Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Documenta 12 asks, "Is modernity our antiquity?" MZL wonders, or is it our Hotel California?

In deliberating the first of three leitmotifs posed by the Documenta team, "Is modernity our antiquity?", I've left little doubt in recent posts my feeling that modernity has come to its rightful end, just as antiquity did well before it, but the broader and more relevant question remains, have we actually escaped modernity or has it become our inescapable Hotel California? (At least not hearing the Eagles sing it again is escapable. I've chosen here a version by the Gypsy Kings while you ponder the question for 5 minutes, 47 seconds.)

Antiquity may be the basis of much that we in the West do and believe in, but it is not a universal paradigm, to the extent that modernity is. Every culture not only experiences a varying degree of impact from Western antiquity, but posseses its own distinct antiquity to reference as well. On the other hand, dead or alive, modernity remains as ubiquitous and unrelenting a force as ever across all the world's cultural boundaries (discussed in my previous posts), however late it might have arrived to some.

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