‘Auratic instances in the contemporary art experience’ - lecture of Mădălina Buhoș at PAVILION - center for contemporary art and culture

Friday November 07th 2014, 3:38 am
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On November 6, Mădălina Buhoș held a lecture at PAVILION - center for contemporary art and culture.

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Image: Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, 2003. Photograph by Tate Photography.

What is the aura of Walter Benjamin and mostly, can we talk about this phenomena in relation to contemporary art?

The lecture focuses in understanding this concept, in the direction that Benjamin gave it, at the moment of its passing into modernity but also in the possibility of its survival through the experience generated by contemporary art. The examples we will discuss are strongly connected to the transformation and consequences that the work of art has suffered after its passing into the era of mechanical reproduction untill contemporaneity and also about the effect that this navigation of shock casted upon the human psyche. The changes come from multiple directions, social, cultural, technological, all of them imposing a shift in the way reality is perceived.

Fredric Jameson said in ‘Postmodernism or Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’ that the cultural productions of postmodernism distract the spectator, using this term with a reference to Benjamin[1]. The difference between modernism and postmodernism, which Jameson points out, is that the first still keeps residual information of a native nature, of the archaic and that the culture worked from the perspective of this resistance. Postmodernism and also contemporary art is the result of a completed process of modernization. What comes out of this is a world that profoundly belongs to men, in which culture becomes what he defines as a second nature[2], this being also what Benjamin identifies as a necessary condition for the survival of aura.

Contemporary art proposes new methods of being rather than concrete objects, the production of gestures primes the production of things. The artist and the public become a field of collective, participatory and critical experiences of a self-poetic apparatus. It is possible that at the basis of Benjamin’s aura lays utopia, which shape also transforms along with the social and historical going but which originates from the longing that the role of art is one of salvation, through the integration of art into the social arena.

[1] Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism or Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Duke University Press, 2001, p IX

[2] Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism or Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Duke University Press, 2001, p X

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Mădălina Buhoș, born in 12th of November 1989 has a Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Management at the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies and a Master’s Degree in Art History: History and Methodology in Visual Studies. Her dissertation thesis was on the subject of Walter Benjamin’s aura in contemporary art. Lives and works in Bucharest.


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