Sunday, September 25, 2011


Sacrifice, Monuments and Mundanity
by Virginijus Kinčinaitis

Vladas Urbanavičius. Krantinės arka. 2008–2009,
metalas, 20 x 14 x 1,4 m
Representation is necessary for human beings, first of all as a proof of their awareness. Therefore monuments, city squares or edifices epitomizing the powers of the government are a kind of normative landmarks in the life of humanity. They provide motivation for our actions and shape our identities. On the other hand, they are just ideological imprints on human consciousness and imagination. But for people they often tend to represent “consciousness” and “inner identity”. Therefore different figures in pursue of their interests turn out to be servants to the totality of representational system of power, either inherited or a new one. It is especially obvious in Lithuania’s present day-struggle of different groups of interests over important symbols of representation, such as the Ducal Palace, Lukiškių Square, Guggenheim Museum, Lietuvos Cinema, etc. All kinds of strategies “go” in these discussions: national extremism, and anti-semitism , post-soviet claustrophobia, global marketing and avant-garde art.
There is no difference whether we spend money on a fashionable designer dress, monuments to the nation’s struggles or New Year fireworks – it is wasting of precious resources for the sake of a superficial effect to the crowd. But that is the most what a working slave can do on his wages. If he never indulges in dissipation, never spends his savings on gambling or traveling to cosmos, he will remain a slave for ever. Both traditional and modern societies willy-nilly have to waste their resources on monuments, fiestas, cultural capitals or biennials. It gives them a moment’s liberation from the “cursed fate”, according to J. Battaille. The spending spree gives them the feeling of intoxication, restores the lost feeling of the sacred. The more money you sacrifice and squander irreversibly, the higher your chances of wining dividends of fame or a sacred aura.
According to J. Battaille, luxury, mourning, wars, cults, useless monuments, games, festivities, arts, perverse sexuality create nothing and leave nothing behind. They are an end in itself. They do not produce or accumulate anything. But that is a secret plan of accrual. The real sense of enjoyment is not created by sweat and blood breaking labour. It is in dissipation, squandering, loss. Such moments lay open human nature, expose the goals of societies and their chances of experiencing the feeling of freedom and sacredness. Therefore, every petty-bourgeoisie society subconsciously wishes to get rid of heaps of money in prestigious stores, casinos, to donate some to the “royal palace” or a “national monument”, and thus acquire at least a fraction of the sacred to their existence. There are also artists who do mind exploiting that yarning for the sacred and, under a guise of it, sell some kind of symbolical trivia. In short, since contemporary society is beyond the real representational exchange, it gets what it deserves.
Modern social structures are being created not by government commissions or retrograde bodies, but by reflective individuals who live in the globally connected world where tradition looses its power and cannot longer function as the cause of creative act. Therefore the longing for the monuments embodying the past of the nation and the contemporary world follow different paths. Just like in all times, the spirit of the city is best epitomized by a quiet trajectory of an idle afternoon loiterer.

dailė 2010/2 6

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