This paper poses a relationship between pragmatist understandings of intersubjective communication and long-term “dialogical art” practices promoting social change. Art historian Grant Kester contends that two dialogical art projects by Suzanne Lacy and Austrian Art collective WochenKlausur reflect Habermas’ theory of communicative action through which the “better argument” is universally validated. Kester simultaneously acknowledges such projects inculcate non-competitive modes of intersubjective exchange that appear contrary to Habermas. I look at the “philosophical narrative” debates between Richard Rorty and Habermas to suggest that Rorty’s eschewal of Habermasian rationalization in favor of affective modes of contingent solidarity, taken with Nancy Fraser’s understanding of enmeshed public/private discourse in the context of feminist counterpublics, draws out the political-ethical orientation of activist dialogical art practices.
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FraserNancy. “From Irony to Prophesy to Politics: A Response to Richard Rorty.” Michigan Quarterly Review30 no. 2 (1991): 259–66. Accessed February 23 2016. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.act2080.0030.002:02.
FraserNancy. “Solidarity or Singularity? Richard Rorty between Romanticism and Technocracy.” In Unruly Practices: Power Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press1989.
KesterGrant. “The Device Laid Bare: Some Limitations in Recent Art Criticism.” 2013. Accessed November 8 2014. http://www.e-flux.com/journal/the-device-laid-bare-on-some-limitations-in-current-art-criticism/.