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date: 25 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This article argues that the doubleness or ambivalence which is discernible in the signifying practices of much modernist aesthetics as self-reflexivity and symbolic instability derives from the fact that modernity is the form of appearance, the concrete realization, of capitalist systematicity. The question of how to represent such simultaneity has, of course, dominated both the aesthetic theory and practice of modernism for well over a century. Modernity also entails the related forces of urbanization, industrialization, and bureaucratization, all sustained by the logic of rationalization. Inevitably, these forces materialize in distinct ways, depending on the cultural infrastructures into which they are inserted. The discussion explores these issues in relation to modernity and modernism in South Africa. As everywhere else in the world, cinema constituted a signal medium of modern industrial culture in South Africa.

Keywords: modernist aesthetics, modernity, symbolic instability, capitalism, South African modernism

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