In our ongoing research for thinking through leisure, rather than work as the basis for art practice and for the construction of culture, we have been reading through 21st Century Leisure by John R. Kelly and Valeria J. Freysinger. There is a chapter on the relationship between leisure and the arts which has a pretty unsophisticated understanding of contemporary art, but has some useful material nonetheless. This quote was the most noteworthy:
"Art creates what 'might be' or even what 'ought to be.' It is always playful rather than limited to accepted existence. What is necessary for such creative art is more than time. It is a total environment that enables playful activity - activity done for the experience rather than for a predetermined outcome. Leisure, from this perspective, is necessary, for the creation of art. Friedrich Schiller believed that people are most human when they are at play, when they engage in creative activity for its own sake. Creative activity, then, is not a luxury, but is central to what it means to be human...It is a shared vision of what life is and might become. It is a dialectic of being and becoming. And leisure is the possibility of such creative activity."
An interesting note relative to this:
Jacques Rancière, whom Claire Bishop cited as providing the theoretical framework for her much discussed essay in Artforum, had this to say about Schiller:
"I think that this statement [concerning free-play and the cessation of activity, or - leisure] has to be reinvestigated, far beyond the usual interpretations that see in it an irenic dream of humanity reconciled by the cult of Beauty and the artistic education of the lower classes. Such a reinvestigation has to grapple with the heart of the paradox, which, I think, is not the paradoxical statement of a single thinker but a contradiction constitutive of a whole regime of identification of art and of its "politics". The paradox can be summarized as follows: there is a specific aesthetic experience that is an experience of suspension, of withdrawal of power. And this experience of suspension is the principle of two seemingly contradictory things: an edifice of art as such, the autonomization of a "self-contained" sphere of art and the identification of that power of "self-containment" with the framing of a new form of collective life."
He goes on to explore in MUCH greater detail several "regimes" that constitute the field for analyzing this paradox. It's confusing because he says there are three, but names four. Maybe a problem in translation?
1. The regime of identification (a "meta" regime apparently) - comprised of "modes of production of objects or of interrelation of actions; forms of visibility of these manners of making and doing ; and manners of conceptualizing these practices and these modes of visibility." Essentially, what makes art possible.
2. The ethical regime of images - concerns itself with the "truth" of images and the effect they have on individuals.
3. A representational regime of the arts - forms of expression as interfacing with skills, raw materials, and the appropriate relationship to subject.
4. The aesthetic regime of art (what appears to be the crux of Bishop's theoretical position) - which is a regime of autonomy, but he cautions, "Because the 'aesthetic autonomy' is not, as the "modernist" paradigm has it, the autonomy of the work of art as such. It is the autonomy of a form of experience."
This material found in: Aesthetics and Politics: Rethinking the Link which is available on-line thanks to 16 Beaver. It's worth the time, especially if you want a better understanding of Bishop's argument.