1. Research Congresses
        2. 1st FORMER WEST Congress
        3. Video

        Aesthetic Democracy

        Boris Groys

        5 November 2009

      1. At the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries, art entered a new era—namely, an era of mass artistic production. This era is new because the previous modern age was an era of mass consumption of art, and it was described as such by many influential theoreticians as an era of Kitsch (Greenberg), of “cultural industry” (Adorno), or as a society of spectacle (Debord). Now, the situation has changed. Contemporary means of communications and networks like Facebook, My Face, YouTube, Second Life, and Twitter give global populations the possibility to place their photos, videos, and texts in a way that cannot be distinguished from any other post-Conceptualist artwork. Hegel asserted at the beginning of his Lectures on Aesthetics that art was a thing of the past. He argued that modernity is dominated by pure thought that does not need images to be represented; accordingly under the conditions of modernity art is deemed insignificant—actually, its own insignificance can be its only possible topic. But this Hegelian diagnosis has demonstrated itself historically as a wrong one. In time, modern life became more and more aestheticized, theatralized, and designed. Today, the artist shares art with the public as earlier s/he shared with it religion or politics—on the most elementary, common level of everyday life. This keynote considers what consequences these developments have on our understanding of art’s political potential, and how we might see the transformations in communications and their subsequent impact on artistic production as a central feature of today’s post-communist condition.