This Collision uses an encounter with Cathy Choi’s B1206 (2012), coupled with theories of aesthetic empathy, to articulate how hijacking as an aesthetic concept might work. The aesthetic faculty of empathy conceives of the aesthetic experience as “feeling into” a given work. This concept furnishes a useful framework for thinking about aesthetic hijacking, as “feeling into” something implies the displacement of the work or its viewer. Hijacking, then, could foreground that displacement by emphasizing spatial uncertainty. Furthermore, hijacking could be an inversion of the process of “feeling into” a given work, indicating a process whereby the work forces its way into the viewer and the space s/he inhabits.
What is unpresentable in art? This paper considers VALIE EXPORT’s feminist exhibitionism in her 1968 performance artwork Genital Panic, which took place in a Munich cinema. EXPORT’s transgressive display of her genitals, which finds art-historical precedents in medieval sheela na gigs and Courbet’s Origin of the World, established a paradigm for a kind of feminist art collision that continues today, – for instance in Deborah de Robertis’ 2014 unauthorized performance at the Musée d’Orsay. EXPORT’s staged presentation and representation of blatant power and sexuality contradicts the lack postulated in Freud’s castration complex. At the same time, it raises the question of the unpresentable, a notion taken up by Jean-François Lyotard’s The Inhuman, which explores concepts of representation and the unpresentable. The latter he defines as an expression of an “Idea of reason,”, an absolute. I reflect on how this concept applies to EXPORT’s marker for the use of the body in feminist art.
“Hijack” has etymological connotations of force. It is intended here as a purposeful turn away from expert authority and from singular authorship, towards a more expanded sphere of multiple experience in art aesthetics. If there is a hijacking force in art, it is the dynamic desire to reclaim the impossible and the unexpected. These qualities are evident in telepathy as a system of transmitted aesthetic information. Isabelle Stengers, who has investigated the role of the charlatan, might urge us to follow such a turn away from regulated forms of sensory information and repurpose telepathy as a propagated extra-sensory activity. Like the charlatan or other maligned characters of ill repute, the art writer who responds to the essence of the artwork through participation rather than judgment becomes the outsider and, in this case, the telepath. This paper addresses the work of Australian artist Jacquelene Drinkall as an aggregate of telepathic transmissions, ripe for hijacking. I argue that a telepathic hijack, as an unexpected reclamation and as a method of aesthetic experimentation, can be enacted as a speculative form of art writing. Telepathy in art and of art allows a writing with the artwork. By this I mean that a super-sensory and speculative mode of writing can exist beside the artwork, rather than in judgment of it. This is a divergence from an overt critique of art through established constructs of history, origin or relations alone. In this paper I will explore the concept of telepathy as a quality of speculative aesthetics, which is distinguished by contingent change, variable outcomes and meandering. I will focus on: telepathic art transmissions as a hijack of conventional aesthetics; Jacquelene Drinkall’s telepathic artwork as an interrupted experience; and Isabelle Stengers’ figure of the charlatan.