The Dream of the Moving Statue

By Kenneth Gross | Go to book overview
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and ideologies of looking. The dead statue may offer a chilling image of a kind of authority or empty meaning that we inherit without choice; but we should at least wonder how much, to paraphrase Emerson, the blank or ruin we see in the statue is the creation of our own eye.

The death of sculpture being so elusive a thing, so subject to competing occasions and interpretations, it will be correspondingly difficult to find the proper way of bringing the statue back to life, to invite it to re-enter dialogue with history, its audience, itself. For one thing, one has to face the dilemma that haunts all forms of radical criticism, that of claiming to be able to recognize blockages or forms of literalization, types of idolatry and oppression, that others cannot see. For another, the statue is not likely to speak or keep silent as human beings do; the statue's figures of life may indeed work strongly to trouble our conventional ideas of how human beings speak and keep silent. Its life may emerge as a half-life, or an inhuman life. There are no guarantees in the work of animation. Perhaps the only warning to keep in mind is that one must be ready to excavate not just new ideas of speech and meaning in the statue, but new forms of silence and meaninglessness as well, and be ready to locate new thresholds between such things.

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