Relational Aesthetics Analysis

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INTRODUCTION

In this essay I evaluate Bourriaud’s ‘relational aesthetics’ in terms of its successes and failures in narrowing the gap between the aesthetics of ‘fine art’ and the aesthetics of ‘popular visual culture’, there having been constant efforts to narrow this gap since about the 1960’s.
In order to formulate my argument in my evaluation of relational aesthetics and relational art, I look at the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Liam Gillick, the work of both artists having been deemed by Bourriaud to be situated in in the paradigm of ‘relational aesthetics’.
As a point of departure, to trace the gap between the aesthetics of ‘fine art’ and ‘popular visual culture’, I look briefly at the aesthetic criteria that signified modern art, and
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In this section I evaluate relational aesthetics in terms of its contribution to narrowing the gap between the aesthetics of ‘fine art’ and the aesthetics of ‘popular visual culture’ and I discuss the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Liam Gillick.
The approach of relational aesthetics was defined by Nicolas Bourriaud in 1998 in his book Relational Aesthetics, and with his interest in socially-oriented art he defined the art of the 1990’s as one that takes as its theoretical horizon the “realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space” (Bourriaud quoted in Bishop
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As such, it is also viewed as a response to the virtual relationships which have prompted a desire for more physical interaction between people, as well as inspired artists to adopt a do-it-yourself approach and model their own “possible universes”, and although this emphasis on immediacy, familiar to that of performance art, Bourriaud sees a difference in performance and relational art, the main difference for him being the shift in attitude toward social change (Bishop
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