Marina Vishmidt – “Mimesis of the Hardened and Alienated”: Social Practice as Business Model

“The title “Mimesis of the Hardened and Alienated” comes from a phrase used in an essay by Theodor Adorno called “Situation,” published in his book Aesthetic Theory. In this essay Adorno writes, “Only by immersing its autonomy in society’s imagerie can art surmount the heteronomous market. Art is modern art through mimesis of the hardened and alienated; only thereby, and not by the refusal of a mute reality, does art become eloquent; this is why art no longer tolerates the innocuous.”1

We can make some extrapolations here, which may not necessarily be Adorno’s own. One is that part of modern art’s very being consisted of emulating that which was alien to it. That is, its autonomy was based upon a relation of troubled proximity—whether of rejection or mimesis—to the banal social, economic, material facts from which it operated at a remove. A degree of “near distance” was necessary to provide it with new resources drawn from “alienated reality,” which it would process into increasingly less formal and independent articulations as the transition to the “contemporary” made its impact felt….” more