lanfranco aceti – Disobedient, Discontented, and Disruptive: Politics of Aesthetic Resistance and Resilience

Lanfranco Aceti, Annunciation, 2018. Performance and sculptural installation in public space. Curator: Yiannis Colakides.

Disobedient, Discontented, and Disruptive:
Politics of Aesthetic Resistance and Resilience

“The repressed who sides with the revolution is, according to the standards of the beautiful life in an ugly society, uncouth and distorted by resentment.” [1]

The lecture will discuss art in the context of ethical values—beyond the contemporary market and economical forces that have reduced all human endeavors to economically measurable outputs and outcomes. The re-introduction of ethical values, or more simply the re-introduction of ethics within society, brings art back, not so much into a Kantian aprioristic world, but into an ideological and social framework that can be identified as the superior teleology of art and society. In fact, both art and society have been eroded by militaristic, corporate, and oligarchic constructions that manifest themselves through the narratives of the body politic and through concepts of post-society, post-state, post-capitalism, post-democracy, post-citizenship, and post-art.

The question to be asked is if art can exist any longer as a social endeavor and if anger can any longer be represented in an aesthetic context if it is considered ‘uncouth’ and is subject to ugly society’s forms of control and censorship. The relationship between uncouth people, hierarchical societies, and expressions of anger is further complicated by an historical impossibility for anything other than the institutional history of the ‘winners,’ also known as the truth [2] of the body politic, [3] to be widely represented, aestheticized, narrated, and memorialized.

[1] Theodor W. Adorno, Aesthetic Theory (London: Bloomsbury, 1997), 67.

[2] “Rooted as it is in the interconnected concepts of universality, objectivity, and canonicity privileged by the (Anglo-American) critical establishment, the battle about the authority of anger surrounding feminist criticism can be read as a battle for or around ‘truth’: an inscription of the discourse of ‘the true’ constructed and disseminated by agencies of institutionalized authority (including the university and the media) that works to appropriate or silence the voices of opposition or dissent.” Brenda R. Silver, “The Authority of Anger: ‘Three Guineas’ as Case Study,” Signs 16, no. 2 (Winter, 1991): 341.

[3] “The Body politic is after all a myth which can ultimately be sustained only by consensus.” Nicholas Mirzoeff, Bodyscape: Art, Modernity and the Ideal Figure (London: Routledge, 1995), 84.

Lanfranco Aceti is known for his social activism and extensive career as an artist, curator, and academic. He is a visiting professor and consultant for Ph.D. research at KHM, the Academy of Media Arts Cologne and professor and director of the Department of Arts Administration at Boston University. He is the founder of The Studium: Lanfranco Aceti Inc., the founder and Director of OCR (Operational and Curatorial Research in Contemporary Art, Design, Science and Technology), and founder and Director of MoCC (Museum of Contemporary Cuts). In 2017, Aceti prepared a series of new artworks for an exhibition entitled Shimmer, curated by Irini Papadimitriou (V&A), at the Tobazi Mansion in Hydra; a new large choral performance entitled Accursed for the Thessaloniki Biennial in Greece; and Knock, Knock, Knocking a public space installation in the Mediterranean Garden Pavilion of the New Sea Waterfront of Thessaloniki. In 2018 Aceti is preparing a new series of exhibitions and performances.