Autonomy and Weltbezug: Towards an Aesthetic of Performative Defiance
Author: Sebastian Olma
In this essay, Sebastian Olma explores possibilities for reformulating an effective notion of aesthetic autonomy for our time. As even a cursory look at the history of aesthetics reveals, the question of autonomy was from the beginning related to that of Weltbezug, i.e., art’s appropriate relation to the world. By linking current debates around art and aesthetic practice to the ideas of important thinkers of the aesthetic revolution that took place at the turn of the 19th century, Olma searches for the contours of a timely configuration of autonomy and Weltbezug.
He finds them in what he calls an aesthetic of performative defiance. It is an aesthetic that is performative in the sense of absorbing and moving along with the becoming of the world and defiant in its rejection of the temptations of linearity and calculability. He argues that an aesthetic of performative defiance is required today in order to ensure the evolution of our collective sense organs: artists need to be able to push them into whatever direction they damn well please.
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A shortened version of this essay was delivered as a lecture on the occasion of the inauguration of Professor Sebastian Olma on 18 November 2016 at Avans University of Applied Sciences, Breda, the Netherlands.
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