Once apon a time there was a little book called Relational Aesthetics

Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Paris: la presses du réel, 2002.

In Relational Aesthetics, Nicolas Bourriaud establishes a way of looking at participatory arts. He commented that “art is a state of encounter” (p18). Bourriaud also argued that the “exhibition will give rise to a specific ‘arena of exchange’”, which “must be judged on the basis of aesthetic criteria… by analyzing the coherence of its form and then the symbolic value of the “world” it suggests to us and of the image of human relations reflected by it.” (p18)

But does Bourriaud go far enough with these questions? Are the above criterion the best way to judge these works?

Bourriaud suggests that the relationship has become the new form. “Producing a form is to invent possible encounters receiving a form is to create the conditions for an exchange…” (p 23)

I like this idea and would like to explore it further. I am not sure that I am convinced that the arguments Bourriaud expressed are exemplified by the artists he discusses.

This is just a reflection on the first chapter. The tip of the iceberg. There are so many ideas in this book. I am intrigued by the cascade of counter arguments it has produced. I need to return to its feisty pages.

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