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The Escape Route’s Design: Assessment of the Impact of Current Aesthetics on History and a Comparative Reading Based on an Example Close to the City o


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The following speculative exercise aims at surveying the impact of current Aesthetic Theory, of a certain Contemporary Aesthetics in particular which proposes as fundamental the denomination of what is Art, in its application to History; to, that is, the re-evaluation of past events, eventually to the re-evaluation of incidents whose occurrence is considered solely possible in the Past and from whence a political and social significance could emerge. The present exercise is to be understood as comparative, and the nature of the survey is defined by its exemplificative or exemplary character in the displacement of the object of aesthetical reasoning from a specific object (Art) to a specific occurrence (History). To this end, we ground ourselves in a modern conception of the Individual and in the aesthetic judgment inherent to it, as well as in the admitted possibility of a continuous re-evaluation and social redistribution of its interpretation. The methodology here proposed for an aesthetic re-reading of historical events is thus rendered beyond the factual evaluation of History; it is independent from it without however disrespecting its existence per se; it does not approach the causes and effects involved in the unfolding of a given event, or attempt the explanation or consolidation of points of view on the political and social relations potentially associated with it. Nevertheless it equally presupposes the interpretation of those same historical events in order to formulate a differentiated possibility of reading and understanding the event in itself; it is, and must be, conscious of the social surroundings of the event under consideration, even if it does not propose to approach them directly. Consequently, this supposed possibility does not aim at rethinking a historical interpretation of a particular event, but to revolve the event in its subjective possibilities of value.

Through its inextricable association with the Individual, aesthetic judgment necessarily and intrinsically confers its freedom to judge any occurrence as Art. Or, as we prefer, to judge any occurrence as object of referential or substantive value, capable of a communicative bond and exemplarity. This referential or substantive value would then be repositioned equally, simultaneously, and inevitably in the sphere of the individual and of communicative and communitarian socialization. Towards an operative end, and within the historical lineage of philosophical thought concerning the subjectivity of value, the displacement of the aesthetic judgment for its free application is here stated, reaffirming the preposition that this judgment, defined by its occurrence in a predominantly subjective and individual regime, proposes an intrinsically social, albeit specialized, universal validity.

In light of this, the Kantian supposition that any social other might also recognize and share any event as such (Art/value), the redirection of the object of aesthetic judgment is fundamentally legitimized by not presupposing the artistic object as an a priori element. Furthermore, the entailment of the free attribution of value to the subjective individual is also associated with the modernist avant-garde movements, in particular, Surrealism, Dadaism, and Russian Constructivism. In the sequence of proposed ruptures, these movements progressively pointed, deliberately or not, to an enlargement of the significance of Art by its reassessment of value; that is, the disengagement of value from religious or royal representations of power. This disengagement would establish a regime of exchange that is, if not democratic or communist, fundamentally egalitarian with respect to creation, production, and reception of signification. From this horizontal notion of the functioning of Art, or of a referential value capable of bonding, comes the conclusion that any reading is ultimately done in the position of the spectator. This portrays the spectator as a subject of power, therefore capable of voluntary aesthetic emancipation and effective action in the world through this particular capacity of judgment and re-evaluation, but not necessarily of reordering the objects and/or phenomena involved in the unfolding of the historical process. From our perspective, then, this could be understood as an attempt to respond to the increasing crystallization of History and its constitutive elements, of which the results are the loss of the necessarily intrinsic potentiality of the Individual in its constructive relation to the present and future, the loss, that is, of a critical grounding for collective identity.

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