The Subversive Affirmation as a New Device of Art Activism Deployed in Post-Political Reality

The Subversive Affirmation as a New Device of Art Activism Deployed in Post-Political Reality

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3835-7.ch006

Abstract

The transition of activist art from the utopian projects of the society as a work of art into its present activistic phase based on artists' serious political engagement implies significant aftermath in extra-artistic reality. Whereas the projects such as social sculpture (Joseph Beuys notion), temporary autonomous zones (Hakim Bey's concept), and total work of art (expression used by K. F. E. Trahndorff and R. Wagner) were accompanied by explicit confidence of artists in the liberating power of artistic creativity, today's activists enter pure political “direct action,” which often fits well to daily engagements of political parties. This chapter addresses the Slovenian case of Janez Janša activists' group deeply involved in daily politics, precisely in the struggle against the politician Janez Janša. In doing so, these activists deploy subversive affirmation as a new subtle political device that enables them an alibi due to their background in elitist institution of art.
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Introduction

Although the (social) subsystem of art (especially in its autonomous development in the nineteenth and twentieth century) is explicitly auto-poetic and self-referential (contemporary art seems to be a self-feeding machine which needs to reinvent itself with each movement and new genre), such noticeable turns in contemporary art are possible in the presence of profound and essential shifts arising in other fields as well. Reality itself has mutated too, it has passed over noticeable turns and shifts of paradigm; nowadays we can find out that traditional concepts and devices for its understanding have become useless, even obsolete. All its important components have become included in a new constellation defined by bio-politics, post-political politics, technosciences, globalization, multiculturalism, new empire, new – to the exclusion – even more fatal social segregations and new lifestyles. The solo play of the contemporary art would not be possible today, if the ‘prime’ (given) reality components and forces would not undergo such transformations; in the fields of science, technology, and politics processes occurred which lead towards their art-like nature in terms of destabilization and relativization of traditional forms, one could say as parallels between destabilization of artifact in today’s art and destabilizations of national state in the globalized (trans)politics, material wealth in (new) economy and the project of discovering natural laws in technosciences.

The contemporary science has mutated too, it has abandoned the project of revealing natural laws in terms of scientific decoding of nature’s open book. By this we mean nature as representing the objectivity of natural world as a stable given reality based on inherent order, and nature that can be exactly observed, measured and interpreted by means of information based on empirical observations. Here is significant Paul Feyerabend’s claim from his essay The Nature as Work of Art (Ger. Die Natur als ein Kunstwerk), where he argues “nature is a work of art designed by generations of artists, who are considered as scientists today” (Feyerabend, 1993, p. 278). This notion makes a certain concept of objective nature, sustained in the traditional natural science, as relative and historic one, for “what we find when researching nature (…) is not nature alone, but the way how nature responds to our efforts” (ibid, p. 286). The world of scientific research is on the move either. In place of the profound specialization so prevalent within the modern science of twentieth century, there is a novel emphasis on the need to have creative work across the boundaries, disciplines and the two cultures divide (Snow, 1959).

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