Hanne Darboven and Postmodernism

Craig Owens, one of postmodernism's central theorists, identifies Darboven's artistic practices as allegorical. In "The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism," Owens argues that certain aesthetic counter-strategies manifested in Darboven's serial methods pose a deconstructive challenge to the totalizing, mythologizing art of mainstream modernism.

[I]t is the "common practice" of allegory "to pile up fragments ceaselessly, without any strict idea of a goal."1 This method of construction led Angus Fletcher to liken allegorical structure to obsessional neurosis,2 and the obsessiveness of the works of Sol LeWitt, say, or Hanne Darboven suggests that they too may fall within the compass of the allegorical. Here we encounter yet a third link between allegory and contemporary art: in strategies of accumulation, the paratactic work composed by the simple placement of "one thing after another."... One paradigm for the allegorical work is [thus] the mathematical progression.

1 Walter Benjamin, The Origin of German Tragic Drama, trans. John Osborne (London: NLB, 1977): 178.
2 Angus Fletcher, Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1964): 279-303.

--Craig Owens, "The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism," October 12 (Spring 1980): 72.
PHOTO: Hanne Darboven, Histoire de la Culture, Index 1880-1985, 1986 (detail).

For introductions to the major principles of Hanne Darboven's work, please click on the days of the week (e.g. M, T, W). For additional information, click on another date of the month.

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