twentieth century onwards is increasingly understood to hide, obscure and exclude as much as it preserves and remembers, scholars have developed strategies to identify these structural omissions in different ways. Beginning in the 1970s, poststructuralism as well as feminist, postcolonial, queer and African-American studies gradually gained prominence in the academy, and their critique of established historical narratives paid attention to voices that had previously not been heard by analysing the marginal and unofficial entries in existing archives, as well as pointing
ephemeral work of art that could not stagnate or be commodified by being hung on the wall. These genres, then, were among the vehicles that artists used to attempt to critique the institution of art, challenge the commercialisation of the art object and contest the gallery system that bestows a value upon it.
Yet as early as 1973, in her ‘Postface’ to Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972, Lippard asserted that the hopes that ephemeral and Conceptual Art would be able to avoid commercialisation had been in vain. Nevertheless, given
benefit. Latour identifies critique as a kind of impediment to thinking and acting differently, suggesting that it actually inhibits a different world-relation by tying subjectivity to a narrow conception of reality. For him, critical theorists are the ‘ghouls’ of social theory ( 2013b : 348), who are always equipped with explanations, normally of why things turned out so badly, but bereft of useful recommendations. His own suggestion is that theory should recognise that reality exceeds the ‘truth’ associated with various kinds of correspondence theory and elevated into
solves, on its user interface. These inscriptions make it recognisable as technology and, in so doing, they position it in a wider web of social meanings and values. None of the latter (efficiency, the future) are specific to technology, but in modern society they are integral to its meaning and to prevailing notions of what technology ‘is’.
This chapter explores Feenberg’s argument that modern technology stands in need of ‘re-aestheticisation’. Aesthetic critique connects the political analysis of specific contexts of social shaping to the wider goal of
the gestures of participatory art
Gestures of institutional critique
We must know what mistake to make with a specific text and must also
know how to defend that mistake as the one that will allow us to live.
(Spivak, 2012, p. 28)
In the context of contemporary art, the concept of ‘institutional critique’ refers to the scrutiny of the power of (art) institutions through
artistic means. This might include a range of artistic practices: artworks that examine the modus operandi and hidden mechanisms
of the institutions they are affiliated to or implicated in
codes and conventions, but also incorporating more
explicit commentaries on media practices themselves as part of their
subjects. These texts, then, represent a greater exploration of the
complexity of parody than degree 1 mock-documentaries.
Within this degree, we further distinguish texts which
develop a reflexivity toward factual discourse in three different ways. Some
degree 2 mock-documentaries feature muted critiques of
Rhetoric of oppression and social
Can’t get no food to eat, can’t get no money to spend.
Burning Spear, “Marcus Garvey,” 1975
Open your eyes and look with it
Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?
Bob Marley & the Wailers, “Exodus,” 1977
No need to shift through time and space into reality
Cause it’s right up in your face it is so plain to see.
Jahmali, “Time and space,” 1998
The message contained in reggae music is above all a message of
denunciation: the point is to show what is really happening, based
on the fundamental distinction made
This chapter argues that his attachment to the idea of critique inhibits Feenberg from delivering fully on the radical, utopian aims that motivate his theory of technical politics. Feenberg defines critique as a form of thought that is marked by ‘persistent reference to nature, reflection and individuality’, and which, on this basis, opposes ‘the totalitarian power of technology’. He adds that this critique of technology, ‘distinguishes critical theory from various forms of postmodernism and post-humanism’ ( 2002 : 33). At the same time, however, Feenberg
Counterpoints, critiques, dialogues
A challenge for the field of contemporary civilisational analysis is to rethink
heterogeneity, plurality and differentiation in terms of porosity. Interaction
between permeable civilisations on different scales and across different dimensions invigorates heterogeneity. If anything, civilisational analysis has yet to benefit from efforts to unearth regular patterns of interaction and gauge the results
from long-term rhythms of engagement on the endogenous dynamics of civilisations. The relational model proves to be the
2 Marx's defence of Jewish emancipation and critique of the Jewish
The Jew … must cease to be a Jew if he will not
allow himself to be hindered by his law from fulfilling his duties to the
State and his fellow-citizens. (Bruno Bauer, Die Judenfrage ) 1
The Jews (like the Christians) are fully politically
emancipated in various states. Both Jews and Christians are far from being