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The Open Art of Valérie Mannaerts

A Prior #15 / Monica Szewczyk

© Valérie Mannaerts, A Monster of Lochness Feeling (Desert & Bookshelves) 2007 in: A Prior #15

Since so many of us are talking, reading, thinking about ‘bare life’, I will not waste time in getting to the heart of the matter—or, should I say, to finding a heart in it, since beating hearts, vitality or any sense of eros are not easy to spot in this conversation about life. Some will say it is inappropriate. For them, graver subjects are at the heart of the bare life debate—the miserable life of refugees, the indigestible memory of the Holocaust, and the more mundane, if no less menacing, phenomenon of people subjected to what Foucault called biopolitics appear to take up the center of many a conversation. Taking their cue from Giorgio Agamben (and Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt before him) the organizers of the upcoming Documenta have thus set bare life as one key question or point of departure for their thinking on contemporary art and culture. Agamben will tell us that the institution (or reduction) of experience to bare life is precisely how power maintains itself—it…