Relational Aesthetics – Walead Beshty
French curator Nicolas Bourriaud has coined the term Relational Aesthetics to catagorize the art coming from Europe beginning in the early 1990s. He has recently curated the Tate Triennial titled Altermodern at the Tate Britian. The movement of relational artwork can be understood as reaching out to the real world, the public, the people, the masses, the common man or the common ideal or the common adversaries. Art has always been used as a tool to coheres notions of religion or notions of state or policy or politics. Art has always been used to speak to the masses to emphasize some ideology, public or private. However, relational art seems to be the vehicle by which the public is reached with the hopes of making it (the public itself) self aware. It holds a mirror towards us, the masses, opening our eyes to ourselves as a whole. With this said, one could reference artwork such as Warhol. However, his aim was to offer an understanding of the masses, almost from an outsider, more pseudo elitist point of view; or perhaps true elitist, depending on the vantage point. Relational art seeks to integrate itselfs into the mass and become part of what it seeks to represent. The image above is an installation by British born artist Walead Beshty, which is currently on exhibit as part of Bourriad’s Altermodern. Several tinted glass boxes were mailed through Fedex to various locations around the world. They were all retrieved in the end in order to compare the damage incurred in relation to themselves. Accompained with the installation are large wall hung developed and color printed film that has traveled inside the various glass boxes. The film was exposed only by the light in the security cameras that the boxes passed through in transit. The entire piece is a perfect example of Nicolas Bourriaud’s idea of Relational Aesthetics.