By Stephanie Barron
Read or Download Art in Los Angeles: The Museum as Site - Sixteen Projects : Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 21-October 4, 1981 : exhibition catalog PDF
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Additional resources for Art in Los Angeles: The Museum as Site - Sixteen Projects : Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 21-October 4, 1981 : exhibition catalog
Into a semblance of meaning. And their meanings, ironically, reside in their perpetual loss of meaning. 21 The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, heralded for 7 Chapter 1 The Melancholy Art being the ultimate compendium of all knowledge before the world was split asunder in the Great War, provides a terse characterization (on the eve of Freud writing his oft-cited essay “On Mourning and Melancholia” of 1915). 26 Before delving into the complexities of Freudian and post- Freudian thought on the subject, we could no better than heed two formidable philosophers of history, Friedrich Nietzsche and Alois Riegl.
39 In that packed and suggestive essay, he is intent on distinguishing two reactions to the loss of the “object,” either in actuality or in fantasy. “Objecthood,” of course, can be conferred on an actual person who has died, but it also can refer to a fantasmatic thing, an abstraction in the mourning individual. The deep and pervasive sorrow that accompanies the one left behind, according to Freud, is “normal,” natural, non-pathological. He or she of necessity “works through” the anguish and emerges on the other side (wherever that may be) a changed and sorrowful person, certainly, but not a self-tortured one.
This reflection on our disciplinary drives must necessarily invoke some tenets of psychoanalysis. Is there an “unconscious” of the history of art? What kinds of spaces, what kinds of time might it occupy? Is it deep, hidden in the darkest corners of our profession, or is it not about depth at all? Does it forever haunt art historical practice; does this melancholic awareness shadow most all of our activities? Or is it simply the other face of this discipline, a different surface of our commitment to writing about incandescent objects—objects, like orphans, who come to us from an unknowable past but beseech us for attention and care in the present?
Art in Los Angeles: The Museum as Site - Sixteen Projects : Los Angeles County Museum of Art, July 21-October 4, 1981 : exhibition catalog by Stephanie Barron