Between Mastery and Subjectivization; Jacques Rancière and a Politics of Art without Foundation

Stephen Klee
The central theme of this thesis is the connection between art and politics focussing in particular on its recent post-foundational formulation by Jacques Ranciere. While Ranciere does provide a convincing articulation as to what a political or critical art practice might look like or hope to achieve, I contest his position whenever the constraint of the art-politics interconnection is unjustifiable. Chapter One. (a) provides an overview of Ranciere's philosophical system, which prepares the
more » ... und for an analysis of Duncan Cambpell's artists' film Falls Burns Malone Fiddles (2003). Chapter One.(b) reads this work as an exemplary instance of that 'dissensual' spectatorial experience that Ranciere associates with aesthetic regime art. In Chapter Two I address the 'cultural sociology' of Pierre Bourdieu accusing him of a type of (foundational) metaphysical thinking, which leads inexorably to a determinist understanding of spectatorial subjectivity, as well as securing for himself a position of mastery. Similar accusations are made in relation to the work of Andrea Fraser as represented by her performance Official Welcome (2001). In Chapter Three I attempt to expose a limitation in Ranciere's assessment of art's criticality. In trying to protect art from the dangers of performing an authoritarian role within society, he erects unnecessary barriers to thinking the artist as politically committed. I attempt to hurdle those obstacles, so as to stretch his system to accommodate a figure of the artist as directly performing a political subjectivization. This alteration both significantly changes his aesthetic philosophy, while retaining its constitutive logic. This chapter is therefore a polemical intervention into Ranciere's influential discourse, a questioning of the validity of his ethico-theoretical decision to exclude a specific type of commitment from art. From this customised position I re-describe the political functioning of Suzanne Lacy;s canonical feminist artwork In Mourning and in Rage (1977).
doi:10.25602/gold.00028521 fatcat:f6b3ay4xqjgfvd64wae4zpdxla