On the Performativity of Disinterested Attention for the Experience of Contemporary Art


  • Francesca Natale




Disinterestedness, Free-floating Attention, Contemplation,, Contemporary Art


The aim of this article is to point out that attentional practices don’t simply overlap with control and action/reaction dynamics; they are also strictly connected to non-productivity, non-instrumentality, disinterestedness, contemplation as performative inactivity. Disinterested attention (a definition formulated by Bence Nanay) and free-floating attention help to better understand the apparently seamless and unproblematic transition from passive spectator to active participant/agent of contemporary art. If considering attention in relation to executive functions (planning and organizing our experience in the world we live in) could be persuasive, a self-evident definition of attention strictly considered as “selection for action” is less convincing, and the weakness of this connection becomes clear when goal-oriented attitude is pushed into the background. Attention is often researched into to improve our performances and to overcome the inevitable “blind spots”: experiencing art is about a different way of paying attention, that is fluctuating, “suspended,” fragmented.

Author Biography

Francesca Natale

Francesca Natale is a PhD student in Aesthetics at “La Sapienza” Università di Roma. The aim of her research project, titled Attention, disinterestedness and contemplation in aesthetic and artistic experience, is to investigate the concept of attention as a structural notion of aesthetic experience in connection with contemplation, action, critical distance, participation and disinterestedness, and contemporary artistic experience, increasingly influenced by an interactive and collective kind of art. She also studies art criticism in its theoretical aspects (appreciation, evaluation, and judgement formulation).


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How to Cite

Natale, F. (2023). On the Performativity of Disinterested Attention for the Experience of Contemporary Art. The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics, 32(65). https://doi.org/10.7146/nja.v32i65-66.140114