The Birth of
with Alain Badiou
Fifteen Theses on
translated by Barbara P. Fulks
Looking back on the historical conditions of the birth of the tableau as a modern form which, in the Renaissance, begins to put an end to the reign of medieval polyptique, independent of the movements of thought which are competing for a mathematical vision of space and before the recovery of a "humanist" meaning of art the idea of the tableau as an open window, the deeply distressing invention of Leone Battista Alberti in his De Pictura published in Florence in 1435, is a logical sudden appearance. It issues directly from an intractable fact: as Yves Depelsenaire writes, "we are fundamentally gazed upon beings; in the spectacle of the world, there is always an Other who in some way is looking at us; in other words, we are always a little framed in the skylight of the phantasm of the Other, with all that this suggests of discomfort, of embarrassment or of anguish." And I would add: of alienation. The window of the painting as a response to the gaze of the Other; our window for seeing, as opposed to the skylight of the Other in which we are seen; to see through the window in order to be seen no longer by the Other in his window.
Art: Noritoshi Hirakawa, La Fontaine, c-print, 2001
courtesy of the artist.
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