Week 4 – Berger – Publicity

Overview – Publicity – John Berger –

Influence of Marx and Freud –

Marx – socialism

Freud – psychoanalysis

Revisit these two people’s writings – may seem old hat, but the thinkings are modern – much is still relevant, even after the downfall of Communism.

These two thinkers were the first in their fields – others build on this. (Merinda cited that we still refer to the work of the Greek philosophers, even though we have also moved on)

e.g. Marx – fairness, equality, are ideals – there is always a move to the right or left – more for the people – the rich and privileged.

Capitalism is flawed – in that it deliberately creates a divide between those who have and those who are their workers/slaves.

Modern thinkers on this

  • Are concerned with the amount of poverty in first world countries –
  • Are concerned about the devolution of services to products to be exploited for greed
  • Growth is not sustainable in the long term – we cannot keep getting richer, more populaced

We can see this greed etc. Through the lens of advertising. –

Advertising pushes the buttons of greed

  • You need this to be happy
  • You need this to keep abreast with the Jones
  • You need this to be beautiful
  • You need this to be young

Marx opened the door to the view of a connected totality – rather than division between various aspects of society. (Marx influenced by Hegel)

Putting this in an art context we need to consider not just the work itself, but its context – why has the artist chosen this topic, these materials, how does her culture reflect in the art work. We look at art through a whole range of lenses, including power relations, publicity, notions of wealth.

e.g. the nude, the noble peasant, but, e.g. Van Gogh saw it for its beauty as an object. Issues of race, gender, neo-colonialism, post-colonialism

Democracy is not really for the masses – the rich have greater power.

Freud – the direct father on Surrealism, Dada etc.

Led to consideration of the meaning of life, psychoanalysis, archaeology, psychology, to try to make sense of both the culture and the nature of the inner being – the mind

Hark back to The Enlightenment – the age of science – philosophers became interested in this – Freud contested that we don’t have a scientific basis for much of our thinking – the mind is not scientifically analysable.

Andre Breton, Sali Dali, explored the sub-conscious –pushed the boundaries. Annais Ninn – writer of the 1960s and 1970s who had psychoanalysis – and wrote about this as a philosopher.

The social sciences are now firmly entrenched in the sciences – though the experimentation has to be statistical analysis – rather than one experiment that can be replicated. We can never have exactly the same conditions when we do a social science experiment, so, only be statistical analysis, can we attempt to gain insight – make hypotheses.

We can now make hypotheses – based on statistical data – about how people will react, develop mentally,

For Freud, the unconscious mind was an active participant in everything we do.

After the Enlightenment, we had revolution – where the people rose up, people acted in ways that were not compassionate – but they had a rationale which they chose to use. Those who disagreed were labelled and denigrated.

Advertising works on the same principal – undermines autonomous thought – appeal to the vulnerability in the person – e.g. woman, image, self-esteem, body image.

Berger had a new lens to look at e.g. women – in past they were ‘beautiful, alien objects’, mystical or shocking. Postulates looking at art through a new lens of culture, purpose, how they were made for manipulation.

Discussion of imagery as advertising e.g. oil paintings and objects d’arte

  • Advertise the owner’s culture
  • Advertise the owner’s riches
  • Create the consumer society
  • References quality – my
  • Binds us to the past – the oil painting is precious, special, has an intrinsic value – commodification.

Currently – the consumer society is trying to render itself as a public service. – e.g. Dove ads –

Discussion of Frida Kalo and Salvador Dali- and their houses which can now be visited.

The colour photograph references the ownership of the original – that I could own that, I could look like that,

‘We all want that ‘happily ever after’ thing.’ Merinda

The aim of publicity is to destabilise the individual – make her dissatisfied.

NB This is another way of ‘keeping the masses down’ – those who are too busy being consumers, and working for the money to do so, don’t have the time to be active in politics. It takes time and effort to write a letter to the editor, to make informed commentary. We reblog from Facebook, but may not make original statements ourselves.

Artists do have the ability to comment on their society – and do so – they do not always do so. Their work may be more successful when they are less didactic. (Not always, however.)

When making our own work – we need to consider our own identity, our context, our political views.

Reference to the tent as a symbol of The New Wilderness (which, in its turn references the Occupy movement) – that there is a an alternative to the 1% having 99% of the world’s resources.

It is time, considering the state of a world driven by an economy, to find out what it would be like in a world where;

  • Greed is no longer the driving force
  • There is an acknowledgement that growth is not exponentially sustainable.
  • The people use the economy, rather than the economy driving the people.
  • The need for open-mindedness.
  • The disintegration of stereotypes, and acknowledgement of diversity.
  • We value each other and diversity – we educate our children for all of the above
  • We provide – a society where all people have at least their basic needs met – free education, universal health care, housing for all, enough support for basic food and the other needs of people, security.

Aside – what does ‘the tent’ symbolise – e.g. to Tracey Emin – this may become the theme of our final exhibition for this subject – the major project.

Over the inter-trimester break

  • Think about the meaning of art – what is art?
  • Consider that Visual Culture may have other elements than just the visual – may have a temporal dimension, a sound dimension.
  • Watch the Berger again.
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