Still from All the President's Men
This special issue features contributions invested in exploring the intersections between the 1970s and its many visual afterlives and echoes. Our desire to re-think the recent past occurs in a present-day context in which it is increasingly difficult, yet necessary, to imagine alternative futures. But instead of abandoning the past (and its afterlives) as mere fantasia or the prerogative of reminiscence, perhaps a productive route forward could be found by describing the past in more precise ways and in reflecting on the desires it continues to provoke in us, expanding its inventory of images, with an eye to what such an expansion can teach us about the limits of the present itself. Here we are guided by the relationship to the past explored by both Benjamin and Adorno, figures who mine historical forms not in the mode of a merely psychological nostalgia or as a way of avoiding the present, but as the dynamic site of collectively repressed dreams and possibilities. Contributions engage the decade as residue and reproduction, as a material form that extends to us from the period, as a symbolic act rooted in the present which seeks to give life to a time now vanished or changed, or artistic attempts to name, critique, or perform the decade in some way. In the spirit of developing fresh visual constellations we are looking for a mise-en-scène that allows us to see the 1970s more clearly in its hold on, and relation to, the present.
Published: 2018-11-10

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