published on August 22, 2017
Space, Place, Word, and Time
This presentation is something of a performative response to the thrust and promise of Dennis Schmidt’s work, especially Between Word and Image.
I take my orientation from remarks like these: “Any reply to history and to our times needs to be drawn from the deepest center of who we are. To be sure, the crises and struggles of our times require immediate and direct action, but they also require something that is able to change us. . . . The experience summoned by the work of art has the potential to be precisely such an ethopoetic event” (Dennis Schmidt).
I have included discussion of some of my own work; the practice of making art has led me to new questions about when art happens, about the event of art. Rilke wrote “you must change your life.” This means a break with the dominance of representation, calculation and Machenschaft A renewal of dwelling is involved, and art can help make this happen. With Denny this is the ethical promise of art. We take up both questions Denny sets aside in Between Word and Image—that of Nature and the Hegel/Adorno question of the possibility/efficacy of art today.
My wager is that earth art offers new ways forward in thinking both about ethical life (and beauty!) and the possibility of art. Earth art has distinctive ways of recalibrating our understanding of and engagement with space and time, which at least feed into what we mean by dwelling, our bearing in the world. Through this recalibration is opened up a mutation, a transformation, in the way we think of questions of control with respect to Nature.