“Relational aesthetics”

Art in the 90s: Relational aesthetics

Nicolas Bourriaud’s recent dismissal from the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts (ENSBA) in Paris, France, has caused a worldwide sensation. First of all, because of ENSBA’s long-standing status as the most prestigious art school in France, but especially because of Bourriaud’s exceptional career, during which he has cofounded the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), served as curator at the Tate (London), and has worked as a critic and essayist, for which he is probably the most renowned. After publishing his book Esthétique relationnelle (Relational Aesthetics) in 1998, Bourriaud has gained international recognition. Today, despite other essays he has written, such as Radicant (2008), for example, he remains strongly associated with the concept of “relational aesthetics”. As part of its special summer edition, Art Media Agency is offering you a glimpse of the 1990s, focusing on the universe of relational aesthetics, and the direction it might take in the future. Early 1990s: diversity of form, absence of theory Esthétique relationnelle appeared in 1998. It is not exactly considered as an essay, but more as a collection of articles written by Nicolas Bourriaud for Documents sur l’Art, a magazine he cofounded in 1992. Through this collection of articles, Bourriaud wished to shed light on the artistic practices that were at that time considered to be disparate, formless, and unclassifiable, but above all, deprived of theoretical discourse — if not that of the “aesthetics of communication” developed by Mario Costa (in 1983), who was interested in our perception of time, space, and the other in the information era following the performances of Fred Forest. In the 1990s, critics wondered which speech to adopt in order to sanction the artistic practices that arised during their epoch. They tried to find a way to link Rirkrit Tiravanija — who once organised a dinner at one of her collectors’ house by...

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