An Infrastructural Aesthetic

This blog is informed deeply by Shannon Jackson’s idea of an infrastructural aesthetic from Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (Routledge, 2011).

An infrastructural aesthetic focuses on that which supports an artwork, opposed to a transcendental aesthetic that focuses on where an artwork might take us. An infrastructural aesthetic considers the points at which an artwork coincides with the worlds around it—”undividing the partitioned world,” writes Jackson.

By “undividing the partitioned world,” Jackson does not mean, say, ending racism or any similarly lofty task that art is ill-equipped to perform. Rather, focusing on the support of an artwork allows us to see the professional, unionized art-handlers who installed it; the price the gallery had to pay to rent the booth in which it sits; the corporate sponsors of the fair in which the gallery is renting a booth; the highly rarified micro-public of the mega-rich who may be able to afford the artwork; the harried look on the face of a spectator who has recently arrived, late, to meet a friend; and so on.