Grizedale Arts

The John Ruskin Memorial Blog

Sunday 21 March '10
(from The John Ruskin Memorial Blog)

Autonomy and Ruskin @ The Van Abbe

Ruskin and the Autonomy Question

Today's blog entry is a video diary as I sit in an Eindhoven Hotel waiting for a meeting at the Van Abbe Museum ( about the coming launch of 'The Autonomy Project' which I've been working on for nearly two years with Charles Esche, Annie Fletcher, Steven Ten Thije and Clare Butcher.

I've been thinking a lot about what Alistair has been saying in this Sao Paulo blog entries about the difficulty of meaningfully engaging as an artists without collapsing innovative work back into the pre-requisite formulae of international Biennial Land (or Airport Art as I call it). It's a tough one and no doubt!

But it also strikes me that any questions over the possibility of autonomy today are no longer circumscribed by bankrupt Modernist debates about 'self-referentiality', or 'art for art's sake. Nor can they be sustained in the aftermath of an equally bankrupt postmodernism without some radical re-negotiation. What does remain is the question of how to be an artist, thinker, writer, curator, teacher or whatever meaningfully? How to develop a practice within the existing globalized neo-liberal economy that can still function in an oppositional sense? How to negotiate new perspectives on better ways of living? All of these seem questions that were (and still are) rooted in the problematic of John Ruskin's complex relationship between art, aesthetics and ethics?

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