“And the statues couldn’t but laugh…”
Once the arena for the fertile conflict for social progress between the state and civil society during the early steps of modernity, later on a social prize as well as the source for the search for a new utopia that would reconstitute via technology the modern that was fading away, the public sphere constitutes today -perhaps more fluid and fragile than ever- an object of theoretical debate, a tank from which various new forms of social behavior seem to rise, as well as the stimulous for avant-garde artistic practices and research.
Key to this continuous evolution of the concept of the public sphere has always been our ability to distinguish between the private and the public, mass and individuality, symbols and readings, ideology and practice. A distinction increasingly more difficult to grasp today under the impact of the new media which seem to call for a new search for the concept of identity beyond the notions of reflection and collectiveness, offering us on the same time the ability to create at last a ‘diary’ of the genealogy of the image. In other words, to set ourselves free not only from its materialist roots but also from those theoretical attempts which having desperately tried to avoid hermeneutics did indeed ‘read’ the notion of difference in an hermeneutic way, did not manage in the end but to bring out in the for escene once again an historicist view of the concept of ideology. And this, always under the framework of the search for a contemporary form of consensus and communicative ethos, the realization of which seems to have been narrowed down -up to today- by modernity itself.
In this series of images featuring public monuments in central London covered up in the fear of vandalism during mass demonstrations, Christopher Doulgeris documents then exactly this contemporary transformation of the public space from a field of manifestation of power as well as of early experimentations towards a mass-scale reorganization of space, into a hyper-text of endless readings and aestetizathion, an object of dialogue and critique that now not only exceeds the narrow limits of architecture but also reconstitutes the inter-relations of art and technology, resistance and realism, critique and ideology. By demonstrating in a space that does ‘not exist’, a non-space from which all dominant signs of public character have been vanished -even temporarily and as efficiently as possible- the public found itself facing itself (sic), thus revealing the inability of the notion of the mass to consist anymore of a critical axis of social reference in an era when a new virtual collective seems to rise.
And behind the wooden boxes covering those public monuments which, having once dominated public space, now find themselves ‘limited’ as a last reminiscent of the notion of the private in an epoque when the latter is over-exposed or has even become obsolete, the statues could not but laugh…Staying themselves untouchable, as perhaps the new public sphere also seems to be following the contemporary realization of the early modern dream for its autonomy, thus vanishing the modern relationship between the private and the public which had once lead to its very own birth.
Fotis Kazis / Art Curator