– Autumn/Winter 2017

Now and Then: Commodity and Apparatus

Victor Burgin

Victor Burgin, Memory Piece, 1967, instruction card and instructions carried out in the form of two tensed rope equilateral triangles, 10.97m each side. Courtesy the artist

  1. Sigmund Freud, ‘Constructions in Analysis’ (1937), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol.23, 1937–1939 (1964, trans. and ed. James Strachey et al.), London: Hogarth, 1957, pp.258–59.

  2. Walter Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ (1940), in Illuminations (1955, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn), London: Fontana, 1973, p.257.

  3. See Victor Burgin, ‘Situational Aesthetics’, Studio International, vol.178, October 1969, p.13; reprinted in Situational Aesthetics: Selected writings by Victor Burgin (ed. Alexander Streitberger), Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2009.

  4. See Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre, Enrichissement. Une critique de la marchandise, Paris: Gallimard, 2017.

  5. ‘It is an old trick of our criticism to proclaim its breadth of views … by baptizing avant-garde what it can assimilate, thereby economically combining the security of tradition with the frisson of novelty.’ Roland Barthes, ‘There is no Robbe-Grillet School', in Critical Essays (1964, trans. Richard Howard), Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1972, p.95.

  6. The scene of prize-giving is itself inscribed in a ‘serial apparatus’ of histories and myths more turbulent than the history of sculpture. For example, Paris awards the golden apple to Aphrodite with disastrous consequences for his nation; the black athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos receive their medals at the 1968 Olympic Games and raise their fists in the Black Power salute as the band plays ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’.

  7. Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic (trans. and ed. John Willett), London: Methuen, 1964, p.34.

  8. Michel Foucault in ‘The Confession of the Flesh’ (a conversation with Alain Grosrichard, Gerard Wajeman, Jaques-Alain Miller et al.), in M. Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 197277 (ed. Colin Gordon), Brighton: Harvester, 1980, p.194.

  9. Foucault’s idea of ‘apparatus’ has since been the object of lengthy exegesis by other writers; for example, Gilles Deleuze and Giorgio Agamben have each devoted studies to the notion.

  10. Serge Leclaire, ‘27 décembre 1992, un dimanche', Encore, 6–12 January 1993, pp.9–10. Translation the author’s.

  11. See, for example, Ross McKibbin, ‘Good for Business’, London Review of Books, vol.32, no.4, 25 February 2010; and Simon Head, ‘The Grim Threat to UK Universities’, The New York Review of Books, 13 January–9 February 2011, pp.58–64.

  12. Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text (trans. Richard Miller), New York: Hill and Wang, 1975, p.42.

  13. See Charles Batteux, Les beaux arts réduits à un même principe, Paris: Durand, 1746.

  14. See https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780007333776/england-is-mine (accessed February 2017).

  15. See Fréderic Worms, ‘“Au nom du people”, ou l’identité contre l’égalité et la République sociale’, l’Humanité, 22 February 2017, p.13.