Thingly Things

Concluding Remarks

Abstract: This concluding article recaps the preceding essays in the series. It starts from the idea that works of art—material or not—are things: they can occupy space, can have a presence, be it in thought or history, and/or can be pointed at. In considering these ‘things,’ we have the tendency to reduce them solely to things and thereby centralise their ‘thinglyness.’ In other words, their material configuration. This reduction kills the agency of the work of art. In order to pursue an engaged practice, this tendency obstructs what is central to nearly any art: art is the only kind of object that cannot be ‘an sich’ (that are not on themselves) but that necessarily reside in a social realm and therefore partake in it.

Keywords: Engaged art, things, Heidegger, dematerialised aesthetics

When we encounter a work of art—although already a product of silent infrastructures—we usually only encounter that ‘thing’ we point to and name the ‘work of art.’ We encounter it in a space designated for such types of objects, heterotopias that are constructed in a way to co-produce everything outside of that space—through, for example, the apparatus of defunctionalisation that the museum hopelessly guarantees with its rigorous archiving and conservation of the prevalence and apparent neutrality of certain histories. Henri Jean-Baptiste ‘Abbé’ Grégoire traced one of the founding ideas behind the museum, ‘cultural vandalism,’1 back to the iconoclasm following the French Revolution. He notes that the products of this destruction needed a place to reside, ‘transforming the symbols of oppression into permanent reminders of tyranny, forcing them to become a kind of permanent pillory.’2

The museum as the graveyard of vandalism is also why Boris Groys argues that the French Revolution was the only revolution that did not wholly destroy its preceding imagery. ‘Instead of destroying the sacred and profane objects belonging to the Old Regime, they [the French] defunctionalised, or, in other words, aestheticised them.’3 Groys therefore distinguishes art from commodities: ‘The normal commodity is made to be consumed—in other words, to be destroyed (eaten as bread, used as a car). So, in a certain sense, art is an anti-commodity. It is put under the condition of conservation—prevented from being destroyed by time and by use.’4 The museum as graveyard of cultural vandalism shines another light on how we might engage with works of art. That the museum occupies all sorts of infrastructures as hygienic measures against the histories from which these objects stem is a familiar phenomenon; that it produces a sense of neutrality of history precisely outside of the museum is its strongest effect.


Although Groys notes that the artwork does not die as a commodity (within a museum at least; on socks and mugs it does), it still dies. The ironic part is that in order to be taken out of use and be conserved—in other words, mummified—the work of art first had to die: not through consumption, but through suffocation. This suffocation is most noticeable not in the museal object itself, but there where it is ripped from: the reality in which the work of art occurred. The museum could become an institute for destruction by keeping what is destroyed intact. We could conflictingly term it a ‘rebuilt ruin,’ which covers the two-folded activity of conserving art. Not to forget that a ruin implies a natural decay, a past history of necessary forces; conserving it implies a power to move against that decay.

In light of this, it is not hard to imagine the museum as a colonial institute—not necessarily because museums these days actively pursue colonial tendencies, but because their infrastructure is not yet decolonialised: they depend on violence that is necessary to be able conserve. Something first had to become a ruin before it could be kept as such. Nevertheless, museums still use these colonial infrastructures to produce much of how we relate to cultural objects by reducing them to objects through negating their social statuses. Or to use Groys’ words again: by defunctionalising them and thereby aestheticising them. Aestheticising functions here merely as a filler for a lacked functionality: now that the thing has died (the work doesn’t ‘work’ anymore), we can see its beauty, which indeed has necrophiliac tendencies because it no longer ‘working’ means it has died, and only in this death can we gaze at its beauty.

When an object is murdered and has returned to mummified life in a museum as a work of art, we are asked and required to extrapolate all sorts of meanings from the work of art that resides in vacuum: from that aestheticised shell, we are to wonder what is within, before, beyond and even above the silent work of art that we encounter. This occurs because the artwork does not supply its own modes of existence because it has been deprived of those. This work of art is a product of existence, an unconsumable consumable, a tomb of lived life. Wonderful for reflective contemplation and pacifying historicisation, it anchors what has passed in the past, deprived of its immediacy as an object which it nevertheless still silently occupies, somewhere within the tomb of its own aesthetics.

Early phenomenology helps us understand what shimmers through any object, especially in its absence when it is defunctionalised. Wilhelm Dilthey uses the term ‘Lebensäußerungen5—life rendered into an object—to signify the embeddedness of any object of labour in the broad sense of the word. That something is defunctionalised creates a distance between you and that apparent lived life because that life is gone in as much as you are historically separated, which affirms perseverance of the culture which is expressed through the object. It’s important to note here that the quality of any produced thing is produced by someone in a social context, in a certain time, and is not in any way confessional. It does not argue for the reduction of the object to a particular life that needs to be psychologised. As if this particular were the telos of any hermeneutics that are ‘confessed’ through the work of art. Such a prevalent and very popular approach is reductive and patriarchal. It is precisely the perseverance of the object in the now that needs to be pathologised relative to its survival since a historically deviant ‘lebenswelt’: Why does this thing reside, or even persist?

The reductive approach affirms the vacuum in which many works of art reside, whereby we can only reasonably deal with them by looking at their appearance (aesthetics) or their chronology (confessionalism). The work of art becomes the vehicle towards a teleology of a pathological subject. Instead, we should consider the expression of a culture and, more importantly, the function of such things within a culture during that culture, and consequently the dissonance of that object in our present times, even if that object is recent. Above all, this dissonance is a relational force that appears to have survived the test of time with deliberate help from, in this case, the museal institution. With help of infrastructures like the museum and the mystifying processes of confessionalism, most artworks attempt to veil the conditions of their own production.

Almost in the Marxist sense of the word, the preconditions of the work of art are withdrawn. This makes it seemingly obvious to focus on the product of that production if we are to discuss the piece of art. That is, the thing we encounter in front of us and are inclined to point to and say ‘this is art.’ And in this sense only, the product called art reveals itself in some public sense; it makes itself appear. After all, there is no other part sensible at that instance than this thing by sheer grace of the infrastructures of the museum and its conserving powers. Oh my, thank the museum! We focus on the product, the ‘consumable’ to echo Groys’ statement, rather than the production of the artwork as well as what this artwork produces.

The veiling of the conditions of production, however, also wipes out the traces from which one can extrapolate ‘meanings,’ the muse that any visitor is forced to marry. It is an arduous marriage because that apparent meaning already disintegrates by itself and, more importantly, that meaning is not a stand-alone phenomenon that can be found or not found within the tomb of the artwork. Because artworks are made to veil those meanings, it is precisely that veil that implies they have meanings in themselves that they don’t, even though beyond this veil works of art primarily stem from their productive processes. These productive processes are the social constitution that made possible the existence of that thing, but primarily made impossible the appearance of any other thing; it is the membrane of reality that gives counter-pressure any time something tries to appear.

The famous question of why there are no great female artists cannot be answered by the statement that there were none (‘great’ and ‘artist’ together in one sentence should make any critical reader wary), but because they were inhibited to practise. Their conditions of production were deprived. This is necessarily the negative side of any artwork; the side that hangs on the wall, so to say. This negative side is the side of what did not appear. It concerns the things that you cannot see and thus cannot be deduced from the artwork, even though it functions in the distribution of good and bad conditions of production historically speaking. For everything in the museum—or any other exhibition space—there is much more art that cannot be found in there. The words ‘great’ and ‘artist,’ especially when used in hideous combination, are most assuredly an example of both victim-making and victim-blaming.

Now, I might have insinuated that this veil of which I speak cannot be opened without rigorous historical research. However, unveiling the veiling conditions of production often does not take more than a glance behind the plaster walls of exhibitions to find the garbage bags full of takeaway coffee cups, crumpled beer cans and empty rolls of gaffer tape. It does not take much more than hearing the whispers of vigorous small talk at gallery openings, or the prevalent struggle of being an artist, to understand the striking conditions of production of our current era. These apparent details affirm that it is indeed a veil that perhaps veils the most interesting part of the arts—the interactions that make it all happen, which is simultaneously the goal of engaged practices: a bundle of interactions that make something take place. This can be an accident in any art form, but for engaged practices, it is the productive goal (to put it somewhat ambitiously). As long as these relational elements are conserved off the work of art, no engaged practices within presentation institutions can be possible because the only thing we remain encountering is this ‘thing’ we are inclined to call ‘art.’


‘The first question we should ask ourselves when looking at a work of art is: Does it give me the chance to exist in front of it, or, on the contrary, does it deny me as a subject, refusing the consider the Other in its structure?’6

– Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics

To give a short recap, I have first argued that the processes of defunctionalisation of the work of art basically kill it. Once this process is historically neutralised, and thereby seen as essential to art, a second question arises which concerns the status of the object ‘art,’ which I will now discuss. Now that it is dead, we can investigate what this aesthetic necrophilia consists of.

The veiling infrastructures present in the arts make it is easy, and in many ways very legitimate, to reduce the things called art to the apparently unbridgeable domain of things, often accompanied by interpretations using the adjectives ‘plain,’ ‘hermetic’ and ‘boring’—not because these objects are as such, but because they are produced as such. And the predicate ‘reductive’ here is not meant in a negative way per se, but mostly to imply that reduction negates the wholly cultural existence of art. Art is the only type of object within the domain of all objects that cannot be ‘on itself,’ that has no an sich, that cannot be self-contained, and that does not therefore simply comfortably reside in the already grey domain of lifeless things. Above all, as Goddard noted, ‘it takes two to make an image,’7 and as Bourriaud similarly states, ‘art is a state of encounter.’8 That is to say, without the already spectral domain of so-called ‘subjects,’ there would not be any art at all, and this obvious argument is of importance because the existence of, say, stones, or any other random substance or raw material that makes up artworks, is wholly indifferent in its existence, but works of art are not.

Working from similar considerations, Graham Harman poses the intriguing question, ‘What would an art without humans look like?’9 The only answer that can be given is ‘not’ because there would be no art at all, nor anyone/thing to call it as such. How we relate to art therefore says everything about the subject relating to it, and virtually nothing about the object itself. Harman continues with this thought and remarks that ‘to make an artwork is to interfere directly with the realm of causes and effects,’10 by which he argues that art can be said to behave in a manner that we would otherwise ascribe a subject-status to.

My point is that it has been made helpless within that status by the reduction to the realm of mummified things. To escape this helplessness of the artwork, Harman proposes ‘a situation in which objects exist in tension with their own qualities rather than being reducible to them.’11 Put in other words: although works of art cannot exist without the realm of subjects even though they are positively a ‘thing,’ it should be approached as a respectable category, rather than reducing it to its elements (causes) or its consequences (effects). In other word, reducing it to a tool for subjective utilisation.

When we wonder about the elements of the reduction of art to things and solely things, which institutes like museums assist in doing, we come across a helpful metaphor put forward by Martin Heidegger. Heidegger criticises the focus on the mere material aspect of artworks, noting that:

All works have this thingly character […] There is something stony in a work of architecture, wooden in a carving, coloured in a painting, spoken in a linguistic work, sonorous in a musical composition. The thingly element is so irremovably present in the art work that we are compelled rather to say conversely that the architectural work is in stone, the carving is in wood, the painting in colour, the linguistic work in speech, the musical composition in sound …12

The point of his remark is that these things are not solely their thinglyness. This is not to say that the artwork is its material, or, to put it in a popular but often misinterpreted way, that the medium equals the message. Reducing art to its thinglyness is a form of seinsvergessenheit—it denies the existentials of art; it negates that it has a mode of being in the world following on its own inherent (although produced) structures. From this converse reduction of art to its thinglyness, even though it cannot be reduced as such, we are prone to believing in misconceptions, such as this one that Rancière points out: ‘We are still prone to believe that the reproduction in resin of a commercial idol will make us resist the empire.’13

This is similarly built on a dilettante approach to art as merely a thingly-thing, and regarded as ‘radical’ solely by the grace that it is a reproduction—not because that reproduction creates distance to the thing reproduced, which thus undermines the role of the thing to its elements. A reproduction is not radical; it does what it criticises, it re-produces. As Maria Hlavajova also forcefully argues: ‘But if you think art [as such] is that radical thing, forget it!’14 The point here is to not undermine art to its parts, to its ‘thinglyness,’ and perhaps neither fix it to its effects, but instead to work on how it functions as a mediator between cause and effect; work on how it stands between us and the world as a quasi object blurring the lines between objects and subjects, thus gaining an agency on itself.

Morton continues to sketch the consequences of the material reduction that, according to him, can only result ‘in irony and the art of successful failures to embody spirit.’15 Spirit here refers to the liveliness that objects can have (or perhaps ‘self-insight,’ to put it in Hegelian terminology). Just like anything else, artworks are not just object or subject, not just cause or effect. Works of art can possibly function as quasi-objects,16 mediating between subject and object; between fiction and fact; between cause and effect. Nevertheless, many approaches today take and make art as wholly an object outside of the social realm of subjects, as subjected to subjects, whereby it seems that art has retracted itself into Heideggerian17 vorhanden sein, which is a mode of being withdrawn from us, of being at distance, that can be grasped by the forceful hand of the investigating subjects.

The mode of ‘present-at-hand’ occurs when something is broken, and through that rhetorical device presents itself to contemplative gazing and submitting to the will of subjects, which indeed has a wonderful reflective quality, but also means that art is always broken. To give a familiar example, the idea to get into conversation with the artwork, often pursued by rigorous educators, is like speaking with a dead hare. The death of the hare is only reasonable to the subject that needed it dead, therefore this ‘conversation’ is a monologue and retracts solely onto the will of the conversing subject.

As Boris Groys notes, artworks end up in the museum to die. Heidegger use the term ‘Zuhanden sein’ to categorise another mode of engaging with things, meaning that an object partakes in the somewhat plain continuation of life. He uses the word ‘zeuge,’ which has somewhat of a degenerative connotation and means ‘tools,’ or things that ‘work’ within the life world of subjects. It is obvious to see why this position easily feels tame or lacking criticality and perhaps even wholly subjected to the whims of the subject. The opposition seems to be either critical and broken, or lame and functioning. However, we should break this invalid dichotomy and wonder what would a Zuhanden arts look like, if art were not made to be broken? Something not only ‘works’ relative to someone working with it (like a hammer), but also functions on itself relative to that which surrounds it. To stick with Heideggerian terminology, I believe that the precise function of Zuhanden art might be to make Wirklichkeit vorhanden—to break reality, that is, how the work of art ‘works.’ Alain Badiou helps elaborate this idea slightly by noting that ‘Art is not an Ersatz [= replacement] for politics,’ but neither can it ‘keep its hands clean by hiding behind the exceptional position of “art” and “artist”.’18

There are many examples that could be given to illustrate the manner in which works of art are broken to reside in vorhanden sein, one of which can be illustrated through Foucault, who states that, ‘People know what they do; they frequently know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what “what they do” does.’19 The realm of what people do is explicit and deducible and much of our reduced aesthetics resides here because what is done is what we see. The realm of knowing why we do what we do in a way affirms usually only what we do, and is often pursued in the wrong direction, thereby falling into the trap of confessionalism. This is the realm of the plain study of causalities. The last domain, what ‘what we do’ does is precisely where aesthetics dematerialised; it sublimates and thereby goes beyond its own cause (confessionalism) and effects (causalities) because what is done here necessarily acquires a status on its own as an actor in the world.

The point here is that it is not just the self-categorised beings called subjects that ‘do,’ but precisely what the things we do do. This is not an argument to increase the reach of the subject one step more, but to emancipate the agency of the object, of the ‘thing done’ and how that ‘thing done does.’ I mean this in the broad sense of the word, also encompassing, for example, ‘thoughts,’ and as intertwined with subject-categories. It therefore has agency on its own, even though it might not be, and very possibly is not, conscious of it itself. The status of subject is arrogantly withdrawn by self-categorised subjects, thereby negating that subjectivity is not just a choice, or something that is willed, but that it has structures, for example.

That subjectivity creates necessary relationalities between things that have no necessary relationship on themselves, that have no ontological qualification of being relative. Things done are actors in the world. That these ‘things done’ have agency—but very plausibly no consciousness or free will or whatever of that essentialist illusions—is precisely why we need to think more in this category: these things do but do not do consciously and thereby rely on consciousness that flows through the relationality that this ‘thing done’ has to the other actors around it. Therefore, we also need to conclude that there are no ‘neutral’ objects, even though they are ontologically autonomous in this moment: they exist on themselves now that they exist, but not by themselves.

Here, aesthetics—configurations of what appears to our senses—can become the infrastructure by which relationalities can come into being, and the medium indeed is no longer the message but conducts the occurrence of a ‘message’ as a category of thought in subjects engaging with the conductor. In order to unveil this existential (i.e., structural) quality of the artwork, we should revisit the hermeneutics that we occupy because for the time being, it is too stubbornly focussed on thingly-things—things we can point to, rather than what ‘what these things do’ does. Because Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics focussed on museal practices whereby the artwork only can build upon the device of transitivity,20 centralising the necessity for a fixed object as transistor subjected to subjects, the proposed ‘dematerialised aesthetics’ can go a step beyond it by taking a step back: by negating form and instead being ‘things done that do.’ Before, or meanwhile, or far beyond the eventual ‘work’ reaches materialisation, or rather way beyond it, whereby art is not just ‘a time to be lived through,’21 but a reality we co-occupy. That is to say, the artwork cannot be the centre of its own existence, and if we are to produce it as such, we kill it. If, on the other hand, we break it by subjecting it to our will alone, it ceases to ‘work.’

Dematerialised Aesthetics

I want to finish by attempting to rephrase some of the key arguments that I have vocalised throughout the preceding essays. Over the course of these fourteen essays, I have set out to think through some key questions that recur repeatedly throughout the discourse of engaged practices. These are questions that are so repeatedly asked that they have gained a rhetorical quality. Nobody wants to think them through and might think to be beyond them. Why would one still have to ponder what art is? We know we don’t know it. Why do we need to still discuss autonomy and engagement? We know they are non-existent categories. This renunciation appears as one of the erroneous conclusions of post-modernism: now that everything is declared relative, what has been declared relative loses its importance.

Relative seems to equal relaxation. The opposite is true: precisely because something is declared relative—and the arts can surely be regarded archetypical of this phenomenon—it gains in importance because it is set by reflexive parameters that are not beyond power structures, not beyond sociology, not beyond politics because ‘art’ has no essential qualities. To put it differently, that we are declared untransparent to ourselves does not imply we should stop looking at ourselves. The point is that we should look beyond ourselves. That these questions seem redundant does not imply we don’t need to ask them. The point is that we need to look beyond them: Why do we still ask these questions? What produced the urge to ponder them? Where do them come from? What do they imply as an answer?

Therefore, our first response to such questions surrounding engaged practices closely resembles disavowal: ‘I know very well, but I act as if I don’t know.’ Most of these questions signify or point to power structures present in the arts today, which are transferred by a historical process that we need to more often confront with its own contingency, and more explicitly with its own looming presentness beyond its own parameters. Even though this history has been declared dead often, very often, and its objects are conserved, the time the history that produces us had to speed up its own process as if a flywheel pushes beyond the parameter of its own dead into the present, and it does so by being fuelled by present discourse through denial. It is precisely once something has disappeared—say, a departed relative—when it gains more presence than ever before. It now haunts.

It is precisely that which remains silent that needs questioning. Hence, history gains its power by becoming rhetorical, by becoming un-addressable because it presents itself as passed away. By confronting the afterimages of an absent history haunting the now and naively delving into these apparent ‘redundant’ questions, I hope to have cleared some ground for a more manoeuvrable, reactive and, most importantly, political interpretation of engaged practices that is less haunted by unreasonable plights, unfair social contracts and aesthetic dilettantism.

Although it sounds contradictory, the core work that needed to be done was to ‘dematerialise’ aesthetics, to unbind it from formal expectations. In many of the preceding articles’ arguments, I confront ‘mediumcentrism’ and the ‘thingly’ character of art, both of which criticise the premise that the work of art equals its material (appearance), and thereby is set by aesthetic parameters that reduce art to its cosmetics. The goal of these attempts was not to relativise the role of form within the work of art, but to emancipate the agency of form within the world in which it is made, then occurs and then partakes. Hyper-focussing on formal qualities pushes the work of art into the domain of the inorganic; in other words, the domain of things with which things are done and thus where art is always broken (vorhanden sein).

Within this domain, the only use of art is abuse: it is subjected to pathologising gazing, subjected to political appropriation and historical normalisation but also to societally acceptable forms such as ‘helpdesking.’ Producing art as if it were only a thingly thing denies that the work of art distributes reality in which it partakes, and thereby reproduces what it attempts to resist if it is made with political ambitions. Meanwhile, any artwork still distributes reality but now does so silently, whereby this reality becomes the absolute, a reality. Then the work of art not only reproduces what it resists, but becomes what it reproduces. By centralising what art does as an actor rather than reducing it to its form, we artists gain access to the reality that artworks distribute, which also means that our attitude towards practice and a corresponding reimagination of responsibility are imperative.

In order to clear this ground, a set of presuppositions needed confrontation, up to the fundamental level of the act of name-calling: what do we designate as the work of art when we call something a work of art? It is necessary to conclude that if this odd noun ‘art’ is to reside in the work of art, it has to make entry into that thing. In other words, something ‘is’ not art—that would leash art back into essential definitions and otiose ontological categories—but that something ‘becomes’ art. This ‘becoming’ is a complex phenomenon. First of all, in this practice of becoming—otherwise called ‘process’—the highest aesthetical value should be found, even though it is often brought back onto the artwork. It is precisely within the artwork that the interaction with the world that produces something dies and is locked into defunctionalising and conserving structures of, for example, museums.

Second of all, that art always ‘becomes’ art implies that it is only art within a cultural apparatus in which it can be designated as such. Talking about art should therefore equal analysing the culture in which it occurs. Interpretation, above all, is creation, and interpretation is never neutral. For this reason, naming something art has virtually nothing to do with the object that receives that name, but with the perspective from which it is done. Calling something art is thus a normative process, and so it transfigures precisely what ought to be art within the world as it ought to be. If the work of art is central to the name ‘art,’ it means that the agency of the process is regarded as dangerous to this nomination because here the work of art has something to do with the world in which it occurs, rather than just the other way around.

Thirdly, when we say that something becomes art, we should be wary of the naturalisation implied by the word. Above all, art is produced as art, and thereby can never be regarded without the domain of the subjects producing it as such. Here, the position of the actor of this process, the artist, is only marginally of importance: valorisation by cultural institutions such as funds, exhibition spaces, museums (and thus the ideology that funds their approach) are the name-callers. The name ‘art’ is an extremely exclusive category while many believe that ‘anything goes.’ It is so exclusive that it functions as a prize: one should consider oneself lucky to receive funding, for their artworks to be collected, to receive a nomination in whatever historical account, even though these are perhaps the least interesting reasons to work as an artist.

Working towards a first definition of dematerialised aesthetics, I believe the core idea is to consider not the product of artistic production but the artistic production itself; and not in the how-to manner, but precisely in the manner of how this production similarly re-produces the world. That is, not how it ‘copies’ or relates to the ‘real’ as the fetish of realism, but how the production called art relates to the parameters of what is considered real. When one makes something singular in the world as reactive artists such as engaged artists do, one breaks the reality principle. Whether that reality is broken only to affirm it, or is broken up to propose something beyond it, could be regarded as one of the core principles of dematerialised aesthetics. So, the aesthetic judgement within this concept always encompasses a sociological approach and a historicisation of what reality is broken.

This introduces a second layer to the term ‘dematerialised’ within this concept—namely, that it dematerialises reality as we know it; it breaks open the shell of reality, makes it fluid so to speak, and thus it is an immaterial art. This immateriality allows focus on the relationality in which the artistic production works on the social bonds that bind us together. In working with these social bonds, the thingly character to this contingent practice—say, when it uses objects to do—is not the equinox of the artistic practice, but an intermediary, a productive force, an agency.

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.






  • Bloois, Joost de and Ernst van den Hemel, ‘Alain Badiou: het communisme in de kunst.’ In Alain Badiou’s Inesthetica: Filosofie, Kunst, Politiek. Amsterdam: Octavo Publicaties, 2012.
  • Bourriaud, Nicolas, Relational Aesthetics. Paris: Les Presses du Réel, 2002.
  • Dreyfus, Hubert L. and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
  • Groys, Boris, ‘On Art Activism.’ E-Flux Journal 56 (2014).
  • –––, ‘The Museum as the Cradle of Revolution.’ E-Flux Journal 106 (2020).
  • Heidegger, Martin, Poetry. Language, Thought. Translated by Albert Hofstadter. New York: Harper Perennial, 1971.
  • –––, Being and Time. New York: SUNY Press, 2010 (1927).
  • Hlavajova, Maria, ‘BAK: Art and Politics pt. 1.’ Seminar on March 11, 2019, 19:30-21:30. BAK, Utrecht.
  • Lewis, Mark, ‘What Is to Be Done.’ Afterall 50 (2020): pp. 104-131.
  • Morton, Timothy, ‘Charisma and Causality.’ ArtReview, December 10, 2015. Accessed January 11, 2021,
  • ­­––––, ‘Subscendence,’ E-flux Journal 85 (2017).
  • Rancière, Jacques, De Geëmancipeerde Toeschouwer. Translated by Joost Beerten en Walter van der Star. Amsterdam: Octave, 2015.
  • Ruitenberg, Claudia W., ‘Art, Politics, and the Pedagogical Relation.’ Studies in Philosophy and Education 30.2 (2010).
  • Schiermer, Björn, ‘Quasi-objects, Cult Objects and Fashion Objects: On Two Kinds of Fetishism on Display in Modern Culture.’ Theory, Culture & Society 28.1 (2011).
↑ 1

Mark Lewis, ‘What Is to Be Done,’ Afterall 50 (2020): p. 7.

↑ 2


↑ 3

Boris Groys, ‘On Art Activism,’ E-Flux Journal 56 (2014),

↑ 4

Boris Groys, ‘The Museum as the Cradle of Revolution,’ E-Flux Journal 106 (2020),

↑ 5

Translates to ‘objectifications of life,’ bearing both the meaning of being objective—according to Dilthey—as well as a life being rendered into an object.

↑ 6

Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics (Paris: Les Presses du Réel, 2002), p. 57.

↑ 7

Bourriaud 2002, p. 26.

↑ 8

Bourriaud 2002, p. 18.

↑ 9

Graham Harman, transcript from the conversation between Graham Harman and Zane Cerpina, PNEK representative, on December 2, 2015,

↑ 10

Timothy Morton, ‘Charisma and Causality,’ ArtReview, December 10, 2015, accessed January 11, 2021,

↑ 11

‘Graham Harman: “As for how the object resists being exhausted, I don’t think it needs to resist”,’ TV Vetnik, Graham Harman in conversation with Natalya Serkova,

↑ 12

Martin Heidegger, Poetry. Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (New York: Harper Perennial, 1971), p. 19.

↑ 13

Claudia W. Ruitenberg, ‘Art, Politics, and the Pedagogical Relation,’ Studies in Philosophy and Education 30.2 (2010): p. 218. See also Jacques Rancière, De geëmancipeerde toeschouwer, trans. Joost Beerten en Walter van der Star (Amsterdam: Octave, 2015), p. 56. Translated to English by the author.

↑ 14

Maria Hlavajova, ‘BAK: Art and Politics pt. 1,’ seminar on March 11, 2019, 19:30-21:30, BAK, Utrecht.

↑ 15

Timothy Morton, ‘Subscendence,’ E-flux Journal 85 (2017),

↑ 16

Björn Schiermer, ‘Quasi-objects, Cult Objects and Fashion Objects: On Two Kinds of Fetishism on Display in Modern Culture,’ Theory, Culture & Society 28.1 (2011): p. 85.

↑ 17

Cf. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (New York: SUNY Press, 2010 [1927]).

↑ 18

Joost de Bloois and Ernst van den Hemel, ‘Alain Badiou: het communisme in de kunst,’ in Alain Badiou’s Inesthetica: Filosofie, Kunst, Politiek (Amsterdam: Octavo Publicaties, 2012), p. 39. Translated by the author.

↑ 19

Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), p. 187.

↑ 20

Cf. Bourriaud 2002, pp. 25-29.

↑ 21

Bourriaud 2002, p. 15.