New Project: Benjamin’s ‘Destructive Character’ Art Book

Sadly, I own and wear one of these...
Sadly, I own and wear one of these…

Although I haven’t been doing much stitching or anything else really recently, I have started work on thinking about a new project.  I am planning a conference paper for the summer.  The theme is Creative Destruction, which isn’t all that exciting unless you are an economist – they seem to find it fascinating.  So I thought I would go to my guru, muse, mentor Walter Benjamin and his very short piece, originally written for a German Newspaper, ‘The Destructive Character’.  I read the piece and found it totally incomprehensible, and so  I thought it would make a great subject for a proper research project – what it is about?  And how does making an arts inquiry help me to understand?  People who like visual methods are always saying that they create new knowledge or allows us to know differently, that they give access to different things.  I am a bit sceptical.  It seems to me that I don’t get much more than a good interview would give me, and I am interested in testing the whole area out.  So I will be doing an action research project which involves cycles of doing and reflection. I have made a start in my workbook.  Here are a couple of preliminary pages:



I think I am going to make an artist’s book about the essay.  I am getting very interested in the status of the book given the move to electronic media and the way that so much academic work is so standard and so predictable.  I like the idea of artists’ books which can disrupt, challenge or ‘queer’ this.  Eve Sedgwick, another of my inspirations after Benjamin, worked with artists’ books with her students and I would love to know what she did.  Anyway, for the time being, I am working on the destructive character, which on my preliminary readings seems to have been a very early exponent of the famous IKEA slogan, ‘Chuck out the chintz’.  Taking away rather than adding to is going to be a bit of a challenge for me.  I will post pictures of my progress.

One thought on “New Project: Benjamin’s ‘Destructive Character’ Art Book

  1. I was having trouble sleeping, too many thoughts going through my brain, when I chanced upon your blog post. Now I am intrigued, the challenge of destruction vs creation. Must re-read Walter Benjamin, it’s been a long time!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s