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Fact and Responsibility – Approaches towards the Factual in Contemporary Art


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


Rachel Wells turns to the examination of three recent artistic practices, which integrate facts in their work not as an antagonistic other but as a constitutive element to their efficacy and ethics. She argues, that in introducing news, factual actions, or objects with traces of factual events, Alfredo Jaar, Jeremy Deller and Martin Creed use facts in order to retract from the position of art as an expression of artistic freedom and subjectivity and thus as the opposite of fact. Instead, she states that by introducing the factual the artists underline each in their own way the instability of given eptistemological and ethical frameworks. Far from being a mere relativist pose, Wells understands this denial of a stable subjectivist position as a reconfigured sense of “decision”—perhaps in the sense of Nancy’s articulation of a “decision of existence—that lets the factual take precedence over the control in and of the artwork as a heightened form of responsiveness and responsibility. Whereas Jaar uses the factual to engage overt political action, Deller presents facts that avoid taking an overtly critical perspective forcing the viewer to think about political events. Creed in contrast seeks for the interpretation of the past altogether, would avoid to take over the responsibility of taking a position. Whereas David Hume stated famously, that reasoning concerning matter of fact is founded in causality and Immanuel Kant concludes, that responsibility and freedom begins where causality ends, Wells understands the positions of Jaar, Deller and Creed as an attempt to reconcile the realm of the factual and the realm of the moral. Responsibility would then arise exactly out of the insight in the impossibility to ground moral stances in rationality and causality and in an attempt to use causality to demonstrate this impossibility.