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Aphasia

Over at Infinite Thought there is a post that might interest you (non) artists. The fourth section is especially interesting as regards the intellectual product of the artworld you may come across in your critiques:

By saying nothing at all, repeatedly and forcefully, you can wear your audience down much easier than by outright lying. It is easier to tire a room full of people out with junk syntax than it is to deliberately mislead. The opposition between lies and truth, between meaning and nonsense has been transcended…

This kind of language without referent, this endless demand to keep speaking without making sense is characteristic not only of the contemporary artworld, but of businesses, academia and politics, all of whom learn something from each other (if the freelance curator is the artworld’s paradigmatic immaterial labourer, then the management consultant is surely the business equivalent)…

This is not simply a claim about the superficial faddishness of individual terms, but a more serious point about the necessity of agrammaticism for forms of immaterial labour, of the constitutive need for language that no longer needs to ‘make sense’, just so long as communication itself keeps taking place.

So long as the phrase is uttered, the people are listening, the gallery full, the book sold, the viewers watching, the theater seats full, so long as all that we need not bother with the superfluous question “huh?”

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3 Responses

  1. endless demand to keep speaking without making sense…”

    I like art and art students quite a bit. But I once dated an art student who did this ALL THE TIME. It made no sense to me. It was basically psycho-babble. Even other art students said she made no sense whatsoever. She made up her own words, she spoke out of place, she mishmashed concepts…. it was a wreck.

    Needless to say when she went to Italy I broke up with her hoping she would find a hot Italian guy who didn’t care what she was saying.

  2. I’m married to an artist, so you could say that I’ve got a soft spot for them as well! But I don’t like much of the intellectual product that goes along with the art world; much of it is tied to the professionalization of art and art criticism (and it’s not restricted to art: I’m sure you’ve encountered it in other disciplines). When people must, as a condition of their livelihood, engage in the production of ‘readings’ of art (or any other social ‘text’), they have to keep talking. It’s only reasonable that much of what they say is crap (if I had to talk about stuff off the cuff, repeatedly, day in and day out, I’d say a lot of stupid things too). Add to that the constant demand for novelty, and you’ve got a situation that isn’t pretty.

  3. I’ve seen it. You’re at an art gallery and someone is talking with their companion about the art you’re looking at. They fish around for insightful things to say, but it ends up drooping out like snot from a kid’s nose. I’m thinking to myself, don’t say it… not another word… “it’s seems to be about the idea that….” yeah, the idea that maybe saying nothing is appropriate for once…

    I think i’ve probably said too much myself especially when the artist is there with you, and you feel like you need to say something about it. I start with “I really like the….” after I’ve had about 2 seconds to digest it. But it only comes out right when I really do like what I see. Otherwise it’s just nonsense.

    Art appreciation is a definitely performance that can be judged too.

    Aw here we go again, more intellectualization…



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