The term refers to a broad category comprising all those people who have a stake in art taking place; the broadest possible category of the framers of art, who ultimately generate its relationality. Usership breaks down obsolete binaries between authorship and spectatorship, production and reception, owners and producers, publishers and readers, for it refers to a category of people who make use of art and whose counter-expertise stems from that particular form of relationality known as use-value in their lifeworlds. Like consumer-protection groups, citizens’ initiatives, neighborhood associations and so on, art users experience the use-value of art directly.
To paint abstractly, an artist must inevitably come to terms with Modernism’s history, for better or for worse. That history consists not only in its monuments, but also in its monumentalizing discourse that fueled its system of self-generation throughout most of the twentieth century. By now, however, Modernism’s history includes multiple narratives about its demise, and about its closing out to a wide range of artistic practices of the post-War era.
Art is a prisoner of its phantasms and its function as magic; it hangs on our bourgeois walls as a sign of power, it flickers along the peripeties of our history like shadow-play – but is it artistic? To read the Byzantine writing on the subject reminds us of the sex of angels, of Rabelais, or of debates at the Sorbonne.