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Balloons, fairs, ballads and the Great Exhibition

4 ‘All that is sacred is profaned’: balloons, fairs, ballads and the Great Exhibition What looks like a ghostly emanation from a chimney in a wood engraving from the Illustrated London News (see Figure 4.1) is in fact the torn and tattered fabric of a crashed balloon. A crowd, which appears to be mostly comprised of well-to-do carriage passengers and equestrians, including a veiled Amazon to the far right, are stopped in their tracks by the sight; the deflated balloon is wrapped around a chimney and blows in the wind, while men climb up ladders to assist the

in Novelty fair
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British visual culture between Chartism and the Great Exhibition

First performed on 21 May 1850, the satirical play Novelty Fair; or Hints for 1851 opened at almost exactly the middle of the 19th century. Its plot juxtaposes 1848, Chartism and republicanism, with 1851 and the coming Great Exhibition. Using Novelty Fair as inspiration, this book brings together Victorian people, things and places typically understood to be unrelated. By juxtaposing urban fairs and the Great Exhibition, daguerreotypes and ballads, satirical shilling books and government backed design reform, blackface performers and middle-class paterfamilias, a strikingly different picture of mid 19th-century culture emerges. Rather than a clean break between revolution and exhibition, class-consciousness and consumerism, popular and didactic, risqué and respectable, an examination of a wide range of sources reveals these themes to be interdependent and mutually defined. As a result, the years of Chartism and the Great Exhibition are shown to be far more contested than previously recognized, with bourgeois forms and strategies under stress in a period that has often been seen as a triumphant one for that class.

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Time’s question

enormous condescension of posterity’.37 I would also argue that the radical and unruly inversions of these works, the way that they hold nothing sacred and place everything in flux, highlights a truth about capitalism. One of the most poetic and apocalyptic passages of the Manifesto of the Communist Party reads: ‘All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.’38 In this passage Marx and Engels are not in fact describing the results of a revolution by the proletariat, but rather the economic and social conditions that result from the rise of the

in Novelty fair

could, in given circumstances, still be condemned to death. Yet ritual practices normally reserved for executions, whether sanctioned by law or by religious custom, do not apply in the case of homo sacer, making it difficult to work out: ‘The reason why the conceptual structure of this figure is so hard to understand for both ancient and modern scholars is that it can be situated neither inside or outside of profane and divine law and, thus, seems to be pending between these two realms [added emphasis].’51 The case interests Agamben himself for what it suggests of the

in The extended self

(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990); Robin Evans, ‘Figures, Doors, Passages’, in Robin Evans, Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997), pp. 54–91; Dell Upton, Holy Things and Profane: Anglican Parish Churches in Colonial Virginia (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997); Georges Didi-Huberman, Confronting Images: Questioning the Ends of a Certain History of Art, trans. John Goodman (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2005), esp. pp. 11–52. 35 Alberti, On the Art of Building, p. 302. 36 For examples of this

in The paradox of body, building and motion in seventeenth-century England

conflict vis-à-vis his engagement with the discipline of art history was addressed in Thomas Crow’s long 1993 Artforum article, ‘Profane Illuminations: Social History and the Art of Jeff Wall.’ At the time of writing (1993), Crow suggested that Wall’s work was responding to the radicality of social art history in the 1970s, specifically the influence of post-Frankfurt school social critics such as Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and Luce Irigaray.19 Social art history re-emphasised subject matter and reevaluated the iconography of modern

in Engendering an avant-garde
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Jonathon Shears

a fearful breach in the chastity, the moderation, and the spirituality of this Christian people. 72 MAD0452_SHEARS_v1.indd 72 16/03/2017 12:01 Display There are persons who have loaded their walls with iniquity; who have introduced their filthy, their profane, and their superstitious picture and sculpture from those walls into the public galleries; who patronise young men in a waste of time, labour, and genius, to produce works fitted only for destruction. These are the corruptors of the public taste; these lead thousands of weak people to fancy that, for

in The Great Exhibition, 1851
Stanley Spencer’s ‘ordinary’ ekphrases

-crowded pictures and in his will to mingle the sacred and the profane. He was also a great amateur expert on the metaphysical poets and was attracted to the world of fairy tales. He read the works of Lewis Carroll and Hans Christian Andersen 186 Modern and postmodern encounters throughout his life as well as the Arabian Nights, copying their illustrations as a young artist. Traces of Arthur Rackham’s illustrations may even be traced in some ekphrases, as we shall see. He was labelled an ‘illustrator’ by Roger Fry, although deemed a bad one, a piece of criticism which rankled

in Ekphrastic encounters
Factory landscapes, leisure and the model employee

spaces and other reform movements, ‘to forge more effective behavioural constraints in leisure’.7 Reformers recognised that industrialisation had put pressure on public space and many believed that a lack of open and other community space had driven people into the pubs or saloons and other institutions regarded as profane. The new public parks with ample space for sport, for example, would encourage the ‘right’ kind of recreation, rational and respectable, and avoid the kinds of pleasure gardens of the type so popular in eighteeenth-century England, such as Vauxhall

in The factory in a garden
The conceptual horizons of the avant-garde in Armenia

Armenian avant-garde from both the early twentieth-century historical avant-gardes and the post-war Euro-American neo-avant-gardes – with which Armenian artists opened a conversation and from which at times they borrowed aesthetic strategies and formal references. If the agenda of the historical avant-garde was one of profaning art by politicizing it, and if the neo-avant-garde strove to de-sacralize and de-neutralize the institution of art to reveal the powers that shape the institution, the avant-garde in Armenia utilized political visions of progress, emancipation

in The political aesthetics of the Armenian avant-garde