This essay examines various conceptions of autonomy in relation to recent artistic practices. Starting from the apparent opposition between modernist notions of the autonomy of art and theorizations of political autonomy, the text problematizes the notion of the autonomy of art by using Jacques Rancière's notion of the aesthetic regime. Focusing on the importance of the act and performance in the art of the last decades, it is argued that while political and artistic autonomy may never quite converge, aesthetic acts can under certain circumstances function in both the political and the artistic register, simultaneously or successively. The aesthetic act thus stages a passage from the artistic to the political, and vice versa. © 2014, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.