Can There Be a Postautonomous Aesthetic?
This book set out to look at the void left by the exhaustion
of (the) modern aesthetic(s). It has also criticized the ideal-
ization of fragmentary and nomadic works and their fleeting
prestige in the postmodern canon, including the neocom-
munitarianist installations and performances that “justify”
relational aesthetics. Doesn’t the postautonomous aesthetic
invent a new arbitrary canon when it concentrates on “em-
bedded” works and actions, whereas a good measure of what
people recognized as artists do remains independent of eco-
nomic, media, or political coercion, and critics evaluate
their work by criteria unfettered by those contexts?
Above all, the purpose of this book isn’t to come up with
a new aesthetic. It doesn’t establish a set of rules about what
kind of art ought to be done. It attempts to describe the cur-
rent landscape of art practice by observing what is going on
with certain art studios, artworks, museums, auctions, au-
diences, theories, and critics. We come to a few conclusions
about the circuits in which art opens up to linkages that lie
beyond its own field. We show that this opening, as well as
the challenges of outside actors, make the autonomy of the
art world problematic. Instead of proposing that art should
be dissolved into design, politics, the market for items of
distinction, or popular culture (as has so often been argued),
I have been interested in understanding the changes in the
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