Thursday, April 19, 2012
The New York Times on "Being Singular Plural", an art exhibit.
[I]ts title, taken from a 2000 book by the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, points to the esoteric thinking in this conception. In his book Mr. Nancy says that there is no “being” without “being-with” first; that identity essentially exists in community. Beyond that there is the challenge of how to avoid making “we” into a singular identity (as in “we Americans”).
. . .
Still, this charge of specialization isn’t new, and in practice art exhibitions end up working on multiple registers: some people will watch Mr. Mohanty’s entire video, while the majority of visitors, at least while I was there, seemed content to sample three to five minutes before moving on to the next attraction.

And perhaps the art world, for all its specialization, could be accused of similar things. After all — given that Mr. Nancy’s “being-with” has been described as a post-communist, French redux of Heidegger that responds to the ethics, ontology and ideas of otherness outlined by Levinas and Lacan — you have to wonder if, in certain precincts, the art world might not be just as guilty of glossing the surface.
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