Friday, December 09, 2011

Ideological exploitation of landscape
Recently there was a Facebook wave of sharing a comparative image "Forest in winter vs Estonian flag". The image is like this:
I think it is a good example of landscape turning into ideology or the ideological content of landscape itself. Estonian flag has institutional background as it derives from the flag of Estonian Students Society, created in 1884. The meaning of the tricolour is stated by Estonian Students Society as following: 
Blue - belief and hope for the future of Estonian nation; loyality
Black - the dark and painful past of Estonian nation; the soil of homeland
White - motivation for educational and mental development of Estonian nation; also snow and white nights; the white peel of Estonian birch trees.
So, landscape has no straight link with the tricolour. In 19th c. context, landscape has a specific meaning, mainly it`s related with enjoyment - a painting on wall or a nice view of nature. Enjoyed and controlled by the privileged class, of course - by a romantic wanderer, poet, landlord, etc. Just like this:
 Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818), painting by Caspar David Friedrich
"This is not a wanderer, this is a conqueror!" said my friend Luca, when i showed him picture of this painting, after discussion on legendary Estonian poet Juhan Liiv and his poem "Wanderer". That poem is also something that makes questions on ideological exploitation of a content or the presence of ideology inside the content. "Wanderer" (and also Juhan Liiv) is in almost every Estonian`s heart, but the poem and the poet have a controversial exclusive-but-marginal position. Like the landscape "forest in winter". It addresses human condition, also human`s relation with nature and landscape such a way that it cannot be considered as nationalist propaganda, written by a hegemonist intellectual. (It must come from pre-ideological consciousness. Is such thing possible?) But it`s clear that it can be portrayed and exploited as such.
What is the wanderer doing, when standing on the mountain top and looking over the foggy Bohemian landscape? Observing the perishes of Austrian Empire, covered by fog, which signifies the multiculturality, ethnic diversities! And he, the German, is above it all! For him the sky is clear and the sun is shining!
Singaporean psychogeographer Debbie Ding has interpreted the wanderer of Caspar David Friedrich in a very proper way (link), projecting him as a colonizer and capitalist to views of London, Paris, Singapore. Yes, the wanderer has won, the contemporary world belongs to him. Wandering as capital accumulation!
"Colonize this" (2011) by chaneldior
The wanderer facing an empty landscape, which just coincidently refers to Estonian tricolour. What is he looking at? His lost colony or a potential market? National pride for Estonian birch trees? Or is it maybe contemporary Estonian society as a normal consequence of global capitalism - an empty and abandoned land, which is left behind by unemployed, underpaid and underdeveloped East-Europeans? The popularity of the landscape tricolour image speaks about the ongoing conservative turns and progress of nationalism (as emotional resistance to globalism) in Eastern-Europe that refer to the common need for security and identity. But not only. There is also this unexplainable matter, a specific relation with nature, which quickly dissolves into East-European syndrome - an irrational will and inability to make onself understandable and acceptable to the great master - the Western Society.
The same wanderer appears in a landscape painting of Estonian artist Kiwa - in his paintings, digital landscape photos (but also sounds, videos) have been deconstructed by functional misinterpretation technique (photos, sounds and videos are opened by a text program). 
Fragment of painting from exhibition "Wildlife documentaries", Kiwa, Draakon Gallery, Tallinn, 2010
In discourse of pre-semiotics vs semiotics the wanderer refers to the relation between language and its resources, or the end of language, chaos. But in current context he is himself - the capital owner - observing the flooding information and chaotic file sharing, which has turned into religion (Church of Kopimism) already. But he has the ACTA in his pocket and the chaotic text landscapes are like swampy Oderbruch area, waiting for human hand! Walter Benjamin has written that an ecstatic encounter of masses and technology is like copulation - and index of sexual deliht and the birth of something new.   
The flag of Soviet Estonia has a straight and intentional reference to landscape:  
The seawaves refer to the main identity basement of the whole region. But the image also speaks about the political status of the country: under the rule of soviet symbolics, the flag has pan slavic colors - red, blue, white.

21 Comments:

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http://mirceanicolae.ro/index.php?/prosthetics/prosthetic-for-a-broken-stone/

this is the artist i thought you may get along with him/some of his art pieces.

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