Desiring Diagrams: Aesthetic Practices of Cartographic Fragmentation and the Deleuzian Erewhon

By Helena Shaskevich.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The first portion of the paper focuses on two particular works of art, Guy Ernest Debord’s Naked City and Jane and Louise Wilson’s A Free and Anonymous Monument, and examines the ways in which both works, despite their different contexts and media, employ an aesthetics of fragmentation and reconfiguration. Debord’s Naked City, first published in 1957 by the MIBI (Mouvement Internationale pour un Bauhaus Imaginiste), displays a generic Plan de Paris cut up into nineteen different sections, scattered on a piece of paper, and connected to one another only through red directional arrows. With an absolute disregard for both spatial and directional relations, The Naked City disrupts the false continuity of the Plan de Paris and, in so doing, exposes the violent, homogenizing logic of capitalist aesthetics. This paper argues that Jane and Louise Wilson’s 2004 video installation, A Free and Anonymous Monument, utilizes a similar aesthetic of fragmentation and reconfiguration, deconstructing maps and cartographic practices (envisioned very loosely here), as a means of criticizing the homogenizing logic of capitalist constructions of space. The second part of the paper, takes into account Marcus Doel’s critique of “slice and stitch” methodology as a means of articulating difference employed very literally within both works and argument for the enactment of a moving and mobilized non-representational theory, depicted as performance. In opposition, but also alongside Doel, I argue that a work of art can maintain a “slice and stitch” method while also being performative. Examining Debord’s Naked City and Jane and Louise Wilson’s A Free and Anonymous Monument, the paper links the performative nature of both works to Gilles Deleuze’s concept of the Erewhon - “an originary ‘nowhere’ and the displaced, disguised, modified and always re-created ‘here-and-now’”. The paper contends that the nature of the Erewhon, as simultaneously One and Multiple, is dependent upon the various foldings that take place. Consequently, I argue that the aesthetics of fragmentation and reconfiguration are bound up with the performative folding, and allow for criticality and potentiality to function alongside one another in a work of art.

Keywords: Guy Ernest Debord, Situationist International, Jane and Louise Wilson, Performative, Gilles Deleuze, Erewhon, Folds, Foldings, Marcus Doel

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp.185-196. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 815.606KB).

Helena Shaskevich

Graduate Student, Art History Department, Stony Brook University, New York, New York, USA


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