here is an excerpt from my paper on Relational Aesthetics by Nicolas Bourriaud.

Expanding on public participation, one of my favorite aspects of the book is its interpretation of community and individual roles in contemporary art. He contrasts the work of two artists here to point out the striking difference in their meaning though similar execution:

In 1962, Ben lived and slept in the One Gallery in London for a fortnight, with just a few essential props. In Nice, in August 1990, Pierre Joseph, Phillipe Parreno and Phillipe Perrin also “lived in” the Air du Paris Gallery, literally and figuratively, with their show Les Ateliers du Paradise. It might be hastily concluded that this was a remake of Ben’s performance, but the two works refer to two radically different worlds, which are as different in terms of their ideological and aesthetic foundation as their respective period can be. When Ben lived in a gallery, it was his intent to signify that the arena of art was expanding, and even included the artist’s sleep and breakfast. On the other hand, when Joseph, Parreno and Perrin occupied the gallery, it was to turn it into a production workshop, a “photogenic space” jointly managed by the viewer, in accordance with very precise rules of play. (38)

Bourriaud is explaining the differences not only of the artists conceptions, but also of the change in period work from a private to an inclusive art (the sixties, more private; and the nineties more public respectively). He later asserts, “Every artist whose work stems from relational aesthetics has a world of forms, a set of problems and a trajectory which are all his own” which addresses the nature of the artist mind must be purely individualistic as it manifests itself into an installation (italics mine, 43). He also suggests, as he quotes Ramo Nash Club, that “art is an extremely co-operative system. The dense network of interconnections between members means that everything that happens in it will be a function of all members” (italics his, 27). He similarly references David Graham Cooper’s work in anti-psychology, saying “madness is not ‘inside’ a person, but in the system of relationships of which that person is involved” and extends this to the art world in saying, “No one writes or paints alone. But we have to make the pretence of doing so” (81) since “Ideology exalts the solitude of the creative person and mocks all forms of community” (84). This play between inner and outer worlds in something I have reflected deeply upon in my own life, thinking that so often we internalize what is truly external and externalize that which is internal. The same could be said with community and individual when society often exalts a particular artist or activist while denying the collective participation of countless others who collaborated and brought that person to a particular idea. What Bourriaud is getting at is that here is a generation of artists who are exposing this myth by allowing the public access into their creation process.

some other meaningful quotes I found in the book:

“Social utopias and revolutionary hopes [that] have given way to everyday micro-utopias and imitative strategies, [since] any stance that ‘directly’ critical of society is futile, if based on the illusion of a marginality that is nowadays impossible, not to say regressive” (31)

“art does not transcend everyday preoccupations, it confronts us with reality by way of the remarkable nature of any relationship to the world, through make-believe” (57)

Bourriaud quoting Felix Guattari, “My intention consists in conveying the human sciences and the social sciences from scientific paradigms to ethical-aesthetic paradigms” (96)

Emphasizing the playful interaction of art, Bourriaud encourages artist to guide a dewy eyed public to see a world more interrelated, more peaceful, and more beautiful as this final Guattari quote suggests the “ordeal of barbarity, mental implosion, and chaosmic spasm which are taking shape on the horizon, to turn them into riches and unforeseeable pleasures” (104).