SourcesHow publics and spectators react to a certain cultural product is determined, among other things, by that product’s mode of address (how it constructs its hypothetical audience), and by the structures of mediation regulating access to cultural products in general. In different periods, from the early 20th century avant-gardes to the present, artists seeking to delink authorship from authority have experimented with various forms of dissemination and disruptive modes of reception that questioned the norms regulating how art and culture ought to be received. In Brecht’s epic theatre, Duchamp’s retinal shudder, or Yvonne Rainer’s choreographies- to name but a few-, the public is not a pre-existing entity, but is performatively constituted as such by the art work, and has, furthermore, a reflexive role to play in the process itself. Beyond the rhetoric of participation, reflexivity and performativity give publics a truly active role in the construction of their own position within/ in relation to the work. Moreover, this twofold dimension of criticality situates publics as politically conscious agents- in contradistinction to the homogenised, passive target-audience constructed by the culture industries-, and turns the reception of symbolic productions into a space for collective learning, experimentation and socialization.
Genealogies of practice
- Lives of Performers. (EUA) Yvonne Rainer, 1972
In her first feature film, dancer, choreographer, performer, filmmaker and writer Yvonne Rainer gives us a stark and revealing examination of romantic alliances. Lives of Performers examines the dilemma of a man who can't choose between two women and makes them both suffer. The change from dance to film, Rainer later explained, had allowed her to explore the emotional realm in greater depth. Rainer’s work reconfigures the performance/ spectator relation, interrupting the emotional connections between performers and the public, and creating a distancing effect that separates the work from the spectators. In Rainer’s own words: “The splitting of identities, the optical degeneration of the images, the character whose visibility for the other remains unexplained, acting with an inadequate voice or synchronisation, printed attributions of quoted monologues, etc. All these tricks come and go in narratively planned scenes. I am learning to play closer and closer to the rules… in order to better break them… to better break them”.
- Full Unemployment Cinema. (UK / Reino Unido)
A cine-forum project on work and the struggles against it. Initiated in 2007, this project not only explores the resistance to work and the link between capital and waged labour, but also reframes film-viewing as a space for debate where our working conditions can be critically examined.