Do you dare to answer? #1

Well, do you?

  1. Why aren’t relational art works performances, when the artist is present (as in Tiravanija’s cooking), but are considered works of art on it’s own or so-called installation art (Gillick (2006) disproves this as Bishop’s (2004, 2006a) misunderstanding of the work), where an audience needs to be present? Is there a problem with a literal engagement of a viewer that relational art relies on? As in Suzanne Lacy‘s project in a Californian parking garage, where loads of young people were having dialogues about racial profiling and thousands of cizitenz were invited to listen (Kucor and Leung, 2005). Who is an actual artist here? Isn’t Suzanne more of a curator and teenagers the artists? Then can we call it a performance piece? Or can realtion works of art be called performances (as with Santiago Sierra) and are just a part of performance art theory?
  2. Claire Bishop (2004) says that there is an expended field of relational practices, named socially-engaged art, community-based art, dialogical art, participatory art, … And that these practices are less interested in a relational aesthetic than in the creative rewards of collaborative activity. Aren’t those just different names for relational aesthetic art?
    As Kester wrote: “For Lacy, who is also active as a critic, this work represents a “new genre” of public art. UK-based artists/organizers Ian Hunter and Celia Larner employ the term “Littoral” art, to evoke the hybrid or in-between nature of these practices. French critic Nicolas Bourriaud has coined the term “relational aesthetic” to describe works based around communication and exchange. Homi K. Bhabha writes of “conversational art,” and Tom Finkelpearl refers to “dialogue-based public art.” For reasons that will become apparent I will be using the term “dialogical” to describe these works. (Kucor and Leung, 2005)”
    I don’t get why Bishop makes this kind of a distinction. Maybe as she argues that some artists attempt to think the aesthetic and the social/political together, rather than subsuming both within the ethical (Kester about Bishop–> boundry between “aesthetic” projects (provocative, uncomfortable) and activist works (predictable, ineffectual) (2006) … Bishop about Kester–> those works are intertwined, no distinction, blurred teritory (2006b). But she gives an example of Hirschhorn, with whom she argued in the Antagonism article (2004), that Bourriaud ignored him in his book about Relational Aesthetics (2002).
    When I finally think I got what relational aesthetic means, this happens.. Or am I just reading into it too much?




Bishop, C. (2004) ‘Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics’, October, 110, pp. 51-80.
Bishop, C. (2006a) ‘The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents’, Artforum, pp. 179-185.
Bishop, C. (2006b) ‘Claire Bishop Responds’, Artforum.
Bourriaud, N. (2002) Relational Aesthetics. Dijon: Les Presses du réel.
Gillick, L. (2006) ‘Contingent Factors: A Response to Claire Bishop’s »Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics«’, October, 115, pp. 95-107.
Kester, G. (2006) ‘Response to Claire Bishop’s »Another Turn«’, Artforum.
Kucor, Z. and Leung, S. (2005) Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985. John Wiley & Sons.



  1. featured image: Aurell, A. Rirkrit Tiravanija. ⌈photograph⌋ Available from: ⌈Accessed 20 November 2016⌋.


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