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Inventing Publics

Page history last edited by vtriggs@... 12 years, 8 months ago


 this is a bit of what I've been writing in a paper today in reference to public art - I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with it yet!

In an historic reevaluation of public space, Nancy Fraser (1992) argued that it was impossible to claim that any group could be inclusive and that instead, marginalized groups form their own public which she calls counterpublics. Fraser was not advocating for a simple postmodern celebration of multiplicity but instead, expanded democratic possibilities. The idea of multiple publics has become increasingly important in cultural studies and evident in public school discourse as multiple literacies. However, Deleuze (in Rajchman, 2000) explains that in the art world, still responding to the war, another stream of thought arose in the expressive material of cinema or movement-images, a becoming-art, that started to show something intolerable for any collective project or program, raising questions of agency in another manner, eventually in terms of minorities, and the way they insert “becomings” into the official histories of majorities. He argues instead, that for all art, ‘the people’ are never given and must be invented anew. Rather than any transcendental intersubjective norms supposed by “the public” or a public, art is not a matter of communication but supposes a different condition – experimentation.

The potency of this conception might be extended with Davis’ unraveling of the pedagogic assumption that ‘the centre’ has to be a person or object. He argues instead, that a shift from a centralized structure to a decentralized one is not merely a matter of shifting attentions from one thing to another.  Rather, it is about decentering or displacing such attentions. As a result, the centre is not a teacher, student, public, counterpublic, or an object but is instead, emerging possibility. This open centre is something we do not or cannot yet see is happening to us, and is concerned instead with the emergence of something new and requires us to invent ourselves as another people.

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