CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

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BADEN, Sebastian
The Stockhausen Syndrome and the Avant-Garde Taboo after 9/11

Session 8 Art and Taboo

Department of Art History and Media Theory at the University of Art and Design, Karlsruhe


After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the German composer Karlheinz Stockhausendeclaredthe event to be „the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos“.Stockhausen’s statement has to be considered as taboo-breaking, insofar as he used the term “art”in relation to 9/11. As a result, one can speak of a Stockhausen syndrome and it may be regarded as a new paradigm in art theory, because it reestablished a hitherto outdated notion of avant-gardism. From Boris Groys, Peter Sloterdijk, and Harald Szeemann to Damian Hirst or Anselm Kiefer, artists, theorists as well as curators have applied terms from the semantic field of art to describe the effect of terrorism on the mind of the observer.My argument tracks the Stockhausen syndromeback to the roots of Modernism and avantgardism, referring to progressive movements in the art system from the French Revolution to Richard Wagner, F.T. Marinetti and the fate of art in the age of cultural revolution in Europe around 1968.“Aesthetic terrorism“is a notion that has been applied to Modernist avant-garde art and theory, while theavant-garde, in the age of post-avantgarde,seems itself to have become a taboo.The continuous breaking of taboos, finally,can be understood as originating in the autopoiesis of the art system.

BADEN, Sebastian

Sebastian Baden, (*1980, Germany), is research assistant at the Department of Art History and Media Theory at the University of Art and Design, Karlsruhe (Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe).He received his PhD in 2014 with a research project on „The Image of Terrorism in the Art System“. His current research focus lies on Institutional Critique in modern and contemporary art, art market studies, political iconography of Avant-garde Art, and art criticism.

From 2001–2007 he studied painting, photography and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts Karlsruhe, and German Literature at the KIT (Karlsruhe Institut for Technology). In 2004-2005 he was an ERASMUS exchange student at University of Arts in Berne (Hochschule der Künste)/ Switzerland 2004-2005. In collaboration with Lukas Baden he is co-director of Ferenbalm-Gurbrü-Station Gallery, Karlsruhe, with a curating experience of more than 50 exhibitions since 2006. In 2013, he was awarded the AICA Incentive Prize for Young Art Critics. He is member of the board of Netzwerk-Terrorismusforschung e.V. and a regular member of the national jury of „Jugend Creativ Wettbewerb“, organized by the Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisen-Banken (BVR).