Recuperation

Andrea Liu

Recuperation is an inexorable feature of late capitalism. As art movements and modes of cultural expression that were thought to be resistant, oppositional or antagonistic from the 1960’s and 70’s have been gradually absorbed by capitalism and its attendant apparatus, such that the notion of “political dissent” has been eviscerated. Land art which once rejected the commodification/circulation of discrete objects by the gallery system has now dissipated into “art tourism;” minimalism which was once a refutation of the Western infatuation with pictorial representation was de-historicized and caricaturized as a banal design aesthetic; site-specific installation which was once in opposition to the idealist space of sculpture and the monolithic monument was diluted into a benign marketing feature of the globalised art economy eager to manufacture consumable “difference”; institutional critique has been domesticated by the institution to create the appearance of an innocuous self-reflexivity. In light of this, we must ask “Is there no ‘outside’ position?” How can we theorize or historicize this phenomenon where the hollow shell of an oppositional form is preserved but it has been disemboweled of any actual oppositional content?

Seeking proposals for 10-minute presentations on Recuperation: the co-option of emancipatory/ oppositional/antagonistic forms of art, cultural production, theory, or social resistance. Disagreements, complications and refutations of thesis also welcome.

Other possible “recuperation” motifs: recuperation of digital or “smart technology” to capitalist consumerism; recuperation of a postmodernism of resistance, an oppositional epistemology into now a cynical ahistorical “anything goes” postmodernism, complicit with neoliberal capitalism; recuperation of dissent through grassroots democracy into now dissent through consumerism; recuperation of queer activism to queer consumerism.

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