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Art History and Visual Culture without World


Zurück zum Heft: Zeitschrift für Ästhetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft Band 60. Heft 1
EUR 14,90


Aron Vinegar’s essay explores art history and visual culture’s dependence on a phenomenological conception of world, which is based on a hermeneutics of facticity, intentionality, and ontological difference. He argues that the ‘basic concept’ of world has structured the field of art history and visual culture in implicit and explicit ways, thus dictating many of its commitments and concerns. One of the primary limitations of this commitment to world, is that it has resulted in art history and visual culture’s tendency to concern itself with a very small portion of existence, usually human existence, in its emphasis on hermeneutics and facticity, thus foreclosing on a more generous and speculative ontology, ethics, and politics. The concept of “world” suggests an overarching totality, an interconnected field of meaning and sense, often indicated by a tacit and resonate tonality. But there is no overarching “world” or “world-view” that can provide us with an overview of or container for the myriad worlds of things. An art history that is willing to consider that the world does not exist would acknowledge and embrace the fact that there is no overall focus, which can encompass things and events in all their spatio-temporal complexity. It would entail a practice attentive to a “supple and inflected bathmology” (Vinegar prefers this phrase to “flat ontology”) in its refusal to emphasize “privileged ontological scenes” predicated on hierarchies of ontological difference, and subsuming things and experience within the structures of phenomenological intentionality. To initiate such a practice, Vinegar suggests an embrace of what he terms “ontological indifference,” a robust notion of habit, and a temporal logic that would be fully attentive to a pluriverse of multiple existences and eruptions of substance, which extend well beyond ‘our’ realms of significance and meaning, cares and concerns, laughter and joy, losses and mournings.