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Documents of UtopiaThe Politics of Experimental Documentary$
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Paolo Magagnoli

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172714

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172714.001.0001

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Archives of Commodities

Archives of Commodities

(p.87) Chapter Three Archives of Commodities
Documents of Utopia

Paolo Magagnoli

Columbia University Press

This chapter presents three photographic series by artists Zoe Leonard, Rachel Harrison, and Jean-Luc Moulène, all of which illustrate kitsch and low-budget goods and market stalls. Their projects share an interest with obsolete commodities which challenges traditional Marxist approaches to consumer culture. Marxist critical theory considers commodity as the point of a profound collective memory disturbance. Instead of simplifying commodity culture as a Marxist approach would demand, Moulène, Harrison, and Leonard nostalgically glorify it. These artists express a provocative dialectical approach to commodity culture that attempts to recover some positive utopian elements inherent in capitalism. Their projects suggest that capitalism can lead to social formations; yet, they seem to break the notion of utopia as the desire for difference, or to desire differently from what society approves.

Keywords:   Zoe Leonard, Rachel Harrison, Jean-Luc Moulène, Marxist critical theory, commodity culture, capitalism, social formations, utopia

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