This article is concerned with the relationship between political intensity and the commodified world. How has that which could be and has been lived so intensely been transformed, marginalized, and disaggregated? What is the cost of this process of taming? Through three monuments to modernity (the Eiffel Tower, the Ferris Wheel, and Tatlin's unbuilt Monument to the Third International), the article traces the path of modernity as a road leading to political de-intensification. These various monumental efforts of modernism stand in sharp contrast to the political modernism of the Mao era, captured (again monumentally) in the figure of the Rent Collection Courtyard, a large sculptural diorama unveiled in 1965 and recreated in 1999 by the artist Cai Guoqiang for the Venice Biennale. Back-engineered, this is the story of Chinese transition and economic reform, but read more directly, it is the tale of how we dispose of political wonder.
Michael Dutton; Fragments of the Political, or How We Dispose of Wonder. Social Text 1 March 2012; 30 (1 (110)): 109–141. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1468344
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