[iDC] Some thoughts on Jean Baudrillard and cultural studies

Judith Rodenbeck jrodenbe at slc.edu
Wed Mar 14 09:58:09 EDT 2007

Charles Esche wrote:

> I am showing an Allan Kaprow exhibition at the moment and the
> attempts by the estate (sadly) and the gallery (predictably) to
> aetheticise and depoliticise his work is at such a profound level
> that it beggars belief. I see the work of this significant artist
> during the long gone heyday of American experimentalism dying before
> my eyes. It is true that it has become a simulacrum but that
> knowledge does absolutely nothing for me...and nor does any of the
> rest of his thought.

I'd be curious to have more detail. Allan was a slippery fellow, both
anti-aesthetic and profoundly formalist, a deep anarchist and very
comfortably middle-class. He would have said the work was already dead the
minute it was over; but then towards the end of his life he got interested
in remakes (or retakes), not a la Abramovic re-do but in re-thinks. The
problem, for an un-artist interested in blurring, became one of legacy. And
Allan, always interested in gossip, transmission, and legend (like Pecos
Bill) would (did) welcome a certain contentious confusion.

On the iDC reception of Baudrillard, I am in some sympathy with William
Merrin. Derrida wrote a little book, The Ear of the Other, on Nietszche that
seems a propos, about the necessity of careful distinction between a text
and its reception. We're moving out of the foggy haze of a certain early
1990s theory fetishism (or at least substituting new Proper Names--Agamben,
Ranciere, who this year supplant Hardt and Negri--for the old ones), but
that's no reason to forget how productive certain analyses were in their
moment, or how useful certain concepts--sign-exchange value, for
example--still are.


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