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competence

Saturday, 01. December 2012 | 02:00 (tz: Europe/Amsterdam)

& then you disappear

dear_art

Toward the end of the 1990s, Zagreb conceptualist Mladen Stilinovic wrote an open letter to art -- not so much a love letter as some words of solace for an old friend in a pinch. The decade had been rough. Yet Stilinovic avoids the question of art's political content altogether. He commiserates about the different forms of capture to which art has increasingly fallen prey -- ideological capture, to be sure, and mercantile capture, in an attention economy where attention-getting is already emerging as the dominant form of capital accumulation. Yet to have the market pay attention at all requires submitting art to institutional capture, since to accept that art's value is merely what the market says its value is, requires accepting that art be what the institution says it is. To distinguish art from the mere real thing, as the champions of institutional theory cleverly put it, to have those objects and actions, all and sundry, appear under the auspices of art, is to submit them to a form of performative capture, through which they are performed as art. And for this reason, Stilinovic suggests, art ultimately finds itself in the grips of ontological capture -- the price exacted for it to be art at all is that it be... just art. It is not so much that art has exhausted the repertory of decoys and feints with which it has been allowed to play, as that all its ploys and sleights of hand have now been mapped out, made predictable.