Contingency and Complicity


Who is a contingent artist, an artist who embraces the thought of contingency in her approach to those materials that constitute and determine her work and artistic production? Or perhaps rather than singling out such an artist, we should ask, ‘what is common to those artists who embrace the contingency of the materials they work with?’ The link between such artists is their ‘complicity’ with contingent materials. It might be thought that ‘complicity’ here is synonymous with an ‘openness’ to contingent materials. But this is not the case. For if we consider art as a material-driven process of production, these anonymous materials enjoy an autonomy of their own; and such autonomy continuously interferes with the artwork itself regardless of the decisions of the artist—that is, whether or not the artist determines to be ‘open’ to their influence. In other words, the contingency of the artist’s materials cannot be the strict subject of the artist’s openness. Contingent materials cannot be directly embraced…