Aesthetic Dividuations in a Globalized Art World


  • Michaela Ott



dividuation, participation, contemporary art practices, Afropolitanism, African films, composite-cultural expressions, big art exhibitions


As a professor of philosophy in the art academy of Hamburg, I deal with contemporary art practices; as a theorist of aesthetics I try to determine what kind of aesthetic and artistic developments seem to be significant for our times, and which kind of philosophical theories I can offer in order to better conceptualize and understand the given art productions. At the same time, I attempt to transcend contemporary tendencies and concepts and to foster students’ art practices in a way that makes them meaningful for the future.

This lecture seeks to provide a possible interpretation of actual art practices in a globalized world, reflecting also on big art exhibitions such as Documenta 14 and on African films. It sketches a specific aesthetic program called Afropolitanism as an understanding which could be conceived of as paradigmatic for our globalized times. Afropolitanism is a term coined by the South African theorist Achille Mbembe in one of his 2010 book Sortir de la grande nuit. Essai sur l’Afrique décolonisé. Starting from there I want to offer a philosophical concept that goes far beyond the European context and hopes to provide a possible conceptual frame for a more complex understanding of the culturally and artistically entangled and hybridized expressions of our days, including those of human subjectivation. I call this concept dividuation as I have explained further in my book Dividuations: Theories of Participation, which was published in English in 2018.


Article received: December 15, 2019; Article accepted: January 31, 2029; Published online: April 15, 2020; Original scholarly paper

Author Biography

Michaela Ott

Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg


Michaela Ott, Professor of aesthetic theories at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, Germany. Main research topics: poststructualist philosophy, aesthetics of film and art, theories of space, affection and dividuation, questions of artistic knowledge, biennial research, researches in postcolonial questions, in African and Arab films. Main publications: Deleuze – an introduction, Hamburg 2005; Affection. An aesthetic-epistemological figure, Munich 2010; Timing of Affect. Epistemologies of Affection, ed. with Marie-Luise Angerer and Bernd Bösel, Zurich 2014; dividuations, theories of participation, London,   New York 2018; Welches Außen des Denkens? Französische Theorien in postkolonialer Kritik (Which outside ot thought? French theories in postcolonial critique), Wien, Berlin 2019.


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How to Cite

Ott, M. (2020). Aesthetic Dividuations in a Globalized Art World. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (21), 1–11.