Yearning for Presence: The Live Body in History
Western aesthetics has, since the inception of the notion of art in the early modern period, pivoted around a belief in presence, in the artist as divinely inspired genius who invests the art work with ongoing “presence”, forever recalling his subjectivity and being through the forms and appearance of the work. Such claims of “presence”, as Jacques Derrida has pointed out, are motivated by the desire to substantiate the superiority of humans, and to deny the inexorability of our mortality. In this schema, which came to its apotheosis but also began to be challenged in European modernism, art becomes the means through which we imagine our transcendence. At the same time, performance studies has also begun to rely on claims of “presence”, but in the case of live art, to claim authenticity – if “the artist is present,” then we presumably have full access to her “being” and thus an “authentic” experience of the artist/other. This paper takes apart both sets of claims, using specific examples from art and performance to show the impossibility of presence as a truth claim. (Amelia Jones)
Lecture will be in English.
Organisation: Maska Institute; In collaboration with: City of Women, Škuc Gallery.