Dr. Anne Gräfe

Withstand Radical Contingency - The Dialectic of Aesthetic Boredom in Contemporary Art


What can we expect from boredom? Where does this mood lead us as a special aesthetic experience? In the context of artistic practices, the dissertation opens up the immanent logic and ideas of time as assertion of a disruptive dialectic of boredom and shows which forms of attention the aesthetic experience of boredom offers. In the cross-genre artistic works, aesthetic, social, philosophical and often political motifs of this area of ​​human experience can be uncovered, which lead to a plea for withstanding a radical contingency.

Various phenomena of boredom are evident in the selected works: In the spellbinding emptiness (Chapter 2) there is, with Heidegger, the ambivalence between lightning-like grasping and indefinite time. Stretching of space and slowing down of time reveal themselves as phenomena of a fast pace and mutability of the present that is only superficially apparent. In the moment of the in-between (Chapter 3), an insightful break with expectations of an experience understood as merely free, empty or in-between time is described with Benjamin as the present time. With the varieties of repetition (Chapter 4), three essential aspects of the observation of how a 'regime of the new' could be met in a different way unfold, with Menke as an iteration of the unreconciled aesthetic judgment of taste.

With the transformation of capitalism, in which not only the logic of capital but that of financialized capitalism determines the present, the forms of representation of boredom in contemporary art have also changed. In the present work, I therefore work out another aesthetic experience of boredom from the existing forms (the long time, the in-between and the repetition): In the experience of too much (Chapter 5) as excess, indifference and weariness - as well as the associated, exhausting apathy - an actualized experience of boredom can be identified and described that takes into account the experience of the present.

I summarize this excessive perception overload as an experience of radical contingency that results from the dialectic of aesthetic boredom (Chapter 6) and finally bring the demand for a 'new way of experiencing' together with the finding that a serious aesthetic experience of boredom in makes it impossible for contemporary art to keep a cool distance from the world. Here, understanding the radical nature of boredom means paradoxically interpreting the moment of the supposedly uneventful as an open-up of the political. Withstanding the aesthetic strategies of boredom means giving the knowledge about human coexistence the appropriate space: "Boredom doesn't leave you cold."
Prof. Dr. Juliane Rebentisch
​Prof. Dr. Andreas Reckwitz