Civilisation: Utopia and Tragedy
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- We also find many versions of anal defiance, the urge to exhibit excrement and to flaunt it before the eyes of the world. In some exhibitions in London there was a great show of "dirty knickers," underpants with faeces, piles of excrement on the floor made to look very life-like. We can take this to be a defiant gesture of the self which has been made to feel dirty and bad by parents and by the "clean and ordered" world at large.
- The narcissistic self that wants to be admired and loved but encountered rejection or disgust is hitting back at its tormentors, gaining revenge by outraging them with obscenities and by breaking their rules.... Indeed, what is the meaning of old bits of iron, broken chimney pots, old bicycles, fragments of machinery, unwanted sewing-machines and such like exhibited as sculptures? They obviously serve to disturb and outrage the onlooker by claiming artistic significance for what most people regard as discards. We see here a declaration of war against the cultural Superego, a demand for a right to express any impulse previously considered taboo. Sublimation itself, the very foundation of culture, is declared a barrier to freedom, an instrument of repression.
- This new kind of libertarianism is not at all what the founders of modern art had intended.
George Frankl, Civilisation: Utopia and Tragedy, 1990
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