Inadvertently Critical

Mistaking and Unmasking as Forms of Critique


Lecture and Seminar

We will contemplate a double scene involving the misadventures of critical thought and mistaking art for refuse. Ranciere diagnoses a reversal of the role of the procedures of critical tradition, which “still function very well” but in the condition of “a complete reversal of their orientation and supposed ends.” How are we to locate a genuinely critical moment in art practices, which claim to assume the sovereign position of critical voice-over of reality? This requires a slight, yet significant shift of focus, from the mode of critique as unmasking to one that creates dissensus. Gamboni invites us to consider the multiple (mis-)adventures of the artwork, in particular the ready-made. What happens when it is inadvertently taken from its pedestal and used in its original function? The power net that secures its criticality and history collapses, art and reality overlap, and quite heated legal debates ensue…

Jacques Ranciere, "The Misadventures of Critical Thought" In: The Emancipated Spectator, trans.Gregory Eliot (London: Verso, 2009)

Dario Gamboni, "Mistaking Art for Refuse" In: The Destruction of Art: Iconoclasm and Vandalism Since the French Revolution (London: Reaktion Books, 1997)