouncing around my inbox and came upon a Paul Chan article from e-flux’s journal entitled ‘What Art Is and Where It Belongs’ from November of last year. I’d met Chan a few times when I worked at Greene Naftali Gallery and always thought his work was intelligent, perversely ingrained in philosophy, and something I could learn from. He discusses the contradictions between art, its thing-ness, and where it belongs in the grander scheme. A decent portion of his discussion is based on Hegel’s concept of an ingrained human necessity to release from and exist within objective reality. I appreciated his disdain for such a transparent ambition, standing behind an ‘art for art’s sake’ attitude with a more thorough psychological insight. He defends the obscure and elbows the fame-mongers. A few excerpts:

“…a work of art expresses both process and instant at once, and illuminates their interdependence precisely in their irreconcilability. And it is as a consequence of this inner development that art becomes what it truly is: a tense and dynamic representation of what it takes to determine the course of one’s own realization and shape the material reality from which this self-realization emerges. In other words, whatever the content in whatever the form, art is only ever interested in appearing as one thing: freedom.”

“If art has any insight into life today, it is that we have no other interior than the world. And the relative ease with which the things that make up our reality now interconnect and cohere in art without any sense of inner tension or contradiction reflects the momentous pressure exerted by contemporary life to make everything join and work together like the best and worst of contemporary art itself. A numbing peace has been achieved. Art and life would rather belong to the world than be free in it.”

“…the innovations that have produced ever-new forms of belonging have not ushered in a new era of commonality and mutual understanding. Instead, they have created a progressively stratified sense of being in the world. For what is affirmed through community in the age of globalism is that the essential nature of belonging is not defined by the relationships established and maintained by actual living people, but by the connections made through the things that people possess, or do not possess, or want to possess, inside and out.”

“If art is made to belong, it seems to me that it is the poorer for it.”

shout outs to my renegades!!


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