Q is for Qualms

| April 29, 2014

Art that has humbled its aesthetic aspirations in favor of social values demonstrates agency in many different directions. However, I remain suspicious about the full cost of abandoning an aesthetic priority. Even with the crucial difference between a singular priority of an aesthetic product, and more democratic, socially minded engagements with aesthetic processes (the ontological-behavioral distinction), I think neither of these approaches would describe themselves as ‘post-aesthetic’, at having arrived at creative processes where the aesthetic is of no concern at all. Behavioral agency pursued through a community-arts project surely finds benefit in a bunch of amateurs sitting around a table trying to create something beautiful, however critical someone might be of the outcome. Beauty may not emerge in the product, but it is there in the invitation, and it is there in the desire to find, express, and share it, and the belief in the importance of actively creating a beautiful world.

So what to say about an artistic process that explicitly dismisses the importance of an aesthetic outcome outright? Based on a very limited encounter with the ‘post-aesthetic’, my tentative suggestion is that abdicates both ontological and behavioral categories. However, this begs much further research into artists who practice within a self-described ‘post-aesthetic’ phase (e.g. Suzi Gablik).