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Abstract

Mona Hatoum's video installation Corps étranger is an example of an artwork that critically comments on particular aspects of contemporary visual culture, such as the colonization of the body's interior by medical image technologies. It has indeed been interpreted in those terms by several authors from within the new academic field of Visual Culture. Here it is argued that the critical cultural impact of the installation might be more fully described when one grants art a relative autonomy within the cultural field and, moreover, draws on concepts from more traditional academic disciplines and approaches, such as aesthetics and phenomenology. Art is a cultural practice that is deeply involved in contemporary life and its hierarchies and differences, but that, nevertheless, can be critical by generating new experiences. I would like to describe this relative autonomy with the help of the concepts of play and of aesthetic reflexivity.

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