Nato Thompson: [...] I want to dig into the seeds of this social based practice, as its lineage is not well known. We are all familiar with the term ‘relational aesthetics’ – I can already see your eyes rolling around, as you probably hate that term. [...]
Temporary Services: We do not use the term “relational aesthetics.” We think this phrase reflects a lazy analysis and ignorance of the history of political and socially engaged practice. Socially-engaged and politically-engaged practice seek other modes of presentation and work to bypass the amnesia of market-dominated discourse. The very act of naming a diverse, broad way of working, collapsing it down, is a market-lead activity that makes no sense. There is no guarantee that any language artists use to describe their work will be all-purpose and comprehensible to all audiences. However, because we make such a strong effort to engage diverse audiences that may not be up to the minute on whatever theoretical gobbledy-gook is in fashion in the art world, we try to talk about our work in terms that hopefully will not alienate people that discover our projects outside of art spaces and exhibitions. Sometimes it takes a variety of terms or examples or descriptions to connect with people.
From a Creative Time interview with Temporary Services here.
And in case you didn't get the TS point yet, they continue on to say:
The term “relational aesthetics” is just a useless categorization that takes power away from diverse kinds of work. This kind of reduction through art terminology is an attempt to reduce a deep, interconnected, history to political ways of working and making art into a chewable tablet for the commercial/academic systems to spit out at their patrons and students (or student/patrons). The people who continue to use meaningless terms effectively do the effacing by enacting the erasure of complexity and robustness that people who work like us come from.
OMG, I love this interview. For shit like this:
For us there are not boundaries between things in such a clear way. Additionally, unlike many artists, we wear our mistakes and missteps out in the open and our arty-ness and politics intertwine in ways that often surprise us.