O valor da aura de uma obra em meio à atual configuração da cultura de massas é tão maior quanto mais exclusiva seja a experiência que ela proporcione. Ganha em valor de troca à medida em que esta exclusividade receba mais evidência e circulação.
Em “Archives of modern art” — quinto capítulo do livro Design and crime (and others diatribes), citado aqui — Hal Foster localiza na história e na historiografia da arte momentos em que se verifica especialmente uma certa dialética da reificação e da reanimação, em que velhas ilusões dão lugar a tentativas de superação que criam novas ilusões. Contrapõe Baudelaire a Manet; Proust a Valéry; Wölflin a Aby Warburg; Panofsky a Benjamin (grosso modo, os primeiros em cada dupla falariam das “vidas anteriores” das obras e criticariam sua reificação, enquanto os segundos, cada um a sua maneira, discutiriam tal reificação indicando a imprecisão daquela outra visão de mundo e sugerindo uma possível reanimação — associada à ideia de museu, seja ele físico ou metafórico).
No início de sua argumentação Foster recorda Lukács sobre a reificação:
[…] Adorno used the first notion, “reification”, in relation to Valéry; he derives it, of course, from Georg Lukács, who developed it, not long after the statements of Valéry and Proust, from Marx on commodity fetishism. In his great essay “Reification and class consciousness” (1922), Lukács implies that spiritual reanimation of the sort urged by Baudelaire and Proust is an idealist compensation for capitalist reification; in effect reification and reanimation make up one of the “antinomies of bourgeois thought” that he details there. This antinomy also permeates “the history of art as a humanistic discipline,” and this is my principal implication here: that art history is born of a crisis — always tacitly assumed, sometimes dramatically pronounced — of a fragmentation and reification of tradition, which the discipline is pledged to remedy through a redemptive project of reassembly and reanimation. This is not to say, as Karl Krauss once remarked of psychoanalysis, that art history is the ilness of which it thinks is the cure. The memory crises to which the discipline responds are often real enough; but precisely because they are actual, art history cannot solve them but only displace them, suspend them, or otherwise address them again and again.
FOSTER, Hal. “Archives of Modern Art” in Design and crime (and other diatribes). Londres: Verso, 2002, pp. 72–73.
A abordagem lembra o projeto histórico de crise de Tafuri relativo à história da arquitetura (especialmente o trecho sobre “precisamente porque [as crises] são reais, a história da arte não pode resolvê-las mas apenas reposicioná-las, interrompê-las, ou, ao contrário, continuamente voltar a enquadrá-las”).
Mais adiante, Foster faz comentário interessante sobre Walter Benjamin (os grifos são meus):
[…] Rather than reanimate and reorder tradition, Benjamin urges that its fragments be emancipated “from its parasitical dependence on ritual” and pledged to the present purposes of politics (as he puts it, famously, in his 1936 essay on “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”).
In this way, if Panofsky attempts to resolve the dialetic of reification and reanimation, Benjamin seeks to exacerbate this same dialetic in favor of reification, or rather in favor of a communist condition posited on the other side of reification. Many leftists in the 1920s and 1930s (Gramsci prominent among them) took up this call to fight through the “murky reason” of capitalism, which, Siegfried Kracauer argued in “The Mass Ornament” (1927), “rationalizes not too much but rather too little.” Through the “Artwork” essay Benjamin hold to this “left-Fordist” line as well: the shattering of tradition, advanced by mechanical reproduction and mass production, is both destructive and constructive; or rather, it is initially destructive and so potentially constructive. At this time Benjamin still had a vision of this potential construction — the Constructivist experiments in the Soviet Union — which would sweep away the fragments of the old bourgeois culture or reassemble them, radically, in a new proletarian culture. But with the Stalinist suppression of the avant-garde in the early 1930s this mirage had already evaporated, and Benjamin never reached the other side of reification. What seemed imminent in his “The Autor as Producer” (1934) had become utopian only four years later in his “Theses on the Philosophy of History.”
Idem, ibidem, pp. 75–76
A quebra da aura da obra de arte citada no famoso ensaio sobre a “reprodutibilidade técnica” reposiciona o papel da arte exposta em museus e da relação entre arte e cultura de massas. Adiante, Foster compara a abordagem de Benjamin àquela de Malraux:
[…] In short, where Benjamin saw a definitive rupture of the museum forced by mechanical reproduction, Malraux saw its indefinite expansion. Where for Benjamin mechanical reproduction shatters tradition and liquidates aura, for Malraux it provides the means for reassemble the broken bits of tradition into one meta-tradition of global styles […].
Id., ibid., pp. 77–78
Finalmente, Foster associa a discussão sobre a quebra da aura e das tentativas de superação da dialética da reificação à “economia política do signo” (os grifos são meus).
[…] In its project to transform the art work, the Bauhaus contested the archival relations of painting and museum […]; yet this contestation also faciliated “the practical extension of the system of exchange value to the whole domain of signs, forms and objects.” (Baudrillard) Thus the Bauhaus transgressed the old centers of art, but as it did so it also promoted the new sovereignty of capitalist design, the new political economy of the commodified sign. And one insistence of this book is that this political economy now dominates social and cultural institutions.*
[…] Design and display in the service of exhibition and exchange values are foregrounded as never before: today what the museums exhibits above all else is its own spectacle-value — that is the principal point of attraction and the chief object of reverence. […] More and more the mnemonic function of the museum is given over to the electronic archive, which might be accessed almost anywhere, while the visual experience is given over not only to the exhibition-form but to the museum-building as spectacle — that is, as an image to be circulated in the media in the service of brand equity and cultural capital. This image may be the primary form of public art today.
Id., ibid., pp. 81–82
Mais interessante que estas conclusões, no entanto, é a nota de rodapé que segue (marcada no excerto acima pelo asterisco*):
In some ways the contemporary museum (the Guggenheim is the flagship of this new fleet) reconciles in perverse fashion the dialectical opposition first presented by Malraux and Benjamin. On the one hand, a version of what Malraux imagined, the virtual Museum without Walls, has become a reality with the electronic museum, the museum on-line. On the other hand, a version of what Benjamin foresaw, a cinema beyond the museum, is now brought back within the museum in the form of exhibition designs calculated to flow cinematically, or to stream like webpages. In this way, too, the institution of art continues to conform to new structures of exchange, to be reformatted around the visual-digital paradigm of the website. And many artists and architects have followed suit, either affirmatively or critically — though what might constitute critique in this context is not clear.
Em 2002 Foster já criticava o discurso da falsa interatividade evocada pelas instituições culturais baseadas em uma cultura de espetáculo. Naquele momento ainda não estavam disseminadas as ideias de “participação” e “conteúdo produzido pelo consumidor” próprias do que se costuma apelidar de “web 2.0”: ainda assim as considerações dele parecem valer especialmente para este discurso atual de apropriação do usuário na experiência cultural. Além disso, a crítica arquitetônica citada por ele — que parecia naquele momento não estar clara — permanece ainda obscura.