ART POWER BORIS GROYS PDF

The conventional version of this statement is too familiar, conjuring, as it does, a dismal vista of critics toiling to no real intellectual end, merely adding a veneer of commentary to art-market commodities. But Groys is surely right to suggest albeit ironically that the much-rumoured decline of critical authority is in fact an unprecedented opportunity: liberated from the constraints on content and form that cripple academics and journalists, the art critic can potentially write anything at all. Voices and styles ramify, readerly expectations are bravely neglected, and the critic starts to resemble nothing so much as the figure of the avant-garde artist. The range of topics canvassed in Art Power is impressive. Chief among his targets is the easy assertion that artistic diversity is in itself good, that the museum must be opened up to a hinterland of heterogeneous and localized practices. Is this uniform diversity not in fact, asks Groys, precisely the logic of the market?

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In less dexterous hands, this argument could swiftly slip into hollow polemic. This degree of dialectical irony continues to mark Groys as being unusual among the politically-minded art theorists. Ever since his first monograph, The Total Art of Stalin , upset many leftist art historians by insisting on a relationship of continuity and culmination between Stalinist socialist realism and the Russian avant-gardes, against the more comforting view of perversion and break, Groys has remained consistently sensitive to the snares of ideology.

Art Power is a volume of essays containing fifteen articles written for various venues at different times. This makes the book hard to summarize, but the key inspiration clearly comes from Walter Benjamin. The concept of aura, Groys argues, in fact is not superseded by the birth of mechanical reproduction, but rather emerges at exactly the same time, in the form of its sublime excess.

Reproduction and aura are not opposed, but locked together in fateful collision. A key argument of Art Power consists in a critique of the doctrine of pluralism. Groys sees this doctrine today as hegemonic. This fact seems to preclude once and for all the possibility of writing on modern art as a specific phenomenon… the art theoretician seems to be condemned from the beginning to narrow his or her field of interest and to concentrate on specific art movements, schools and trends, or even better, on the work of individual artists.

But this condition of critical impossibility itself supplies possibilities. Pluralism itself confers a general rule. But it is also a critical rule. Because both fundamentally pluralist , and fundamentally pluralist, contemporary art is paradoxically pluralist. De facto there is only one correct interpretation that they impose on the spectator: as paradox-objects, these artworks require a perfectly paradoxical, self-contradictory reaction.

Any non-paradoxical or only partially paradoxical reaction should be regarded in this case as reductive and, in fact, false. The assignment provides a corrective to more widespread practices of criticism as value judgement. The paradoxical critic appreciates that they hold no transcendent position, but rather remain at ground level, involved in the same system.

On what basis should critics undertake image-productions? For Groys as well, artworks should cease being revered as heavenly artefacts, and be regarded instead as thought-provoking props for a profane imagination. What this implies in practice is a narrative turn in the status of art. Groys sees such a turn already beginning to take place, with one of its most significant symptoms being a shift in the role of the curator.

All of this offers an excellent lesson in art criticism. But, given what Groys says about the dangers of reverence, it seems fair to point out that there remains a blind spot here.

The fact that Groys conducts his crusade against pluralism from the point of a frustrated discursive faculty , combined with the stress found throughout this volume on issues of spectatorship and the function of art with regards to the public, indicate two assumptions that strike me as contestable.

These assumptions intertwine in the notion of public display. Groys goes on to contend that this market model has become over-dominant, and that more art needs to be made according to the logic of propaganda.

This is undeniably thought-provoking — but the deeper question remains whether art in fact needs to be brought and displayed to the public at all, as icons or documents, commodities or propaganda. Put another way; is the fate of art to be mere illustration? After spending some months thinking it over, this increasingly seems to me a Hegelian prejudice.

For Hegel, as we know, the real art was the philosophy of art: art itself was a thing of the past that demanded docking at the mothership of his Logic in order to regain its truth. Groys never mentions Hegel in this volume but he remains ultra-Hegelian throughout, both in his pattern of argument and with regard to the premises in which he anchors it.

Groys may in fact be the most brilliant Hegelian art theorist writing today. Does the Hegelian system and its matrix of nodes, mediated by the protocols of phenomenonology and sealed with a kiss from the phemenonologist himself, still provide the best means for assessing the powers of the contemporary? I think not. If there is today an absolute power, I propose that it is best captured by the fact that the single key concept in contemporary art has become, imperceptibly, the concept of negotiation: a concept theoretically limitless in extension, yet still mostly confined to intellectual and thematic registers.

This could change and produce a post-conceptual practice, in which the artist, the work, and the recipient of a work can no longer be clearly distinguished because the parties no longer fulfil the neat roles of the art world.

Groys argues convincingly for a new political art practice. But political art practice has to stop being art. Your email address will not be published. Nicolas C. Fares Chalabi describes an electronic and digital regime of visibility proper to postwar Lebanese art. John Roberts addresses the geographic and temporal unevenness and belatedness within conceptual art by looking at Moscow conceptualism in the s and s.

Book Reviews. Daniel Miller writes about art for Frieze and Art Monthly. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.

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“Art Power – Introduction” by Boris Groys – A summary

A new book by Boris Groys acknowledges the problem and potential of art's complex relationship to power. Art has its own power in the world, and is as much a force in the power play of global politics today as it once was in the arena of cold war politics. Art, argues the distinguished theoretician Boris Groys, is hardly a powerless commodity subject to the art market's fiats of inclusion and exclusion. In Art Power , Groys examines modern and contemporary art according to its ideological function. Art, Groys writes, is produced and brought before the public in two ways—as a commodity and as a tool of political propaganda. In the contemporary art scene, very little attention is paid to the latter function.

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Boris Groys, “Art Power” (Book Review)

In less dexterous hands, this argument could swiftly slip into hollow polemic. This degree of dialectical irony continues to mark Groys as being unusual among the politically-minded art theorists. Ever since his first monograph, The Total Art of Stalin , upset many leftist art historians by insisting on a relationship of continuity and culmination between Stalinist socialist realism and the Russian avant-gardes, against the more comforting view of perversion and break, Groys has remained consistently sensitive to the snares of ideology. Art Power is a volume of essays containing fifteen articles written for various venues at different times.

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A new book by Boris Groys acknowledges the problem and potential of art's complex relationship to power. Art has its own power in the world, and is as much a force in the power play of global politics today as it once was in the arena of cold war politics. Art, argues the distinguished theoretician Boris Groys, is hardly a powerless commodity subject to the art market's fiats of inclusion and exclusion. In Art Power , Groys examines modern and contemporary art according to its ideological function.

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