The Aesthetics of Politics

The paper takes as its starting point the idea that society and the political order are aesthetically organized, and that politics takes place on an aesthetic level. Aesthetics here refers to emotional and cognitive sensibility and to the imaginative sphere. The paper interprets political exclusion in current legal-political contexts as an aesthetic question. Following Rancière, struggle against marginalization means resistance to the prevailing aesthetic ‘distribution of the sensible’ determining parts, positions and shares in society. The subversive effect of politics is its contestation of the aesthetic ordering of legitimate modes of political action, depoliticization of identities of political actors, and privatization of political spaces. Furthermore, politics can utilize diverse artistic, aesthetically effective theatrical and performative strategies. It can consist, for example, of non-verbal embodied action, poetic speech, or take the form of political storytelling.