Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

April 20, 2020
by Alex King
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AFB’S TERMS OF ART #21: MUSEUM & GALLERY

Now that increasing numbers of people are stuck at home and sheltering in place, I figured I’d do a little series. Every weekday for the duration of this intense period, I’ll post a short definition of some term in/related to aesthetics and philosophy of art. Let’s see how this goes! See them all here. The theme this week is artworld stuff. First up: Terms of Art #21: museum & gallery

September 17, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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“Trauma-Feeding”: Why It’s Not Okay to Exploit Trauma in Art

What follows is a guest post by Jeremy Bendik-Keymer & Misty Morrison. It also appears cross-posted at the Cleveland Review of Books. We want to draw attention to a practice inside contemporary artistic practices and to suggest a set of considerations that could gradually change it, for we take it to be morally dishonest and aesthetically compromised. We call this practice “trauma-feeding.” The expression is our invention. We think trauma-feeding is enmeshed in corrupt conditions in the economy of contemporary art so that to talk about it is to talk inevitably about the institutional framing of artistic practice in an art economy that cultivates practices, habits, and sensibilities that allow artists to hustle their way to success in a neoliberal economy structured by gross inequality of wealth and of capabilities. With trauma-feeding, their mode of hustle is parasitic (from para – alongside – sitos – food) on everyday people’s moral sensibilities. … Continue reading

July 31, 2019
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Zombie Formalism: Or, How Financial Values Pervade the Arts

What follows is a guest post by Sarah Hegenbart. Once upon a time, the month of June was jet-set season for the international artworld. After a meet and greet at the preview days at the Venice Biennale, which used to take place in early June, the crowd of artists, curators, critics, dealers, and collectors jumped on a plane, a train, or a yacht heading towards Basel, Switzerland. Basel wakes up at least once a year when astronomical amounts of money are paid for works so contemporary that the paint on the canvases has hardly finished drying. Or possibly even works that are such hot shit that they are not available yet because they are still on view in one of the national pavilions at the Venice Biennale. But the unavailability only increases the desire. (This is a pattern recognizable from other unhealthy relationships, too.) Knowing the economic laws of supply … Continue reading

October 4, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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What’s So Wrong with Free Expression, Abusive Art, and Understanding?

What follows is a guest post by John Rapko about the recent Guggenheim Museum controversy. The controversy On Friday, September 22, a friend sent me an e-mail alerting me to an on-line petition. This time the issue was that the Guggenheim Museum in New York City had released a list of the names of the artists and their works to be included in the upcoming show “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World.” Among the 150 works were three involving live animals, including a video of an installation by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu wherein dogs were strapped into opposing treadmills, where they ran in place, tugged, and snarled at each other to exhaustion. The two other pieces are by artists better-known outside China: a notorious piece by Huang Yong Ping, “Theater of the World”, which shows a large structure wherein many reptiles and insects have been placed, … Continue reading

October 18, 2016
by Rebecca Millsop
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Kelley Walker & A Manifesto for the Artworld Institution

Perhaps you heard about the recent controversy at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis: Since opening in mid-September at CAM, a solo exhibition of white male artist Kelley Walker has been under fire over a series of works that appropriate images from the Civil Rights Movement and magazine covers of black women streaked with toothpaste and chocolate. After failing to offer adequate explanation for the works during an artist talk at the museum on September 17, both Walker and Uslip—who is said to have had a crucial role in realizing the exhibition—incited criticism from the local community, who found the works malicious in nature. A September 18th letter called for the removal of four offending works; among signees were three black members of the CAM staff. The museum refused to remove the works, and instead added barrier walls and signage to warn museum-goers that Walker’s works “may be difficult for some … Continue reading

October 6, 2016
by Rebecca Millsop
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MoMA’s Entire Exhibition History is Now Online & It’s Free

  New York City’s Museum of Modern Art is certainly one of the most important and influential art institutions in the USA and the world. MoMA curators throughout the decades have made decisions that have greatly affected the way the artworld and public understand the nature of art. You can now view all materials from all of MoMA’s exhibitions, beginning with their opening in 1929. Check it out for yourself: MoMA’s Entire Exhibition History After, or perhaps before, check out a recent article in The Atlantic by Robinson Meyer, “The Museum of Modern Art’s Miraculous New Online Archive”, discussing the aesthetic and functional changes in exhibition documentation throughout the years.

August 5, 2013
by Aesthetics for Birds
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WONDER WORKS: RENOVATING ROMANTICISM ABOUT ART

What follows is a guest post by Jesse Prinz. Jesse is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York, Graduate Center. His research focuses on the perceptual, emotional, and cultural foundations of human psychology. He is the author of Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis (MIT 2002), Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion (Oxford 2004), The Emotional Construction of Morals (Oxford 2007), The Conscious Brain (Oxford 2012), Beyond Human Nature (Penguin 2012), and most recently, the forthcoming Works of Wonder: The Psychology and Ontology of Art (Oxford). Jesse also co-founded (with NYC mixed-media artist Rachel Bernstein) the art blog Art Bouillon. It is an honor and a true pleasure to have Jesse kick off the Guest Blogger Schedule here at Aesthetics for Birds. Among the many divides one can kind among competing theories of art, none sides wider and more ideologically entrenched than the … Continue reading