Minor Aesthetics

The Photographic Work of Marcel Mariën

Mieke Bleyen

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Monograph - paperback

New perspectives on Belgian Surrealism and the photographic practices of Marcel Mariën.

 Marcel Mariën (1920–1993) was a key figure of Belgian post-war Surrealism. He is widely acknowledged for his landmark work on Belgian Surrealism and his collaboration with future Situationists like Guy-Ernest Debord in his journal ‘Les Lèvres nues’. Nevertheless, Mariën’s texts, collages, photographs, film, and (art?) objects have to date remained understudied. This is the first volume devoted to Mariën's photographic work. Through a series of close readings, Mieke Bleyen connects the collage and photographic practices of Mariën with his wider oeuvre, particularly with his archival and editorial activities. By applying Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's concept of the ‘minor’, this book proposes an alternative reading of Mariën’s anti-aesthetics and focuses on the affective range of his work. The figure of Mariën also serves as a case study that offers new perspectives on Belgian Surrealism's relation to mainstream Surrealism and the role of photography within Surrealism. This volume, moreover, raises a critique on ‘major’ art history's conception of time as linear progression and argues instead for twisted and extended temporalities in the case of Marcel Mariën. With previously unpublished images from Mariën's private archive.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Part 1 Towards a Minor Photography
Minor Literature
The people to come
A canon of minor masters and other reflections on the minor

Deleuze and Guattari’s Cartography of Art
A Minor History of Art?
Minor Photography. First Reflections

Part 2 Les Lèvres nues. A Minor History of Surrealism
A Post War View of Constantin Meunier’s The Docker
Invisible monuments
A surrealist displacement of monuments
Surrealism and its political turn: deconstructing the representation of labor

Les Lèvres nues. Continuing the Interwar Project of Paul Nougé
Writing as act
Poetry as experiment
Let us create disturbing objects
Between affect and effect: looking for accomplices
Re-writing: the fragmentary work of authorial effacement
Angèle Laval: a model of minor writing?
Les Lèvres nues. A Post War Enterprise
Le pas du commandeur: second stanza
Lettrist/Situationist texts in Les Lèvres nues
Collaboration under the sign of Potlatch

Leisure As Battlefield
Mariën’s scenario for a global revolution
Le Club des Loisirs
From production to consumption: leisure as battlefield
Surrealist versus situationist ‘tactics’
On (un)mediated activity
Part 3 Rhizomatic Readings. Minor Ways Of Beginning
Defense and Illustration of the French Language. A Rhizomatic Reading
A destabilization of text and image relationships
Subverting narrative
Traveling the Mariën rhizome
Collective assemblage of enunciation

Surrealism in Crisis. Or How To Deal With the Apparatus of Capture
Toutes ces dames au salon
Les corrections naturelles: a critical dissection of a Surrealism in crisis
Magritte and Mariën: a mutual betrayal

Caught Between the Historical and the Neo-Avant-Gardes
A ‘failed’ historical avant-garde versus an ‘empty’ neo-avant-garde
Hal Foster’s new genealogies
New genealogies, new geographies
Mariën and Broodthaers: two ways of dealing with the art institution
Mariën’s ambiguous relation with the art market and the art institution

Queer Temporalities. The ‘Minor’ Position of Marcel Mariën
Minor ways of beginning again
Queer temporalities: queer belonging
Queering the archive
Part 4 Minor Photography. Minor Aesthetics
Woman Ajar. 100 Photographs of Naked Women
Affecting photographies
Situating Woman Ajar within feminist theory
Surrealist photography 1: molar grids and molecular flows
Surrealist photography 2: courtly love and sadism

Always in the Middle. Photographic Stuttering and Stammering
Art and porn
Amateur and professional
Private and public
L’évidence énigmatique

Traps Against Capture. Minor Aesthetics
The rugged terrain of humor: humor as surface effect

Minor Contexts of Display
Private spaces of display
Mediating between private house and gallery: photography and the printed page


Color Section

Part 1. Towards a Minor Photography
Part 2. Les Lèvres nues. A Minor History of Surrealism
Part 3. Rhizomatic Readings. Minor Ways of Beginning
Part 4. Minor Photography. Minor Aesthetics

List of abbreviations

Format: Monograph - paperback

Size: 230 × 170 mm

12 illustrations in color

ISBN: 9789058679680

Publication: June 10, 2014

Series: Lieven Gevaert Series 17

Languages: English

Stock item number: 90797

Mieke Bleyen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, Art and Visual Culture and the Institute for Cultural Studies at the KU Leuven.
'There’s a tiny handful of things on Mariën in English. Mieke Bleyen’s 'Minor Aesthetics: The Photographic Work of Marcel Mariën' is particularly helpful. She reads him in a Deleuzian vein as a ‘minor’ artist, spilling out and past the coherent subjectivities of the poet or the artist.'
McKenzie Wark, Public Seminar, January 27, 2016

KU Leuven-;based scholar Mieke Bleyen succeeds in integrating several important achievements in 'Minor Aesthetics: The Photographic Work of Marcel Mariën'. Within the first study dedicated to the photographic practice of a prolific Belgian Surrealist (1920-;1993), she raises a number of pertinent questions, such as the importance of queer studies and feminist criticism for a better understanding of Surrealist visual arts.
Additionally, as the title suggests, Bleyen develops a strong theoretical argument through the notion of minor literature, grounded in the writings of French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, to unpack different pressing issues in the scholarship concerned with art history, including its problematic insistence on interpretation and linear progression. Bleyen combines rigorous archival research with a solid critical enquiry to put forward a rich and referential volume that can be engaged with as a valuable source of information and otherwise inaccessible visual material, as well as a welcome instance of a more inclusive approach to the work that is not easily fitted in the existing art historical categories.
Jelena Stojkovic (2015): Minor aesthetics: the photographic work of Marcel Mariën, Visual Studies, DOI: 10.1080/1472586X.2015.1024519