Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Modern cultural, literary and linguistic perspectives

András Keskeny; Alicia Soede (trans.): Last Year at Marienbad, This Year at Marienbad Again, Next Year in Mariupol? Post-socialism, Retrotopias, and the Time-complex in the Works of Anna Franciska Legát, Ilka Olajos and Fruzsina Takáts


DOI 10.51313/Freeside-2023-02

Nowadays, what Pierre Bourdieu calls social actors – be they individuals, institutions or private companies – prioritise their own ethical, ideological, political and aesthetical ‘identity bubbles’. In doing so, they often overlook the imminent decline of public life, publicity, culture and the arts. Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik, through their theory of the time-complex rather indirectly, and Andreas Reckwitz with his theory on the society of singularities more directly address this contemporary phenomenon, namely, the ‘atomising’ and ‘relativising’ (singularising) of public life and culture, which, paradoxically, blurs not only the ‘traditional’ timelines of the past, present and future but also the boundaries of material and conceptual entities. As complexities and inscrutability increase, the desire for nostalgia grows. The utopias that fulfil a new political – and, let us add, aesthetical – demand are what Zygmunt Bauman calls retrotopias. Retrotopias – whether fictional, theoretical or practical – are vital components of the time-complex, the process of singularisation, and the contemporary ideological and identity policy-related bubbles. As Michael Foucault would put it: they form the episteme of their time. They offer a glimpse of a horizon in a world where horizons have seemingly vanished. In my philosophical essay – turning Georg Lukács’ Heidelberg Aesthetics on its head – the works of three young, Hungarian ‘post-socialist’ artists will be analysed to support the thesis that if in arts it is possible to break away from the hybrid u- and retrotopias and the trap of the time-complex, then the same should be also true on a global scale.

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