Rupture in the Surface: Ethics of the Abject

Horit Herman Peled


The total function of art is reversed. Instead of being based on ritual, it begins to be based on another practice – politics (Walter Benjamin 1935/6).

This quote from Walter Benjamin’s ‘The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction’, written in 1935/6 (Benjamin, 1968a), reflects its historical time – post-World War I and pre-World War II. At that time, modern existence was seen by many to consist of a struggle between three world-historical ideologies: liberalism, communism and fascism. That struggle culminated in WW II and ended with the suppression of the fascist ideology through the destruction of Nazi Germany and its fascist allies. The two remaining ideologies, liberalism and communism, were divided, geographically and politically, by an iron wall. The organising structure of both ideologies was provided by technology, that framed the social, political and cultural fields (Horkheimer and Adorno, 1997). With the collapse of the communist political system, liberalism turned out to be the only hegemonic ideology.


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