Writing on Art - The Derridian Performative
미술에 대한 글쓰기 - 데리다의 수행성 개념을 중심으로
- Peter W. Milne
- 인문대학 미학과
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- Jacques Derrida; performativity; iterability; logic of the supplement; event; art criticism
- 학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 인문대학 미학과, 2017. 8. Peter W. Milne.
- What does writing about art do? This thesis explores this question by reading Jacques Derridas +R, a textual response to the paintings and drawings of the artist Valerio Adami, as a performative engagement. J. L. Austins introduction of performativity in the 1950s opened a new prospect in thinking about communication: a speech, spoken or written, not only describes the given facts but also performs an act in its issuing. Derrida appreciates the notion of the performative as it allows for an understanding of communication that is not limited to transference of a unified content. Nevertheless, Derrida questions the notions underlying conditions and attempts to situate it in different terms throughout numerous oeuvres. Notably, Derrida undertakes a brief yet significant reconfiguration of the performative, and suggests a close association between the term and his writing on art, in the introductory pages to The Truth in Painting. However, as yet there has been little scrutiny on this association. I argue that Derridas understanding of the performative is a critical missing link in reaching a comprehensive grasp on Derridas art writing. +R, in particular, has been marginalized in the literature on Derridas philosophy and art criticism alike due to its enigmatic and irregular style of writing. In light of the Derridian performative, I reintroduce +R as an occasion to rethink the conventions of art criticism and to address the general question of what writing about art does.
To this end, I examine first the Derridian notion of the performative. According to Derrida, the performative in Austins sense does not escape the metaphysical tradition that privileges presence over absence
the speech act theory is still rooted in dichotomies such as the serious and the non-serious or the standard and parasitical use of language, in all of which the latter is excluded. This leads Derrida to carry out a reconfiguration of the notion, which I will examine in terms of iterability, the logic of the supplement, and the production of event. In accordance with his critical perspective of Western metaphysics, Derrida argues that it is neither the present intentionality nor the exhaustibly definable context that regulates meaning
instead it is the absolute absence of, or a radical break from, the immediate context that allows a communication to take place. In this regard, iterability, the ability to be repeated in alterity, is the condition of the performative. Based on this observation, I analyze the supplementary structure of the Derridian performative to show how binary hierarchies presupposed in the orthodox speech act theory can no longer be maintained. By inscribing the infinite supplementarity to the performative and displacing the dogmatic distinctions of its original scheme, Derrida proposes an extended understanding of the performative, beyond the strict distinction between the verbal and extraverbal as well as the constative and the performative. Finally, I examine the performative production of the event by elaborating Derridas distinct understanding of the event, the inaugural power of the performative, and interpretation. As meaning is understood to be possible within the supplementary chain, production does not indicate a creation ex nihilo but rather something that takes place within an interpretation that explores limitless possibility and transforms what it interprets.
Based on this analysis, I examine the performative qualities of +R. In +R, the conditions of the performative as examined in previous chapters are carefully considered and performatively demonstrated. Accordingly, it does not abide by the conventions of art criticism with a seeming disregard for dominant elements such as the presence of the artwork, the intention of the artist, and preexisting discourses. Without absolutizing any of these elements deemed essential in art writing, the performance of +R displaces and resituates the relationship between the physical attributes of the artworks and the descriptions of them, the artist and the writer, and preexisting discourses and art writing. +R does not provide a methodology or a model of art writing in the conventional sense. But it urges the writer to engage performatively with the artwork in a singular way, without relying on absolutized criteria or discourse equipped in advance to master the work.