ISSN: 20403682
First published in 2010
2 issues per volume
Volume 1 Issue 1
Cover Date: March 2010
Philosophy, culture, image: Rancière’s ‘constructivism’
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Authors:  John Roberts 
DOI: 10.1386/pop.1.1.69/1

avant-garde,aesthetics,sensible,subjectivization,representation, pragmatism

Jacques Rancière’s theory of the sensible is an attempt to frame and secure the relationship between politics and aesthetics, art and design ‘on the same surface’. Accordingly, the reconstruction of the sensible appearances of the world – of the built environment, of the ‘décor’ of the sensible, as Rancière describes it – is more than the negation of bourgeois appearances in the name of either a radical aesthetics or a radical politics; it is, rather, the common invention of ‘sensible forms and material structures for a life to come’. In this respect Rancière’s theory has much in common with the historic avant-garde. Following the constructivism of Rodchenko and El Lissitsky, representation here is not just the symbolic life of pictures, but the very materiality of things and their relations. Yet Rancière has little time for the active politicization of art, insofar this ‘destroys’, he asserts, the potential democracy of art. This leaves his ‘constructivism’ in a weakened critical position. This essay explores the hiatuses and limitations of Rancière’s cultural theory.
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