The transcendence of transgression

Technoetic Arts 16 (3):237-245 (2018)
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Abstract

Currently, art takes on the characteristics of a secular religion: it offers identity, dogmas, canons, experiences of transcendence and provides a certain worldly salvation without demanding any commitment to a creed or a doctrine. I will illustrate this through the example of the performance Marina Abramovic carried out at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in The Artist is Present (2010). I will connect this to the distinction that Agamben has set between the concepts of secularization and desecration: while secularization displaces the forces from one place to another, leaving them intact, desecration involves neutralizing the desecrated, eliminating its aura and putting it back to use. Even though it is commonly believed that contemporary art desecrates realities, I will try to show that actually it secularizes them. Art brings with it the strength and meaning of the religious and keeps the integrity of the auratic space within the artistic realm. This is one of the reasons why transgression in art is such an important topic for theorists: it is a constant effort to redefine the limits between what is considered sacred (and art has a decisive power on that) and what is profane (not sacred anymore or not yet).

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Sixto Castro
University of Valladolid

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