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New Left Review 96, November-December 2015


sven lütticken

PERSONAFICATION

Performing the Persona in Art and Activism

In the modern aesthetic regime, the artwork usually comes with an identifiable author in the form of a single person—a supercharged subject who has created an exceptional object, which in turn can overwhelm and rework the viewer’s (or reader’s, or listener’s) own subjectivity. [1] This text is deeply indebted to my stimulating exchange with Jesse van Winden as supervisor of his MPhil thesis, Destabilizing Critique: Personae in between Self and Enactment. The full thesis can be downloaded from jessevanwinden.wordpress.com. Clearly, artistic volition is not that of some pure philosophical cogito or self-constituting idealist subject, which becomes self-identical by positing external objects. Artistic subjects self-objectify through the construction of social and/or artistic masks. Yet as Deleuze has argued, the same in fact goes for philosophers: Plato used Socrates as a conceptual persona, Nietzsche used Zarathustra and Dionysus, while the Cartesian system depends on the persona of ‘the Idiot who says “I” and sets up the cogito’. [2] Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What Is Philosophy?, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Graham Burchell, New York 1994, pp. 61–2. What Is Philosophy? was effectively written by Deleuze alone, using the Deleuze/Guattari conceptual persona.

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