History of Art Research Seminar: Michael Bachmann | Distributed Aesthetics, Contemporary Criticism and the Public Sphere


  • Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 17:15 to 18:15

This seminar by guest speaker, Dr Michael Bachmann, is the third in the History of Art Research Seminar Series 2016 - 2017.

Michael is Lecturer in Theatre, Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow.

Distributed Aesthetics, Contemporary Criticism and the Public Sphere

Criticism is usually perceived of as something that comes after the event. For instance, when theatre critic Mark Fisher understands writing about art as ‘an act of translation’ (2015: 1), his choice of metaphor already casts the theatrical performance as “source text” to which critics merely return. As would-be translators, their task is to explain, to a wider audience, the content, form and possibly socio-cultural context of that which they have seen.

While it seems only logical that the object of journalistic criticism precedes the review, I will look at instances of contemporary artistic practice where acts of criticism - on TV, in newspapers, in digital media, etc. - become part of the event rather than its translation.

Specifically, I will focus on two controversial performance-installations, Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B (touring since 2010) and Christoph Schlingensief’s Please Love Austria! (Vienna 2000), both of which exhibit racialized bodies in front of predominantly white audiences.

Comparing the ways in which these performance-installations rely, to a certain extent, on being ‘distributed’ through criticism, I ask how this changes the relationship between art, criticism and the public sphere.

The event is free and open to all.

This event is part of the History of Art Research Seminar Series of talks by guest speakers and colleagues. Find out more about the series.