A Primer

As an alternative to representative politics, there is appropriative politics. There are two ways of understanding the term “appropriate”: to take to hand and do with it as we will (I appropriated the wrench from the tool box and set to the sink); and there is the moral action of making something appropriate to the context in which we find ourselves (the appropriate response to the situation was to politely decline). Representative politics is pornographic in that it appropriates the political will of others and subsumes those myriad desires to the representative’s own agenda, repackaged as the compromised or diplomatic resolution of apparent conflict. Appropriative politics is political action that does not impose onto a context what the political agent thinks should happen, rather, the appropriative politician finds resolutions to conflicts that are appropriate to the context wherein the conflict is found.

Rancière makes a  distinction between politics and policing — politics rarely occurs because it is disruptive, politics is an aesthetic act in so far that it brings to the forefront what has been occluded in the background; typically there is the maintenance of the status quo, which is policing, not politicking

"Untitled" Andrea Fraser (2003)

In Untitled (2003), Andrea Fraser had a gallery find a buyer for her most recent performance piece, a fairly common operation today. The piece would include Fraser and the buyer having sex in a hotel room, no audio, just one fixed-place camera; there are 5 copies of the event, the buyer gets to keep one.

Fraser’s piece helps us to understand a key distinction I’m making with spectacular agency, that representative politics is not so different from representative sex acts (usually called pornography): we know that when we watch porn that the purpose isn’t to engage (to have sex with) the people representing the sex acts before us, we are supposed to watch them actually have sex and in so doing satisfy our own desire; this is the lesson of politics today as well, we know that when the campaigns kick-up, when the news media begins their “investigations” that we the citizens are not supposed to actually go to these representatives and act, rather we watch politics and derive some satisfaction from knowing that there are people out there apparently doing political things.



One response to “A Primer

  1. Pingback: Empty Secrets | spectacular agency

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