PDP-Constellation-Modernism and its Discontents: international discourses and critiques


‘But, whether naively or not, I see very well what it signifies to me: that France is a great Empire, that all her sons, without any colour discrimination, faithfully serve under her flag, and that there is no better answer to the detractors of an alleged colonialism than the zeal shown by this Negro in serving his so-called oppressors. I am therefore again faced with a greater semiological system: there is a signifier, itself already formed with a previous system (a black soldier is giving the French salute); there is a signified (it is here a purposeful mixture of Frenchness and militariness); finally, there is a presence of the signified through the signifier. ‘

‘In passing from history to nature, myth acts economically: it abolishes the complexity of human acts, it gives them the simplicity of essences, it does away with all dialectics, with any going back beyond what is immediately visible, it organizes a world which is without contradictions because it is without depth, a world wide open and wallowing in the evident, it establishes a blissful clarity: things appear to mean something by themselves.’ 

‘Myth is constitued by the loss of historical quality of things in it, things lose the memory that we were once made. The world…comes out of myth as a harmonious display of essences.’ Roland Barthes, Mythologies

This aspect of mythology is something the lecture touched upon. The aspect of history being corrupt is something that interests me. Isn’t the corruption of the past or perhaps the myths created a form of indoctrination. Much of the past is glamorised one could say. How much of this is down to natural memory loss and how much the authorities portraying a more respeactable and suited ideal. The lecture then touched up the aspect of hidden ugliness. Much of with mythology is masking perhaps.

Art that challenges hidden ugliness is something that intrigued me. This below is a piece by Santiago Sierra.

‘I have been called an exploiter. At the Kunstwerke in Berlin they criticized me because I had people sitting for four hours a day, but they didn’t realize that a little further up the hallway the guard spends eight hours a day on his feet. You want to stick your finger in the wound and say that the work is definitely torture, that it is indeed a punishment of biblical proportions. And when you put your name on the work it seems that you’re held responsible for the capitalist system itself. Many of the people who make those criticisms have never worked in their lives; if they think it’s a horror to sit hidden in a cardboard box for four hours, they don’t know what work is.’

This piece magnifies the attitudes of society, and how much of wrong doing in society is overlooked until it is force fed to the public in a sense.


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