Sitting on the train, looking out the window. I’m on my way to West Space. It’s the week-end and lots of people are milling around Flinders St Station. Week-ends have a different feel to week-day crowds. There’s an anarchic, frantic feeling. Not enough free time. I’m beginning my working day visiting an artist-run space. There’s a performance scheduled – billed as a Concert at West Space, titled THREE ADJOINING SPACES WITH MANIFOLD EDGES by the artist Helen Grogan. This work runs concurrently with Geoff Robinson’s room overlay.
I’m looking out, but thinking about the book I’m reading Radical Aesthetics by Isobel Armstrong. Written in the late 1990s just as the Derrida/Deconstructive mania had subsided and relational, social, and other words had become salient. It’s time to rethink what we mean by ‘aesthetics’, Armstrong argues. The meaning of “Aesthetics” at that time had collapsed into ‘the beautiful’ ‘the tasteful’… so you can see how easily it could be deconstructed away as a privileged category of class relations.
But now it is imperative we rethink ‘aesthetics’.
“Productive as this hermeneutics (deconstruction) has been in so many ways – irrigating intellectual culture with new theory – the concept of the aesthetic has been steadily emptied of content. This movement calls out in its turn the project of rethinking the aesthetic.” Isobel Armstrong, The Radical Aesthetic.(2)