If the philosopher Alain Badiou asks of what present are we the living witnesses in philosophy today, the writing in this second volume of essays addresses a related question to works of art today: what art can (still) be at the time of a global existential crisis, in a world living at the edge of, if not inexorably moving toward, a final ecological catastrophe? In four essays the author turns to works of art she considers critical with regard to this question of art situating itself at the limit: the last film of Jean-Luc Godard, Adieu au langage
; Pasolini's faux documentary, La Rabbia (Rage)
, a fragment of a Paul Celan poem, as questioned by Jacques Derrida, the plastic art of Abdel Abdemassad and Anselm Kiefer. She interrogates these chronologically disparate works neither as representations or diagnoses of a present in a change of epoch, a word in crisis or at the edge of a catastrophe, nor as works that are symptomatic of such times and worlds. Instead, the writing metaphorically ‘listens to’ voices that arrive from inside a world without an exit as exemplary responses to the question: what art can (still) be at such times, in such worlds? What creation – new gesture or performative or language – can be commensurate with the intensity of forces pressing against such presents?
These are some of the questions that this second volume, under a borrowed sub-title from Giorgio Agamben, addresses to Art. In four essays – punctuated by shorter texts on Derrida’s letters and Cixous’ recent auto-fictional works – the writing patiently observes how each work in the small corpus gives a new sense to the term and is a singular creation of a unique instance of “contemporaneity.”