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An art history of means: Arendt-Benjamin
Jae Emerling
Journal of Art Historiography, 2009
Transmissibility is an essential concept for any discourse on historiography and aesthetics. In fact, this concept traverses the contemporary impasse of art historical critical practice. Although explicitly associated with Walter Benjamin, the entirety of Hannah Arendt*s work on art and history is premised on transmissibility as well. It allows them to conceive a space of history from within the aesthetic, the world of artifice. This essay reads Benjamin and Arendt alongside and against one other in order to rethink art and history without resorting to eschatology or the histrionics of political theology. In creating this virtual historiography〞Arendt-Benjamin〞it conceives transmissibility as an aesthetic-historiographic concept that renders an openness between past and future, poiesis and aisthesis. Writing the history of art becomes the creation of a passage between what-has-been and artifice; it becomes the opening of history into life, an event of recollection.
Arendt; Benjamin; art history
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