Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Post-modern teapots

I came away from 'Post-modernism: Style and Subversion: 1970-1990 at the V&A with the distinct feeling that post-modern designers had an inordinate fondness for tea pots (even when they were Italian designers)...

Perhaps it was because they sold well suggested Andrei but that would not make them very subversive I thought! There were an awful lot of them - in alluring colourful shapes - witty and superficial.

It was disconcerting to be walking through an exhibition that was and was not your history.

It was because it was often recognisable - the colours, designs, shapes, music and magazines.

It was not because at no time did I feel 'post-modern' (in so far as that could be defined). Neither the ideological utopia of modernism nor the collapse of grand narratives in post-modernism has had much traction.

That there is a 'Fable' to use Edwin Muir's definition: an archetypal pattern to human life has always been for me a given, that it unfolds in myriad, particular stories is equally given. Seeking to impose a 'story' imagining it is as the only one (making a myth an ideology) or disregarding the evaluative patterning of imagination that makes things whole, fracturing the world, both seem flawed strategies to me. I am neither modernist nor post-modernist - a traditional understanding will happily suffice.

But it is nevertheless a fascinating exhibition - modernism was insufferable (starting with its architecture of inhuman scale and lack of difference and particularity) and needed to be subverted and in the uncertainties of post-modern gestures, the breaking of boundaries, there, at times, was an desire towards re-imagining the world; however, superficial some of its products might have been.

Meanwhile, for reasons I do not wholly comprehend, I loved these two pieces of music/performance!







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