Is Contemporary Art’s Paradigm of Escape Inescapable?
Contemporary art has critical traction insofar as it proposes alternatives to homogenizing, normative conventions; as a method or mechanism of escape from standardizations and conventions (variously codified as smuggling, deterritorialisation, inbetweenness, indeterminacy, rupture, unpredictability, etc). This imperative is intensified when contemporary art is itself seen to establish such norms and the effort is then made to escape it for a yet more valid kind of art. But as a re-iteration of the logic of escape, these efforts also perpetuate and entrench the very limitations of art they seek to overcome. Maintaining that contemporary art does indeed fall short of even its own ambitions, this talk proposes that the now compelling case for an exit from contemporary art is met instead by the revocation of its paradigm of escape. But what is an exit without escape? And what would such art be, what could it do?
Suhail Malik is a writer and holds a Readership in Critical Studies at Goldsmiths, London, where he is Programme Co-Director of the MFA Fine Art. For 2012-13, Malik is Visiting Faculty at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, New York.
Recent publications include: “The Politics of Neutrality: Constructing a Global Civility” in The Human Snapshot (2013), “Tainted Love: Art’s Ethos and Capitalization” (with Andrea Phillips) in Art and Its Commercial Markets (2012), “Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Participate Again— Communism, Its Recurring Nightmare” in Waking Up From the Nightmare of Participation (2011), “Why Art? The Primacy of Audience” Global Art Forum, Dubai (2011); “The Wrong of Contemporary Art: Aesthetics and Political Indeterminacy” (with Andrea Phillips) in Reading Rancière (2011); “Educations Sentimental and Unsentimental: Repositioning the Politics of Art and Education” in Redhook Journal (2011); “Screw (Down) The Debt: Neoliberalism and the Politics of Austerity” in Mute, 2010; “You Are Here” for Manifesta 8 (2010).
About The Speakers Series: Each semester the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College hosts a regular program of lectures by the foremost artists, curators, art historians, and critics of our day, situating the school and museum’s concerns within the larger context of contemporary art production and discourse. Lectures are open to students and faculty, as well as to the general public, and will also be documented through video and/or audio recordings, which will reside in the CCS Bard Library and Archives.