Once again, the world would be a more interesting place if poets were taken as seriously as visual artists. In the meanwhile, we have to extrapolate:
from Altermodern: A Conversation with Nicolas Bourriaud
NB: The Radicant , which is now out, is . . . . a critique of postmodernism as an ideology and as a historical narrative, and an attempt to define what’s next, that I name the ‘altermodern’. But to answer your question, The Radicant also prolongates and deepens some aspects of Postproduction, clarifying the political statement of this earlier book. Basically, it insists on the difference between appropriating and what I call ‘formal collectivism’, and attributes a positive value to precariousness as a cultural phenomenon. In a way, it is about the value of programming and deejaying as methods: what does it mean? What do artists actually do when they use already existing forms? What ideology does it relate to?
To cut a long story short, what we traditionally call reality is in fact a simple montage. On the basis of that conclusion, the aesthetic challenge of contemporary art resides in recomposing that montage: art is an editing table that enables us to realize alternative, temporary versions of reality with the same material (basically, everyday life). Thus, artists manipulate social forms, reorganize them and incorporate them in original scenarios, deconstructing the script on which the illusory legitimacy of those scenarios was grounded. The artist de-programs in order to re-program, suggesting that there are other possible usages for techniques, tools and spaces at our disposition.
The cultural or social structures in which we live are nothing more for art than elements to be used, objects that must be examined and formally addressed. That, to my mind, is the essential content of the political program of contemporary art: maintaining the world in a precarious state or, in other words, permanently affirming the transitory, circumstantial nature of the institutions and the rules that govern individual or collective behavior. The main function of the instruments of communication of capitalism is to repeat a message, which is: we live in a finite, immovable and definitive political framework, only the decor must change at high speed. Art questions this message, and reverses it. It is an idea that was actually the core of Relational Aesthetics already, the Marxist idea that there is no stable “essence” of humankind, which is nothing but the transitory result of what human beings do at a certain moment of history. I think this might be the cornerstone of all my writings, in a way.