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    Agamben at ground zero: a memorial without content

    McKim, Joel (2008) Agamben at ground zero: a memorial without content. Theory, Culture & Society 25 (5), pp. 83-103. ISSN 0263-2764.

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    Construction has recently begun on Michael Arad and Peter Walker's `Reflecting Absence' 9/11 memorial in New York. The design, with its emphasis on traumatic absences and silent contemplation, has moved from selection to construction with relatively little public debate, an indication of a problematic creative and critical consensus forming around contemporary memorial aesthetics. The article seeks to re-open this critical discussion by turning to the philosophy of aesthetics, poetics and language developed by Giorgio Agamben. Agamben reminds us of the classical Greek association of art to poiesis, a passive act of bringing into being, rather than praxis, the active expression of the artist's creative will. Taking this distinction as his starting point, Agamben develops a theory of aesthetics that is neither a modernist embrace of nihilism nor a conservative call for a return to the classical pursuit of universal truths. Agamben posits instead an art concerned not with the transmission of any particular content, but with the task of transmission itself. For Agamben it is the potentiality of the event of language, a kind of pure communicability, that is the ground for our common belonging in the world. Agamben's theories of poetics and language may help us imagine a Ground Zero memorial that moves beyond a strictly didactic or therapeutic role and seeks instead to bring into being a radical space of communication.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): 9/11, aesthetics, Agamben, architecture, memorialization, poiesis
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture (BIRMAC) (Closed), Architecture, Space and Society, Centre for, Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2013 11:17
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:32


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