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Why are conceptual artists painting again? Because they think it’s a good idea.
One intuition motivating this series of talks has been the feeling that there is something deeply problematic about an approach that narrows the possibilities of engaging with art down to the procedures of decoding and encoding its inscription onto the symbolic order. That is: the idea that the primary task of art, as a strategical operation, was to provide conceptual legitimations (to satisfy or lay down the law, among other things) by constructing references that situate the work within an established economy of meaning. No matter how critical this approach may intially have intended to be, it has effectively proven to be coextensive with—and an involuntary ideological support of—an attitude towards art production that is indeed merely strategical and solely about plotting ways of inscribing a practice into the symbolic order, be it through the suicidal heroic mode of bringing the game of art to its logical conclusion by explicating its rules (old-school modernist conceptual) or through the somewhat more versatile mode of implicating a work within its given economies of referentiality as rarified secrets.