Disenchantment of the Thing

07-10 April, 2016



«The artwork is only incidentally a document. No document is as such a work of art.» Post No Bills, W.Benjamin

The thing, perceived as the material product of social relations suspended by abstract rationalization, is juxtaposed with the concrete historical materiality of the said relations. Any product contains the pounding reality of social change – but only until reality manages to condense itself into an event and overthrow this established thingness.

An artwork is opposed to present-day thingness through its twofold material essence: as an empirical given, a suspended thing corresponding to its concrete form of production, and, simultaneously, as an interplay of the artwork’s inner elements that manifest themselves only in relation to the Other of existing reality.

The artwork is humbled by the event. Artistic expressions become shaky and opaque commentaries to the ongoing processes within reality; an artwork is diluted in the vortex of things in these processes.

Upon becoming aware of this situation, art is inclined to limit the artistic elements of its production and to address the event through observing, documenting, collecting and archiving.

A question is brought forth: how do art and the artwork re-establish relations with the Other of reality, and do they even succeed? Aren’t these relations concealed by the unequivocal authenticity of facts and things that floods the artwork only to make it an extension of itself – a thing among other things?

Does the artwork still harbor resistance to reified reality or does the thing, legitimized by the inscription of authenticity, replace it?

* an excerpt from the “Disenchantment of the Thing” seminar announcement