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Adrian Piper's aesthetic agency: Photography as catalysis for resisting neo-liberal competitive paradigms

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Contemporary neo-liberal society is ruled by the market. Davies, Chen and Lentin and Titley show that its objectification and categorization founds a competitive notion of agency that disables subjective construction of self and intersubjective understanding of the world. As the market's rules and norms are set by white patriarchy, its competitive paradigm structurally disadvantages others. Art too is objectified and categorized by neo-liberal institutions, equally embedded in white patriarchal market structures and severely limiting democratic public access to a diverse artistic field, argue hooks, Mercer and Piper. Yet, Piper's artwork shows, art holds emancipatory potential. Defined as transforming experience, its ambiguity provides a structure for constituting agentic subjectivity and intersubjective signification processes, defying objective/objectifying market workings. Photography's specific qualities allow Piper to democratize access to the paradigm she proposes. Her artistic choices may thus found the potential to publicly construct a notion of aesthetic agency as resistance to the neo-liberal market.
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Keywords: Adrian Piper; aesthetic experience; agency; index; intersubjectivity; neo-liberalism; subjectivity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000123486355 Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Publication date: April 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Philosophy of Photography is a new peer-reviewed journal devoted to the scholarly understanding of photography. It is not committed to any one notion of photography nor, indeed, to any particular philosophical approach. The purpose of the journal is to provide a forum for debate on theoretical issues arising from the historical, political, cultural, scientific and critical matrix of ideas, practices and techniques that may be said to constitute photography as a multifaceted form. In a contemporary context remarkable for its diversity and rate of change, the conjunction of the terms 'philosophy' and 'photography' in the journal's title is intended to act as a provocation to serious reflection on the ways in which existing and emergent photographic discourses might engage with and inform each other.
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