Art in the Interregnum: The Aesthetics of Transition, 1973-Present

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2021

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Abstract

Art in the Interregnum: The Aesthetics of Transition, 1973-Present adopts the interregnum, a concept imported into critical usage by Antonio Gramsci, as a periodizing framework for understanding cultural production today. While incarcerated in Turin during the early 1930s, Gramsci wrote: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Adapting this formulation to the era of neoliberal globalization, I argue for reading contemporary works of art in relation to the long crisis of the 1970s, examining how writers, photographers and filmmakers encode the “morbid symptoms” of the contemporary, which include the erosion of liberal democracy, the rise of mass migration, and the exhaustion of modernization. I devote three chapters to the phenomena enumerated above, analyzing, respectively, Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile (2000) and Pablo Larraín’s Tony Manero (2009) as a return to the primal scene of neoliberalism—the 1973 U.S. backed Chilean coup; the photography Harry Gamboa Jr. and Anthony Hernandez as competing representations on the mobility of labor; and the recent fixation with landscape in recent photography and fiction as an aesthetic challenge to the expansive logic of economic development. What brings these works together is a commitment to what I call the “aesthetics of transition,” a mode of representation that attempts to make visible the interregnum between the failure of existing political structures and emerging social forms, bringing the post-1970s into view as an historical period.

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Gonzalez, Jaime (2021). Art in the Interregnum: The Aesthetics of Transition, 1973-Present. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23819.

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