The Location of Art

A Topographical Earthquake

Eef Veldkamp introduces The Location of Art


We claim to localise ‘Art’ with a capital by means of ‘pointing and naming’ certain objects that we consequently call ‘works of art.’ In this article, Veldkamp investigates the location of art: what ‘place’ do we point to when we claim something is Art? He contrasts the object of a traditional artist’s practice with that of another type of artist: the engaged artist. Based on a simple concept analysis of the grounds of traditional artistic practices, this other type of artist can no longer be called an ‘artist.’ Veldkamp attempts to shift the location of ‘Art’ to the direct consequences of the process, so that the artwork can become what it always wanted to be—that is, archival material—and the engaged artist can still be called an artist.

Point and Name

You walk past it, open your eyes in wonder, and think, ‘Well, this must be art!’ For many artists, this is one of the best compliments they can receive. It brings about a complete alienation of the everyday. It is, above all, something that we, the viewers, do not understand for a change and so makes us escape ‘ordinary experience’—that which we can plainly decode; that which has been caught in a fossilising grip by the structures of understanding; that which slips the grasp of mere affirmation. Meanwhile, it must also be a considerable insult for many artists: that something that is so evident to them, the language they warmly know and speak about with love, is not shared by an audience, the object of desire for many artworks. Works of art want to be seen, and even be touched—not being allowed probably only increases the obsession. The artist could feel resentful, since the statement ‘Well, then, that must be art!’ might feel like being discredited by the same audience the artist loves, through that oh-so familiar ‘disposable’ understanding of art (‘Is it art or can we throw it away?’). The despair when the feeling of being in love is not mutual transforms the audience into the fetish of the artwork, which must be the real ‘pathology’ of the Arts and results in all kinds of spectacular symptoms. The only way to lure an audience into the bedroom of the Arts now becomes museum memberships and discount cards—coupons on artistic prostitution and spectacular shows like those we see at Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle and Moco Museum in Amsterdam, both of which would mortify even Jacques Rancière. That there are security guards in museums tells you everything you need to know. However, the question remains: ‘who’ or ‘what’ are they guarding? The artwork from the visitor or the visitor from the artwork? No fetish can be fully realised. What loving relationship is guarded but a relationship fuelled with hate? When, other than in reproach, would one say, ‘Well, that must be art’ in a positive tone? (Every sentence that starts with ‘Well, that must then be…’ does not escape cynicism.)

The act in which one points to something and names it ‘Art’ is not only a classical performance of how dictionary entries work (picture theory of meaning)—point and name—it also localises that which artists, theoreticians, curators and so forth talk about when they speak of Art. The artwork (without capital) becomes an example of Art (with capital) through that structure. Artworks pose as examples of Art [voor-beeld];1 they act Art out and simultaneously artworks ‘imitate something,’2 namely Art. So Art takes place in the artwork, and by grace of this presumption, ‘art professionals’ can say that the artwork is Art: not the process, not the practice, not its consequences, not the interaction with an audience—which henceforth can become accidents of the artwork but do not necessarily need to exist for the artwork to be Art. But, on the other hand, Art is on a qualitative level; the definition is a subtraction from definition: the artwork is Art, but it also imitates Art. Just like any dictionary entry, we can only pronounce it phonetically ‘/ɑː(r)t/’, or visually point ‘(à)’ towards it (‘smelling’ art, funnily enough, easily becomes a lot more unorthodox).

Regardless of the fact that the picture theory of language3 was debunked a long time ago, aesthetics might be one of the only domains that still appeals to this theory, precisely because the structure of Art as I have just put forward—and which I will elaborate on later—unfortunately does not allow for ‘meaningful’ evaluation. We can merely point it out: point and name. This has been painstakingly argued numerous times—for example, by the early postmodernist Morris Weitz: ‘“Art” itself is an open concept.’4 Art negates definition (paradoxically) by definition. Not because it lacks being something but because definition (by definition) appears singular and fixed, and art is neither of those things. Weitz invites us to not painstakingly and endlessly keep asking what ‘X’ is because it will not answer, and he refers to Wittgenstein when noting that we should wonder ‘what does “X” do?’.5 There are no mutual qualifications that give different examples of Art a common denominator, nor is there an accident of Art in and of itself—there is no ‘art molecule,’ no empirical fact we can deduce it to, apart maybe from phenomenologically witnessing people in bliss noting, ‘Well, then, this must be art!’. However, art remains to be meaningful, regardless of its lack in essence.

You might wonder, then, how did you know what to point to and say ‘Art!’ the first time you did so? The first time you saw art, you didn’t see ‘Art’—someone told you that you saw it. That person tilted your hand and aligned it with your eyes, over your index finger, on to this ‘thing.’ Hence, through time (quantification), we build this code of what we can expect to be Art, which allows us to answer the question whether it is ‘better, worse or the same’ (qualification) when an *artwork is shown*, based only on earlier experiences. Over time, it starts functioning as an optician; if you spot art, you see clearly, otherwise you are blind. No room for difference. As I wrote in a previous article, this odd approach to art reveals itself most explicitly when we switch the word art for something significantly more concrete:

For example, stones. First of all, the stone has as its benefit over art in regards to definition the quality of having qualities: we can positively say what it is, repeatedly over numerous examples, and define it through multiple methods—be it molecular, phenomenological or geological. It is a certain built up of certain molecules in certain composition. If we would describe the stone as if it would be art, the argument becomes rather odd: We could then say that a stone is somewhat part of the ground, a stone is that which is surrounded by geologists, or that which is dug up by archaeologists, and in other occasions—in which the stone is also special but another kind of “special”—by businessman. To both it “means” something, and to both it means something different. Possibly we can say a stone is part of the earth, although we cannot say to what extent, neither which part of the earth is stone, nor whether that relation remains if it is mined and processed. Furthermore, a stone is that which you can throw, and which might hurt if it hits you. To the touch it feels cold but it can feel warm too, relative to external factors. Of stone is that which some buildings are made of, but not all. If we really push the argument, we can say a stone is that which you can look at – as nearly anything else – but which does indeed “look” different than anything else. A stone can even be art! [as it is for many sculptors].6

Although there is no Right or Wrong in disseminating something like Art, we are sometimes right and sometimes wrong in doing so. But as we will find out, that depends on the infrastructure of art. With the ‘point and name’ strategy, we can now imagine Art as being a point on a map: something we can point at. If we see a spot on that map that appears to us an artwork (under the motto ‘Well, then it must be art’ because we can neither understand nor evaluate it meaningfully), we put our finger on it and shout ‘Art!’.

In this article, I will not delve into the classification of what we regard as art, nor whether we do so legitimately. I don’t want to go through whether a banana peel on the floor of a gallery is Art if it has been put there by an artist and not when it has accidentally ended up there as litter. Neither will I make arguments for or against radical indefinability as the core denominator of what Art is. In other words, I am not going to delve into that ‘spot’ on the map we point to and say ‘Art!’, qualitative or not, as so many authors before me have done so, often quite spectacularly. I want to investigate the topographical location we put our finger on when we scream ‘Art!’. This spot has a specific ‘location’ on the larger map of all that takes place surrounding what we point to and say ‘Art!’. It is these locations I want to navigate to.

Where Does It Become ‘Art’?

The artwork is a crystallisation of a process that has eventually led to that (physical) ‘thing.’ The goal of that process, above all, is that (physical) thing called ‘the artwork.’ The maker of this object, officially called an ‘artist’—carrying the not-so-revealing definition of ‘the practitioner of art’7—takes as their goal to make Art and designs the process accordingly. Different products require different processes, after all. So, the terminus of the teleology8 of this process must be an artwork. An example of Art with a capital. What would happen if such a practitioner of art, known as the artist, didn’t take the artwork as the goal of their process? A first remark could be that this person then ‘cannot be an artist!’ That statement would, above all, be completely legitimate if we followed the dictionary definition of ‘artist’ just given above. Besides, this odd type of ‘non-artist’ does not locate the premise of a project on to the thing which they scream, ‘Well, then, that must be art!’—that thing in that space in which we expect to see Art, and of which we thus silently accept that ‘it must be art, then.’ This odd type of artist puts the premise of the practice on to something else and in doing so mauls the traditional teleology: the focus is not on the development of that object called ‘artwork,’ but on the construction of an intervention in the social and political realms, and so relocates the location of Art from the artwork, carrying it to the process that in the first instance would have led to the artwork that is Art. A second remark could be made: ‘That thing that flows from the process cannot be Art.’ So, the question must be: which aspect of the practice of this type of artist then is Art? First and foremost, it would be odd if this odd type of artist, who has different goals, would still use the traditional infrastructure of artist ->artwork=*Art*. In other words, if the goal of the practice is not Art, and, as such, not to construct artworks as examples of Art, is this practitioner still an artist and does this person still make Art? 

Before we delve into these two remarks, we should first briefly wonder how Art can flow out of a process that itself is not called Art? Or at least, that is not pinpointed as being Art. Along the way, a kind of magical transformation of non-art into Art has to somehow take place, in which Art makes an entrance into the ‘pineal gland’9 of art, the ‘object’ which, by that act, is no longer ‘merely’ a ‘casual’ object but an ‘artwork,’ now fully loaded with the near godly intervention of Art. If we localised it, Art thus formally comes into being somewhere in the process, and yet is credited to the outcome of that process: the artwork, so full of Art. This is like thanking one person for the another’s good deed—as if you thank the artwork for its status as an artwork, without considering how it came about. As if you only thank the moon for the light that shines in the night. Isn’t that weird? That instance that reflects something is being thanked for what it reflects? Without thanking that which is being reflected? We can only thank the moon (if we can thank it at all) for the fact that it reflects—we thank the location—not for what it reflects: we cannot thank it for its contents. Following that scheme, we can only thank the artwork for statutory fact; formal affairs, ‘that it is,’ not for content: ‘What it is that it is.’ (Maybe this has to do with the lack of content in general: Art in this scheme necessarily negates content, as long as it merely regards formalities—think of the corpus of laws of the ‘genres.’ This could also be a reason why Art is still dependent on the picture theory of meaning because there is nothing else to point towards.)

Clement Valla, Deception Pass, Washington, USA, Postcards from Google Earth, 2013.
Clement Valla, Deception Pass, Washington, USA, Postcards from Google Earth, 2013.

Is ‘It’ an Artist?

Let’s now throw ourselves into the first remark: an artist who does not take it as their goal to make artworks and so doesn’t design their process accordingly cannot be called an artist. The presumption that underpins this remark is that the artist is made by the artworks the artists themselves produces. First of all, this shows quite aesthetically how the localisation of Art in this doctrine is an endless regression: the artist points towards the artwork and the artwork points back at the artist—both attempt to localise Art, and, consequently, both completely miss the point. The whole ‘banana peel’ discussion stems from this regression. This structure can be called ‘definition through negation,’ and so it is only something by the fact it is not anything else: that it is indeed not the object next to it, which to me is a condition of anything that is (that it is not something else). Thus, this does not concern a positive (or, in other words, meaningful) description. Secondly, within this presumption, the process is nothing more than the technical act resulting in Art; this artist is the artisan who does not build chairs or couches but Art. Yet again a merely formal—read: technical—interpretation of what it means to be an artist. But the process is considerably richer than a mere concatenation of technical actions, regardless of how aesthetic those might be on a ‘formal’ basis, according to the ‘experts’ (or opticians).

Above all, it is within the process where something (or even ‘nothing’) is transformed from one thing into another in which the other is not necessarily wholly retraceable to the other. Something new appears. Henceforth, the process cannot merely be defined through negation, but needs a denominator through affirmation. If we localised Art within the process, it could be something meaningful. The transformative character of art, therefore, is within the act(s) of process. It would even be possible to state that because of the lack of presence of something like a visitor—who indeed visits; they do not partake—in the process, the transformative character as reflection is banished to the cognitive ‘imprint’ of that process in the artwork. This is presumably the least interesting part of the process because the process disappears when it is settled in the artwork. By then, it has stopped being process. Ergo, the artwork is thanked, oddly enough, just like the moon is thanked for its improper light, for what it reflects, rather than what it can only be thanked for: that it reflects. What’s evident is that it is the sun that supplies the process by which the moon reflects and needs to be thanked.

A criticism that could be given to this remark, and which should be taken seriously, is that an intermediary is always needed. The issue with the traditional account of Art residing in the artwork is that we cannot see process for the same reason we cannot stare into the sun without getting blinded. The only ones who can do so are the blind. Besides, the traditional artist would argue that you cannot glance directly into the process if you are not part of it, and that is indeed very true. The problem with this criticism is a category mistake that still implies the ‘point and name’ strategy. Although we should not and cannot stare directly into the sun without an intermediary, this is not the only experience we can have of it—it is not only something we can look into directly. The sun is the process of life, and, in that manner, we constantly experience it, but we can only notice through levels of abstraction. We could also experience Art in that same way if we were to relocate it from the artwork to the process—by attempting not to stare directly into it but into how it influences our experience of life itself.

Downward Straits (2004). Four channel PAL video, four channel sound. Approximately 3’ video, and 13’ 25” audio, continuous loop. Installation views Beck’s Futures 2004, ICA, London © Ergin Çavuşoğlu
Downward Straits (2004). Four channel PAL video, four channel sound. Approximately 3’ video, and 13’ 25” audio, continuous loop. Installation views Beck’s Futures 2004, ICA, London © Ergin Çavuşoğlu (see full video)

This traditional visitor honours this problematic locational structure, as Rancière explains. ‘First, viewing is the opposite of knowing: the spectator is held before an appearance in a state of ignorance about the process of production of this appearance and about the reality in conceals. Second, it is the opposite of acting: the spectator remains immobile […] to be a spectator is to be separated from both the capacity to know and the power to act.’10 It is, therefore, a pacifying and even commodifying process, the whole realm of ‘activity and undergoing its consequences,’11 which we engage through. This creation of the spectator is a dislocation of the human person from the world in which they essentially are.12 This ‘stultifying’ scheme—which is the act of making all liveliness disappear, as Rancière defines it—‘disregards the agency and capacity of the reader or viewer.’13 It pushes this person into second place in the infrastructure of art, necessarily creating a formation in which this person becomes a ‘visitor’ to a ‘thing called Art’ who is asked to stare into the sun.

Can We Call ‘It’ Art?

In the moonlight of the second remark, that thing resulting from process cannot be called Art for this odd type of artist. If we were to relocate Art, we would come to realise that for this other type of artist, the artwork must be the least suitable place to locate Art for the simple reason that the goal of the practice of this type or artist is beyond the stultified premises of the artwork. Where could we then point to in order to locate Art? We could answer by stating that it must be found in the direct imprint of the process, not in the export of that process into the product ‘artwork.’ But then, as we found, the process does not necessarily print itself into an artwork; the artwork does not logically follow from process because we noted that process expresses itself in direct experience—or in other words, the real consequences of process and the experiences of those affiliated. And to give these artwork-lovers at least something, the ‘beauty’ of it—the manner in which this can be regarded in an aesthetical and ethical manner. It is perfectly possible to speak of ‘the composition of the experientiality of process,’ although we might call it ‘infrastructure’; it is perfectly possible to speak of ‘the pallet of process,’ although we might call it ‘the concatenation of actions’; it is perfectly possible to speak of something as ‘signature,’ although we might call it ‘the positionality or role of the artist in the process.’

Might we then say we would localise Art for this type or artist not in the artwork but in the process? And that we must, however, accept what will be a grave loss for some—that for this type of artist, an ‘artwork,’ with its capital Art, cannot exist in the traditional sense of the word as we have used it earlier? A question that bothers me in this conclusion is why these types of artists keep ‘exhibiting,’ which is something you do with artworks and not with processes? A process, as long as it is ongoing, is not at all reducible to a standstill, or, in other words, a ‘finished’ thing. Then it would not be process because it has lost its moving aspect. What would it be possible to do with a process in service of its visibility to ‘outsiders’?

Before we delve into that question, it has to be said that we can only speak of ‘visibility’ at the moment it transcends those who are affiliated with the process (i.e., those who experience its consequences). Visibility concerns those who did not have anything to do with the process in the first place. ‘Sight’ is something you have on to something external (i.e., on to the sun, on to the moon). In order to ‘have sight on something,’ one cannot participate in that which is visible to sight simultaneously. This even counts for the infinity mirror effect, where, although the visible and perspective sight coincide, you cannot see anything outside the position from which it is seen. Visibility is intentional, and thus concerns the cognitive experience of having sight; it is virtually projected inward and outward simultaneously at something, and that something cannot be the same thing which it is projected from.14 It is the finger that points at the ‘artwork’ before saying ‘Art.’ Therefore, visibility is a sort of secondary communicative act, almost like a news broadcast. The news follows an event and is only visible once the process—or at least a part of it—has been completed, and so lacks being process any more.

A process can show itself in its real expression, but does not allow for being moulded into a fixed and final form. The visibility of the process of this type of artist is, therefore, a form that exists outside of the museum pur-sang because a museum’s prime activity is conservation, and what is being conserved necessarily has to be finished. It has to be in a fixed state of being; it has to be ‘graspable,’ either in the shape of a carrier (a USB drive, for example) or in fixed form. And as Maria Hlavajova states: ‘The gallery is turning your back to the world.’15 (Really turning your back to others to look at a wall with art on it. During the coronavirus outbreak, I saw a meme showing two images of an empty gallery with ‘art.’ The first image said, ‘Contemporary art exhibition before the coronavirus outbreak,’ and the second identical image said, ‘Contemporary art after the coronavirus outbreak.’ Both images, funnily enough, were exactly the same. The text above read: ‘The arts have been practising social distancing since time immemorial.’)

This ‘social distancing’ happens not only on a social level but also on an ontological one: it attempts to escape the ephemeral and therefore not-yet character of the world. Things that have been concluded and abandoned as process are, above all, the only things that are completely conservable. It is also true that conservation rounds up any process. Something that still moves, which is ongoing, escapes any form of conservation. Something that is not finished cannot disintegrate. Being-not-finished negates decay because ‘decay’ can only come into play if we regard that which can decay as a whole and singular body with defined statutory values and a border. In this light, we could philosophically regard process as the epitome of conservation because it is ageless and can thus eternally persists, as opposed to the artwork, which always will, in the end, disintegrate. What, then, could visibility of process regard? If it finds form in fixed media, we could best consider it ‘archival material’ because that would certainly honour that it is not that thing but the process where we should localise Art. Archival material implies process because it affirms that it itself is not the ‘artwork,’ but an account of the artwork. It is the notes of a lecture (the lecture is not the notes); it is the birthday cards to the person who got a year older (the cards are not the birthday); it is the tickets to a show (the show is not the tickets); it is the archive of Art (the Art is not the artwork).

A New Non-locationality

What does this artist make if the form of ‘visibility’ exists only outside the frame of the exhibitable for them? Jeanne van Heeswijk affirms that participating in the infrastructure of the arts16 causes great hardship through its exhibitions, fairs, biennials, awards, funds and subsidisations, all of which are aimed at the production of fixed work. This artist produces not-being-finished; this artist produces endless process; this artist does not escape the world into this pseudo-‘eternal’ world; this artist thus turns their back to turning their back in the gallery, to go back to Hlavajova’s point; this artist makes the world in as much at it is continuous process, a ‘certain sensory fabric of “being together”’17 that determines ‘what presents itself to experience,’18 that which unveils ‘what is visible or not.’19 This artist breaks ‘societal spectatorship’20 as Dominique Himmelsbach de Vries calls it, and in that process, measurability falls apart, which also gravely immobilises the premises that the artistic infrastructure as we know it asks for as an entry ticket. If, say, the stories that come into being through an interaction are the artwork, it is indeed hard to argue for ‘material aesthetics,’ ‘dimensions,’ ‘year of production,’ ‘presentation,’ and so forth.

In response to Himmelsbach de Vries, Luuk Heezen notes that process expresses itself in waves in society. They get longer, they spread out,21 although they do also diminish, and after the sea has calmed and no proper traces can be found, this ‘artwork’ has radically changed that sea in which the waves were earlier. That is Art. Rather than Derridean ‘traces,’ we should probably speak of ‘resonance.’ It functions in the same manner: it reflects the action that caused it, but refuses deductive tracking; it negates hunting into a primal cause; it will not find a beast to blame but that which reflects what has passed. This artist—to speak in the familiar ‘artwork’ doctrine—makes ‘art on batteries.’ The artwork is that which moves, that which does. For that reason, it cannot be finished like the traditional work of art, and, as such, it is not the (or ‘a’) artwork, no matter how animated it may be—a film, performance, or an interactive installation. The only thing you could ‘exhibit’ in the traditional sense by these artists are those who have experienced the consequences of the process and its archival material, even though that would involve human trafficking.

In a certain sense, this type artist therefore requires an emancipation of our familiar hermeneutics of art: how we point and call; how we consider it to be experienced; how we give meaning to that experience. We do not experience the ‘artwork’ in this type of art as a stationary object, on which we have focussed our passive ‘art language’ (‘art-speak’) for centuries, but as the embodied experience of the process in motion in everything else that surrounds it. A hermeneutic for this type of art is virtually unattainable because it no longer has an object whose phenomena can be perceived as a direct consuming treatise. The experience itself is the phenomenon. On the other hand, this is perhaps a more direct form of hermeneutics because no shields and layers of symbolism, context, institutions and art history have to filter knowledge here. The art language of this odd artist will be active, and therefore focussed on the acting subject—full of verbs. The only hermeneutic thing that needs to be known is the experience of life.

Now we point to the map again, and that spot that we referred to and called ‘Art!’ has made way for the paths that run between these ‘spots.’ The paths, where one goes to another, where the transformation takes place, where the movement of the journey takes place. I would like to suggest that it is not in the work of art where ‘Art’ is found, but in the methods, approaches and investigations—i.e., the process that is reflected in that ‘work of art,’ which, by decentralising Art, can no longer be called a work of art but should become archival material, according to the traditional doctrine. I call this ‘system aesthetics,’ where the system constructed to address a problem can be evaluated in aesthetic terms rather than (only) the ‘artwork’ itself—the physical object that reflects that system.

If we allow this, we can reassess the result by eliminating the necessity that the result is ‘Art’ manifesting itself and by locating ‘Art’ in the way a result is achieved, not just in the presentation of the result itself. In this way, we discover a substantive approach to art, in which we no longer thank the reflection for what it reflects but that which is reflected. System aesthetics allow for what Foucault called the ‘art of life,’ where it is not the products of life but the process of ‘doing life’ that should be seen as Art. So, if we take that idea further, the manner in which we all live together can be seen as a process-based Gesamtkunstwerk because as Foucault notes: ‘What strikes me is the fact that, in our society, art has become something that is related only to objects and not to individuals or to life. That art is something which is specialised or done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object but not our life?’22

Eef Veldkamp

Eef Veldkamp (1993) is an artist, researcher and teacher for Fine Art and Design in Education at ArtEZ University of the Arts, the Netherlands. At ArtEZ, he researches questions around engaged practices. By intermingling artistic and philosophical research methods, he brings about subversive textual interventions that function as the point of departure for his artistic practice, in which he develops what he calls ‘counter-systems’. These are organisations erected to engage with a specific bottleneck in society, which they do through a multiplicity of forms that he terms ‘art on batteries’. He is currently investigating our mnemonic structures for dealing with societal crises, for which he is developing a new sort of souvenir.






  • Foucault, Michel, ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress.’ In Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, vol. 1, edited by Paul Rabinow. New York: The New Press, 1997.

  • Heeswijk, Jeanne van, lecture and workshop at ArtEZ University of the Arts, Arnhem, 2019.

  • Himmelsbach de Vries Dominique and Luuk Heezen. ‘Kunst is lang (en het leven is kort): 111,’ Mister Motley podcast, Amsterdam, recorded on November 24, 2019.

  • Hlavajova, Maria, ‘BAK: Art and Politics.’ Lecture at Basis voor Actuele Kunst, Utrecht, 2019.

  • Rancière, Jacques, ‘Aesthetic Separation, Aesthetic Community: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art.’ Art & Research 2, no. 1 (2008).

  • Rancière, Jacques, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible. London: Continuum, 2004.

  • Ruitenberg, Claudia W., ‘Art, Politics, and the Pedagogical Relation.’ Studies in Philosophy and Education 30, no. 2 (2010).

  • Veldkamp, Eef, Capitalist Nihilism and the Murder of Art. Arnhem: Aporia Publishing House, 2020.

  • Weitz, Morris, ‘The Role of Theory in Aesthetics.’ The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 15, no. 1 (1956).

  • Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G.E.M. Anscombe. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1958.

↑ 1

[1] The Dutch for ‘example’ is ‘voorbeeld,’ which means to show how something works. The word consists of ‘before’ and ‘image.’ Artworks act as images of Art; they act Art out. ‘Kunstwerken doen zich voor als beelden van Kunst. Kunstwerken “doen iets na,” en iets “voor”.’

↑ 2

M. Philippa, F. Debrabandere, A. Quak, T. Schoonheim and N. van der Sijs, ‘Voorbeeld,’ Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands. Accessed on September 9, 2019,

↑ 3

The picture theory of language is a linguistic theory that argues that language pictures something factual/empirical facts. It posits that language is giving names to things, thus that things are their names. In Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein defines it as follows: ‘The individual words in language name objects—sentences are combinations of such names.—In this picture of language we find the roots of the following idea: Every word has a meaning. This meaning is correlated with the word. It is the object for which the word stands.’

↑ 4

Morris Weitz, ‘The Role of Theory in Aesthetics,’ The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 15, no. 1 (1956), p. 32.

↑ 5

Weitz 1956, p. 30.

↑ 6

Eef Veldkamp, ‘Life as an Artist after the Murder of Art: and some reviving thoughts,’ in Capitalist Nihilism and the Murder of Art (Arnhem: Aporia Publishing House, 2020), p. 81.

↑ 7

M. Philippa, F. Debrabandere, A. Quak, T. Schoonheim en N. van der Sijs, ‘Artiest; kunstenaar,’ Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands, accessed September 23, 2019, ‘Beoefenaar der vrije kunst.’

↑ 8

The goal of things; that everything has a goal and works towards it, and that the goal is named ‘good.’

↑ 9

The pineal gland is a gland in our brain where, according to the early Enlightenment philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650), the soul enters the body. In ‘higher’ mammals such as humans, the pineal gland is the developed ‘third eye’: a light-sensitive zone on the head of some lizards, frogs and salamanders. The pineal gland partly takes care of the production of the hormones to maintain body temperature (homeostatic functions) and regulate the sleep-wake rhythm.

↑ 10

Claudia W. Ruitenberg, ‘Art, Politics, and the Pedagogical Relation,’ Studies in Philosophy and Education 30, no. 2. (2010): p. 213.

↑ 11

Ruitenberg 2010, p. 213.

↑ 12

Ruitenberg 2010, p. 213.

↑ 13

Ruitenberg 2010, p. 217.

↑ 14

A remark that has nothing to do with this argument, although it does signify much about how we think through art, is that this ‘on to’ structure of sight is phenomenologically utterly false, because there is nothing going out of our eyes, on to things. In a way, things look into our eyes through rays of light that are bent by those things. Our limited agency is bound by the muscles of our eyes, necks and legs. Of course, the same counts for hearing and smelling, although for that the argument seems far more natural—because we know smell is particles coming from the thing we smell into our nose. Hence, we sometimes smell things we do not want to smell. In this manner, we are smelled. In this manner, we are seen as much as we see what we see.

↑ 15

Maria Hlavajova, ‘BAK: Art and Politics,’, seminar on March 25, 2019, 19:30-21:30 at BAK in Utrecht.

↑ 16

Jeanne van Heeswijk. Lecture and workshop on August 27, 2019, ArtEZ University of the Arts, Zwolle. Among other things, she noted that one of the technical issues these kinds of practices bump into is the access to subsidisation and funding because there is no explicit ‘product’ central to the proposed practice. Nor can an explicit ‘end’ of the project be pointed out beforehand.

↑ 17

Jacques Rancière, ‘Aesthetic Separation, Aesthetic Community: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art,’ Art & Research 2 no. 1 (2008): p. 4, accessed April 14, 2020,

↑ 18

Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, trans. Gabriel Rockhill (London: Continuum, 2010), pp. 13 and 22-23.

↑ 19

Rancière 2010, pp. 12-13.

↑ 20

Dominique Himmelsbach de Vries and Luuk Heezen, ‘Kunst is lang (en het leven is kort): 111,’ in Mister Motley Episode 111, November 24, 2019, podcast, 00:14:00-00:17:00, Translated by the author.

↑ 21

Dominique Himmelsbach de Vries and Luuk Heezen, ‘Kunst is lang (en het leven is kort): 111,’ in Mister Motley episode 111, November 24, 2019, podcast, 00:14:00-00:17:00, Translated by the author.

↑ 22

Michel Foucault, ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of Work in Progress,’ in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. Vol. 1. ed. Paul Rabinow. (New York: The New Press, 1997), p. 261.