Term used to indicate the complex visual matrix incorporating the one who looks as well as the one who is looked at. This means the one who imposes the gaze and the one who is the object of the gaze are both implicated in the construction of the gaze. The concept was addressed initially by Sigmund Freud’s concept of scopophilia (‘pleasure in looking’ or voyeurism) and later in Jacques Lacan’s formulation of the mirror stage and its role in identity formation. Lacan formulated the complex role of the gaze in constructing the relation between interior self and exterior world as two kinds of subjects—not only as a powerful subject gazing at the world but also as a lacking, objectified subject encountering the gaze outside himself. For the most part the link between the gaze and power is entrenched in theories on the gaze, since the directed gaze of the powerful subject has the ability to subjugate and even petrify its objects as exemplified in the terrifying gaze of Medusa in Greek mythology. The construction of the gaze happens within an asymmetry of power. In recent times, the gaze has become a trope within visual culture for the critical analysis of several entwined ideas concerning class, race, ethnography, sex, gender, religion, embodiment, ideology, power, and visuality. In this article the powerful directed gaze is analysed through the categories of the clinical gaze, colonial gaze, touristic gaze, and the male gaze. Finally, theorizing possibilities of going beyond the gaze are considered....
Amanda du Preez
French critic and philosopher Nicolas Bourriaud adopted the term ‘relational aesthetics’ in the mid-1990s to refer to the work of a selected group of artists, and what he considers their novel approach to a socially conscious art of participation: an art that takes as its content the human relations elicited by the artwork. Its key practitioners, most of them emerging in the 1990s, include Rirkrit Tiravanija , Philippe Parreno (b 1964), Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, Maurizio Cattelan, Carsten Höller , and Vanessa Beecroft . For example, Carsten Höller installed Test Site (2006) at the Tate Modern in London so that visitors could enjoy the amusement park thrill of large playground slides in the museum’s Turbine Hall, and bond with fellow viewers over their experience. Bourriaud’s collected writings in Relational Aesthetics (1998, Eng. edn 2002) helped to spark a new wave of interest in participatory art.
While Bourriaud omits acknowledging the historical roots of relational art, Marxist-influenced critiques of the changing conditions of modern life, and arguments for art’s ability to improve man’s relationship with reality have a long history in 20th-century art. Critics Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer were among the first to developed new models for an art of politicized participation in the 1920s. The relational art of the 1990s and early 2000s is a continuation and an extension of traditions of participatory art throughout the 20th century (such as ...