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Bourriaud claims that the new relational models are principled responses to real social misery and alienation. But he acknowledges that the artists he writes about are not concerned with changing the system of social relations – capitalism, in our language. Relational artists tend to accept what Bourriaud calls “the existing real” and are happy to play with “the social bond” within the constraining frame of the given. Bourriaud tries to put the best face on this kind of practice, characterizing it as “learning to inhabit the world in a better way.” (p. 13) But in spite of his approving allusions to Marx, there is no mistaking that this is a form of artistic interpretation of the world that does not aim to overcome the system of organized exploitation and domination. At most, relational art attempts to model the bandaging of social damage and to “patiently re-stitch the social fabric”: “Through little services rendered, the artists fill in the cracks in the social bond.” (p.36)

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