Artistic Autonomy in the “Post-Medium Condition” of Art: Conceptual Artworks as Performative Interventions


The present text tackles the old problem of artistic autonomy given the constitutive heteronomy of post-conceptual artistic practices in terms of their medium-specificity. Instead of considering the idea of artistic autonomy as a modernist prejudice to be discarded, I suggest that it may be revised as the performative autonomy of discourse against ideological uses of language, given that conceptual art is considered as practice and activity rather than the production of objects. Resistance may be itself redefined as the performative re-articulation of language within its conventional use. Therefore, if aesthetic formalism tried to achieve the autonomy of art in the social sphere by means of medium-specificity, whereas early conceptualists strolled towards a functionalist type of artistic autonomy in the artistic sphere, contemporary post-conceptual practices revised the very concept of form as the critical communicative articulation of the social sphere.

Keywords: Artistic autonomy, conceptual art, performativity, ideology, interventionist practices

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