Wednesday, June 24, 2020

John Miller at Schinkel Pavillon

"Veblen asserted that what so often passes for beauty is simply demonstrable wealth; our sense of an article’s superiority corresponds to its honorific wastefulness. Extravagance, the capacity to waste, signifies power. To the extent that waste implies a superabundance of wealth, and because power is measured in material acquisitions, the beauty of an article confirms the prepotency of its owner.
After late capital became a retardative force, the standard of beauty, according to Veblen, served to inhibit technical, social, and artistic progress by driving a wedge between the useful and the desirable: 'The principle in question is, in a certain sense, a negative rather than a positive law. It is a regulative rather than a creative principle'[...]
The hope of liberation in superior taste turned the dandy’s quest into a quixotic venture. In contrast, the post-Modern tropes of irony, quotation, and pastiche represent an attempt to reclaim beauty by negating its usual invidiousness. Yet this reclamation, like the dandy’s insolence, admits a painful gap between intentions and results, utopian longing and what ideology actually delivers. And so the promise of a better life lingers on in a highly mannered guise. Here the melancholic portents are unmistakable to anyone who cares to give them a closer look: it is the suppressed rage of those for whom beauty has been tainted forever. " - John Miller, Artforum