Deconstructing and Reconstructing Artists with PhDs
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The fine art PhD raises several questions about the relationship between art and knowledge: does the research process contaminate art? Can the verbal categories used in knowledge claims capture the content of art? Isn‟t art impossible to pin down in conceptual or cognitive terms anyway? These questions assume that art and the categories used in knowledge claims are opposed. This chapter sets out to show that conceiving of art and knowledge as a binary distinction is too simplistic, and that categories are in a state of movement in such a way that prevents any clear cut division between art and knowledge, where this lack of division is a positive outcome. The basis for discussion is the deconstruction–reconstruction contest in philosophy over the political effectiveness of deconstruction and, in particular, Jürgen Habermas‟s assertion that Jacques Derrida‟s perpetual playing with categories denies the possibility of real- world, political reconstruction. At the centre of the Derrida–Habermas dispute, I argue, is a difference over how movement between categories (what I term „cross- categoriality‟) is understood to account for the cognitive and political effectiveness of art, aesthetics and deconstruction. I do not argue for one side over the other, but I do show how the competing models of cross-categoriality in the deconstruction– reconstruction debate lead to a series of mutually compatible approaches to fine art research. The emphasis on cross-categoriality is particularly useful, I maintain, because it demonstrates how subjective aesthetic judgments, through the crossing of categories, act upon the network of concepts used in knowledge claims. The mutually compatible nature of the approaches to fine art research, while not pointing to any immediate resolution in the deconstruction–reconstruction contest, does nevertheless suggest ways in which the two sides might orient themselves other than diametric opposition.
Cazeaux, C. (2012) "Deconstructing and Reconstructing Artists with PhDs". In: A. Martinengo (ed.) Beyond Deconstruction: From Hermeneutics to Reconstruction, Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 107-34.
Book chapter in Martinengo (2012), available at: https://www.doi.org/10.1515/9783110273328.107
European Science Foundation
- Artistic Research 
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