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Barbarism and Its Discontents$
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Maria Boletsi

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804782760

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804782760.001.0001

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Another “Kind of Solution”

Another “Kind of Solution”

Art's Waiting for the Barbarians

(p.177) 6 Another “Kind of Solution”
Barbarism and Its Discontents
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines artworks that transpose the topos of waiting for the barbarians into a visual medium, into sites of enunciation outside or in the margins of the West, and into a contemporary context. Focusing on South African artist Kendell Geers's labyrinthine installation Waiting for the Barbarians (2001) and Argentinian artist Graciela Sacco's billboard-type installation Esperando a los bárbaros (1996), the chapter explores the aporia of a civilization trapped in a passive state as it awaits the barbarians in vain. Through these artworks, it ponders what waiting for the barbarians might mean today and how the predicament this topos captures may be overcome in art. By recasting the topos of waiting for the barbarians, both installations intervene in contemporary discussions about barbarism and historical memory, as well as comparison and cultural translation. The chapter considers Ernst van Alphen's view on art as a form of thinking and on artworks as agents of theory and cultural critique.

Keywords:   installations, visual medium, Kendell Geers, Graciela Sacco, barbarism, civilization, art, Ernst van Alphen, barbarians, historical memory

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