Institutional critique stands outside institutions and describes the way power works. Fine art applauds anything that offends, at any price. Card-carrying democrats know that they cannot stop the war, so they cry that it is "not in my name."
Liberalism uses the concept of against. It says that we are right in relationship to this wrong that is outside us, that we separate ourselves from. We have tuned in and dropped out and turned on.
But it is absurd to attempt to oppose that which you create. Democrats and Republicans are part of the same fake democracy that caters pretty much exclusively to big business at the expense of the citizen, and yet this fact does not excuse this administration's tyrrany! Mark diSuvero and Richard Serra, bless their hearts, pushed their rhetoric of protest at the last Whitney Biennial, and it was not powerful. What was powerful was the institution that they helped to create, draining the meaning from their protest. What more do you need? The institution swallowed the Peace Tower whole, for chrissakes! I don't need any more evidence that Chrissie and Paul were truly curating--that they were truly telling us a story about the zeitgeist!
Opposition from within creates all kinds of ridiculouslessness, like conservatives getting all up in Al Gore's business for flying a lot and therefore having a relatively large carbon footprint. Looking at this absurdity and attempting to oppose it creates art that is abject, art that throws up its hands, or looks only inward, or just says fuck this, and fuck you.
I say fuck that. I am implicated, and so are you. As part of an imperialist nation, I am an imperialist. And as part of a capitalist society, I am a capitalist. The Dalai Lama is right. George W. Bush has been my mother. We are cooking the planet, killing thousands of Iraqis, fucking our own poor and patriotic by sending them off to die in a war that we say is "not in our name." We all have a lot of blood on our hands, and there is nothing abject about that. I can't talk for you, but that is a situation that I have a serious emotional investment in.
If the aesthetic of opposition (I am right, and this is wrong) is moving more and more toward the abject, what is the aesthetic of implication?