Art critic, curator, and historian Nicolas Bourriaud coined the term “relational aesthetics” in his 1998 book of the same name. He’s pretty much inseparable from the concept itself, so chances are you’ll see his name attached (or quoted) wherever you see relational aesthetics pop up. In the book, he defines the term as:
A set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations andtheir social context, rather than an independent and private space.
Relational aesthetics is still redolent of the 1990s that it came of age in — the beginnings of internet culture, instant communication, and the instantaneous gain and loss of celebrity, but without the same cynicism we’ve developed today. Relational aesthetics pits the artist as experience curator and, I think, has contributed to the destabilization and popularization of the term. Relational aesthetics also carries the baggage of artist-as-celebrity. [Editor notes that it’s not important really what art critics say]Art critic Hal Foster pointed out in the 1990s that with relational aesthetics, “the institution may overshadow the work that it otherwise highlights: it becomes the spectacle, it collects the cultural capital, and the director-curator becomes the star.”[Editor notes that it’s nice to cite people named ‘Claire’ thus leaves this citation unstricken] Claire Bishop, Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, pg. 54-55).
Nicholas Bourriaud’s “Relational Aesthetics” (1998)
I love this stuff, like what’s in the picture, just above. So fun! The movie ‘Reality Bites’ comes up sometimes when I read about the academics talking away about ‘relational art’. Dunno why. Or the movie ‘The Wall.’ Or.. well. I’ll talk about it in the series of S P A C E that I’m working on right now, set to be published in the autumn.
Almost all of my events and workshops have places like this embedded in them, for people to engage and interact and connect… with themselves, and the objects that are just… there. I could put some pictures here now to prove that? Maybe I’ll put a few below, whatever’s already been uploaded, okay here they go. Pasted. Also I could point you to the list of all my favorite such ‘installations’, at dipikakohli.com. I called them ‘conversation installations’ sometimes, or ‘salons’ or ‘workshops’ or ‘experiential learning workshops’ or ‘opportunities’ or whatever. I just think they’re fun, though, and when I feel like doing them, I try. I invite. I invite and include widely until the time comes to start. Then the doors close and latecomers will not be admitted. A guest once said that was what was unique, to her, about this stuff. ‘You include a lot of people at hte start of something and then, when it begins, it’s very exclusive.’ Well, yes.
How many emails have I sent to people now inviting them to something in S P A C E? The ratio of the number of people who I’ve invited to become members, a subset of that large group, is very very small. I mean I’m talking less than 1%. Maybe less than 0.1%. I send a hell of a lot of email, as anyone who reads this blog and gets my emails and is like, What is this for?, might wonder. about why, sure. You are included at the start, but not later. Because it takes showing up, for me, to make it be a good moment for the people who make the time and effort to be there, with me, and with each other. For me ‘N’ was about that. Watching the filters do their job and people self-select to be at ‘N’. I love ‘N’.
Okay here are a few pics, below. Excellent. Now, let me get back to writing this week’s issue, working on a sequence for the fall, on ‘Relational Aesthetics.’ See editorial calendar here. Accepting submissions, but from members of S P A C E, which includes anyone who took part in Papers in 2020-21. Cool. See you in S P A C E.
And other topics, tonight at the opening reception zoom party for ‘Vertices.’ An exclusive event for members of S P A C E and their guests.
HT KM, thank you for the call yesterday. That was helpful, insightful, and fun. Thirty years is a long time to know each other, isn’t it? I’m glad I have some longitudinal relationships in my innermost circles that I’ve maintained, to checkin with you, and them, on occasion and remind each other of how our core essences never really change.
An online writing-and-design-and-generally-creative circle for community. Ambient community that is. International and asynchronous: ‘Papers.’
Here’s how it works.
How does it work?
No meetings. Just email: asynchronous, international. Four prompts, sent on Mondays at 7AM USEST. Email converstaions follow with your group, in order to develop your ideas, push past the edges of your creative thining, and link you to our international community.
Because we are tired of superficial, inane chatter and want some actual depth, progression and substance in our online converations. That’s why. Four weeks of amazing online conversations with a max of 4 hosted by DK. More than 120 issues of our zine have been created through ongoing conversations with our guests and collaborators.
Writing. Sharing. Making. New stories. Together. In S P A C E.
Melbourne-based Sticky Institute hosts its world-famous (amongst us who make zines, anyway) Festival of the Photocopier next week. DK will be in it! DK was there last year in the real life version, thanks to our collaboration with a Melbourne based teammate that year, Nicki Duncan. For 2021, we’ll launch a very special zine collection. This time, it’s made with those with whom I’ve worked with us closely over the last six months in 2020 project online, DK | Interactive Papers Project.
I love sharing the work they do, in forums like zine festivals. It’s fun.
Cool to be able to take part in the 2021 Festival of the Photocopier. The idea of a virtual zine fair was something that got my curiosity when I first heard they’d be doing this online. So we reached out to them, and wrote an interview-style post to share more about how that got sorted out, internally, behind the scenes. Read it here.
S P A C E | Decolonization
I’ve seen a lot of zines, ladies and gentlemen. They’re about [deleted] and everything under the sun. For this coming festival, we’ll make a very special zine collection set, S P A C E | Decolonization. So many things to say. Saying what we we feel. Putting those ideas, images, stories, narrations, discoveries, and what we’ve learned–together—into the 16-page PDF format that is S P A C E the zine. For those who want to know how to educate themselves on this important topic. I’m learning a hell of a lot, personally. Which is always a nice perk. Actually, you know, writing and sharing on topics like this… it’s pretty exciting.
For those who have applied, thank you ! Will be sending the informational Welcome and Orientation Packet to you, this week. Emails are set to arrive on Mondays. If you don’t see ‘Papers | Welcome’, with the syllabus for December, kindly just let us know. Exciting ! More to follow, from there.