Post-Kantian Thought and the Production of Subjectivity in Contemporary Art

Post-Kantian Thought and the Production of Subjectivity in Contemporary Art

Video School

“Simon O’Sullivan: On the Production of Subjectivity”; “Jennifer Allen: How do we talk about art?”; “The Trouble with Art Criticism: JJ Charlesworth, Adrian Searle, Melissa Gronlund, and Tom Morton, moderated by Teresa Gleadowe”; “This is Art: The Anatomy of a Sentence,” by Thierry de Duve; “Roberta Smith: Criticism, a life sentence.” Images courtesy of art&education Video School, 2014.
March 3, 2015
Post-Kantian Thought and the Production of Subjectivity in Contemporary Art

For this month’s Video School program, Matthew Poole has selected a series of videos that explore key themes in recent post-Kantian thought, which challenge and problematize various models of subject-object relations and accounts of the production of subjectivity. Carefully tracking these complex debates, Poole provides informed commentary on each of the following videos in his program:


“This is Art”: The Anatomy of a Sentence, by Thierry de Duve
In this lecture, the third of his Kirk Varnedoe Lectures at the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU in 2013, Thierry de Duve deftly dissects the deceptively simple and familiar injunction “this is art” to show how, since the advent of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain of 1917, we have had to rethink Kantian aesthetics as well as our own production of subjectivity when encountering “candidates” to be considered as art.


Matter, Material, Immaterial: Art, Philosophy and Curating Thirty Years after Lyotard, by Robin Mackay
In this lecture by Robin Mackay, presented at the symposium “Speculations on Anonymous Materials” held at the Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany, on January 4, 2014, Mackay interrogates the exhibition Les Immatériaux, principally curated by Jean François Lyotard at Centre Georges Pompidou in 1985. By doing so, Mackay explores the importance of understanding the philosophical, political, ethical, and aesthetic import of “immaterials” in the construction and presentation of art as well as in all realms of contemporary life.


Simon O’Sullivan: On the Production of Subjectivity
Simon O’Sullivan introduces his short presentation, organized by the group The Matter of Contradiction, by framing it as a description of his recent work and outlining some of the key tenets of his book On the Production of Subjectivity: Five Diagrams of the Finite-Infinite Relation. His lecture quickly expands into an exploration and critique of work by a group of philosophers loosely associated with what has come to be known as Speculative Realism, and develops an argument that is inspired by but also challenges some of their ideas.


The Myth of the Given: Nominalism, Naturalism & Materialism, by Ray Brassier
“The myth of the given,” as proposed by the American philosopher Wilfred Sellars, is (I would like to suggest) as much a problem for art as it is for philosophy. Ray Brassier‘s lecture outlines this Sellarsian concept and details other terms used by Sellars, such as “the manifest image” and the “scientific image,” showing how the former challenges the latter, augmenting it in what Sellars calls “synoptic vision.” In detailing such ideas from Sellars, Brassier also explores the connections between nominalism as a semantic thesis, naturalism as an epistemic thesis, and materialism as a methodological thesis.


Also on Video School:

Orit Gat‘s program looks at the contemporary state of art criticism with videos featuring Jennifer Allen, Roberta Smith, Dan Fox, JJ Charlesworth, Adrian Searle, Melissa Gronlund, Tom Morton, and Teresa Gleadowe.

Gene McHugh‘s contribution examines the relationship of “post-internet art” to art history and includes lectures by Artie Vierkant, Ben Vickers, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Karen Archey, and more.


Video School features lectures and conversations chosen by artists and thinkers on issues relevant to their practice and/or contemporary artistic discourse. Organized thematically and highlighting current topics, Video School responds to the proliferation of educational videos circulating online selecting content pertinent to viewers.

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