Postmodernism – Time for self reflection
Following the Modernist era of European culture, Post-modernism is the period which encapsulated the changes that took place after the 60s.
Whilst the Modernist period was linked to the Enlightenment and the idea that the industrial world would be the ultimate solution for mankind’s troubles, the Post Modern ideology promoted self-reflection. Facing the aftereffects of war, people realised that after all, industrialisation was not necessarily a catalyst of a utopian world but an evil concept for powerful and widespread destruction.
The postmodern activists were split in two major factions. The so-called ‘reactionary postmodernists’ were the nostalgic lot. They spoke in romantic notions and criticised their contemporary world. Amongst them were those who were totally against the new technology. On the other hand, the ‘revolutionary post modernists’ were more conscious about happenings and chose to make use of the industrial progress in order to heal the trouble.
Disillusion was a major feeling expressed by the Postmodernists. Unlike the metanarrative of the Enlightenment, the belief that the technology was saving humanity was lost. Instead, a feeling of defragmentation sprouted as a reaction to globalisation. It decentralised man from his absolute thinking into the idea of multiple truths of social structures, which balance out the planetary system – a sense of relativism.
Feminism came out of this reaction against an absolute idea. It deconstructed the art story and promoted an opposition to a male-dominated culture and the capitalist structures. Feminist groups such as The Guerrilla Girls, Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro were major contributors to this cause.
These claims are very much relevant on a contemporary level since issues around capitalism and the lack of freedom of expression are arising within many social circles. The Western idea of politics and the educational system need to rethink the male-dominant hierarchy to halt this power struggle.
The postmodern ‘feminist’ cry for freedom is representative to contemporary thinkers and protestors who claim such human rights and stand firm in achieving equal rights.
Malta’s dominant culture through forces sustaining ideology
A local scenario and myself within it
Barthes thesis, which confronts the idea of the image being a weak and elementary medium of communication when compared to language, is truly intriguing. My eleven-year experience as a professional graphic designer keeps reminding me how images create and transmit meaning. Thus, the responsibility granted by Barthes onto the image maker becomes factual. One can discuss whether both the image-maker and the image itself can give birth to new ideologies.
The interpretation of images by the audience is directly influenced by the experience and the relationships they carry along. It is sometimes stronger than the actual language that accompanies visual imagery. And that is why the same image could have a different lasting effect within different cultures. When image is set about for debate, its subjectivity should be always scrutinised before any commentary is made.
Within a Maltese context, the lack of exposure to good art for the locals is source to uninformed/uneducated relationships. I would say the experience is many times inexistent as this is also lacking through the educational system.
Different ideologies can trigger different reactions to the same subject, imagery or interpretation of both. When the term ideology denotes a political vision, popular culture is sculptured into a terrain made of political and social significations.
Unfortunately, censorship within our artistic scenario is still, very tangible. The idea of regulation of expression is the result of ideologies set about by a predominant Catholic Church and a Christian Democratic ruling government.
Yet, in line with German playwright Berolt Brecht, one could luckily affirm that “art is never without consequences”; Duchamp’s “fountain” which declared a rejection of the establishment of art, was an important challenge to the perceptions of people, firmly anchored within their ideologies.
Local ideology works mainly on the religious and the political fronts of society where both linguistics and imagery are used by the establishments to define the common denominators and the ‘dominant culture’. Instances through local history proved such ideologies beneficial, yet, the relevance of both conforming forces today, seem to be quite occult.
On such grounds, my art has in the past years grown sensitive towards these conspiring forces. Starting off through my writing, thus, my linguistic forces, I decided to start describing my emotions related to the local conformism to politics and religion, by using poetry. Following the introduction of social media I made a conscious decision to expose these confronting ideas of mine into public through a blog and facebook.
I have experimented both with creating and exposing art for and through these platforms, but also to reinvent my graphical artistic expression into something that speaks of a heightened awareness in comparison to a, generally, alienated society.