Subjectivity and the Obliteration of Meaning: Contemporary Art, Activism, Social Movement Politics

Alex Flynn
2016 Cadernos de arte e antropologia  
In this article I analyse the notion that social movement politics and contemporary art interventions increasingly traverse a porous boundary, be it in terms of practices, relations, or institutions. Premised on Nicolas Bourriaud's seminal reading of 1990s art, I contend that the theory of "relational aesthetics" (2002) offers a synthetic platform from which we can understand how artistic interventions with activist connotations are increasingly moving away from the utopian and prescriptive,
more » ... nd prescriptive, and thus echoing the "subjective turn" of social movement politics more widely. Based on fieldwork with contemporary artists and social movement actors in Brazil, the chapter mobilises relational aesthetics as a criteria to differentiate various forms of contemporary art intervention. Through conversation with ethnographies of radical politics, I argue that an analysis that foregrounds ephemerality, the "absolute centrality of diversity", and different forms of dissonance, allows us to productively theorise how subjectivity is elaborated and meaning created. If art really is the locus of "imminence", then understanding how these processes are contested is to grasp how prefigurative politics can have consequences for the immediate future.
doi:10.4000/cadernosaa.1035 fatcat:lfgi4lzxufc3pbpyhds2eq6nx4