Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Excess Art

To make oneself into a work of art is in a sense the only response to an imminent and ridiculous redundancy of the specific forms of the body; and to make oneself into a work of art (as Nietzsche and, following him, Michel Foucault suggest) is not to simply aestheticize life, to dandify it, or to make oneself into an object or spectacle for the artistic investigation of others. It requires living one's life and one's body in excess of what is required-- in excess of discipline and even in excess of aesthetics.
To live one's life as a work of art is, among other things, to once again return to one's body as the site and source, the origin of pleasure and productivity and to utilize it differently, to move and act in ways other than those that have habitually confined us. Acting differently also leads to being acted on differently-- to sense differently, developing each sense beyond its usual biological reach and inquiring into the limits and transformability of biology itself. Developing alternatives-- synesthetically cross-mapping the senses onto each other, sensing differently, using the senses in terms of the range and scope of the other senses, exploring how each sense functions or is capable of functioning quite differently from its assumed and normalized role. To develop these alternatives is inherently invested in artistic activity. It is to render the body differently in representation, for representation is, as I have argued, almost a second skin, a diaphanous sheathing for bodies that transforms what the body is and does. It is looking good in both senses-- looking at something well (outside the domain or order of the gaze) and being looked at, as well.

-- Elizabeth Grosz, Naked (2006: 200)

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