THE MANY FACES OF POSTMODERNISM

Anti-authoritarian by nature, postmodernism refused to recognise the authority of any single style or definition of what art should be. It collapsed the distinction between high culture and mass or popular culture, between art and everyday life. Because postmodernism broke the established rules about style, it introduced a new era of freedom and a sense that ‘anything goes’. Often funny, tongue-in-cheek or ludicrous; it can be confrontational and controversial, challenging the boundaries of taste; but most crucially, it reflects a self-awareness of style itself. Often mixing different artistic and popular styles and media, postmodernist art can also consciously and self-consciously borrow from or ironically comment on a range of styles from the past.

Jacques Lacan

Jacques Lacan (1901–1981), was a prominent French psychoanalyst and theorist. His ideas had a huge impact on critical theory in the twentieth century and were particularly influential on post-structuralist philosophy and the development of postmodernism. Lacan re-examined the psychiatry of Sigmund Freud, giving it a contemporary intellectual significance. He questioned the conventional boundaries between the rational and irrational by suggesting that the unconscious rather than being primitive, is just as complex and sophisticated in its structure as the conscious. He proposed that the unconscious is structured like a language which allows a discourse between the unconscious and conscious and ensures that the unconscious plays a role in our experience of the world.

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