Graham Harman: Art Without Relations

In an exclusive essay, one of the philosophers at the forefront of Speculative Realism makes some connections

By Graham Harman

Rirkrit Tiravanija, Untitled 2012 (Freedom Cannot Be Simulated), 2012. Photo: Jens Ziehe. Courtesy the artist and Neugerriemschneider, Berlin

Let’s begin by introducing the term ‘nonrelational aesthetics’. This is not meant as a retort to Nicolas Bourriaud, whose influential book Relational Aesthetics (1998) is not my target. What Bourriaud means by ‘relations’ are staged encounters between humans who would otherwise pass each other anonymously but are now encouraged to interact through jointly cooking packets of soup or other forms of conviviality (as in the artworks of Rirkrit Tiravanija). What I oppose is relationality in a wider sense, one so…

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