Art and the possibility of failure

Georg W. Bertram


Humans have developed various practices to confront the indeterminacy of their existence. Roughly speaking, there are two types of such practices. On the one hand are those through which humans control the uncertainty that permeates their actions and choices. These are practices of self-reassurance and risk reduc- tion. On the other hand are practices in which humans welcome or search out uncertainty, practices that are explicitly open to the risk of failure. One particu- larly remarkable example of the latter set is art. Art is a practice that embraces the uncertainty of human existence in a special way. Generally speaking, art- works do not aim to reassure. Rather, they are open to uncertainty. Thus, art represents a special mode of reflecting on a constitutive feature of human exis- tence, namely, the possibility of failure. What does it mean that art is, in princi- ple, always susceptible to failure? The present article explores this question.


Artistic Normativity; End of Art; Adorno

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