The ICI Berlin with its 2020-22 cohort of fellows is pleased to present the first publication to come out of its core project ‘Reduction’, launched in autumn 2020.
Critical discourse hardly knows a more devastating charge against theories, technologies, or structures than that of being reductive. Yet, expansion and growth cannot fare any better today. The Case for Reduction suspends anti-reductionist reflexes to focus on the experiences and practices of different kinds of reduction within and across different fields and approaches — from the sciences, technology, and the arts, to feminist, queer, and decolonial approaches. The event seeks to allow critical attention to dwell on specific forms of reduction and to explore their generative potentials, ethics, and politics. Which reductions are to be avoided and which are to be endorsed? Can their violences be contained and their benefits transported to other contexts?
Introduction by Christoph Holzhey and Jakob Schillinger
Talk by Sabine Mainberger
A Case of Reduction
In the European history of thinking about visual art, there is a predilection for extreme reduction: time and again, interest focuses on a single line. It provides an occasion to raise fundamental questions about artistic activity and to problematize artistic practice, work, authorship, and the art system. For example, the one eminently ‘fine’ line allows one to recognize the unmistakable author; the sketchy line or the simple circle gives one a glimpse of the range of a mastery; the one effortlessly drawn line reveals the artist’s membership in a socio-aesthetic elite, and so on. From remarks on the line drawn with a light hand or the spontaneously placed brushstroke in the early modern period and in antiquity, the sinologist and philosopher François Jullien has established a bridge to Far Eastern art and aesthetics. Apparently, European and Chinese culture share the fascination of the one line; despite all other profound differences, their aesthetic ideals seem to converge here. Against this background, a prominent example from recent art history can be understood as an amalgamation of the Western and the Eastern ‘cult’ of the one simple line – and as a (self-)ironic commentary on it.
Followed by a discussion with Alberica Bazzoni, Christopher Chamberlin, and Iracema Dulley
The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin.
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Image Credit © Walid Abdelnour