The trained seal of approval that is Relational Aesthetics (The Institutional Theory + Suspension Of Judgement – Radical Commitment) is unlikely to get its coat based on the chinstroking of Octoberistas. Pointing out that there is someone behind the curtain doesn’t help. That someone still has social relations.
Despite Bourriaud’s protestatations, RA is deeply, achingly, embarrasingly managerial. It is the managerial mode of regard embodied in materials that managers recognise: assets, particularly human assets.
And RA is auratic. Because without the aura of management -uh- art, what differentiates the social and aesthetic incompetence of RA from just actual social and aesthetic incompetence?
Both these qualities can only increase if people need their passports or whatever as part of the beautific images of managerialism that RA give us as works. Managers’ egos will not be deflated by an “art” of ever stronger management of Real People in ever more tighly controlled additions (or revelations) of managerial value (or power) in social situations.
Bishop‘s assessment of British art criticism in the 1990s is depressingly accurate but there is an account of art from that time that gives us something to work with. Julian Stallabrass’s concept of the Urban Pastoral (from “High Art Lite”) is far too close to the bone of RA to leave unused.