Part Four – Assignment 4: Refining Argumentation

Assignment task:
Given the nature of difference-in-itself, or what we have referred to as theoretical difference, it would be an error to say that it appears in some works and not others. It would also be an error to think that difference was the only thing a work had to offer. However, with some caution and a little licence, we can show that some works invite a differential interpretation more than others. Such works will generally have a double aspect like the ’duck-rabbit’ and other picture puzzles though this won’t always be visual, it may be conceptual. Allegories and simulacra are also suggestive of difference.

Choose one of the works below and explore its possible interpretations in terms of difference. Think carefully about its potential and research the work before you begin.

From my previous development of argumentation, I can start to draw my conclusion and refine my argumentation as a narrative in a rather loose approach (learnings from previous assignment – to write first what I want to say and than to make reference to my research)

1) My position statement and Introduction:

Revised after further research and reflection:

The Paradox of Difference in Institution of Art

The post-Modernist art world was characterised by an affluent discourse and self-consciousness to overcome the self-referential notion of a mystified art object and to expand into the social universe of underlying belief structures.

The 1960s and early 1970s marked an important secession in a world facing global wars, 68s student revolts, with an increasing interest in Marxists, post-structuralist and deconstructive thoughts. The world resembled an earthquake. New forms of art conceptions were explored to challenge authorities and underlying power structures. The necessity to make a difference in kind marked an attitude of radical resistance and symbolic revolution.

On that background, the gallery was a major concern as representing a capitalist system. Michael Asher developed differentiating spatial ‘sculptures’ and taken the literal space of the gallery into account for an epistemological transformation.

This essay will show how Asher’s work for the Claire Copley Gallery in 1974 can be interpreted in different ways, not only as a move away from Modernist and Minimal Art tradition and as critique for underlying institutional support structures. But especially as a spatial experience of difference in itself leading towards an interpretation of an institution of art as an integrated, non-opposing entity with the artist as a free creator.

2) Conclusion:

Asher’s conception and defend of the gallery as an ‘essential context for cultural reception’ (Asher, 1983:100) opposes the traditional notion of the ‘White Cube’ as a signifier for the ‘estrangement of the artist from the society to which the gallery provides access to’ (O’Doherty, 1999:80). This contradiction and self-conscious struggle of the artist in context of conceptual art and critique of art institutions as capitalist frameworks places the artist into a marginalized and Hegelian slave position.

This essay has shown how different interpretations of Asher’s work for the Claire Copley Gallery can make this contradiction an act of perceptual and affective experience. Through the opening of the architectural space interactive social relations between participants became visible and through its mediation allowed for a revised reception of the role of the artist, the audience and the institution.

Asher’s work placed the spectator literally inside an integrated gallery space and metaphorically relates it to a cultural space of production, exhibition, distribution and consumption. Through the difference of seeing from inside instead from outside an understanding of art as ‘institution’ is performed.

This essay concluded with Asher’s own notion of an epistemological transformation. The transformative experience relates to Bourdieu’s conception of habitus placing the participants as internalized ‘social bodies’. Eventually, through a mutual recognition the master/slave dialectic is resolved.

3) My main arguments

With examples and evidence (references to be added later)

  • Difference in perception:
    Space, White Cube, openness, relationship, phenomenological, affects
    – A spatial experience versus a concealed contextual, social experience
    – A sensual immanent psychological experience versus distancing observation
    – Experience of illusion versus a socio-economical experience of destroyed illusion
    – Site specificity as immanent experience versus cultural context
    – Relationships as affective response and estrangement versus ideological reflection
    – Signification of white walls as undifferentiated ground versus emblem ‘White Cube’


  • Difference in art as work:
    Object, Materiality, Temporality, Artist’s procedure and intention
    – Role of artist as creator or interpreter and architect
    – Objectification of art versus space and spectator
    – Temporality of artwork versus permanent and historical objects
    – Materiality in architectural structures versus institutional support structures
    – Conditions of production as resistance or adaptation
    – Mystification and Demystification


  • Difference in itself:
    Representational frameworks, affirmation, appropriation, potentiality 
    – Reversal of representational frameworks of inside-outside contradiction
    – Others as opposite to self mediated through spatial experience
    – Affirmation and appropriation
    – Spectatorial agency of individual positioning in space
    – Gallery walls as undifferentiated ground


  • Difference of master/slave dialectic:
    Creator, power, recognition, self-consciousness, freedom
    – The Artist as creator or slave opposing institutions
    – Representation and recognition as essential elements in comprehension and liberation
    – Value of art as labor versus recognition
    – Recognition and self consciousness
    – The audience as inside subject of power structures
    – ‘Double bind’ (Bateson) paradox 


  • Difference in discourse:
    Socio-economical structures, power, marginalisation, institutionalisation and internalisation
    – Commodification and commercialisation versus deconstruction
    – Challenging ‘naturalised’ power structures from within versus marginalization
    – Artist’s intention versus appropriation of cultural structures
    – Difference in degree and reality: instituationalization and internalization
    – Literal versus epistemological transformation
    – Habitus (asversus intellectual comprehension and signification


I might need to reduce and focus. Also the sequence of argumentation need to looked at further. My first draft will certainly show it.



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