Do you believe in art?
There are two important aspects western art has developed: it means (signifies) and has content.
Art has developed out of religious rite. It has later turned into religious practice and at some point it was, in fact, the very same practice (which divided later on) and this is why we speak of art practice. There lays a certain contradiction as we so desperately try to understand art and clearly believing and understanding cannot go together. However, something one does not understand not necessarily is deprived of meaning.
We ask ourselves or are asked if we understand a work of art, but the ‘mystery’ of art (or rite) is not ‘mysterious’, it rather refers to a liturgical actio and so action or performative quality of the work of art; it is a performance whose actors are the work of art itself and its audience (like the liturgy which incidentally from Greek translates as ‘work of the people’). Understanding lacks performative character, but certainly not believing. To participate in the liturgy one needs to confess one’s belief – not one’s understanding.
Art is not ‘a celebration of an external rite, which has its truth elsewhere (in faith and dogma). It is only in committing this absolutely performative action hic et nunc, which each time realises that which it signifies, that [art] can find its life in reality’ (G. Agamben)
One of the neon works from the daily questions series plays an important role here because the quality of questions is not finite like that of statements. Respectively, the quality of belief is not finite like that of understanding. After the readymade, what determines the status of a thing as a work of art, after all, is the belief, and so the question: Do you believe in art?
The artist brings back Beuys’s rabbit and lets it live (after all the rabbit is a symbol of life and rebirth). The living rabbit becomes a work of art, impossible to install within existing system of the museum, art or virtual reality. As as a work of art it escapes reason. And the rest is history.