Friday Feeling: Emancipation

‘To understand this tension, we need to return to the original meaning of the word ’emancipation’: emergence from a state of minority. This state of minority…is, in principle, the same thing as the ‘harmonious fabric of community’,…[a] community…where everyone is in their place, their class, taken up with the duty allocated to them, and equipped with the sensory and intellectual equipment appropriate to that place and duty.’ (p.42)


‘Emancipation-…the dismantling of the old distribution of what be could be seen, thought and done…’ (p.47)


‘Being a worker meant a certain form of correspondence between a sensory equipment and its destination. It meant a determinate body, a determinate coordination between the gaze and the arms. The divorce between the labouring arms and the distracted gaze introduces the body of a worker into a new configuration of the sensible; it overthrows the ‘right’ relationship between what a body ‘can’ do and what it cannot.’ (p.71)


‘Aesthetic experience…produces…a multiplication of connections and disconnections that reframe the relation between bodies, the world they live in and the way in which they are ‘equipped’ to adapt to it.It is a multiplicity of folds and gaps in the fabric of common experience that chance the cartography of the perceptible, the thinkable and the feasible.’ (p.72)


‘The aesthetic effect is initially an effect of dis-identification. The aesthetic community is a community of dis-identified persons. As such, it is political because political subjectivation proceeds via a process of dis-identification. ‘ (p.73)


‘There is no straightforward road from the fact of looking at a spectacle to the fact of understanding the state of the world; no direct road from intellectual awareness to political action.What occurs instead is a shift from a given sensible world to another sensible world that defines different capacities and incapacities, different forms of tolerance and intolerance. What occurs are processes of dissocation: a break in a relationship between sense and sense- between what is seen and what is thought, what is thought and what is felt. Such breaks can happen anywhere and at any time. But they cannot be calculated.’ (p.75, emphasis mine)


‘Film, video art, photography, installation and all forms of art can rework the frame of our perceptions and the dynamism of our affects… But none of them can void the aesthetic cut that separates the outcomes from intentions and precludes any direct path towards an ‘other side’ of words and images.’ (p.82)


Extracts from Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator, London: Verso, 2011 (paperback edition)


Vivian Maier, Empire State Building, NY, September 13, 1953.















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