Friday, 27 June 2008


When considering socially engaged and participatory artforms art critic Claire Bishop draws on the notion of the aesthetic as defined by philosopher Jacques Rancière, who said that the aesthetic is the "ability to think contradiction".
I find this useful. In my last residency at North Edinburgh Arts Centre, I set up and ran the early years Children's Art Studio making work with and for young children and about childhood. While at one level, it was a great success, I began to think of it as pathetic also. Pathetic in the sense of arousing emotions about the lack of truly child 'minded' spaces in our environment. The existence of the Children's Art Studio makes visible the lack, and our incapacity to get it right.
In The Politics of Aesthetics Ranciere explores this contradiction in the context of Americam films from the 70s and 80s on Vietnam. Cimino's The Deer Hunter, where the war scenes are essentially scenes of Russian Roulette. It can be said that the message is the derisory nature of war. It can just as well be said that the message is the derisory nature of the struggle against war

This is not to become melancholy about making work, just to be aware that contradiction is embedded in it.

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