Agamben – 2012 Aug 21 (evening)

Archeology of the Work of Art 

Archeology is the Only way to have access to the present

The ombre porter of our theoretical interpretation of the present – feel abliged to interrogate our past 

If Europe is to have a future – and nothing is less sure…

American and Asians have completely different concepts of history

Crisis – EU – the moment of choice that cannot be postpone

Homo Sacer – end of history – two possibilities: 

  • Post historical animalism – America 
  • Snobbism – tea ceremonies – Asia

Europe is able to confront the whole of its history

The growing museumification of Europe

  • The only place the past can be is in the present
  • What is the place of art in the present – where is art today? 

The relationship of art today is a problem

  • The work – the art – which is the decisive element (Heidegger – cycle of hermeneutics) 
  • Work has disappeared from art – 
    • Art as workless – an activity which 
  • Traumatic experience is represed and unconscious – results in pathological symptoms
  • Work is the great repressed in art today – contemporary art can be thought of as a pathological symptom (symptoms can be very interesting)


  • Artists are amongst those who practice a techne –  the work he produces is not termed in terms of ‘work’ but only the object that had to be produces (i.e.: not organised by labour costs) 
  • The productive activity is in the work – not in the artist who made it
  • “Terminology is the poetic moment in philosophy”
    • Energaie – means that something that is at work
    • The artwork belongs to the sphere of energae – being operative 
  • Ergon – having reached its own end 
  • In some cases the end coincides with usage
  • The energae
    • in the object – when there is labour, the material has energy – the energy is in the object
    • in the subject – when there is no production, the material is in the subject
    • This is why the artist is more high than the craftsman
  • Telos is outside themselves 
  • Praxis is in the object – Poesie is in the maker 

Contemporary / West

  • The artist is no longer a man who is worthless (where the art contains the energy) 
  • Energa is located 
  • The work is the superfluous remainder of the activity or genius of the artist
  • The artwork the productive activity and the artist – the art machine of modernity
  • The artwork the productive activity and the artist – the three rings in the figure of the boromean knot 
On movements…
  • Freud: Pyschoanalytical Movement
  • Avant garde movements  

Germany – Mariella – Monk – 1923 

  • De lithurgy as misteric feast – a manifesto of the liturgic movement 
  • Liturgea – public action – activity made for the people
  • Praxis – for the simple fact of having been accomplished 
  • The priest can be a criminal who baptises a woman only in order to rape her – only the action matters – the baptism still takes place
  • Linking of praxis of avant garde and liturgy
  • Symbolism / Aesthetism / Decadentism 
  • Artists pick up the idea that efficacy coincides with execution – 20th century avant gardes 
  • Hypothesis: Avant gardes and their remaking of contemporary art are just the revival of an essential liturgical paradigm – of performing a public action as art
  • “for the mere fact of its evolution”

New York – 1919

  • Marcel DuChamp invents the ready made
  • DuChamp clearly realised that the art machine – as previously described 
  • All three elements of the machine 
    • the artwork 
    • the productive activity
    • the artist 
  • Gamblers, and charlattans have tried 
  • The art machine is running on 

To leave the art machine to its destiny – to take leave from the idea tha tthere is a supreme activity that realise 

We have to redesign the space in which modernity has defined the subject. 

The artist is that which experiences itself and constitutes itself as a form of life

Consider art as a form of life – shift art from the sphere of liturgy and aesthetics – into the sphere of ethics

Living being keeping relationship with his or her environment.  What is at stake is his happiness. 

“Painting is certainly the only form of life – the only form I have to defend myself from life.” 


Techne and epistme were pre-archive – Aristotle seperated these two – which created the hounding we’re undergoing by and with technology 

Man without Content:  Magic Etude Du Boneure – Malarme – Rambeau… liturgical pretension.  Rambeau is a bit ironic about this… at the same time.  In Rambeau 

Beuys – litergical interests – actualising liturgy in 

Once you have destroyed the work – we cannot participate in the economy of artistic practice of value – pretending that there is a work somewhere…

Let’s see if a new dimension of art can emerge now that the work is finished – instead of replacing into the gallery the non-work 

Man becomes a workless being – which 

George Bataille – economy of expenditure

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