Wherever there is illusion, the optical and visual world plays an integral and integrative, active and passive, part in it

Wherever there is illusion, the optical and visual world plays an integral and integrative, active and passive, part in it

For this the Baroness had adorned herself in a bright blue-green dress

It fetishizes abstraction and imposes it as the norm. It detaches the pure form from its impure content-from lived time, everyday time, and http://datingranking.net/nl/flirtwith-overzicht/ from bodies with their opacity

deeply human and inexorably embodied level of urban life, thus pointing to the profound psychological costs of urbanism as well as exposing and celebrating its euphoria-inducing, creative bene?ts. Practicing space, de Certeau notes, is quintessentially immersive; it involves “falling from the heights to inside the crowd.”70 Extending his model, we could say that the Baroness perfected a rhetoric of walking, moving immersively throughout the city to produce an alternative “space of enunciation,” dramatically other to modernity’s spatial politics and cultural as well as artistic versions of rationalism. According to de Certeau’s model, the Baroness’s urban rhetoric is triply articulated, involving: (1) a process of appropriation of a topographical system (the increasingly vertical spaces of New York City, nonetheless traversed through the horizontal trajectories of ambulatory exploration, especially in the labyrinthine premodern streets of Greenwich Village, where the Baroness lived off and on); (2) a spatial acting-out of New York as comprised of otherness; (3) an implicit foregrounding of the relations among differentiated positions (rather than, as was far more common at the time, the production of absolute difference [woman vs. man; heterosexual vs. homosexual, German enemy vs. French/English/American hero, etc.] such that wartime logic could complete its dichotomizing work).71 This model of embodied materialization, whereby the urban wanderer performs the city in such a way as to expose the boundaries of “proper” modern subjectivity (and, I am insisting, performs the spaces of the historical avant-garde to point to its limits), is linked in interesting ways to Lefebvre’s model of spatial politics elaborated in his 1974 book The Production of Space. In particular, Lefebvre picks up on Marx’s polemic against the abstracting tendencies of capitalism: for example, the reduction of the ?aneur to a commodity who exchanges himself among other subjects; or, in the case of the city, the abstraction of space through the rationalizing forces of industrialism. He calls speci?cally for modes of spatial practice that “de-abstract” space by reclaiming the body’s visceral, weighty relation to it. Lefebvre expands his critique of these abstracting forces, focusing his opprobrium on representation itself:

Such practices refuse the tendency in capitalism for the body to be fragmented into images, for example the replacement of “sex itself” (as he might view the threat of the Baroness’s seductive self-performances) with “the representation of sex” (say, Picabia’s sex machines)

and solidity, their warmth, their life and their death. After its fashion, the image kills. In this it is like all signs.72 While I would not want to align myself with Lefebvre’s undying belief in a concrete “sex itself” as preexisting discourse and the spaces of its articulation, nor in his Platonic distrust of representation as a debasement of “the real,”73 I ?nd his model of de-abstracting space highly useful in understanding what the Baroness’s promenades-as narrated through her own and others’ texts and through the few photographs that remain-can mean in relation to our conception of the history of New York during this period, of New York Dada, and also more generally for our theorization of the historical avant-garde and the ways in which it intervened in bourgeois capitalism. 74 Here is but one concrete example. In an oft-repeated anecdote, the Baroness’s “?nest hour” came, as Greenwich Village chronicler Allen Churchill put it, “on the night she appeared at a soiree in honor of a noted female opera singer,” Marguerite D’Alvarez. She kept the air circulating about her by languidly waving a peacock fan. On her head she wore the lid of a coal scuttle, strapped under her chin like a helmet. Two mustard spoons at the side of this gave the effect of feathers. One side of her face was ps. Her lips were painted black, her face powdered bright yellow. Not unnaturally, the guest of honor was somewhat annoyed by all this. . . . Even so, the two ladies conversed, with the prima donna expatiating on the subject of her unusual vocal gifts. “My art is only for humanity, I sing only for humanity,” she declared. This was too much for the Baroness, who up to now had listened gravely. “I wouldn’t lift a leg for humanity,” she shrieked.75 Clearly, the Baroness’s legendary attitude was at odds with bourgeois conceptions of high art, not to mention of appropriate social behavior. The Baroness’s

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