Affirming Difference: Everyday Aesthetic Experience after Phenomenology


This article explores the complex relationship between two different areas of embodied experience: the socio-temporal zone known as ‘everyday life’ and the moment of the encounter by those who are encountering art works.  It proceeds with a comparative study of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Mikel Dufrenne’s phenomenologies, and tests their key concepts against generalized contemporary art practices that question a model of the traditional aesthetic experience by suggesting the possibility that within the expanse of postmodernity such a paradigm has shifted, (although it is not completely irretrievable).  The article argues that this shift has been achieved by remobilizing readymade objects and banal customs within spaces otherwise reserved for extraordinary experience.  Thus, it also considers the problem of authoritative experience and Jürgen Habermas’ extension of the Husserlian Lebenswelt in order to map out the urgencies of our current cultural sphere.

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