The above is from Hannah Black’s “The Identity Artist and the Identity Critic.”
If art is inevitably the space of “permissible critique,” it will always domesticate artists’ direct attempts to make radical works of impermissible critique — that is, the sort of critical “interventions” that can trigger conflict, collectivity, and social change.
When the political intent of a work is most explicit, its domestication becomes most egregious, glaring. If the political intent is obscure, the work may achieve a kind of impermissible, unrecuperated critique purely as a by-product, by way of misdirection or even misinterpretation among audiences. In this case, the artist will have difficulty taking credit for the effectual critique, if that happens to matter to them. Taking credit demystifies the intent and domesticates it again. The by-product of political efficacy is lost, reintegrated with the main product: the work of art trading on the various markets capable of giving it economic value.
That is to say, as Black says of identity in the second paragraph above, that political works of art proceed through a “kind of nonidentity” with themselves; they become political by failing to be political, or their political potency emerges despite their opacity or inconsistency, in their layers and doublings.