“Mystery-Ministry: The Aesthetic Sphere and the Discourse of Professionalism”

“Mystery-Ministry: The Aesthetic Sphere and the Discourse of Professionalism”

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Federico Manuel Peralta Ramos, Misterio de economía (Mystery of Economics), n.d. Marker on canvas, 70 x 100 cm. Private collection.
March 30, 2015
“Mystery-Ministry: The Aesthetic Sphere and the Discourse of Professionalism”

April 16 & 17, 2015

Universidad Torcuato Di Tella
Departamento de Arte
Av. Figueroa Alcorta 7350
Buenos Aires

[email protected]


Program and enrollment here.

In the context of a highly active cultural scene such as the Argentine, ceaselessly troubled by his own amateurism, this First Symposium on Art and Aesthetics organized by the Art Department of Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, and curated by Claudio Iglesias and Inés Katzenstein, will address theoretical and vital questions surrounding the problem of professionalism from a perspective critical of euphoric discourses that favor the growth of contemporary art as industry or economic sector.

“Mystery–Ministry” will analyze the relationship between art and work from the perspective of philosophers and intellectuals active in the spheres of critical theory (Diedrich Diederichsen), art theory (Boris Groys, Suhail Malik), speculative metaphysics (Graham Harman), art education (Joe Scanlan), curatorial practice (Guillermo Santamarina, Chus Martínez, Sarah Demeuse), art criticism (Graciela Speranza, Guillermo Machuca, Rodrigo Quijano), art production (Alejo Moguillansky, Luciana Acuña, Guillermo Faivovich), and sociology (Osvaldo Baigorria, Lucas Rubinich).

In conjunction with the symposium, artist Guillermo Faivovich will produce a project for the UTDT exhibition gallery with works of artists Enrique Torroja and Roberto Rossi.

“Is art a mystery or a ministry?”—a dilemma formulated by Chilean filmmaker Raúl Ruiz—is the trigger of “Mystery-Ministry. The aesthetic sphere and the discourse of professionalism.” The focus of the symposium will be the relationship, or lack of relationship, between art and work. That issue, which has captivated an art scene always inclined to envision itself as a constantly developing and expanding “cultural industry,” has been analyzed time and again by cultural theory and philosophy.

In relation to “Ministry,” one of the obsessions of the 20th century was the extent to which what we commonly call art is a social praxis devoid of any possible aesthetic idealism. The recent fixation on the figure of the professional artist as practitioner—who acts strategically and makes use of an array of rhetorical tools to construct his or her career—is necessarily linked to the reduction of art to its social correlate proposed by critical theory in the mid-20th century, a position that would eventually become one of the pedagogical pillars of schools of art and humanities. From the perspective of “ministry,” then, “art is work,” one practice among many others, and art history is by definition a social history that can be anchored in relationships of production.

From the “mystery” perspective, philosophy responds that what we call art is a galaxy much larger than anything social construction could ever dream of, a galaxy of specific and brilliant, but somewhat elusive, objects: works of art which, over the course of history, have been compared to an enigma, a spell, a hieroglyphic, and (by Ortega y Gasset) “an imaginary floating island, surrounded by reality on all sides.” For aesthetic idealism, art, as something that cannot be known, can only be approached with learned ignorance. Due to its reticence, it transcends the realm of practice and communication and, hence, it can neither be identified with work nor planned in terms of institutional or economic growth.

From the “ministry” perspective, art is a practice that can be planned and improved; from the “mystery” perspective, it is above all an indecipherable object that, even if partly available to the senses, has an independent existence like a monad, a buried mineral, or a wild animal.

The symposium will be held free of charge in the auditorium of the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires. Previous enrollment is required for each of the symposium’s panels and lectures.

The symposium enjoys the support of Mecenazgo Cultural, the Círculo de Amigos del Departamento de Arte de la UTDT, and Esplendor Hoteles Boutique.

Boris Groys’s visit to Buenos Aires is a joint invitation from the Goethe-Institut, the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, and the Universidad Nacional de San Martín.

For further information, see our website or contact us at [email protected].

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Universidad Torcuato Di Tella
March 30, 2015

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