On the New
On the New looks at the economies of exchange and valuation that drive modern culture's key sites: the intellectual marketplace and the archive. As ideas move from one context to another, newness is created. This continuous shifting of the line that separates the valuable from the worthless, culture from profanity, is at the center of Boris Groys's investigation which aims to map the uncharted territory of what constitutes artistic innovation and what processes underpin its recognition and appropriation.
hierarchy, the thing itself, or meaning – for a reference of that kind leads straight to the cultural hierarchy’s other. To be sure, a general critique of existing hierarchies is also incapable of legitimating its own claims to cultural value by invoking a reference of that kind. To formulate this critique concretely, we would first have to compare concrete profane things with concrete cultural values. For example, we would have to confront Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, as Marcel Duchamp did,
the other paintings with which the artist identifies or from which he takes his distance: here, what is represented serves this strategy only as a means. 4Thus Susan Sontag argues that we should renounce all interpretation of art in favour of pure perception: ‘Transparence is the highest, most liberating value in art – and in criticism – today. Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are … Once upon a time (a time when high art was
however, perpetuates tradition not positively, but negatively or contrastively. Negative adaptation to the tradition, moreover, obeys perhaps even stricter rules than positive adaptation does, because, in negative adaptation, the only profane objects that can be chosen are the ones that stand in the most radical contrast to traditional precedents, which is to say the ones that the artist makes the most valueless and profane. Only such negatively normative, negatively adapted, or negatively
the one hand, the tolerance that European culture shows African masks and the religious cults connected with them, and, on the other, the tolerance that African chieftains or medicine men might possibly bring themselves to show for the symbols of European Christianity. Basically, when a cultural principle renounces exclusivity, universality, and power, it ceases to be what it is. No cultural valorization can exhaust the profane, if only because no valorization can integrate its profane claim to
station and stand on the same cultural level as the recently overthrown privileged classes. When such opposition to attempts to represent the unprivileged classes’ subculture comes from those classes themselves, avant-garde criticism often makes fun of it as yet another symptom of their lack of culture. This is a tell-tale criticism. It shows that these classes, with their negative attitude toward a democratic politics of representation that seemingly seeks to promote their own welfare, are not