La Furia Umana
  • I’m not like evereybody else
    The Kinks
  • E che, sono forse al mondo per realizzare delle idee?
    Max Stirner
  • (No ideas but in things)
    W.C. Williams
NOMAR BAYOG MIANO / Art and National Emancipation (excerpt from TADLAS/CROSSINGS Mediations and Encounters in Third World Space)

NOMAR BAYOG MIANO / Art and National Emancipation (excerpt from TADLAS/CROSSINGS Mediations and Encounters in Third World Space)

“…when history has a goal, the past ceases to dominate the present and to hold back the future. Then history can be consciously made.” 

Renato Constantino – The Philippines: A Past Revisited

Within a certain historical horizon, art practice is valued for its emancipatory promise — that is, its potential to provide an experience that insinuates just and egalitarian human relations. In a way, the emancipatory valuation of art can be exemplified by the triumph of the minimalist story. This valuation is founded in the Enlightenment and best captured by Kant’s insistence on the distinction between ‘mercenary art’ and ‘aesthetical art.’[i]According to Kant, aesthetical art is autonomously conceived and produced. Mercenary (or mechanical) art, on the other hand, is that of labor, which Kant conceives as actions that are caused or motivated by economically profitable returns or pleasurable rewards. This conception of mechanical art approximates what people would now call ‘design.’ Kant’s main reason for this distinction is anchored in his conflation of autonomous action with human freedom — freedom for him being practically co-extensive with the moral law. Kant’s formulation of the categorical imperative implies that one can impute moral value to human actions only if human freedom is presupposed. Although human beings can never be empirically proven to be truly free, it is nevertheless necessary to assume that they are indeed free. Otherwise, individuals, the community, or society by and large, will never be able to impute moral value to human judgments and actions. Imagine not being able to send rapists and murderers to rehabilitation centers or prison camps because of the impossibility of juridical imputation on human actions. Kant is not saying here that freedom should be prescribed first before one judges the ethical merit of human actions. Moral prescriptions are not of interest to Kant in the second Critique. Rather, true to his ‘transcendental’ method, he is merely describing the things that are there already present (e.g., the presupposition of human freedom) which enable society to impute moral value to the actions of its members. Apparently the practical domain of life presupposes freedom, hence it is able to impute moral value to human judgments and actions which enables society to sentence convicts to prison camps and rehabilitation centers. Kant’s second Critique is primarily descriptive, not prescriptive. This is an important point to raise when discussing his second Critique. Kant’s third Critique, on the other hand, goes beyond this. The Critique of Judgment implies that the human person is more than just flesh, organs, and bones. She is not an automaton that is completely beholden to and is shaped only by selfish ‘biological’ desires. For Kant, self-centered or heteronomous desires (i.e. interest) are pathological. Being pathological simply means for Kant that these desires divert the energies of individuals away from rational, therefore moral, judgments and actions. The kind of (disinterested) pleasure that art provides, however, is entirely different, which means for Kant that human beings are indeed capable of desiring a moral world. For Kant, aesthetical art demonstrates the human being’s propensity to do good: one’s capacity to produce and appreciate works of art also means that the human person is indeed capable of desiring a just and egalitarian world — the object of the moral law according to him. Of course, I am just trying to state Kant’s aesthetics in simple terms shun the highfalutin pretensions of Kantians out there. I do think, however, that this is really the point that Kant is trying to say when he felt the need to write another Critique just so he can bridge (but not resolve) the tension between determinism and freedom — the problem that haunts him after writing his secondCritique. In other words,Kant’s last Critique articulates his thoughts on human agency. It is in this sense that one can claim that the Critique of Judgment is the crowning glory of his critical project.

The Kantian valuation of art is instrumental to the institutionalization of endowments for the arts during the Keynesian season of economic reforms in the Western world. If one is to render a simple-minded caricature of this valuation, it can be said that art is seen here somewhat like prototyping and such prototyping is geared towards the creation of a better world. If one is to render a not so simple-minded caricature of this valuation, the kind of prototyping that we are talking about here resembles Paul Ricoeur’s phenomenological reflection on the function of metaphor in “the world of text.” Ricoeur realized that literary language (as in poetry, novel, etc.) is capable of augmenting the power of language to transform human realities.[ii] The use of language in scientific prose (meaning non-art) is generally descriptive or referential. The use of language in literary arts is not, but the diachronic manifestation of language in literature (the metaphorical or symbolic use of language in poetry, for example) is still capable of referencing the world, or a world, despite of it being locked in unto itself.[iii] This capability is made possible not by direct reference to actual reality but by the compositional structure of the literary form (e.g. poem, short story, novel, etc.).[iv] This means that the literary work, the creative usage of language that it deploys, opens language “further to the world” or to possible new worlds.[v] The synthetic operation that is operative in literary works produces a surplus of referentiality and enables “new forms of discourse.”[vi]  This surplus-creation, which is made possible through artistic production, approximates what we mean by prototyping here — albeit a prototyping that is of moral import.  This insight is informed by Kant’s aesthetic philosophy. As Ricoeur says so himself, “understanding a work involves the sort of judgment Kant explored in the third Critique.”[vii] Kant’s accounting of aesthetic experience suggests that there is a basic delight in the way people experience the world; that the aesthetic is not only confined to a narrow sense of experiencing beauty or the sublime. As one prominent scholar of Kant explains, “Kant’s theory… highlights the fact that the power of imagination produces a ‘feeling of life,’ making us aware of our selves via pleasure that ‘forms the basis of a very special power of discriminating and judging’.”[viii] This means that the “aesthetic” is not alien to the day-to-day experiences that enliven the pedestrian existence of human beings. This view is echoed by Ranciere when he said that there is an appeal to commonality and community in Kant’s aesthetic philosophy.[ix] Kant’s transcendental analysis of aesthetic experience is not confined within the contexts of the beautiful and sublime but accommodates practical life, which captures the link between his moral philosophy and epistemology.[x] His aesthetic philosophy is designed to bridge the tension between determinism in nature (which he explores in his first Critique) and the preponderance of freedom in practical life (which he explores in his second Critique). This means that the import of art is characteristically ethical, which is now patently demonstrated by aesthetics’ turn towards ethics. The experiences that art provides, Kant himself states in the Critique of Judgment, are “modes of cognition” that “furthers the culture of the mental powers in reference to social communication.”[xi] What Kant says here betrays the pragmatic intent in his distinction between craftwork and aesthetical art. Art is play according to him, but a very important play as such. It is not labor in that it exemplifies the very autonomy that enables society to impute moral value to its judgments and actions. In this sense, art is seen as dialogical which makes it important and indispensable to the preservation and promotion of the overall well-being of the community just like any other human artefact like science, sports, craftwork, education, etc. This Kantian valuation is consistent with the liberal ethos which presumes the transparent ‘rationality’ of free human beings as the anchor point of civil society. Here, individual freedom — the protection and mobilization of personal agency — holds a central place in civic and political life.

A supposed “Kantian” valuation of art assumed an internationalist garb in the 1950s, but such internationalism was shaped by a contagious misunderstanding of the philosopher’s aesthetic philosophy. There was a view then that there is a unique kind of (aesthetic) experience that artworks provide which cuts across cultural, linguistic, and geographical qualifications.  Modernist formalism, for instance, the official theoretical framework that validates and canonizes modernist artists and practices in the 1950s, is essentially internationalist. Kant, of course, neither made any claim about the “objectivity” nor the “universality” of aesthetic judgement — a number of formalist critics in the 50s and 60s did. The philosopher merely said that the human person is justified to claim “universality” for her own aesthetic judgments but, of course, such claim can never be objectively proven.[xii] All these being said, the internationalist pretension in art reception has deluded the ranks of both academics and practicing artists up until recently.[xiii] When adopted by agencies and institutions in the appraisal of art practices, the internationalist view obscures an idea or component in art reception that has always been involved in the validation and canonization of artists: nation-building. This, I think, is the context proper to postcolonial discourse. Institutional validation with regard to art has always been anchored in this idea, the National Artist Award being emblematic of such. The thing about Filipino “identity,” which spurred a number of local artists to produce artworks that use “Filipino” idioms and forms (e.g. Abdulmari Asia Imao, Hernando Ocampo, etc.), local materials, as in the works of the Cebuano printmaker, Manuel Rodriguez, representation of the Philippine sunlight in Fernando Amorsolo’s landscapes, etc., is an integral part of this enterprise. This is not controversial. In fact even the pioneer transculturalist, Nestor Garcia Caclini, says that the nation is still “the ‘logical’ mode of organization of culture and arts.”[xiv] Unsurprisingly, this point is almost always lost when people’s cherished and self-arrogated visions of erudition, sophistication, or “culture,” is threatened. “Fine” artists, for instance, have always been at the forefront of protests against the conferring of national artist awards to fashion designers, actresses, illustrators, and “hair dressers.” These protests, I suppose, is partly shaped by an internationalist point of view which is more inclined to relegate the “nation” to a marginal or “contingent” position as opposed to the centrality of “aesthetic” experience that the valuation or appraisal of “fine” art “ought” to instantiate.

Postcolonial discourse is expressive of the anxiety that bedevils nations of the ‘Third World.’ On one hand, the postcolonial condition is deemed problematic because we do value nation-building as a liberating project. However, postcolonialism does not offer a way out of this impasse — its reliance on the logic of difference does not help communities in effectively addressing social realities that cause suffering in the ‘Third World.’ For our purposes here, a pragmatic view of art may provide a corrective lens to the kind of contingency that the “nation” finds itself in whenever people talk about art. The pragmatic philosopher, John Dewey believes that “art is a quality that permeates experience” but not the experience itself.[xv] This view relates to the understanding of art as something that is socially conceived. For Dewey, aesthetic experience is never divorced from its social manifestation in that the encounter and valuation of art are always mediated at the level of society.[xvi] The material of esthetic experience is social (a view that is echoed by Beshty’s pronouncement when he states that all aesthetics is a “social contract”).[xvii] As Dewey himself explains: “esthetic experience is a manifestation, a record and celebration of the life of a civilization, a means of promoting its development, and is also the ultimate judgment upon the quality of a civilization.”[xviii] This point of view provides a better understanding of art reception that accounts for art but does not dichotomize art practices between their functionality and “autonomy.” Indeed, the pragmatic valuation of art celebrates the union between “free” actions and labor.  Using this framework, “fine” and design arts are indiscriminately imbued with a certain kind of functionality: nation-building.

This realization is best revealed in so-called trade fairs or craft shows. In these shows, the exhibition of “Filipino” craftsmanship instantiates a space where the appraisal of art and design, the market, and the nation converge. Perhaps nowhere else can one witness events where such convergence occurs. Here, the celebration of commerce and national identity (through craftsmanship) exhibits a proud connection. But, come to think of it, this is not a contemporary phenomenon.  This connection has always been there, albeit partially obscured by the very nuances of discourse through which people and institutions talk about art. Traditionally, the market and the nation have always formed a symbiotic link. For what is the aggregate of the “wealth of nation” that classical economists hark about but that which can be approximated by the health of the market, the GDP, and the GNP. Modern market formations, as the scholar Benedict Anderson brilliantly shows in his work, The Imagined Community, coincide with the formation of nations.[xix] These formations are enabled by the written word – the invention of the letterpress and, with it, the popularization of the literary prose and the homogenization of a collective identity (the nation) under a unifying language.[xx] Here, the nation, the letter, and the economy intersect where they form reciprocal (and oftentimes evolving) relationships. The letter, of course, is the domain of reception (including that of art) and, in such domain, the collective constitution of the nation is imagined and celebrated. In the same domain, market insinuations are also expressed. In the eyes of the nation, the artifacts produced by its people, the designers, graphic artists, craftsmen, filmmakers, indeed all artisan workers, painters, installation artists, etc. are parts of the aggregate wealth of the nation. Even the political theorist and philosopher, Theodore Adorno, concedes this point: the artist’s infatuation with freedom is an illusory affair in that aesthetic autonomy is a form of fetishism.[xxi] The “autonomy” of art, and the artist’s insistence on such autonomy, is an echo of the mediatory role of the market in modern life. As Adorno himself says, aesthetic autonomy or art’s independence from society is “a function of the bourgeois consciousness of freedom that was itself bound up with the social structure.”[xxii] In fact, he further adds that it is in the bourgeois system that art becomes “completely” integrated with society.[xxiii] Here, the relation between art and capital is seen as dialectical (in Kantian sense), which means that the two are not necessarily opposed to each other although they seem to act as if they are. Another critical theorist, Herbert Marcuse, explains this best in The Aesthetic Dimension. Marcuse insists that art is political only if it remains apolitical.[xxiv] He believes that the political efficacy of art has nothing to do with its content or the message that it conveys, rather it has something to do with art’s detached disposition towards the society of labor.[xxv] Art is thoroughly political only when it remains detached from modern, industrial, civilization because, then, it can serve as a critique of such civilization. Marcuse references Kant in this regard when the Enlightenment philosopher proclaims art to be one with play, not labor.[xxvi] But Marcuse’s short work does more than this. It captures the paradox of the relationship between art and capital: the project of “fine art” (the very thing that aesthetic autonomy instantiates) is to do away with the gap the separates art and life. If art’s autonomy is a mere echo of capital, the avant-garde’s insistence on such autonomy is also pegged on its promise to end the sovereignty of capital over life.  Ultimately, Marcuse’s insistence on autonomous art practice is anchored in the very potentiality of such practice to end the need for art: revolution.[xxvii] The autonomy of art, Marcuse proclaims “contains the categorical imperative: “things must change” and that the revolution is the “a priori of art.”[xxviii] Seen in this context, Marcuse’s elitism is not at all opposed to cultural sociology’s indictment of aesthetic experience as an ideological pretension. It only appears as such. The anti-art interventions of the Situationists in urban spaces during the 1960s is understood along this line. The concepts that they developed, like “psycho-geography” and “unitary urbanism,” the playful or game-like interventions in the urban landscape, capture the dialectical understanding of art practice as tenuous aberration between art and life, between art and non-art. Situationism is a declaration of the death of art — art’s complete amalgamation with everyday life. But, meanwhile, the promise of revolution had to wait while careers of self-proclaimed avant-gardes are prodded by capital.

There is a prevailing perception among artists that the modern liberal state is not supportive of and even opposed to radical works. This is not true. Liberal democratic states have in fact been supporting “radical” and “unpopular” cultural works.[xxix] The American state in particular has encouraged leftist cultural practices during (and even after) the Cold War, as long as these practices are not aligned with the agenda of the Soviet Union.[xxx] A covert US policy targeted and encouraged left-wing views that resonate with artistic avant-gardism.[xxxi] The US agency did this by financially supporting various leftist groups and publications, even founding some of them.[xxxii] This shows that support for avant-garde art practices can be made consistent with the national interest of a market economy. Albeit cutting-edge art practice captures the innovative spirit that the market insinuates in order to sustain growth. Innovation, so they say, makes capital competitive. The relationship between local art and the Philippine state is no different. In the Philippines, support for artistic avant-gardism by ruling elites is not unheard of. In fact, even the state headed by the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, sponsored ‘radical’ works by Filipino avant-gardes. The avant-garde is simply not an anathema to Western democracies. It is also not an anathema to the authoritarianism that liberal democratic patron states often sponsor. Thus in her book, Provoking Democracy, Caroline Levine demonstrates that the avant-garde assumes an important function in “democracy.” The work of the author suggests that the artist’s insistence on aesthetic autonomy (i.e. avant-gardism) helps in the procreation of the market economy — the idea being is that avant-garde art serves an important function in capitalism by providing new avenues where capital can proceed to create wealth for the nation.[xxxiii] The recalcitrance of avant-gardism, its insistence on aesthetic autonomy, is precisely such function. This means that the opposition between mainstream art, which the “general public approves,” and avant-garde art, which caters to the “belligerent taste of the few,” is illusory. Levine explains:

… this is a structural encounter, and here we can see why: our sense of the ordinary depends on the eccentric outsiders just as much as outcasts are defined by social norms. The mainstream and the counter-mainstream can only be defined by their differences from one another…. The mainstream cannot really do without the avant-garde. Serving as a necessary foil to the ordinariness of ordinary tastes and values, strange and difficult art is part and parcel of the cultural field that constantly invokes and regulates the “normal.”[xxxiv]

The idea of fine art, in other words, is an institution of liberal democracy and it serves the interest of the nation by being such. The connection between fine art and industry maybe dialectical but they are symbiotically related.  However, the public’s stake in art is more complex than what the connections between art practice, the market, and nation-building reveal. If it is desirable to espouse a more pragmatic understanding and valuation of art, one may need to settle first as to who really is this “public” when people talk about art? The nation, a particular community, the world? But, come to think of it, our own story as a nation is constructed without the informed consent of minorities whose cultures we arrogated as representatives of our roots. Cultural minorities survive precisely because they were able to resist complete colonial amalgamation. There is a reason why the Moros in Mindanao do not call themselves Filipinos. They are not Filipinos because they do not identify as Filipinos. The Filipino is an offshoot of colonialism. As Filipinos, our story is entangled with European and American histories. We are the exploited and the exploiters at the same time. Therefore, to describe the cultural practices of cultural minorities, the art of the Lumads, the Batak basket designs, as ‘objective’ testaments of our past betrays a kind of arrogance that is both transgressive and necessary. The work of Abdulmari Asia Imao utilizes Tausug iconography. Yet, we celebrate him as a national artist, which speaks greatly of the homogenizing ambition of nationhood. Imao, so it seems, does not see this as a problem. Kidlat Tahimik wears his bahag in international film festivals — the same bahag that he wears when he accepted the national artist award. The interface of the antique, the modern, and the indigenous in Philippine culture (whatever this means) can be rendered problematic. It is in fact problematic. But, then again, nobody seems to think that it is so. Who is the public of the national artist canon? Who is the Filipino national? The Filipino, says so in one account, is comprised by a number of ethno-linguistic groups that identify as Filipino.[xxxv] They are the Cebuanos, the Ilonggos, the Waray-Warays, the Ilocanos, the Kapampangans, etc.[xxxvi] In this account, the Igorots of Northern Luzon and the Moros of Mindanao do not identify as Filipinos.[xxxvii] In fact, these cultural minorities (or subjugated ethnicities) have launched bloody secessionist movements in the past. Hence, with regard to the nation, art can therefore occasion a notion of space that is important for the very caveat that it poses: art could also serve as a mechanism for “administrative and repressive controls.”[xxxviii] It could occasion a homogenizing space as much as it can also be “a product of relations of domination and strategies decided at the summit of the State.”[xxxix] Identifying the public of and for art, even in pragmatic sense, is neither an easy matter nor is it democratic or liberating by default. There is something in pragmatism that eludes our understanding and valuation of art. The public of art is “not simply there,” Patrick Flores would say from a different context.[xl] In our case, the nation is a fragile thing. This problem looms so large in the background that one can never afford to ignore it, especially if our nation is bedeviled by the neocolonial or postcolonial condition. This is one of the reasons why, instead of inquiring about public art in Cebu, this essay interrogates the space that urban art practice in Cebu occasions. In other words, the ‘public’ of Cebu art is not simply there. Rather, it is occasioned by the notions of space that works of art instantiate.

It is said that an identity (in collective and personal sense) functions more like a narrative or story, a structured chain of events with a commencing rupture or birthing,  threads of triumphs and struggles, and a promising horizon.  It is understood that the narrative that enlivens our nation’s identity are more than just archival transcriptions of our past. In the first place, history is not something that we can discuss in a disinterested or truly objective manner like a specimen of a scientific inquiry. History is patently rhetorical. It is diachronic as much as it is synchronic. Historical narratives can operate at a level where volumes of documents and archaeological artifacts can never fully account for. This understanding of identity, which is acknowledged even by some seasoned anthropologists, suggests two things: first, the ‘positivization’ that occurs in the social sciences is not total (i.e. Clifford Geertz’s insistence that Anthropology is part of the Humanities) and, second, the social scientific gaze, or the methodologies of investigations that social sciences deploy can never totally account for the complexity and nuances of human experience as they are expressed in the artifacts of life (e.g. knowledge of basket-weaving, archaeological finds, street art, etc.).

I suspect that the very interest that drives ethnographic studies of cultural minorities is a way of compensating for the problematic birthing of our nation. These studies express a persistent anxiety of the Filipino. That is, these studies unwittingly articulate the fear of forgetfulness or amnesia – the fear of not remembering, of lost knowledge, of not seeing the comfort of self-knowing that links us, the Filipino, to our past. How can we tell our story if we do not even know where and when it begins? This anxiety, I suppose, is an integral component to the search and construction of Filipino identity although, quite often than not, the Filipino herself is not sure as to the constitution of such identity (hence the anxiety).  For one, it is further confounded by persistent insinuations that bedevil the stability of Filipino nationhood. How about Cebuano art? How about Waraynon art? How about Maranao art? Can Philippine art accommodate more questions of this kind?

If this anxiety is real today, it is more real in the past. In fact, the construction of a distinct identity for the Filipino is merely an iteration of the early ambition of 19th century ilustrados – the earliest group of intellectuals who confronted the problem of our ‘forgetfulness’ as a nation. Today, ethnographic inquiry is seen as suspect. People have now come to realize that domains of inquiry (or sciences) are not innocent. Anthropology, for one, is deployable as a hegemonic device of colonialist discourse. Anthropology ‘objectifies’ so as to study its ‘subjects,’ hence Geertz’s gesture to reinvent the domain along the interpretive tradition in order to recuperate its mediatory potential. Power objectifies. As Foucault have shown, the production of knowledge coincides with the production of the subjects of power.[xli] But the ilustrados of the 19th century were oblivious to such realization. The ilustrados tried to present an eloquent story of the nation. In fact, a number of them claimed that the people in the archipelago descended from a ‘noble’ race.[xlii] They presented archaeological finds to prove their case, recovered and utilized indigenous syllabary, prodded local languages, and came up with a coherent system of writing (and even participated in international expositions and international art competitions just to prove a point).[xliii]

Recently, a paper was published about important archaeological artifacts that were found in Sagel Cave.[xliv] The artifacts suggest the presence of a metal-wielding community in the Philippines roughly two thousand years prior to European colonization. We do not ask whether these artifacts are works of art or not but, nevertheless, the ilustrados would have been elated by these finds. The archaeological artifacts can supply the lost fragments of memories that the Filipino can now recover and utilize in retelling the story of the nation. They can serve as receptacles of imagined memories – memories that are relegated to forgetfulness by centuries of colonial acculturation. But archaeological investigation is anchored in faith. To investigate here is to believe that repressed memories can be recovered from traces that are left on things forsaken by time. The process by which these traces are evidenced on found objects is like peeling off “myths” in culture — but only in order to establish newer ones. Archaeological artifacts are valuable because they perform an important function: to assume the place of lost but now found “signified” of the nation. In a way, archaeological projects aim at the discovery of meanings and the deployment of such discovery in the present. The Sagel finds, I suppose, are now housed in a museum just like the Batak baskets. Such juxtaposition can reveal a liberating insight: the function of the museum is not to remind us of the grandeur of our past but, rather, to remind us of our forgetfulness that the past is never a given. The past is to be constructed and reconstructed in our present story.

What is certain is this: the social sciences (e.g. anthropology) have always been involved in the construction of our nation’s story as much as the humanities. This point captures what Ricoeur says about the relation of explanation and understanding. The sciences and the humanities are not opposed to each other. Art, of course, is one of the most important avenues where the story of our nation is told and constructed, both in social scientific inquiry and in humanistic accounting. Hence the ‘indios bravos’ — the artistic careers and works of Luna and Hidalgo — are said to be testaments of our ‘nobility’ as a nation. Hence our elation when we were able to represent the country in the Paris Biennale once again. Hence our elation when the artifacts in Sagel Cave were found.

Nomar Bayog Miano


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[i]  Kant’s distinction between mechanical art and aesthetical art converses with his moral philosophy. Mechanical art excites pathological desires; aesthetical art does not. Aesthetical art excites moral interest; mechanical art does not. Aesthetical art is dialogic in that it mediates social horizons and human understanding. Mechanical art, on the other hand, exhibits its constitution as a planned effect. It is mono-logic in a sense that the conversation that it instantiates is unidirectional (i.e., commercial propaganda speaks, spectators listen). Commercial propaganda, for instance, are planned and executed to achieve a certain effect in spectators: excite pleasant emotions in order to funnel desires towards patronage of certain labels or commodities. The audience of advertisements has a very limited participation in the creation of work’s meaning because equivocality is discouraged in all types of propaganda. As such, as in all types of commercial advertisements, mechanical art is univocal. Being efficient and being economical are integral components of its modus operandi. It lays bare the content of the work for spectators only to decode. And not only that; it also dictates the mode of communication by which the public can receive the propaganda content because propaganda treats the audience as passive spectators. On the other hand, aesthetical art enlivens a two-way conversation.  It mediates a particular understanding (the artist’s) with the personal horizons of the public. Aesthetical art invites dialogue. It enriches the ethical disposition of human beings; mechanical art does not. Aesthetical art promises democracy; mechanical art does not. Aesthetical art promises a free and egalitarian community; mechanical does not. See Immanuel Kant. Critique of Judgment (New York: Dover, 2005), 109-111.

[ii] Ricoeur (Hermeneutics), 14-18.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid. 15-16.

[vii] Ibid. 57.

[viii] Jane Kneller, Kant and the Power of Imagination. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 3.

[ix] Jacques Ranciere claims that the Enlightenment’s fascination with mental faculties corroborates with the egalitarian aspiration of the 18th century. See Jacques Ranciere, Aesthetics and Its Discontents, trans. Steven Corcoran (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2009), 88-105. It is not an incidental matter that philosophers of the period (including Kant) invested time on the subject of human nature (in the guise of their preoccupation with mental faculties) because the subject points to a commonality that all individuals share; that there is something that all individuals have in common regardless of culture, upbringing, or age. Hume’s aim for the undiluted objectivity of aesthetic judgements works by assuming that there is a commonality beneath the variations in people’s responses in relation to aesthetic experience. The British philosopher’s annexation of aesthetic judgment in faculties shared by all human beings and Kant’s summon of sensus communis (and the synthetical formal unity of apperception) as an anchor for the ‘objectivity’ of aesthetic judgement adheres to the same fixation. The enlightenment’s fascination with human nature serves as a guiding torch that directed the philosopher’s inquiry about the proper ruse of the “aesthetic.” The empiricists’ and Kant’s appeal to mental faculties is therefore not an incidental matter because they all share this egalitarian aspiration. Ranciere’s defense of Kant’s aesthetics against sociological levelling is in fact based on this realization. Ranciere’s scholar, Oliver Davis, states in his introduction to Ranciere’s thought: “This pleasure-inducing ‘free-play’, on which the subjective universality of aesthetic judgement rests, is only possible in Kant’s account if the object in question both invites and eludes interpretation: it must encourage the imagination and understanding to work together to try to organize meanings while at the same time remaining resistant to any single meaning. So for Kant aesthetic judgements are universal because when we make them we make them for everyone capable of cognition without exception and on an equal basis without variation by any other irrelevant distinguishing factors such as wealth, sex, height, nationality, and so on. There is then something egalitarian about the capacity for aesthetic judgment in Kant’s account and in the tradition of philosophical aesthetics which it founded….” Also see Oliver Davis, Jacques Ranciere (UK: Polity Press, 2010), 131.

[x] Robert Wicks, Kant on Judgment (New York: Routledge, 2007), 5.

[xi] Kant, (Critique…), 111.

[xii] Ranciere argues in defense of aesthetic autonomy: “For the aesthetic autonomy is not the autonomy of artistic ‘making’ celebrated by modernism. It is the autonomy of a form of sensory experience. And it is that experience which appears as the germ of new humanity, of a new form of individual and collective life.” See Ranciere (Aesthetics and …), 32.

[xiii] But Ranciere has a more interesting take on this. What actually happened according to him was a rediscovery of an old understanding that “human nature” is at the same time also a “social nature.” Whereas the understanding and valuation of art in the Enlightenment is anchored in the notion of “human nature,” contemporary valuation of art re-institutes its direct connection with society. This is captured by Bourdieu’s take on ideological pretense that is constitutive of “aesthetic” experience. In Bourdieu’s account, “human nature is accorded with “social nature.” See Ranciere (Aesthetics and…), 12-14.

[xiv] Nestor Garcia Calclini, “Remaking Passports: Visual Thought in the Debate on Multiculturalism,” The Visual Culture Reader, ed. Nicholas Mirzoeff (New York: Routledge, 1998), 182.

[xv]John Dewey, Art as Experience (New York: Wideview/Perigee, 1980), 326.

[xvi] Ibid. 326.

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] Ibid.

[xix] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (Mandaluyong: Anvil, 2003), 37-46.

[xx] Ibid.

[xxi] Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, eds. Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann, trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor (London: Continuum, 1997), 225-228.

[xxii] Ibid. 225.

[xxiii] Ibid.

[xxiv] Herbert Marcuse, The Aesthetic Dimension: Towards a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics (Boston: Beacon Press, 1978), 53.

[xxv] Ibid. 8.

[xxvi] Ibid. 13-14, 37, 57-58.

[xxvii] Ibid. 1, 69.

[xxviii] Ibid. 13-14.

[xxix] Caroline Levine, Provoking Democracy: Why We Need the Arts (UK: Blackwell, 2007), 89-91.

[xxx] Ibid. 90-91.

[xxxi] Ibid.

[xxxii] Ibid. 90.

[xxxiii] Ibid. 30-31, 150-165, 171.

[xxxiv] Levine (Provoking…), 60.

[xxxv] Joseph Fallon, “Igorot and Moro National Reemergence: The Fabricated Philippine State,”, http://nointervention. com/archive/pubs/CWIS/imnr.html.

[xxxvi] Ibid.

[xxxvii] Ibid.

[xxxviii] Henri Lefebvre, State, Space, World: Selected Essays, eds. Neil Brenner and Stuart Elden, trans. Gerald Moore, Neil Brenner, and Stuart Elden (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), 214.

[xxxix] Ibid. 214.

[xl] Lecture and consultation with Patrick Flores, Creative Hub Gallery, University of San Carlos, May, 2019.

[xli] Foucault (The Foucault...), 206-213, 239-256, 170-178.

[xlii] Megan Thomas, Orientalists, Propagandists, and Ilustrados: Filipino Scholarship and the End of Spanish Colonialism (Madaluyong: Anvil, 2012), 43-44, 52-53, 96, 201,

[xliii] Ibid. 69-71, 140-143.

[xliv] Archeological excavations in Sagel Cave, Maitum, Sarangani Province, found non-anthropomorphic burial jar suggesting the likely existence of Metal Age communities in Southern Mindanao.

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