But what about the accessibility of content? Is affordability enough to make an artwork “democratic?” Or does it need to be, as both Lippard and Drucker imply, also “accessible” in the sense of “easily understood or appreciated?” This is a difficult question—political, aesthetic, social, economic. But it is a question worth asking, and, of course, at least trying to answer. The following is from Craig Dworkin’s Reading the Illegible:

[…] The politics of literature, accordingly, is no less fraught. In the narrow sense of “politics,” poems are quite simply not efficacious. At best, they may present models from which readers can extrapolate modes of thought or behavior which can be translated into other contexts and systems. To the degree that poems affect a reader’s understanding of language, they have the potential to alter all of those extraliterary relationships that also involve language; but they do not directly influence electoral politics, or feed the hungry, or soften blows. […]
The very importance of political issues, in fact, demands a more sophisticated reading practice. Both Jed Rasula and Bruce Andrews have suggested the requirements for such readings […]. Following Rasula’s terminology […] one might differentiate between the politics through, the politics in, and the politics of the poem. The politics through the poem would, accordingly, be politics in the narrow sense [described above]: essentially false leads, though perhaps occasionally and collaterally achieved by certain rallying songs or the poetic ornaments accompanying speeches. The politics in the poem would indicate Pound’s discussion of Mussolini, say, or Adrienne Rich’s feminist thematics. […] the politics of the poem: what is signified by its form, enacted by its structures, implicit in its philosophy of language, how it positions its reader, and a range of questions relating to the poem as a material object—how it was produced, distributed, exchanged. Or in Bruce Andrews’s terms: “writing as politics, not writing about politics.” […] To extend one’s reading to the politics of the poem is a prerequisite for a more significantly and fully political or ethical reading, and to that end I want to insist throughout this book on a radical formalism. I adapt the term from Andrews’s definition of a “radical praxis,” which “involves the rigors of formal celebration, a playful infidelity, a certain illegibility within the legible: an infinitizing, a wide-open exuberance, a perpetual motion machine, a transgression.” A sufficiently radical formalism pursues the closest of close readings in the service of political questions, rather than to their exclusion. At the same time, it refuses to consider the poem as a realm separate from politics, even as it focuses on “the poem itself.” It is a matter, quite simply, of being true to form. As a ‘pataphysical investigation of minute particulars, radical formalisms hew to the concrete. Where “concrete” is what the street is made of. […] [1]

That idea, of a “radical formalism” frames where I want to begin with this question of content and accessibility, or of form and accessibility, as the case may be. I feel like this can be a productive discussion—more soon.

1. Craig Dworkin, Reading the Illegible, (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2003), 4-5.

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