In other words, the form of the artwork is in the exchange with the audience. In these terms, the artist becomes more a mediator, a person who fosters and provides situations of exchange, than a creator of objects. For Bourriaud, these art practices establish particular social relations for particular people; the artist tries to keep a personal contact with the public that participates in the exchange, fostering what he calls a “friendship culture”, in contraposition to the impersonal, mass production of the culture industries. (…)
It looks like the “friendship culture” of these artworks is not necessarily based on a premise of absolute equality between artist and public, and even less the cancellation of the distinction of one and the other, art and everyday life, but rather a play between them. Still, as we will see, this does not necessarily question the utility of notions of the gift and the distributed person to describe these practices; anthropological theories of the gift are not a celebration of egalitarianism and community-building, but they also underscore the aspects of hierarchy and the relations of power that these practices may entail.
At the end of the twentieth century, we saw a convergence of three areas of self-destructiveness: the self-destructiveness of war, the self-destructiveness of exploitation and suppression among humans, and the self-destructiveness of the suppression of non-human beings and of the degradation of life conditions in general. The movement to eradicate wars has a long history as a global movement. The movement against abject poverty and cruel exploitation and domination is younger. The third movement is younger still. These are the great movements that require intense participation on the grassroots level far into the new century. (…)
The urgency of preserving nature for ‘future generations’, meaning ‘future generations of humans’ and not ‘future generations of living beings’, has won acclaim among power elites. What I, perhaps misleadingly, have called the ‘shallow’, ‘reform’ or ‘non-deep’ ecological movement has started to have an impact at government level. Environmental organizations are listened to, and their advice has occasionally been used in practice. But future generations of non-humans seem to be valued publicly only for the sake of future humans. [By way of offering a definition] of the deep ecology movement, I find it difficult to do more than propose a tentative formulation of views that most supporters have in common. (…)
The realization of the [tasks required by this movement] requires significant changes in both rich and poor countries and affects social, economic, technical and lifestyle factors. Goals include the protection of the planet and its richness and diversity of life for its own sake. The specific urgency accorded to this third movement is due to the time factor: It is obvious that delays rapidly make the ecological crisis more difficult to overcome. Wait five years, and the process may take fifty years more. Such a nonlinear function of time does not restrict the other two movements.