Rirkrit Tiravanija vs. LeisureArts [Sammy Hagar vs. David Lee Roth?]

To illustrate an attitudinal difference between relational aesthetics and the LeisureArts aesthetic, we paraphrase David Lee Roth:

Rirkrit throws the party, we are the party.

SlothArts just doesn't have the same ring...

Greed:Low
Gluttony:Low
Wrath:Very Low
Sloth:High
Envy:Very Low
Lust:Low
Pride:Very Low


Discover Your Sins - Click Here

Art A Way Of Life - Melvin E. Haggerty - Community Art Education

Some tidbits from the 1935 volume Art A Way Of Life by Melvin E. Haggerty:

"Art is a way of life" is a simple statement of short and familiar words. It expresses a way of looking at life that is very old in the history of thought. If it now seems strange it is because we have permitted art to become divorced from the ordinary activities in which men [sic] engage and its cultivation to drift into the hand of specialists from whom the mass of mankind is separated as by a chasm. In recent times this chasm has become very broad and very deep. To men [sic] absorbed in the work of the world artists appear to be a cult and their work and conversation seem esoteric and almost mystical. To artists ordinary folks appear ignorant and unappreciative, and very often their thinly veiled contempt for plebeian tastes has led them to caustic expression. This dissociation is artificial; it is injurious to art and impoverishes life.

[Major snip]

[art as a way of life] sees that as the experiences of life multiply, new and varied purposes arise that call for the invention of new objects and new forms of expression and that these, in turn, vastly increase the possibilities of enriching life...This elemental reality that binds into a single pattern all the varied arts is more important for the philosophy of education than is the stress so often laid upon the differences that superficially separate one kind of creative work from other kinds.

[Major snip]

We have assumed a way of looking at art that permits no gulf between the simple arts of life and the so-called fine arts. It sees all as man's [sic] more or less successful efforts to create things that increase the comforts, the efficiencies, and the pleasures of living.. This view cherishes not even the ethically tinged distinction between good art and bad art.

[Major snip]

The distinction between creation and appreciation is not one between activity and passivity but rather one among different kinds of activity. The realization of this fact should emphasize the essential unity of art experiences.


This booklet is the theoretical foundation for the the Owatonna Art Education Project, or as Haggerty puts it, "a simple statement of the point of view from which the project proceeds." We don't know much else about the project, but a nice description is here: Amazing art education in an ordinary place. It was clearly part of the now sadly, neglected progressive impulse to integrate the arts into daily life at the individual and community level. More research is underway by LeisureArts to see what can be recovered from this amazing experiment in community art education. Any pointers to more information about the project, its participants, and Haggerty is appreciated.

Future Shock




Due to recent interest, we decided to post higher resolution images of this collection of the book Future Shock. The books were all gathered from thrift stores.

John Dewey - David Granger - Richard Shusterman

... Shusterman contends that Dewey's use of 'aesthetic experience' can help us to remember that qualitatively enriched experience, and not national/class privilege or the collecting of precious objects, is what makes art an incomparable source of personal and cultural renewal...The more we learn, and then teach others, how to fashion life itself into art, as Dewey says, the less we will feel the need to treat art as 'the beauty parlor of civilization.' - David Granger from John Dewey, Robert Pirsig, and the Art of Living

Horseless Carriages - Theoretical Fundamentalism - Immaterial Labor

Immaterial Labor - Scholz/Krysa - Rear-view Mirror of Theory

An addendum to our previous post - immaterial labor as epiphenomena

An addendum to our addendum.

Because of the length of our response to a recent comment concerning the above posts, we decided to turn the exchange into a post:

Nate said...

I don't understand - presumably historicizing involves reference to the past. Right? If not, then what does it mean? Can you name any properly historicized theory which avoids your concern about 'looking through the rearview mirror'?


Nate, thanks for the questions...

To "properly historicize" means understanding the context in which various concepts and terms come into use. Language in and of itself is "historical" in a very general sense (or involves reference to the past, as you put it), but the specific implementation of linguistic and conceptual terms within the framework of a theory has a more specific history than that sort of "legacy."

So what the various posts are getting at is a fundamental suspicion of theories that apply themselves to the world rather than allowing the world to act on them - what might be called "theoretical fundamentalism." Psychoanalytic theory tends to be an easy target here, having invented a whole range of concepts (ego, id, castration, etc.)that it then reveals lurking in films, politics, etc. Marxism too has its organizing myths seeing production and labor everywhere. Mapping the world using these specialized tools is certainly useful in certain contexts, but we just like to keep in mind that they are specialized, very partial, and historically bound views and that they are maps after all. Or to return to Baudrillard in reference to Marxism:

"Historical materialism, dialectics, modes of production, labor power - through these concepts Marxist theory has sought to shatter the abstract universality of the concepts of bourgeois thought...Yet Marxism in turn universalizes them with a 'critical' imperialism as ferocious as the other's."

"...Thus, to be logical the concept of history must itself be regarded as historical, turn back on itself...Instead, in Marxism history is transhistoricized: it redoubles on itself and is universalized."

"As soon as they [critical concepts] are constituted as universal they cease to be analytical and the religion of meaning begins. They become canonical and enter the general system's mode of theoretical representation."

And we can also appeal back to the "plain" language example of the different qualitative features between "horseless carriage" which makes sense of a new phenomena by directly invoking the old, and "automobile" which creates a new description altogether, admittedly grafting together "old" terms, but employing them in a very different way.