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Everyday life, relational aesthetics and the transf iguration of the commonplace

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This essay addresses the ways in which the relation between art and the everyday life has been discussed by authors Arthur Danto (in The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, 1981), and Nicolas Bourriaud (in Relational Aesthetics, 1999). While both studies are significant attempts to grapple with the new relation between art and life explored by successive generations of artists (in the 1960s and the 1990s), I argue that neither are able to tackle the specificity of the everyday in art because they take definitions of the everyday or commonplace for granted. In contrast, I suggest ways in which reference to studies of everyday life such as Michel de Certeau's Practice of Everyday Life can help complement aesthetics' focus on definitions of art. Such a focus on everyday life, I argue, can shed light on 1960s works by Pop and Fluxus artists as well as contemporary relational practices such as those by Rirkrit Tiravanija's.

Keywords: Bourriaud, Nicolas; Certeau, Michel de; Danto, Arthur; Fluxus; everyday in art; relational aesthetics; transfiguration

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/jvap.5.3.143_1

Affiliations: University of Manchester.

Publication date: November 18, 2006

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  • The domain of visual art hosts a multitude of artistic forms and practices. The Journal of Visual Art Practice supports research across the entire range of this varied field. The journal engages with the progressive nature of the subject, reflecting upon the changing terrain of art in recent years.
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