A Rhetoric of Preservation: Artistic Interventions in a Damaged World

James M. Salvo, Jasmine B. Ulmer

Abstract


Rereading Walter Benjamin’s often overlooked theme of preservation in his work, we offer an interpretation of an art installation that appeared in the winter of 2018 in The Heidelberg Project in Detroit, Michigan, USA. By interpreting this installation and Benjamin’s insights on preservation, we make recommendations on how to make readable rhetoric that might be used to positively shape digitally disseminated climate change activist media. We examine three types of preservation: 1. preservation that makes inaccessible, 2. dialectical preservation, and 3. the preservation of the collected. In so doing, we show how performative acts of publicly available art might directly respond to the environmental crisis and how the legibility of that art might offer hope for survival in the age of climate change.

How to cite this article: Salvo, James M. & Jasmine B. Ulmer. "A Rhetoric of Preservation: Artistic Interventions in a Damaged World." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 25 (September 2021): 81-95. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i25.449

 


Keywords


Anthropocene; media literacy; visual ecology; Walter Benjamin; folk art; extinction.

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i25.449

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