exindex
http://www.exindex.hu/

[focus]

 
img

Edit András

Modernity is our antiquity, or is it?


Just because the statement was declared by the highly prestigious institution, the Documenta, should we take its topic - encapsulating rather a statement than a question - for granted?

*

Once the framework has been established, one just can’t avoid it, and should navigate within that very structure, and as the phrase is softened by the question mark, maybe it is a call for posing further questions? If the very topic itself stimulates doubt and resistance as something valid, the question still remains; what hidden needs, interests or discernments are behind such a comparison?

*

What triggered the sudden switch of gears in the attitude, and the change of perspective after the last Documenta, which greatly widened the scope of attention?

*

What about those who do not have a recent past outside the realm of a kwasi-modernity, which they could have overcome, and which would allow a comparison with a remote past? And furthermore, what about those for whom modernity is not even a present, but merely a desired future? Do they fall into the blind spot of such a structure?

*

Would we really be so remote from modernity, that such a suggestion would be plausible to discuss? Isn’t it a presumed condition behind the question that modernity is over, distanced, which is why it could be regarded as antiquity, as a cultural heritage, overwhelming, yet stimulating for rivalry?

*

Whose modernity are we speaking about anyway, and let alone, for whom could the metaphor of antiquity be at all relevant? Could it be that a basically European conception is being imposed onto the World, which is more or less confronted with modernity, but at large has nothing to do with antiquity? Would such an implicit declaration not cause a disturbance for those who still struggle against the empowerment of modernity and modernism, and who do not feel at all that it would be a distanced past, something we can make a dialogue with.?

*

Or would this be a mere globalizing strategy in the field of culture, following strictly the interests of those in power, not even weighing the consequences of the expansion on those who feel uneasy within that tight structure?

*

Let’s put it differently and ask whether the title would embody an unconscious Western territorial anxiety on losing the intellectual dominance and control over the course of the art world?

*

Or, taking it simply; the phrase "antiquity" could be nothing more than a clumsy substitute for the phenomenon of the past, which could make sense for all cultures?

*

I suppose we should stick to the psychoanalytical reading and consider the use of the word as a Freudian slip of tongue, which is known as a rich soil for unconscious fears and motivations. Shouldn’t we?

*

Is it possible that a feeling of failure of the progress and utopia transcendents the intellectual proposal? Do we confront a post- 9/11 anxiety and lack of fate in the future, an overwhelming and paralyzing feeling of social impotence, including art, and at the same time a nostalgia toward a period when belief in the power of art and culture still governed intellectuals?

*

Would it be merely a wishful thinking, dreaming us back to a period when enthusiasm and heroism of art permeated the society, and when art really had its stake and wasn’t merely an entertainment?

*

If the antiquity is something which gave legitimization to different cultural assets, but at the same time was meant to be a great force that stimulates us to overcome it, is there a belief of being able to surpass the model conveyed in the comparison, or is it just a manifestation of modernity being an object of desire, an unreachable ideal?

*

Isn’t this a symptom of a highly schizophrenic state of mind, to cut oneself off from the object of desire, while constantly clingin on to this teared off umbilical cord, being trapped in an unsolvable controversy?

*

Could we detect a need for an “othering” modernity, while developing an inferiority complex being compared to it?

*

Could we approach the contrast through the psychological phenomenon that the son would obsessively follow in the footsteps of his father, including his faults and mistakes, that once, as a child, his father himself has greatly suffered from? Or would it be the sign of decline related to the matured age that is curling back to the dilemma once felt being a major challenge to overcome it.

*

With noble simplicity; would this all be nothing else than a “coup de grace” on the loved one, pitied for its painful agony?

*

If postmodernity could be understood as the Great Utopia of modernity exploited for petty ends, and not as a total rejection of it, than the consequence is that postmodernity disseminated the modernist ideas by providing a share for those who were excluded from the Eurocentric, male dominated concept of modernity. Does referring back to a more limited conception not mean a drastic shut off of the process of becoming more inclusive? So we have to wake up, and accept that the process of liberalization was just a scum, fooling those who believed in it.

*

If imitation was the chief mechanism for coming to term s with antiquity in the past centuries, would the proposal implicitly suggest imitating modernity as the only creative way for us? Is it a confession of failure of the present generation and/or a confession of admiration to the previous generation? And would that admiration not completely paralyze the present generation who could not, or feel s that it could not, fulfill its mission. Or is this generation expressing its disillusionment and disappointment over its own achievement s in this way? Maybe it went too far in practicing critical and especially self-critical attitude that at the end liquidates itself? Could it be possible that its historical task would be to step aside, without completing the process it started?

*

After all, should we take the proposed topic as a cry for help, a painful outburst, due to an inability to achieve any perspective through art? Would it be safer nowadays to refer to the past, than to look to the future? Is the imag e of the future is so terrible that it should be rejected alltogether by changing the perspective, and looking back for safe step ping stones of good old ages, as such harking back to past often happens in hard times?

*

Are we trully aware of an existing distance to modernity, which would make possible a balanced relation to our cultural heritage, without which one can fall into a trap of self-pitying and self-hatred? And wouldn’t a discredited immediate past be needed in order to admire a remote past, as it were the Middle Ages for the Renaissance? How could something be resurrect ed without it being dead before? For those who have not yet burr ied modernity as past, but are surrounded by it as the very present or even a s a desired future, would it not be just a tricky sensual play causing merely confusion to refer to ghosts, while they have not even thought of buil ding a cemetery?

*

Isn’t this a hidden need for mastering the situation, claiming again that the World is homogenous and universal? Would we be confronted by symptoms of the split personality of the white, European, professional male, which intellectually supported local identities and voices of the Other, but could not really digest the loss of dominance? So the title would be a lamentation over the lost mastery.

*

Maybe the title is nothing more than an unarticulated anxiety over the crumbled, chaotic situation we live in, and a painful outcome of inner struggles with the feeling of responsibility and a feverish search for a solution, while expressing an inability to suggest any other escape, than going back to the past, and forgetting about the future.

*

Would it be possible to revive something without wishing to surpass it? Or is this exactly the hidden agenda of the proposed topic, encapsulated into the historical metaphor? Would it like to function as a trigger, stimulating all the capacities and potentials within modernity still immobilized?

*

Could such a declared reference to the past not be seen as a means to inhibit change, freeze creative energies, embargo process, shut off optimism? Or on the contrary, would this reference reflect overriding concerns with the present?

*

Isn’t it a self-destructive, almost suicidal exercise praising the past at the expense of the present? Wouldn’t that deeply undermine self-confidence of recent generations, dwarfed by the imagined comparison with those giants of Modernity, as it happened with generations earlier, when comparing themselves with the enormous productions of antiquity? Could we claim that it isn’t the actual weight and superiority of the past, of Modernity furbished with the ancient patina that burdens the present, but the excessive attention given to it?

*

Maybe it was just a promotion of pure rhetorical exercise within a pre-structured framework, shifting a bit the centuries-old dilemma, ancient versus modern, forcing us to think about what is going on in our World, as at least we can do.

 

[focus]

http://exindex.hu/index.php?l=en&page=3&id=350

exindex 2000–2019
C3