Dissensus is more than a conflict of forces

Dissensus is more than a conflict of forces, interests or ideas. It is a conflict between ways of making worlds. Domination works by making us feel that there is a unique reality and enclosing our experience within a framework that makes it appears obvious and inescapable. Dissensus breaks through this obviousness: it reframes the visibility of our world, suspends, accelerates or slows down its temporal flow and invents new modes of presentation of things and new ways of making sense of them.  What makes art political is not the fact of representing social situations and delivering messages on social and political issues. It is the construction of spatial and temporal “dispositif” and the shaping of forms of visibility and intelligibility which reframe the ways in which practices, manners of being and modes of feeling and saying are interwoven in a common sense.

For one century, the practices of artistic dissensus  have  gone through  many contradictions and metamorphoses:  architectural dreams of an anti-hierarchical reshaping of space or construction of critical dispositif producing clashes between heterogeneous elements  to provoke  a new gaze on a conflictual reality  ;  integration of the objects  of popular culture  to demystify high art or strategies of resistance to the very production of objects against  the commodification of art;   attempts to make the conflicts of the world get into the museums or to make artists leave the museums to do social research, reclaim the streets , infiltrate  the networks of domination  or  create bio-environments, etc., etc.

Through the study of specific cases, the lecture will analyze the contradictory   logics of dissensus at work in those metamorphoses and their transformations to-day. It will situate this investigation in a contemporary context where the practices of artistic dissensus meet the effects of social transformations and the new forms of politics. The artistic attempts to rematerialize the world and reintroduce the conflicts of history into the spaces of art take place in buildings and areas formerly dedicated to industrial work and made available for art and “cultural industry” by the relocation of the factories. And the new forms of political protest and notably the “occupy” movements have rematerialized in the urban landscape the “aesthetic” aspect of politics: politics is, above all, the construction of a common world and the conflict about the objects of this common world, the ways of dealing with them and the subjects able to do so. The lecture will also examine these new forms of interaction and confusion between artistic and political dissensus.

Lecture by JACQUES RANCIERE at Astrup Fearnley Museet, Kiefersalen, Oslo on 10. June 2016, from 10.00 to 14.00.

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