Introduction to Part 1

By Moser, Walter | Postmodern Studies, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Introduction to Part 1


Moser, Walter, Postmodern Studies


This section brings together four texts and an artistic contribution that can conceptually fall under the heading of 'constitution'. Referring to the question of the baroque, constitution here means the make up of its central concept, as determining the nature and the character of the baroque. This section, then, takes up issues related to the definition of the baroque, adding to an already eventful conceptual history. More particularly, on more uncharted grounds, it traces a way leading from 'baroque' to 'neo-baroque'. These texts explore the transhistorical dimension of the baroque.

Moreover, all five contributions presented in this section do not indulge in purely byzantine debates on a concept. They all develop conceptual questions in direct relation to empirical and creative cultural processes and objects. Each one in its own way, they propose a dialectical movement back and forth between establishing a conceptual frame and engaging in empirical cultural analysis.

Bolívar Echeverría's "Meditations on the Baroque" explores the transhistorical dimension of the baroque by backtracking in historical time from the 20th Century Spain to the 16th Century Latin America. That is where he locates the emergence of a socio-cultural survival strategy for which he has developed the concept "baroque ethos". This ethos emerges in situations of mixed cultures, typical of colonial and postcolonial contexts, where it represents a resistance to capitalist modernity. It manifests itself in an absolute theatricality by which two identity projects in cultural contact are preserved in a reciprocal integration of otherness: "the basic project of the Indians orphaned of their annihilated world and the mirror-image project of the Spanish expelled from theirs".

In polemic opposition to O'Gorman, who sees in the "Novohispanic Creole" the bearer of this new development, Echeverría identifies the Indians as the ones who assumed the agency of this process. He analyses this in 16th Century documents that illustrate the emergence of the Mexican guadalupanism, a cultural mestizaje that still lives on in the domain of religion as a manifestation of the baroque ethos.

In "Baroque Affinities" Rita Eder recalls some meanders of the conceptual history of the baroque. She starts out with Wölfflin, one of its key representatives, links him up with Warburg, thereby combining an approach focused on form and style with an approach focused on pathos, that is on the effect baroque art produces on its audience. She thus shifts the question from a work-oriented concept to a psychology of art. Retracing the Brazilian reception and translation of Wölfflin, and evoking Echeverrías ethos barroco, Eder transfers her field of investigation from Europe to Latin America. Here she chooses, as her main object of investigation Glauber Rocha's new film aesthetics, her thesis being that this aesthetics has affinities with the baroque. She analyses both, Glauber Rocha's writings-among them an essay on Visconti's baroque-and his cinematographic work, and the film Terra em Transe in particular. As the historic baroque moved away from the stability of classic art towards a more dynamic artistic process that aims at producing emotions, the cinema novo breaks with a conventional film aesthetics, as found in the Italian Neo-realism. …

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