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The politics of aesthetics of contemporary art in Slovenia and its avant-garde sources


Abstract and Figures

In addressing contemporary participatory, community-based art practices in Slovenia, this paper is inspired by Jacques Rancière's rehabilitation of aesthetics as a new philosophy of aisthesis. This new philosophy of sensation and perception is radically different from the aesthetics and philosophy of art that primarily concern the aesthetics of a work of art. Rancière prefers to talk about the aesthetic regime of art that addresses the complex and contradictory relationship between the autonomy of art and the overcoming of the boundaries separating art and life. Such an overcoming is in the foundation of both avant-garde art as well as contemporary art practices, which are the focus of our discussion. The efforts of emerging participatory art in the 1990s to achieve social change follow the avant-garde movements of the 20th century. The paper aims to contribute to the analysis of community-oriented art from aesthetic and political perspectives and to evaluate the significance of the avant-garde heritage with respect to continuity in the articulation of common/community in art.
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Filozofski vestnik | Letnik XXXVII | Številka 1 | 2016 | 133–156
1. The Theoretical and Contextual Frame
1.1 An Introduction to the Politics of Aesthetics in Contemporary Art
Our study of the meaning of the connections between avant-garde art and pol-
itics for contemporary artistic practices presumes the synthesis of theoretical
discoveries regarding the avant-garde deconstruction of the modernist work
of art and the institution of art (Peter Bürger’s theory of the avant-garde1) with
contemporary ndings in studies of the avant-garde.2 These discoveries are
then linked to the key international avant-garde movements of the 20th century,
including Slovenian art, and to the further reconciliation of art and the social
sphere in contemporary participatory practices.
We shed additional light on the avant-garde impulses for the reciprocal articu-
lation of aesthetics and politics by linking them with the Jacques Rancière phi-
losophy when we delve into the key undertaking of contemporary aesthetics,
which is for us to theoretically explain contemporary sentience. Above all, we
are interested in the social destiny of the sensuous as shown in the contem-
porary critical and socially engaged art context, which can be perceived as a
specic politics of aesthetics. According to Rancière, aesthetics is linked to a
special mode of experience of or thinking about art that he calls an aesthetic
regime. The aesthetic regime is characterized by an internal relation between
aesthetics and politics that unveils to us—as does politics—“what is common to
1 Cf. Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant-garde (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
2 In this context, we are interested in those new approaches that are at the same time in
dialogue with the philosophy of Jacques Rancière. Cf. Aleš Erjavec (ed.), Aesthetic Re-
volutions and the Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde Movements (Durham: Duke University
Press, 2015).
* University of Maribor
Mojca Puncer*
The Politics of Aesthetics of Contemporary Art
in Slovenia and its Avant-Garde Sources
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the community” within the (given/new) “distribution of the sensible”.3 Such a
(re)distribution is possible only by an inherent and direct connection between
aesthetics and politics, and it “extends aesthetics beyond the strict realm of art”
into social or political domains.4 Rancière thus connects the theories of poli-
tics and aesthetics respectively in the “redistribution of the sensible”, which
enables for us “a consideration of the aesthetic in politics, as well as of the po-
litical in aesthetics”.5 Typical traits of the aesthetic regime are permanent rival-
ry between art and non-art, interventions in the established distribution of the
sensible, the equality of represented subjects and styles, and “the absolute sin-
gularity” of dening a meaning.6 The aesthetic regime of art appeared together
with “aesthetic revolution7 at the end of the 18th century and was also the main
characteristic of the historical avant-gardes. The idea of aesthetical revolution
is one of those concepts which seems to be especially appropriate for exploring
avant-gardes, as it discusses the eect of aesthetic avant-garde movements that
dier from merely artistic avant-gardes of the rst three decades of the 20th cen-
tury, in that that they link their art projects to the political avant-garde. Their
intent is not only an introduction of new styles or techniques (artistic avant-
garde, the autonomy of art), but also a transformation of life and the world (aes-
thetic avant-garde, heteronomy of the world of art and non-artistic spheres).8
In order to achieve this, an aesthetic revolution is needed as an event, which
according to Rancière brings a watershed “redistribution of the sensible” and
the start of the “aesthetic regime of art” that remains with us down to this day.9
Besides transcending artistic classications and hierarchies, Rancière insists
3 Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (London: Con-
tinuum, 2004), pp. 12–13.
4 Ibid., p. 82.
5 Léa Gauthier and Jean-Marc Adolphe, “Democracy as a Scandal Bound to Happen”, Maska
19, 86–87 (2004), p. 50.
6 Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, p. 23.
7 Ibid., p. 27. Rancière actualizes the idea of aesthetic revolution that comes from German
Romanticism: the avant-garde eorts to transform life itself and the world echo Schillerʼs
utopian idea of the aesthetic state as the joining of the artistic and political.
8 This is also a central thesis pursued by Aleš Erjavec with the coauthors in Aesthetic Revo-
lutions and the Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde Movements (cf. op. cit.).
9 Aesthetic revolution can be understood according to Erjavec as a series of events caused
by the aesthetic avant-garde movements of the 20th century—also outside Europe and the
United States (Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil, etc.). Cf. Erjavec, “Introduction”, in op. cit., p. 5.
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on the preservation of tensions or on a basic paradox10 between the autonomy
and heteronomy of art, and he tries to include the artistic, social and political
dimensions of both avant-garde and contemporary (participatory) artistic prac-
tices, which all belong to the same aesthetic regime in his thought.
The actualization of art as a politicized aesthetic practice today concerns its con-
nection with a community and democratic emancipatory politics that allows a
dissensus11 in the name of equality. Rancière understands avant-garde art as a
driving force behind political subjectivization or as an aesthetic anticipation of a
future community.12 He explains aesthetic practice by means of forms of visibili-
ty shown through art on the basis of a primary aesthetics that denes the space
of an individual community. The key element here is emancipation stemming
from the principle of the equality of intelligence and starting with an under-
standing that the distribution of the visible is a part of the conguration of dom-
inance and submission. Emancipation begins “when we understand that view-
ing is also an action that conrms or transforms this distribution of positions”.13
The key supposition here is that of an (in)equality or contact between two modes
of the distribution of the sensible (police and politics). This is a regime which
denes who is (in)visible in the public space of a community. On this premise,
Rancière forms a view of the equality of intelligence as an emancipatory politics
and fundamental principle of aesthetics—also in the context of art:
This shared power of the equality of intelligence links individuals, makes them
exchange their intellectual adventures, in so far as it keeps them separate from
one another, equally capable of using the power everyone has to plot her own
path. [...]. It is in this power of associating and dissociating that the emancipation
of the spectator consists—that is to say, the emancipation of each of us as spec-
10 Jacques Rancière, Aesthetics and its Discontents (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009), p. 36:
“The politics of art in the aesthetic regime of art, or rather its metapolitics, is determined
by this founding paradox: in this regime, art is art insofar as it is also non-art, or is some-
thing other than art.”
11 Jacques Rancière, Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), p.
148: “Art and politics each dene a form of dissensus, a dissensual re-conguration of the
common experience of the sensible.”
12 Cf. Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, pp. 29–30.
13 Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator (London: Verso, 2009), p. 13.
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tator. Being a spectator is not some passive condition that we should transform
into activity. It is our normal situation.14
The idea of the emancipated and active spectator thus derives from the idea of
intellectual emancipation,15 and in the context of aesthetic regime it regards art
as a form of emancipation.
Rancière’s actualization of the relations between artistic and political avant-
gardes and their placement within the aesthetic regime of art prompts us to
question ourselves about the avant-garde legacy, its inuence on the contempo-
rary art of participation and modes of subjectivization in the light of its integra-
tion within a collective or community. Alongside utopia and revolution, partici-
pation is the main idea of progressive art that strives for positive social change.
Regarding the expansion of participatory principle, Rancière establishes how
contemporary politics and art experienced the so-called “ethical turn”16, which
along with the eorts to re-establish social bonds contributes to the creation
of an image of an imaginary, non-problematic, unied and conict-free com-
munity. The eectiveness of politics as conict recognized in avant-garde art
disappears in the neutral and consensual form of relation in contemporary art.
Rancière therefore advocates art and politics that are aware of the necessity of
acknowledging a dissensus in a community.
The politics of aesthetics is always a meta-politics denoted by the fundamen-
tal paradox of art that is simultaneously non-art; the suppression of art as a
separate reality and the concealment of its autonomy give birth to a promise
of emancipation by transforming art into a form of life. Here we are trying to
think such a politics of aesthetics while discussing the examples of participa-
tory practices in Slovenia in the light of the avant-garde artistic tradition.
14 Ibid., p. 17.
15 Intellectual emancipation is a result of Rancière’s study of archival sources on workers’
emancipation, which through the example of the French professor Joseph Jacotot from the
19th century is recorded in the book The Ignorant Schoolmaster (1987). This work was the
basis for the subsequent redenition of politics in the context of a so-called (re-)distribu-
tion of the sensible. Cf. Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator, p. 35: “Social emancipation
was simultaneously an aesthetic emancipation, a break with the ways of feeling, seeing
and saying that characterized working-class identity in the old hierarchical order.”
16 Rancière mainly detects the ethical turn in two forms: “sublime art” and “relational art”.
Cf. Rancière Aesthetics and its Discontents, pp. 109–132.
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1.2 Participatory Artistic Practice and Its Avant-Garde Sources
We will start by presenting key theoretical concepts and contexts that serve as
a basis for current aesthetic thought in order to reect on the relation between
avant-garde artistic tradition and politics. This relation originally presented it-
self as a symptom of the institutional crisis in art and as a sign of transitions
and splits between the modern autonomy of the institution of art and the as-
pirations of the avant-garde to transcend art and move towards life (aesthetic
heteronomy). As a rule, attempts at avant-garde theorization must rst confront
Peter Bürger’s inuential Theory of the Avant-garde (1974).17 Bürger understands
the paradoxical situation of the division of art between autonomy and prag-
matic aims through the inability of the avant-garde to abolish art in or through
new life practices, and he denes its aspiration as historical. As a consequence,
the neo-avant-garde of the 1960 could not re-establish the sociopolitical protest
of the historical avant-garde but could only institutionalize it, as its art piec-
es entered modern art museums instead of life. According to Bürger, art can
only enter into the so-called “post avant-gardiste phase”, that is into a period
of the “post-modern avant-garde” or “post-avant-garde”.18 What is very inter-
esting for us here are the events in Slovenia that led from the historical avant-
garde via the neo -avant-garde to the retro -avant-garde movement of Neue Slowe-
nische Kunst (NSK) and thus contributed to the third-generation avant-gardes
or a specic postsocialist avant-garde, which can be understood as a product
of Eastern or postsocialist postmodernism in the territories of former (and in
some cases current) socialist countries (Cuba, China).19 Bürger concludes that
the avant-garde self-critique of the system of art, which in its most radical form
17 Bürger in his Theory of the Avant-garde developed the so-called critical institutional theory
of art from a Hegelian perspective and with the conceptual apparatus of the critical theory
of society as its background. When the avant-garde rejects bourgeois aestheticism for
isolating art (and thereby the institution of art) from life, it simultaneously advocates the
(total, modernist, utopian) project of transforming the practice of living itself. However, a
precondition for the emergence of avant-garde art as a self-criticism of the institution of art
is precisely its autonomy.
18 Cf. Charles Jencks, “The Post-Avant-Garde”, in Art and Design 3, 78 (1987), p. 20. Such
a classication of historical avant-garde movements into three periods in the area of the
former Yugoslavia, in which such movements are in many ways parallel to those of Central
Europe, can be found in the anthology by DubravkaDjurić and Miško Šuvaković (eds.),
Impossible Histories: Historical Avant-Gardes, Neo-Avant-Gardes and Post-Avant-Aardes in
Yugoslavia 1918–1991, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003).
19 In his classication of avant-garde instead of post-avant-garde, Aleš Erjavec introduces the
concept of postsocialist avant-garde. Cf. Erjavec, op. cit, pp. 79.
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means destroying the institution of art itself, enables a fundamental theoreti-
cal insight into the socio-historical determinism and partiality of art in general.
A large part of both the historical avant-garde and the neo-avant-garde refuted
the principle of the work of art—an object, a product—as did not pass unnoticed
among theorists of the avant-garde. Hence we can follow the ow of the trans-
formation of an art piece as an artefact into a post-aesthetical work of art (i.e.
art that is not substantiated by the category of beauty, etc.), a work of art as a
fragment and avant-garde tendencies for artistic events and situations outside
artist ic environments. In stressing the outside nature of the avant-garde with re-
spect to art, we have in mind its main intention of transcending the boundaries
(norms, standards, canons, institutions, forms, techniques, etc.) of art itself.
One of the consequences of this is the closeness of the artistic avant-garde with
oen controversial and paradoxical processes variously termed as the politi-
cization, educationalization, ecologization, technication and scientication
of art. Especially important but controversial is the process of art’s politiciza-
tion, which has already received numerous critiques (Benjamin) and approvals
(Rancière) in turn. This historical avant-garde line announces “a social turn”20
of art and the simultaneous occurrence of participatory art, which is on the rise
since the 1990s.21 While the participation of historical avant-garde generally
dealt with the revolutionary mobilization of masses for total and utopian polit-
ical goals (the dissolution of art in life in close correlation with party politics),
it transforms into a more reformative participation of people (democratization
of art in connection with anarchistic activism and emancipatory movements)
with the neo-avant-garde, and it leads to a less political and more playful or
didactic participation in the sense of changing consciousness and perception.22
Now the centres of participatory practices are those communities which are not
20 Cf. Claire Bishop, “The Social Turn: Collaboration and Its Discontents”, in Articial Hells:
Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (London: Verso, 2012), pp. 11–40.
21 We are dealing here with so-called post-studio practices, in which the key media are pe-
ople and for which the key concepts in use since 1990s are “socially engaged art”, “com-
munity art”, “relational art”, “participatory art”, “collaborative art”, “dialogic art”, “new
public art”, and “social practice”.
22 For a historical perspective of “participation as a programme” in avant-garde art (revolu-
tionary/reformative or more playful and/or didactic), cf. Christian Kravagna, “Working on
the Community: Models of Participatory Practice”, in Anna Dezeuze (ed.), The “Do-it-Your-
self” Artwork: Participation from Fluxus to New Media (Manchester: Manchester University
Press, 2010), pp. 241–243.
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connected to any concrete political project, but only with a loose and principled
rebellion against the global logic of neoliberal capitalism.
Theoretic confrontations with socially engaged and community-oriented or
participatory art are strewn with numerous traps. Contributing to this are the
procedures and approaches that turn out to be of great importance in contem-
porary art, i.e. the critical dimension, documentary or reality references, pro-
cessuality, exploration, transdisciplinarity, performativity, participation and
artistic aspirations towards community. Beside contemporary art’s temporar-
iness and transience, skepticism is evoked particularly by the political claims
that were supposed to be inherent to those principles and by their exclusion
from economic and political instrumentalization. Scruples about politics of-
ten being a “blind spot” of contemporary art are quite common and oen not
unfounded, since contemporary art tends to sidetrack a precise analysis and
critique of its own production conditions together with the actual possibilities
to resist the existing situation in the art sphere itself and in a broader context.23
Nevertheless, this does not mean that all contemporary art is only fashionably
tted out with the attributes of “the political” without any subversive poten-
tial or that it is completely trapped in the machinery of hyper-production and
-consumption. One of the promising starting points of Rancière’s discussion of
“the paradoxes of political art” is our understanding the possibility of political
art to establish (aesthetical) distance towards social events.24 Discussion about
this distance is crucial for the reection on contemporary art practices and the
politics of representation. Contemporary art is oen tightly woven into the so-
cial fabric and is thus always in a specic paradoxical intertwining of distance
and closeness to diering ideologies and public politics. In this respect we can
agree with Rancière that there is no prior criterion for establishing a relation be-
tween aesthetics and politics or between politics and art, and that progressive
art always includes egalitarian political ideals.
Within the context of key international waves of the historical avant-gardes,
neo-avant-gardes and specic postsocialist retro-avant-gardes, the impulse
23 Hito Steyerl, “Politics of Art: Contemporary Art and the Transition to Post-Democracy”, in
Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, and Anton Vidokle (eds.), Are You Working Too Much?
Post-Fordism, Precarity, and the Labor of Art (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2011), p. 35.
24 Cf. Jacques Rancière, “The Paradoxes of Political Art”, in Dissensus, pp. 142–159; “Politics
of Aesthetics”, Maska 19, 88–89 (2004), p. 10.
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of reconciling art and politics has played an important role in contemporary
Slovenian art as well. The emergence of contemporary art in Slovenia is in
general linked to this avant-garde tradition,25 albeit it shows its key attributes
through dierentiation between the contexts of modernism and contemporary
social reality. By using the idea of Rancière’s aesthetical regime, we can see
that contemporary art in Slovenia has a certain continuity with the participa-
tory impulses of international avant-garde movements and their heteronomous
nature, but nevertheless certain deviations and dierentiations exist as well.
Later, we are going to focus mainly on the eects of contemporary art dealings
with the social sphere, where interventions into public and social space on the
principle of participation are of key importance.
1.3 The Case of Slovenia
The historical avant-garde movement in Slovenia had its more prominent ex-
pression only in the form of Constructivism, which broke with the ocial art
and national Slovenian culture within the former Yugoslavia.26 In doing this,
it put itself on the map of the international European avant-garde, with ideas
crucially linked to the great utopian ideologies from the end of the 19th and the
beginning of the 20th centuries. Constructivism later established a certain con-
tinuity with the post-war avant-garde emerging in Socialist Yugoslavia, with
the neo-avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s (represented in Slovenia especially
by neo-Constructivist experiments in sculpting, by the OHO group Conceptual-
ism and by the so-called “Celje Alternative of the 1970s”).
The question of economic and socio-political determination and the subsequent
institutional (non)consideration of conceptual art in the context of socialism
could be linked to the discussion about the political aspect of conceptual art in
the territory of Eastern Europe: it can also be regarded as a form of institutional
critique directed against the deciency of art institutions.27 The oppositional at-
25 Cf. Zdenka Badovinac, “Introduction”, in Igor Španjol (ed.), OHO: A Retrospective (Ljublja-
na: Moderna galerija; Frankfurt am Main: Revolver, 2007), p. 7.
26 Aer the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy within the state named the Kingdom
of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, there followed in 1929 the Kingdom of Yugoslavia; the co-
untry was renamed the Federal Peopleʼs Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946 and then again in
1963, when it was named the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).
27 Cf. Nataša Petrešin, “Self-historicisation and Self-institutionalisation as Strategies of the
Institutional Critique in Eastern Europe”, in Marina Gržinić and Alenka Domjan (eds.),
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titude of Eastern European conceptualism towards state institutions is a conse-
quence of a much greater social control over the eld of art there as compared to
the West. The main dierence between the two art systems therefore concerns the
dierent function of conceptual art in the developed Western art system, where
conceptual artists strived in particular to do away with the commodity status of
art objects (a consequence of this is a tendency towards dematerialisation).28
There conceptual art was thus seen as an alternative to the rules of institutional
and market law. The process of institutionalization of conceptual art in Slovenia
diers from that of the West and cannot be separated from the then-common
Yugoslav space. However, Eastern European art, which at rst acted as a critique
of institutions, was, in the end, at least partly integrated into them.
The postmodern retro-avant-garde movement NSK (formed in 1984) ts the
era of “postmodern avant-garde” or “post-avant-garde” in Slovenia (back then
within the SFR Yugoslavia). The development of postmodernism in the rst half
of the 1980s was focused on the past and actualized the questions of the classic
avant-garde, which encouraged appropriate theoretical research, documenta-
tion and evaluation according to their place within the European and broader
cultural history of the 20th century. The demise of socialism coincided with the
emergence of Western postmodernism, which supports Erjavec’s thesis about
the emergence of a specic form of postmodernism within the transition period
of the so-called “postsocialism” of former Eastern Europe, which saw the rise
of interest by the Western art system only in the 1990s.29
With independence in 1991, Slovenia entered the transition period that led to
neoliberal capitalism, crucial for forming new production conditions in art. As
a consequence, this changed artists’ modes of work, their relations to audi ences
and an experience of art that has found itself being pushed more and more to
the fringe of social events. This is one of the reasons for critical performative,
Conceptual Artists and the Power of Their Art Works for the Present (Celje: Zavod Celeia,
2007), pp. 23–28.
28 Cf. Lucy R. Lippard and John Chandler, “The Dematerialization of Art” (1968), in Alexan-
der Alberro and Blake Stimson (eds.), Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press, 1999), pp. 46–50.
29 Cf. Aleš Erjavec (ed.), Postmodernism and the Postsocialist Condition: Politicized Art under
Late Socialism Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003); Aleš Erjavec, Postmodern-
ism, Postsocialism and Beyond (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008).
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participatory and research practices traversing traditional institutional venues,
alternative places and broader social spaces.
The inuence of the avant-garde legacy of reconciling art and politics through
international impulses is reected in neo-avant-garde phenomena in Slovenia
as well. It is worth mentioning that neo-avant-garde developments in Slovenia
were parallel to the reconst ruction of the historical avant-garde, hence members
of the neo-avant-garde could not nd many inspirations in the historical avant-
garde. Due to the looser ideological state control, there was greater permeability
of Western cultural inuences, including pragmatic realizations of “concrete
utopias” or “micro-utopias”, eorts for the revolutionization of daily routines
(in the spirit of Situationism, for example), individual rebellion by young
people (hippyism, anti-war movement, rock culture), and actionism by German
artist Joseph Beuys. The origin of participatory art practices was introduced to
Slovenia by the neo-avant-garde group OHO in particular. The neo-avant-garde
legacy still resonates in the contemporary participatory art and its articulations
of public and social space. From the 1990s onward, the focus of interest by
individual artists and art collectives is oen directed towards the community.
Among those who actively direct their artistic creation to this eld in Slovenia
and abroad are Marjetica Potrč, Apolonija Šušteršič, Obrat association and
the Association of Fine Artists of Celje (Društvo likovnih umetnikov Celje–
DLUC). The legacy of the political implications of the historical avant-gardes
(Suprematism, Constructivism, etc.) has had an important inuence on the
internationally most recognized third generation of the ava nt-garde in Slovenia,
the postsocialist avant-garde or the so-called retro-avant-garde, understood as
a politicized artistic practice aer the fall of socialism (NSK) that has led to
contemporary projects interlacing art and science, and to redening relations
with politics under new conditions of global neoliberal capitalism. Due to the
scope and specics of its conceptual problems, the transdisciplinary practice
of post-gravity art—which is based on media archeological and technoscientic
research and which itself explicitly refers to Suprematism and Constructivism
(Dragan Živadinov and his collaborators) but is not participatory in its essence—
is only mentioned in passing in this paper and is the object of an independent
discussion elsewhere.
FV_01_2016.indd 142 26. 12. 16 21:07
        
2. Re-Education of Perception: Art in Social Space
Neo-avant-garde artistic manifestations play an important role in creating a
new social sensibility through the individualʼs sensory apparatus, critical view
on political norms, eco-awareness, etc. One very telling example is Beuys’
work on so-called “social sculpture”, which does not have only artistic but also
distinctly non-artistic functions, namely scientic, educational and above all
political.30 Beuys’ goal was the transformation of social life, the integration of
new art forms with forms of a non-exploited nature, the creation of alternative
life-forms as social sculptures, of society as a work of art. The neo-avant-garde
of the 1960s (USA, Europe) in general contributes a unique aesthetic revolution
with their conceptual turnaround and with the inclusion of daily routines and
coincidences in art. This aesthetic revolution can be discussed together with
the occurrence of the so-called “cultural revolution of the 1960s” and a new
sensibility or a new distribution of the sensible as a way of ghting against indi-
vidualistic capitalism.31 Avant-garde eorts to transform life and world through
art resound with Schiller idea on aesthetical education,32 which sees the aes-
thetic as a union of the artistic and political in a future community.33 Opposite
to this universal utopian tendency of the majority of other avant-gardes is the
OHO34 group avant-garde impulse that was expressed in aesthetic and social
provocation, and achieved special meaning in the so-called “reistic phase”35
30 Cf. Claire Bishop, “Social Sculpture”, in Installation Art: A Critical History (London: Tate
Publishing, 2005), pp. 102–106.
31 Cf. Tyrus Miller, “All along the Watchtower: Aesthetic Revolution in the United States du-
ring the 1960s”, in Erjavec (ed.), Aesthetic Revolutions, pp. 145–177.
32 Cf. Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man (Mineola, New York: Dover Publi-
cations, 2004).
33 Cf. Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, p. 27.
34 The OHO group is one of the most signicant representatives of neo-avant-garde in the
1960s and 1970s in Slovenia, which played a pioneering role in the historical context of
the neo-avant-gardes in the broader Yugoslav space; OHO entered the history of the neo-
avant-garde movements also at an international scale. Cf. Tomaž Brejc, OHO 1966–1971
(Ljubljana: ŠKUC, 1978); Španjol (ed.), op. cit.; Laura J. Hoptman and Tomaš Pospiszyl
(eds.), Primary Documents: A Sourcebook for Eastern and Central European Art since the
1950s (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002), pp. 92–95.
35 The concept of Reism indicates an attempt to reach a non-anthropocentric world of
“things” (lat. res: thing). In the rst reistic period (1966–68), OHO functioned as a multi-
and inter-media movement with a broad range of members and collaborators. In the sec-
ond period (1969–70), OHO was organized as an art group of four members whose activi-
FV_01_2016.indd 143 26. 12. 16 21:07
 
when the members of the group strove not to change the world but only “to
change consciousness and transform it into the permanently open and atten-
tive reistic vision”36:
Reism sought to establish an identity between art and life, but not through the
realization of an utopian project represented by art. Rather, we could say they
understood the eld of art as an area where particular attention and a reective
attitude were still possible and sought to extend this attitude beyond the isolated
eld of art to life as a whole.37
The members of the group nevertheless tried to eliminate art as a special so-
cial sphere. The founding member of the OHO group, Marko Pogačnik, and his
friends thus established a commune (the Šempas Family, 1971–78) where they
tried to actualize an alternative form of life that, besides artistic endeavours, in-
cluded eco-farming and coexistence with nature (in which we can recognize the
ties included process-oriented avant-garde art. In its third and nal period (1970–71), OHO
was transformed into a community and ended up with “transcendental conceptualism”
(cf. Brejc, op. cit., pp. 29–33) as a radicalisation of the dematerialisation of the art object
or the upgrading of the rational concept with a spiritual, mystical dimension. In 1971 OHO
decided to abandon art as a separate eld and tried to nd a synthesis of art and life by
founding a commune in the village of Šempas.
36 Igor Zabel, “A Short History of OHO”, in Španjol (ed.), op. cit., p. 109.
37 Ibid.
Fig. 1: The Šempas Family, Nature—Art, 1978.
Courtesy of Moderna galerija/Museum of
Modern Art, Ljubljana.
FV_01_2016.indd 144 26. 12. 16 21:07
        
continuity between the Šempas Family practices and OHO’s land art projects).
(Fig.1) With this gesture, they signicantly contributed to the development of
contemporary and community-oriented artistic practice in Slovenia, which has
been emergent particularly from the 1990s onward.
The OHO group introduced forms of conceptual art, land art, body art, arte po-
vera and process art in Slovenia – all of which have radically intervened into the
traditional perception of a work of art. In a formal sense, this means a de-con-
struction of an autonomous and completed art object and its expansion into a
process, action, situation, event, a site-specic work, art installation outside
traditional exhibition spaces, an intervention into social space. This tendency
was, aer OHO’s programming conceptual projects from the end of the 1960s
and the beginning of the 1970s, continued by the alternative scene of the 1980s.
In the 1990s, the visual art in Slovenia started to problematize conventional
art norms in a multidimensional manner, including in relation to social spaces
and their mechanisms: new strategies of entering into urban public and social
spaces appeared.
Art in social space”38, with its processual, research, relational and participatory
artistic procedures, is thus linked in an artistic and historical sense partly to
the specic tradition of the historical avant-garde, but mainly to the neo-avant-
garde movements. The wave of community-based public art projects, which in
the international context expanded under the label new genre public art (the
term was introduced by Suzanne Lacy),39 had bypassed Slovenia in its rise. With
some delay, the tendencies for art in public urban space in Slovenia were en-
couraged from abroad (through the Soros Centre for Contemporary Art, SCCA
Ljubljana)40 and represented the rst wave of this form of art in Slovenia, while
the second wave has been presented by engaged artists who have created their
38 For the inuential thinker of space Henri Lefebvre, “social space” is a place of social prac-
tice under the certain inuence of capital and capitalism (cf. H. Lefebvre, The Production
of Space, Blackwell, Oxford 1997, pp. 9, 26). Furthermore, according to the cultural socio-
logist Pierre Bourdieu, “social space” includes various types of capital: economic, social,
cultural and symbolic capital; embedment in the social space also aects our movement
and relationship to other social positions, etc. (cf. Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social
Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Routledge, London, 1984, pp. 114, 291).
39 Suzanne Lacy (ed.), Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art (Seattle: Bay Press, 1995).
40 Cf. Lilijana Stepančič (ed.), Urbanaria (Ljubljana: Soros Center for Contemporary Arts,
FV_01_2016.indd 145 26. 12. 16 21:07
 
art since the start of the new millennium (the majority of these artists have been
from the narrower sphere of ne arts and architecture). Among the examples
which importantly contribute to questioning production and other interper-
sonal relations both in the spheres of art and culture respectively, as well as
in broader social reality, is the establishment of someone’s own (ctitious or
phantom) institutions, research platforms, etc. The common attributes of such
projects are a certain anity towards conceptual art, expansion from “just art”
to social space, urban contexts, forms to which we can attribute a relational
form, participation and striving towards community despite the heterogeneity
of their formal approaches and content accents.41
3. Urban Anthropology, Participation, Striving towards Community
In continuing this paper we shall focus particularly on those contemporary ar-
tistic articulations by Slovenian artists that are actualized in dierent hybrid
forms of experimental spatial, aesthetic and habitation practices playing a con-
nective role in a community. Central to those projects concerned with the pro-
duction of spaces is the question of the role of the public in their involvement in
decision-making processes regarding spatial practices, since these projects are
connected to the local community’s ways of habitation. One of the vital charac-
teristics of community-oriented artistic practices is that they stem directly from
a social space, transcend the borders between art and everyday life, and strive
to activate and transform a community in the sense of public and common/com-
munity spaces. In the course of this process a classical viewer is transformed
into an active co-designer of an artistic act, which is at the same time an inter-
vention into a social space. The key element for the articulation of a collective
or community is the idea of actualising participation as the process which treats
the participants as the “material” or “medium” of the project, where the “resi-
due” of the process is inseparable from the “performer”. The artists devise their
own actions through research (with a series of workshops, participatory artistic
actions, informal meetings with the local community, etc.) that assumes their
own involvement in the everyday life of the urban centre, whereby the commu-
nity is rstly understood in terms of everyday coexistence and cooperation. The
41 Mojca Puncer, “Art in the Social Space: Parallel Strategies, Participatory Practices, Aiming
towards Community”, in Barbara Orel, Maja Šorli and Gašper Troha (eds.), Hibridni pros-
tori umetnosti (Hybrid Spaces of Art), (Ljubljana: Maska, 2012), p. 235.
FV_01_2016.indd 146 26. 12. 16 21:07
        
main dierence lies in the fact that their post-minimalist predecessors can be
addressed in a broader sculptural context,42 whereas contemporary artists work
in “an expanded, cross-disciplinary eld”, which can also include research,
similar to the work of a geographer, social worker, anthropologist, activist or
experimental architect, etc.43
Among those contemporary Slovenian artists tackling concrete social issues,
it is worth to focus on the internationally renowned architect, sculptress and
urban anthropologist Marjetica Potrč, who artistically explores oen overlooked
and conictual aspects of contemporary cities, possibilities of self-supply and
habitation alternatives. (Fig. 2) In her art, Potrč actualizes the idea that art can
change the world or encourages deliberation. Her typical artwork is based on
a structure or situation that she nds in a remote location—in Venezuela, for
example—where she tries to contribute to its revitalization. Among other things,
42 Cf. Brian Wallis, “Survey”, in Jerey Kastner (ed.), Land and Environmental Art (London:
Phaidon, 1998), p. 37.
43 Claire Bishop in Jerey Kastner (eds.), Nature (London: Whitechapel; Cambridge, MA: MIT
Press, 2012), p. 107 (Tim Grin (chair), et. al., extracts from “Remote Possibilities: A Roun-
dtable Discussion on Land Art’s Changing Terrain”, 2005).
Fig. 2: Marjetica Potrč, Next Stop, Kiosk, 2003,
mixed media: a house-jack, a group of urban
kiosks (the System K-67 kiosks were originally
designed by the Ljubljana-based architect
Saša J. Mächtig in the late 1960s; they
could serve as a basis for a mobile dwelling
unit), with reference to a South American
palafita—a house on stilts—and the illegal
rooftop houses of Belgrade; installation view
at the Moderna galerija, Ljubljana. Photo:
Dejan Habicht, Matija Pavlovec. Courtesy of
Moderna galerija, Ljubljana.
FV_01_2016.indd 147 26. 12. 16 21:07
 
Potrč collaborated in designing dry bathroom facilities for a favela in Caracas (Dry
Toilet, 2003), a system for rainwater collection and other sustainably oriented
practical and artistic solutions. When asked about socio-critical dimensions
of her art, Potrč replies, “My work is not about social criticism or institutional
critique; rather I’m trying to show what I see today in cities—for instance, low and
high cultures having similar goals.”44 Artistic actualizations of the ideas about
self-suciency, self-organization and alternative sources of energy in Potrč’s art
are based on high social and environmental awareness and are very engaged
since they originate in the habitation needs of individuals, disadvantaged
groups and local communities. Potrč belongs to the increasingly larger group
of artists who reject the creation of stable and self-sucient structures or events
strictly dened in time and space, but instead suggest open and ongoing projects
where more or less temporary “experimental communities”—embracing artists,
non-artists, social relations and exchanges between them, and focusing on the
search for inventive solutions for specic issues—are formed.45
In her public art projects, Apolonija Šušteršič explores spatial participation
practices where the local community’s collaboration plays a crucial part. To-
gether with Meike Schalk, Šušteršič created Garden Service (2007), a temporary
garden in a public yard for the Edinburgh International Festival. (Fig. 3) The phe-
nomena she is particularly interested in are “participation, agonistic plurality,
the appropriation of space, and performance and performativity”.46 Šušteršič is
also a member of the Ljubljana-based Obrat association. Obrat members strive
for an interdisciplinary integration of art, architecture and urban planning in
the so-called “critical spatial practices”.47 In their project Beyond the Construc-
tion Site (August 2010–ongoing), which is situated in the long-closed building
site on Resljeva Street in Ljubljana, they explore the potentials of degraded mu-
nicipal areas and their revaluation with temporary community interventions:
44 Hans Ulrich Obrist, “A Conversation with Marjetica Potrč”, in Lívia Páldi (ed.), Marjetica
Potrč: Next Stop, Kiosk (Ljubljana: Moderna galerija; Frankfurt am Main: Revolver, 2003),
p. 42.
45 Cf. Carlos Basualdo and Reinaldo Laddaga, “Experimental Communities”, in Beth Hinder-
liter, et al. (eds.), Communities of Sense: Rethinking Aesthetics and Politics (Durham: Duke
University Press, 2009), pp. 197214.
46 Meike Schalk and Apolonija Šušteršič, “Taking Care of the Public Space”, AB—Architect’s
Bulletin (Participation) 41, 188189 (2011), p. 43.
47 Urška Jurman and Apolonija Šušteršič, “Introduction”, AB, 188189, p. 10.
FV_01_2016.indd 148 26. 12. 16 21:07
        
“[T]he site is being transformed into a hybrid community space, dedicated to
urban gardens, socializing, ecology, culture, play and education”.48 (Fig. 4)
The practices of individual artists from the Association of Fine Artists of Celje
(DLUC) are also distinguished by their social engagement and environmental
awareness.49 Art enters the public space, where it addresses the residents of the
48 Obrat, AB, 188189, p. 105.
49 These are especially the works of artists Andreja Džakušič, Simon Macuh and the tandem
Estela Žutić and Gilles Duvivier. Cf. Mojca Puncer, “Community Based (Artistic) Practices
as a New Spatial Ecology in Celje”, in Irena Čerčnik (ed.), WE MET AT SIX: Proposals for
Fig. 4: Obrat, Beyond the Construction Site,
March 2011, community-based project of
urban gardening, view on the gardens from
the Resljeva Street 32, Ljubljana. Photo:
Suzana Kajba. Courtesy of Obrat association.
Fig. 3: Apolonija Šušteršič and Meike Shalk,
Garden Service, 2007, participatory public
art project, meeting place in the temporary
garden, Chessels Court, Edinburgh. Photo:
Kees van Zelst, Daniel Killian. Courtesy of the
FV_01_2016.indd 149 26. 12. 16 21:07
 
city of Celje. In this, the Celje art scene has important references in the so-called
Celje alternative of the 1970s, which brought conceptualization and performa-
tivity to the local art practice that extended beyond the gallery walls.50 At the
end of the 1990s, artists took art onto the streets of Celje (the Admission Free
festival has been run under the auspices of DLUC since 1999), sparking o a
renewed interest in social issues and art activism. In Celje, a complex network
of local artists has been forged in collaboration with the art institution, whose
aspiration always strove towards change in the local environment. In the new
social conditions, individual DLUC members practice community art as a part of
an informal urbanism, actively involving themselves in initiatives for the revital-
ization of the city centre. In pursuing real, sustainable impact within the local
community, these artists are acting following the principles of urban regenera-
tion, social integration and participatory urbanism.
Such socially aware and at the same time poetic works also have a pedagogical
function since they propose practical solutions (e.g. regarding the self-supply
of food) while contributing to the development and dissemination of ecological
discourse. Otherwise, it is not only speech that can be recognized today as an
artistic medium, but also teaching, which artists usually link with experimenta-
tion and play.51 The latter can be recognized as an important activity that is not
alienating (as opposed to the functionalism and rationalism of urbanism) and
is accessible to all, which is why it is imperative to nd spaces for play in urban
areas. An echo of Situationist urbanism52 can also be recognized here, which
likewise resonates in the proposals for contemporary informal participatory ur-
banism. The latter emphasizes user-friendly and adapted spatial planning.53
Communal Practices and Green Areas in Celje (Celje: Zavod Celeia; Ljubljana: KUD Mreža/
Galerija Alkatraz, 2015), pp. 4–10.
50 On Celje alternative see Mojca Puncer, “Conceptual Art in Slovenia: An Example of the
Celje Alternative in the Seventies”, Maska 24, 123–124 (2009), pp. 104–123.
51 Bishop, Articial Hells, p. 245.
52 The avant-garde movement of the Situationist International (SI) (1957–1972) is characteri-
zed by doubt in art, so its vision of the aesthetic revolution favours direct collective action
in an everyday urban environment (implementation of so-called “unitary urbanism”) prior
to the production of works of art for the art world. Cf. Raymond Spiteri, “From Unitary Ur-
banism to the Society of the Spectacle”, in Erjavec (ed.), Aesthetic Revolutions, pp. 178–214.
53 For example, this trend is today reected in the form of the global campaign of urban
walks known as Jane’s Walk (so called aer the American-Canadian urban planner and
activist, Jane Jacobs) as a catalyst for people’s needs and desires.
FV_01_2016.indd 150 26. 12. 16 21:07
These artists are interested not merely in the overlooked aspects of the local ur-
ban space in their research, but also in the relationships with the local residents
of the space of exploration itself, as well as in the aesthetic and conceptual re-
lationships with the gallery audience and the general public. The participatory
process at a specic location itself does not actually have a secondary audience,
which makes the public critical discourse in the form of an exhibition all the
more important. (Fig. 5) Creating works/projects following the principles of par-
ticipation is necessarily integrated into a network of connections with specic
historical and socio-political contexts as well as everyday life situations.
4. Paradoxes of the Politics of Aesthetics: Community-Oriented
Art Practices
The current global state of crisis has its causes in radical changes from the last
two centuries—from industrial modernity to the post-industrial and information
society—and expresses itself through the consequences of war cataclysm, gen-
ocides, natural disasters, mass migrations, etc. Many contemporary art expres-
sions do not agree with visions of destruction and are not driven by any utopian
Fig. 5: Andreja Džakušič, Hanging Gardens,
2015, installation view at the Gallery of
Contemporary Art Celje (as part of the
exhibition We Meet at Six: Proposals for
Communal Practices and Green Areas in Celje).
Photo: Tomaž Černej. Courtesy of the Center
for Contemporary Arts, Celje.
        
FV_01_2016.indd 151 26. 12. 16 21:07
 
vision of the future. Instead, when inevitably confronted with the instrumental-
ization of their aesthetical dimension, they are driven by the awareness of their
own limited power.
Community-oriented art takes over the concern for the common good while
looking for new productive and ethical principles of working together in the
community and encouraging eorts for lasting and sustainable changes. In a so-
ciety where alternatives are lacking at the systemic level, a certain alternative is
oered by art. Rancière recognizes in this the danger of the instrumentalization
of art and politics in the name of an ethical neutralization of disagreements and
achievement of consensus in society. Through its close relation to politics, Ran-
icière’s ideas of aesthetics can signicantly improve our understanding of the
eects of contemporary art’s involvement with the social sphere and communi-
ty-oriented art. Rancière rehabilitates the aesthetic in the sense of aesthesis as
“an autonomous regime of experience that is not reducible to logic, reason or
morality”.54 It is a form of the sensual perception of art, which moves aesthetics
closer to politics through the potentiality of the new “distribution of the sen-
sible” (distribution and exchange of experiences, skills, ideas and knowledge
among subjects). What is signicant here is that, due to the artistic attempts
to strengthen social bonds and a sense of community, politics and aesthetics,
according to Rancière, disappear in ethics or the instrumentalization of ethics
in the name of reaching a consensus and denying antagonisms in a community:
For instance, by replacing matters of class conict with matters of inclusion and
exclusion, it [contemporary art] puts worries about the “loss of the social bond”,
concerns with “bare humanity”, or tasks of empowering threatened identities in
the place of political concerns. Art is summoned thus to put its political potential
to work in reframing a sense of community, mending the social bond, etc. Once
more politics and aesthetics vanish together into ethics.55
Rancière in his critique of recent ethical turnarounds does not oppose ethics,
only its instrumentalization. Rancière recognises one of the key paradoxes of
the politics of aesthetics in this weakening or even depleting of political disa-
greement and social antagonisms on account of artistic dealings with “social
54 Bishop, Artical Hells, p. 18.
55 Rancière, “Politics of Aesthetics”, p. 16.
FV_01_2016.indd 152 26. 12. 16 21:07
        
bond loss” and their agreeing to new forms of consensus. The politics of aes-
thetics is supposed to reect on the contradiction between the autonomy and
heteronomy of art.
The articulation of community with the intervention of art in post-utopian times
concerns society as a whole and regards the very survival of human beings.
In order to analyse artistic ambitions in a community, it is sensible to consid-
er discoveries within the Italian post-operaist theory of contemporary work or
labour56, which together with the activation of exibility and similar concepts
(viability, precarity, etc.) in the world of art signicantly contribute to the un-
derstanding of contemporary production of exible subjectivities. The concept
of resilience as an upgrade of global orientation towards the sustainable de-
velopment of developed Western society (or globally the North exploiting the
poor South) is also closely connected with the aspirations of contemporary
(participatory) art.57 The concept of a exible creative subject, which eectively
intertwines with the neo-liberal production scheme, is in harmony with these
aspirations. A transition to post-Fordist capitalism is enabled by the occurrence
of an “immaterial labour” as a new production paradigm, where the key tools of
the production process are communication, aectivity, and the making of inter-
subjective relations.58 The neo-liberal concept of community has a destructive
eect on social ties, as it exploits them for its own driving force, while it abolish-
es public welfare and social security with its implementation of new economic
models. Community-oriented art takes on the role of a caretaker for the common
good through new forms of cooperation. In a society lacking alternatives on a
systemic, national level, a certain alternative comprised of non-conformity, in-
formality, performativity, friendship, empathy and sensibility is oered by art to
fellow people, a living environment and nature. With such approaches, artists
56 Cf. Paolo Virno and Michael Hardt (eds.), Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).
57 Cf. Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez (ed.), Resilience / The 7th Triennial of Contemporary Art in
Slovenia (Ljubljana: Moderna galerija, 2013), p. 5.
58 Cf. Maurizio Lazzarato, “Immaterial Labor”, in Virno and Hardt (eds.), Radical Thought
in Italy, pp. 133–147. According to Lazzarato “immaterial labour” produces mostly “social
relations”, and only if it is successful in this production is it of economic value. In this
regard, so-called “aective labour”, which, due to its vague nature, is very dicult to me-
asure, is of key importance.
FV_01_2016.indd 153 26. 12. 16 21:07
 
want to activate a provolutive59, self-organising process in the fabric of social
relations, which are crisis situations of neoliberalism, capitalistic hyper-produc-
tion and -consumption oen rendered stunted or non-operable. Art theorists
thus rightly warn about the danger of the instrumentalization of participatory
art in its aspiration to restore and strengthen social ties in Europe during crisis.60
The production of subjectivity in capitalism and the creation of community ties
through art intervention can nevertheless be seen in a more optimistic light.
What we need to redene are the processes of subjectivity production in the
light of their integration into a community. We can use the reections by Félix
Guattari, who places the production of a uid, exible subjectivity and its place-
ment within the framework of the general economy of exchange at the centre of
his thought.61 He emphasises our ability to create new modes of thinking and
operating that represent numerous similarities with artistic activities. Guattari
discovers a privileged territory of subjectivization in art, which then oers a pos-
sibility of new living forms and possible models for human existence in general.
Subjectivity exists only through the modes of connections with other people,
social groups or information machines. A similar view on subjectivity can be
found by Rancière in his otherwise vague conceptualization of some kind of
uid, “unpredictable”, “eeting” subject, which can also be seen as rebellious,
dissident, etc.62 In the name of resistance to the uniformity of thinking and op-
erating, modes of social production need to go through the screen of “mental
ecosophy”. Individual subjectivity is thus the result of dissensus and at the same
time inseparable from the entirety of social relations.63 Guattari in his defence of
the “three ecologies” (environmental, social and mental) pays particular atten-
tion to aesthetics as a basis that allows exible modes of operation on various
levels, and by this articulation of “ecosophy” he oers an alternative model of
subjectivity production. Art has a function of reconstructing subjectivity, which
59 Provolutive strategy as a work method means, above all, constructing and connecting (as
opposed to revolution strategy, where demolishing old structures precedes the building of
new). Cf. Marjan Krošl, “A Theory of Provolution in Contemporary Art”, in Alenka Domjan
(ed.), Concept Phoenix (Celje: Zavod Celeia, 2009), pp. 4–28.
60 Cf. Bishop, Articial Hells, p. 5.
61 Cf. Félix Guattari, Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1995), pp. 1–32. Guattari’s work is an important reference for Nicholas
Bourriaud’s idea of relational aesthetics.
62 Jacques Rancière, On the Shores of Politics (London: Verso, 2007), p. 61.
63 Félix Guattari, The Three Ecologies (London: Continuum, 2008), p. 33.
FV_01_2016.indd 154 26. 12. 16 21:07
        
then brings it closer to a psychoanalytical (therapeutic) perspective. But above
all, art helps “to ward o the ordeals of barbarism, the mental implosion and
chaosmic spasm looming on the horizon, and transform them into riches and
unforeseen pleasures”.64
5. Conclusion
This paper on contemporary art in Slovenia is based on art practices that tran-
scend the dichotomy between art and social context as two completely separate
spheres. The boundaries between art forms themselves, between the sphere of
art and other disciplines, as well as between art, everyday life and broader so-
cial reality are clearly shied or permeable. The start of all these processes is in
the 1960s in the conceptual turning point, with individual impulses in historical
avant-garde. The reection of participatory artistic procedures reveals how con-
temporary art practices have moved away from historical avant-garde explora-
tions in the connections between art, aesthetic and politics. On the one hand,
we have been witness to dierent relations between aesthetical and political that
call for ethical questioning anew, while on the other, we have seen a further loos-
ening of the autonomy of the art sphere with the aim to constantly search for new
artistic strategies of integration in a complex economic logic of globalization.
The practices discussed here are permeated with life-forms of a specic cultur-
al environment, and these are the hubs where we need to look for new strate-
gies of phenomena like participatory, community-oriented art—not in the sense
of searching for an ideal model, but rather in the sense of experimenting with
open concepts that question anew dominant relations and ideologies, and open
horizons for new intellectual articulations and incentives to act. Contemporary
participatory art in Slovenia wishes to imprint itself into a broader cultural per-
ception as a call for intensifying the contribution of art to the reorganization of
globalized social reality, and these eorts can be linked to avant-garde calls for
positive social changes. One of the interpretative keys is the consideration of
aesthetical and sociopolitical aspects in art theory and philosophy of art. With
the analysis of the community-oriented art, this discussion has aspired to open
aesthetical and political perspectives that are inspired by Rancière’s aesthet-
ics, which among other things reminds us of the so-called “ethical turn” of con-
64 Guattari, Chaosmosis, p. 135.
FV_01_2016.indd 155 26. 12. 16 21:07
 
temporary art in its attempts to patch up social connections. Guattari oers a
promising concept of “an ethico-aesthetic paradigm” that not only provides the
ability to open up social interspaces in the Situationist sense, but also serves
as a basis for the transversality of art as a global and subversive social pow-
er against capitalism, which with its demand for a complete social revolution
continues the line of avant-garde artistic utopias. Numerous phenomena in
contemporary participatory art, including projects based on research and ex-
ploration of phenomena in urban space, are inuenced by the ideas of the Situ-
ationist avant-garde movement. The Situationist International can be placed in
the broader trajectory of emancipatory ghts and protests rmly rooted in the
20th century, but in this time of crisis and recent anti-globalist and anti-austerity
protests their ideas are nevertheless still topical, as they are an expression of not
agreeing with the political status quo, and are part of the same desire to search
for new meanings and to envisage a dierent world. Artists are oen among the
rst to grab for this latent potential.
According to Guattari, art has to—as in Rancière’s aesthetical regime—reach for
the social (sensorial community experience), but at the same time it must stay
in the domain of art and be successful in both elds, which means that it perse-
veres in a constant tension, even as paradox. Such tension gives birth to a trans-
formative aesthetical experience and emancipatory political potential, which
exist at the integration points of resistance and dematerialized artistic strategies
freed of utilitarianism, brought on by contemporary social movements directed
against consensus and exclusion while producing and distributing a common
sensory experience, cognizance and knowledge.
FV_01_2016.indd 156 26. 12. 16 21:07
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Provolutive strategy as a work method means, above all, constructing and connecting (as opposed to revolution strategy, where demolishing old structures precedes the building of new)A Theory of Provolution in Contemporary Art
Provolutive strategy as a work method means, above all, constructing and connecting (as opposed to revolution strategy, where demolishing old structures precedes the building of new). Cf. Marjan Krošl, "A Theory of Provolution in Contemporary Art", in Alenka Domjan (ed.), Concept Phoenix (Celje: Zavod Celeia, 2009), pp. 4-28.
Guattari's work is an important reference for Nicholas Bourriaud's idea of relational aesthetics
  • Félix Guattari
Cf. Félix Guattari, Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995), pp. 1-32. Guattari's work is an important reference for Nicholas Bourriaud's idea of relational aesthetics.
  • Félix Guattari
Félix Guattari, The Three Ecologies (London: Continuum, 2008), p. 33.
According to Lazzarato "immaterial labour" produces mostly "social relations", and only if it is successful in this production is it of economic value. In this regard, so-called "affective labour
  • Maurizio Lazzarato
Cf. Maurizio Lazzarato, "Immaterial Labor", in Virno and Hardt (eds.), Radical Thought in Italy, pp. 133-147. According to Lazzarato "immaterial labour" produces mostly "social relations", and only if it is successful in this production is it of economic value. In this regard, so-called "affective labour", which, due to its vague nature, is very difficult to measure, is of key importance.