At its Third Annual Convention, held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago between April 29-May 1, Platypus hosted a conversation on “Art, Culture, and Politics: Marxist Approaches.” Platypus members Omair Hussain, Lucy Parker, Pac Pobric, and Bret Schneider sought to address “What might the problems of aesthetics and culture have to do with the political project of the self-education of the Left?” What follows are Bret Schneider’s opening remarks.
THOUGH PROMPTING BOOS from the audience at this year’s Creative Time Summit, J. Morgan Puett’s declaration that “capitalism is here to stay” was unintentionally but conclusively affirmed by the content of the event as a whole. In its second year, the Summit is an annual, weekend-long international forum showcasing various forms of public art practice that strives to be anti-capitalist.
Hal Foster is a prominent critic and art historian who contributes regularly to Artforum, New Left Review, and The Nation. He is also an editor of October. In the fall of 2009, he sent out a questionnaire to 70 critics and curators, asking them what “contemporary” means today. Foster notes that the term “contemporary” is not new, but that “What is new is the sense that, in its very heterogeneity, much present practice seems to float free of historical determination, conceptual definition, and critical judgment.” 35 critics and historians attempted to answer to the problems implied in this observation.
THE NEW TRANSLATION AND REPUBLICATION of Theodor Adorno’s Philosophy of New Music is a further clarification of modernism, necessitated by the latest discontents with postmodernism’s vulgarization, which keeps it at a fictitious distance. Perhaps as his remedy for the most fragmented part of the whole of the arts, namely music, translator Robert Hullot-Kentor has in recent years been steadily reintroducing Adorno’s aesthetic philosophy to English readers.
THE AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE OF DRONE MUSIC is not just aesthetically defined, but socially and historically located. The significance of this location is especially intriguing when concealed in a music legacy that aims exclusively at the pure presentation of sound, a music intent upon expelling all that is foreign to the aesthetic experience while underscoring a formal, perceptual physicality. As such, it is difficult to review an instance of drone music in isolation from either the widespread classification of the genre that increasingly defines the music listening experience or drone music’s historically accumulated predilection for spatial sound masses over temporal themes.