Avant / July 2014 / Reading Group / Visual Arts

Reading Group: ‘Art, Society, Aesthetics’.

July 18th, 25th, 30th: Times as below, CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery, Free.

Adorno's Grey, 2012, detail (1)
We will be reading a number of texts which are concerned with how art functions within society- its constraints, its potentials, its blind spots, how it does its work, its art work, work, labour, life! The main text we will be reading is Adorno’s “Art, Society and Aesthetics” (20pages) from Aesthetic Theory– we will also be reading an essay from Jacques Rancière and two essay’s from Hito Steyerl. It is suggested that people read the text before coming to the group.



Friday July 18th: 3.30 – 5.30

Friday July 25th:  3.30 – 5.30

Wednesday July 30th: 3.30 – 5.30.

Contact: Catherine Harty at ccad.gallery@cit.ie

Theodor Adorno: ‘’All efforts to restore art by giving it a social function – of which art itself is uncertain and by which it expresses its own uncertainty –are doomed. Indeed, art’s autonomy shows signs of blindness. Blindness was ever an aspect of art; in the age of arts emancipation, however, this blindness has begun to predominate in spite of, if not because of, art’s lost naïveté, which, as Hegel already perceived, art cannot undo.’’ Adorno, “Art, Society, Aesthetics” (pp.1) https://istifhane.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/aesthetictheory.pdf

Below is a link to a really good lecture on Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory by Martin Hielscher of the European Graduate School:  http://www.egs.edu/faculty/martin-hielscher/videos/adorno-and-aesthetic-theory/

Jacques Rancière: We will (very ambitiously!) also be reading Jacques ’s “The Paradoxes of Political Art” from Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (16 pages). This is useful as Rancière gives examples of specific artworks.


Hito Steyerl: Adorno’s Grey is the title of a film installation by Hito Steyerl which used two stories told about Adorno- his instructions for the room he lectured in to be painted a particular grey as he believed this would aid his students concentration. And the story of female protesters disrupting a lecture he was giving. Steryerl uses these stories as a starting point for thinking throughnotions of autonomy, theory and action.

Above still from Hito Steyerl’s Adorno’s Grey


2 essays by Hito Steyerl:

Claims for an Autonomy of Life: http://worker01.e-flux.com/pdf/article_8943161.pdf

Politics of Art: Contemporary Art and the Transition to Post-Democracy: http://worker01.e-flux.com/pdf/article_8888181.pdf



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