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Concerning ConsequencesStudies in Art, Destruction, and Trauma$
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Kristine Stiles

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226774510

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226304403.001.0001

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Survival Ethos and Destruction Art (1992)1

Survival Ethos and Destruction Art (1992)1

(p.29) Survival Ethos and Destruction Art (1992)1
Concerning Consequences

Kristine Stiles

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that destruction art is the visual corollary to the discourse of the survivor: it bears witness to the tenuous conditionality of survival. It describes destruction art, which might just as appropriately be called “survival art,” as the only attempt in the visual arts to grapple seriously with both the technology of actual annihilation and the psychodynamics of virtual extinction. It suggests that destruction art is one of the few cultural practices to address the general absence of discussion about destruction in society in order to marshal human conscience into collective awareness and resistance. In this sense, the overriding values of the artists associated with destruction art are ethical. The chapter also examines Gustav Metzger's “auto-destructive art” and how he brought the various tendencies of destruction art together as a cohesive discourse and representation in the Destruction in Art Symposium in 1966.

Keywords:   destruction art, survivor, survival, survival art, visual arts, destruction, artists, Gustav Metzger, auto-destructive art, Destruction in Art Symposium

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