The Decision Between UsArt and Ethics in the Time of Scenes

The Decision Between UsArt and Ethics in the Time of Scenes

John Paul Ricco

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780226717777

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Based upon his reading of the contemporary French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy on sense, aesthetics and ethics, in this book John Paul Ricco argues that separation is the archi-spatiality or spaciousness of existence; that aesthetics is the technique and praxis for sustaining a standing in this groundless ground; and that the ethical is the decision of this stance, and of partaking and sharing in this scene of separated spacing with other people and things. By discussing various works of modern and contemporary art, literature and philosophy including Robert Rauschenberg's Erased DeKooning Drawing to Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ candy piles and paper stacks, Marguerite Duras’ The Malady of Death, and Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, Ricco theorizes various ways in which shared-separation—as the source and sense of existence—is aesthetically presented and sustained as the scene of ethical decision between us. In its three-part division, the book begins with anonymous scenes of drawing and erasing, intrusion and encounter (Part One: “Name No One”), then moves to what are theorized as “naked images” and scenes staged by outstretched and extended bodies in their shared naked exposure to the outside and non-knowledge (Part Two: “Naked”), and then to scenes of exposure to the anteriority of loss, withdrawal and retreat in photography, and amongst the offering of and partaking in, the infinite expenditure of readymade things (Part Three: “Neutral and Unbecoming”).