Art in the Age of its Dissolution: Beyond The Democratic Paradox
Kollectiv, Galia. 2013. Art in the Age of its Dissolution: Beyond The Democratic Paradox. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]
Abstract or Description
Dating at least back to the avant-garde, the demand for increasing equality has generated several models for the production and consumption of fine art. Today, the democratization of artistic production and the transformation of everyday life into creative work is already happening in the post-Fordist labour market. Any attempt to re-think the parameters of a democratic art practice thus necessitates a re-evaluation of what critique art might continue to offer that is not immanent in this ironic realisation of the avant-garde dream of uniting everyday life and creativity for all. Critique’s current primary mode of operation, exposing that which is concealed within culture to reveal the power structures that determine it, relies on a kind of ironic gap, a hierarchy of knowledge that needs to be eliminated between how things are and how they appear. What happens, then, when this gap is closed, when we all share the underlying assumptions of critique? If the drive to democratise art has historically served as a critique of work and leisure divides outside the realm of art, how does it function in light of the new economy of the creative industry? A self-deprecating irony, exposing and re-enacting this position of impotence is one of the few gestures left in the arsenal of critical art. To overcome this stalemate, we propose an anti-humanist strategy derived from the concept of overidentification. Although related to irony, overidentification has important features that set it apart from other phenomena that fit in this category and make it a potentially useful tool in overcoming the impasse of infinite democratisation. We apply this term, which Žižek uses in passing, to a series of projects and case studies extending beyond the boundaries of professional art practice and investigate the role of authorship in producing and challenging neo-liberalism’s instrumentalisation of subjectivity.