Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Aesthetic Value

Does aesthetic value require a master signifier? If you listen, not to what artists do, but those who devote themselves to talking about what artists do (and not all who engage in this are Gatekeepers—though criticism lends itself-- all too seductively-- to Gatgekeeping), it sounds like a search for—an almost religious quest—for just that: a master signifier. Who or what then is the master? But what artists (and I use this this its most inclusive sense, in terms of the media employed: visual, performance, literary, musical… and fusions of all these.. )--what artists do, again and again over time, is defy and abrogate and replace the reigning master, and those who don’t, in time, are left behind, left out. Artists who no longer live and create in their own time, in the communal time they inhabit, are they still artists? And where is the master? Is aesthetic value founded on the search for a non-existent master? Is this contradiction, this incommensurate desire, the search for that which does not and cannot exist, and its value… its authority, authenticity, embedded in the negative—in the power to hold together the impossible wish with its acknowledged failure.. Falsehood? . Such that, aesthetic value never asks for belief, but the capacity to entertain the contradiction—to maintain the tension between belief and … not credulity… not reality.. but whatever that reality might be that stands outside the illusion. The aesthetic value is nothing else, or should I say, nothing less, than the capacity to hold the tension… drawn and quartered, the draft horses chained right foot and arm, to left foot and arm, and the Master Signifiers lash the whip! And the work… as you enter its aura… holds. The impossible dream? Holds the tension. They cannot rip you apart… sunder your body. That’s all I ever hope for from any work of art. Such a small thing in a difficult world… to be an artist.

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