Guest Lecture Drucken

Armen Avanessian

On the Impossibilities of a Speculative Realist Aesthetics

Part of the Lecture Series "New Realism in Contemporary Art"
18:00-20:00Vilnius Academy of Arts, Design Innovations Centre "Titanikus"Maironio 3112a Vilnius
Adopting a semiotic model, one could differentiate between three regimes of realism.
Firstly a realism of the signified (predominant in 19th century literature and art),
trying to depict reality, understand it and thereby also change it; secondly a
realism of the signifier, implying a (lacanian or traumatic) 'real' that always
remains inaccessible and can only be approached via the most rigid procedures of
abstraction (like seen in much of 20th century art); finally, today, what's at stake
could be called a realism of reference.

Even without being able to firmly define such a realist approach, one can still make
some distinctions and pose relevant questions: what if only speculation grants
access to reality? Are there any alternatives to the 'perceptual and psychological'
which David Joselit described as the two sole modes of connecting work of art and
person in the last decades? Is it possible to get rid of aesthetics and its

About the lecture series “New Realism in Contemporary Art”:

The realism of the 19th century urged to live in one‘s own time, to record the features, attitudes and ideas of the current era – il faut être de son temps, as Gustave Courbet proclaimed. If realism is the witness and mediator to the symptoms of a certain time period, what could be (or is) the realism of the 21st century, and how does it manifest in works of art? The parameters of science, digital technology, communications and information technology may eventually be seen as some of the most important factors that form the features of the modern world: the global proliferation of images, the dehierarchization of things and persons existing in the world, communication by things among themselves, a new form of moral and political responsibility, and a change in the ethical (and aesthetic) attitude towards the world. The lectures attempt to define the relationship of the artwork and the world by regarding realism in contemporary art as a multifaceted issue: is it possible for an artwork to be independent of the perceiving subject? What could be an alternative to the regime of “aesthetical correlationism”? How is understanding of the work of art, its value and (political) influence affected by the global proliferation of images and the networks formed by them? Could realism become a manifesto calling towards reflection on a common social and political reality? The lecture series aims to highlight tendencies of realism in contemporary art practices as well as to reflect on the theoretical approaches reviving the concept of realism. Speakers: Armen Avanessian (Free University of Berlin), David Joselit (Yale University), Dieter Roelstraete (The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago). Other events: the lecture by Armen Avanessian on the 9th of October, 2013, and the lecture by Dieter Roelstraete on the 6th of December, 2013. All events will take place at Vilnius Academy of Arts, Design Innovations Centre, 112 a. Organiser: Inesa Pavlovskaitė