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Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art

Rancière’s magnum opus on the aesthetic
Composed in a series of scenes, Aisthesis–Rancière’s definitive statement on the aesthetic–takes its reader from Dresden in 1764 to New York in 1941. Along the way, we view the Belvedere Torso with Winckelmann, accompany Hegel to the museum and Mallarmé to the Folies-Bergère, attend a lecture by Emerson, visit exhibitions in Paris and New York, factories in Berlin, and film sets in Moscow and Hollywood. Rancière uses these sites and events—some famous, others forgotten—to ask what becomes art and what comes of it. He shows how a regime of artistic perception and interpretation was constituted and transformed by erasing the specificities of the different arts, as well as the borders that separated them from ordinary experience. This incisive study provides a history of artistic modernity far removed from the conventional postures of modernism.

Reviews

  • “Exhilarating... Rancière’s most thoroughgoing polemic against the received idea of modernism.”
  • “Jacques Rancière’s Aisthesis transforms the field of aesthetic philosophy.”
  • “French philosopher Jacques Rancière is a refreshing read for anyone concerned with what art has to do with politics and society.”
  • “In the face of impossible attempts to proceed with progressive ideas within the terms of postmodernist discourse, Rancière shows a way out of the malaise.”
  • “It’s clear that Jacques Rancière is relighting the flame that was extinguished for many—that is why he serves as such a signal reference today.”
  • “Far from the grand narratives of modernism that claim the language of art progresses in the search for purity ... modernity breaks down the hierarchy between spheres of culture, disturbing the boundaries between art and life ... [Rancière] analyzes a series of moments from this other history that could only be written in proliferating fragments ... this aesthetic ‘regime’ conditions the forms of art and democracy in an era of the permanent emergence of new sovereign subjects.”
  • “Since The Division of the Sensible … Rancière has been reminding those who would separate the wheat from the chaff in contemporary creative practices that art only exists as an unstable boundary that must be continually crossed. In Aisthesis the philosopher develops his thinking, drawing fifteen scenes of a counter-history of artistic modernity.”
  • “Such is the clarity and complexity of Rancière’s thought here, and so intimate is he with the writings excerpted and the works to which they refer, that one has to conclude that this is a fundamental test of his broader conceptions of artistic, literary, and political history.”
  • “Such is the clarity and complexity of Rancière’s thought here, and so intimate is he with the writings excerpted and the works to which they refer, that one has to conclude that this is a fundamental test of his broader conceptions of artistic, literary, and political history.”
  • “... a magisterial book of great scope and ambition that has the capacity to alter how we understand the artistic culture of the past 200 years.”

Blog

  • "Don't they represent us?": A discussion between Jacques Rancière and Ernesto Laclau

    Is representation necessary, or antithetical, to the democratic will? In light of the significant gains made by the indignados in the Spanish municipal and regional elections on Sunday, we publish a discussion about democracy and representation between Jacques Rancière, the inspiration for much analysis of the 15-M movement, and Ernesto Laclau, an important theoretical reference point for Podemos


    Amador Fernández-Savater introduces a discussion between the philosophers Jacques Rancière and Ernesto Laclau. Translated by David Broder, from El Diario

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  • 'Response to Rancière'

    Writer and psychoanalyst Jacques-Alain Miller responds to Jacques Rancière’s interview on ‘The Front National’s useful idiots’ and below this we publish Rancière's riposte.

     

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  • Jacques Rancière - Cinematic Vertigo: Hitchcock to Vertov and Back


    The Vertigo Effect, a series of more than 25 films marked, in one way or another, by Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 classic, commenced last night at BAMBelow, we present Jacques Rancière's essay on the film from Intervals of Cinema, which casts back to Vertov's Man With the Movie Camera to uncover the faultline Hitchcock's work straddles.

    Understanding the art of moving images means first understanding the relation between two movements: the visual unrolling of images specific to cinema; and the deployment and dissipation of semblances more broadly characteristic of the narrative arts. In the western tradition, the second aspect is dominated by the Aristotelian logic of inversion. The plot is a sequence of actions that seems to have a certain meaning and lead towards a certain end. But as the sequence unfolds, expectations are dashed: the alliance of causes produces an entirely different effect from the one anticipated; knowledge becomes ignorance and ignorance knowledge; success changes to disaster or misfortune to happiness. How can the unrolling of moving images be married to that particular logic for unveiling the truth behind appearances? I would like to show that the most perfect synchronization of the two movements includes a fault. And I will attempt to understand the philosophical meaning and political weight of that fault. So I will talk about the relation between vision, movement and truth. And by the same token I will have to talk about the relation between cinema, philosophy, literature and communism.

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Other books by Jacques Rancière Translated by Zakir Paul