Improvised reason and unsettled accounts: experiencing the ethical in social practice art


HOMELAND by Platform 1993

‘The ancient Greek idea of Parrhesia means to speak frankly in public about oneself when asked to do so by another person, not as a confession or autobiography – but to demonstrate there is a relation between the rational discourse that one uses to explain one’s life, and the way that one lives. The purpose, quoting Foucault, is ‘to convince someone that he must take care of himself and of others, and this means that he must change his life.’

There is a moment in conversation-based art practices, between taking in the art work, and speaking in the art work, a moment that can cause people to fall silent, and in which there is a yearning for the account of one’s life – which is to be given – to be other than it is’.

key words: Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Aristotle, ethics

at Desire Lines, Art + Ecology, Dartington College of Arts 2006