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ABSTRACT. This essay’s main purpose is to explore a series of contemporary art practices that in different ways raise questions about the relationship between art and politics. A touchstone for current debates on the politics of art is the work of Jacques Ranciére. In his writing on politics and aesthetics, he develops the concept of the aesthetic regime of art, and argues that for art to be political, it must sustain a tension between autonomy and heteronomy. In support of Ranciére, I argue that there are specific pitfalls when art becomes removed from life and, alternatively, when art becomes nothing more than life. The particular politics of the arts of the aesthetic regime must live within an ambiguous point of unresolved oscillation between these poles. Yet, I am critical of Ranciére’s own abuse of this theory when it comes to its application to particular artforms. In particular, I find his assessments of the art collective Grupo de Art Callejero (GAC) troubling precisely because they do not fully embody a careful and contextually specific understanding of how GAC operates. And because Ranciére misses this political point, he also misses what is pedagogical about the GAC: that within and against a totalitarian police order, making visible what is invisible by pointing to acts of torture is not merely propaganda but rather an open-ended invitation to redistribute the very parameters of what counts as political. pp. 43–60

Keywords: Ranciere; autonomy and heteronomy; the distribution of the sensible; art as social practice; the pedagogical turn; contemporary Latin American art; Grupo de Arte Callejero

ADETTY PÉREZ DE MILES
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The University of North Texas

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