Andreas Huyssen
Nostalgia for Ruins
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cultural amnesia
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museumised by theme parks
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memory has become a cultural obsession
of monumental proportions
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real can be "mythologized”
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while mythical can create strong effects
of reality
Avant-garde:
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collective phenomena
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Dada movement, futurism, surrealism, situationists = radical futuristic UTOPIA
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= hope for radical political changes (both left & right)
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= manifestos
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marginalized artists, writers, composers, thinkers
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opposed to mainstream commercial values
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the formative years of modernism
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rejected artificially synthesized mass culture = industrialization
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manufactured forms = new consumer culture
Greenberg in the 30’s
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Mainstream media = direct product of Capitalism = substantial industries
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Manufacturing profit-fixated motives ≠ ideals of true art
kitsch: phony, faked, mechanical culture -- pretended to be more than
they were
Rosenburg, progressive culture in the late 60’s
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ceased to fulfill its former adversarial role
“avant-garde ghosts” ↔ changing mass culture
profession = pretense of overthrowing it
Hand-drawn still from Kentridge animation, 1989
Kuitca, El Momento, 1989
Architecture ↔ imaginary urban landscapes
 urban imagination ≠ fantasy
 permanent residents, immigrants, tourists
Proliferation of museums ↔ Memory boom
MACBA
Jewish Museum
“Melancholy is as palpable as a tangible reality.”
Politics of memory = social/ethic conflicts
 Battle of historical memory
 Collective memory not working
 Memory hierarchies = bad idea
Holoaust memory -- slavery memory
Discourses: reinforce Historical Memory
Modernity = Politicised religious fanaticism
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Past ≥ future
Past nostalgic desire = desire for somewhere else
Nostalgia as distorted utopia
Ruins = desires of past
Nostalgia:
 Homesickness
 longing for something far away or long ago
 negative coding in modernity
 Utopia in reverse
Ruins:
 Past as both present & unaccessible
 Nostalgic trigger
Ruins: the imagined present of a past that can now only
be grasped in its decay.
Real ruins of different kinds function as projective
screens for modernity’s articulation of temporalities and
for its fear of and obsession with the passing of time…
Necessary Utopias
 Not obsessed with past
 Organize the future
The end