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Allegories of commemoration Bonnemaison, Sarah 1995

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ALLEGORIES OF COMMEMORATION by SARAH BONNEMAISON B.Sc., Concordia University, 1985 B.Arch., Pratt Institute, 1983 S.M.Arch.S., Massachussetts Institute of Technology, 1985  A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Geography) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October 1995 © Sarah Bonnemaison, 1995  in presenting this thesis  in  partial fulfilment of the requirements  for an advanced  degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or  by  his  or  her  representatives,  it  is  understood  that  copying  or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  (Signature)  e c a>& a  Department of  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date  DE-6 (2/88)  f) J  i  9g  ABSTRACT In analyzing the 1989 bicentennial in Paris, my point of departure has been that the French government, faced with the cool reception to the memory of the Revolution of 1789, was trying to make revolutionary heritage relevant to contemporary concerns, by using allegorical techniques of spatializing and visualizing history while consequently (yet paradoxically, since it ran against their intentions) effecting a smooth passage for this heritage into the world of commodity and spectacle. To analyze this dilemma, I investigated the mechanisms of representation and the tension between spectacle and politically engaged imagery. Drawing from the work of Water Benjamin, the thesis proposed to use allegory as a mode of political criticism and redemptive interpretation. The analysis of the programming of events, for example, revealed that it contained a moral tale of sacrifice, and praised the power of the memory of the Revolution to form a community, not based on ethnicity or shared history but on shared ideals. The analysis of the use of collage in the Bastille Day Parade revealed that it reworked Republican notions of ‘fraternity in a post-colonial era to reflect contemporary discussions of métissage and take a position on its relationship to democracy. By looking at this commemoration allegorically, the double meanings inscribed in the bicentennial program, exhibits, monuments and parade can be unpacked. But the allegorical critique is violent, it does not carefully excavate layers of meaning through a gentle and constructive hermeneutic circle, it requires that the objects that are being contemplated be in fragments. As the allegorist reassembles the fragments into new meaningful constellations, the constructions remain open, driven by the impossibility of recovering what has been lost, always pointing to the instability of meaning. The analysis of the commemoration recognized that commodification and spectacularisation happen, but through reversal it also showed that the 1989 bicentennial draws from a constantly evolving relationship to memory which allows for investment on the part of the public. Because the commemoration is a powerful form of visualizing and spatializing history that occurs in public spaces, many provocative images were taken up by the press and written about, which ultimately reconfigured present-day discussions about democracy and citizenship. 11  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract Table of Contents List of Figures Acknowledgments  iii vi viii  Chapter One Introduction Redeeming commemorative spectacles History, memory and the crisis of meaning Allegory as a critical tool The major movements of allegory The role of images in allegory The spatialization of history in allegory Description of the chapters  1 1 8 15 18 20 22 24  Chapter Two The Programme as a Moral Fable Sacrifice for the Nation Distanciation from the social drama Reflection on the ‘lessons of the Revolution’ Commemoration as a rite of re-enactment A symbolic society, visible and invisible  7 32 34 36 39 44  Chapter Three Revolution and Narration ‘La Revolution Française et 1’Europe’ Who organized the exhibit? Where was the exhibit? In what context did the exhibit take place? Historical Narratives and the Exhibit Original art objects on display ‘Social context’ and the Annales School Common objects as art(ifacts) Fragments in the Exhibit The rhetoric of fragments Fragments as an undercurrent of the exhibit Ruins speaking of the cycle of destruction and creation Fragments of revolutionary mythology The storming of the Bastille as a mythical origin Destruction as an allegory of the fall of Communism  .9 53 53 55 58 62 62 66 69 74 74 80 84 86 87 93 111  Chapter Four The Architecture of Memory The Amphitheatre and Memory The political context of the amphitheatre The first memory: the construction of the amphitheatre in 1790 The second memory: the Fête de la Fédération The third memory: the execution of Louis XVI The Amphitheatre in 1989 The guests in the amphitheatre  96 100 102 104 110 121 130 131  Chapter Five The Black Marianne on Bastille Day Jessye Norman sings the National Anthem Deconstructing the moment of the National Anthem Reading the Black Marianne What is being done with it? What is it doing for its users? In the shadow of French slavery The limits of the Declaration come to light Did ‘public opinion’ share this view?  136 138 144 149 150 154 157 164 167  Chapter Six A New Landscape for the Capital The commemorative monuments The Louvre and its Pyramid Napoleanic transformation of the revolutionary museum The Louvre renovation The Grande Arche Opéra de la Bastille A Socialist Style? The power of the prince What does the president really think? The power to choose those who will decide The power of representation present in architectural monuments Chapter Seven Cosmopolitan Tribes The Bastille Day Parade as carnival Topsy-turvy metissage Métissage brings fraternity into the political imagination  7.1  176 186 189 192 197 204 208 210 211 216 217  220  221 229 233  iv  Fraternity within the Nation Fraternity during the Revolution 1989 recalls the Rousseauist sentiment of 1790 The dark side of brotherhood  237 238 243 245  Cosmopolitanism Kant and cosmopolitanism The ‘Family of Man’  247 251 253  Solidarity with the former colonies The Senegalese float The “Universal Exhibition” of 1889 Women in tricolour turbans The unbrotherly summit  256 256 259 261 264  Fraternity across races Metissage and the anti-racist movement Métissage as a reaction to cultural relativism Metissage as a raction to nationalism Multiple identities Towards a pluralist universalism  267 268 269 270 271 272  Chapter Eight Conclusion the ‘paysage moralisé’ Postscript —  Bibliography Appendix Brief chronology of revolutionary events  74 282  285 300  V  LIST OF FIGURES  2.1 2.2 2.3  “The National Guard of Paris leaves to join the army.” The Elephant of Memory in Lille. Descendants of the revolutionaries hold images of their ancestors.  33 37 47  3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 3.10  “Habitation” from Larousse du XXeme Siècle. Reconstruction of the ‘Bastille’ and the ‘Faubourg Saint-Antoine.’ “Old Shoes with Laces” by Van Gogh. Revolutionaries toppling a statue of Louis XV. Fragments of royal statues exhibited in the Grand Palais. Severed head of Louis XVI. “A Family of Sans Culotts refreshing after the fatigues of the day.” “May you be free and live!” “Awakening of the Third Estate.” “Destruction of the Bastille.”  51 57 71 76 77 78 81 89 91 92  4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 4.10 4.11 4.12  Wooden amphitheatre built on the Place de la Concorde. The Federation Festival on the Champs de Mars. “To the good citizen workers of the Champs de Mars.” La Fayette taking the oath. Federative Pact of the French. Television image of the amphitheatre on Place de la Concorde. “Bird’s eye view of the French Federation.” “The Martyrdom of Louis XVI, King of France.” “Something for crowned jugglers to think about.” Execution of Louis XVI. Deputies gather at the altar during the Fête de la Fédération. The ‘Tribes of France’ form a circle at the Bastille Day Parade.  97 98 105 112 112 113 113 124 125 127 133 133  5.1 5.2  Jessye Norman sings the National Anthem. Toussaint Louverture.  145 158  6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9  Masonic pyramid in Parc Monceau. The three commemorative monuments. Bird’s eye view of the Champs Elysees, mid-l9th c. Plan des Artistes. “La grande traversée” of Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin. The Group of Seven in front of the Louvre Pyramid. The Louvre Pyramid. La Defense in 1954. La Defense in 1970.  172 177 180 181 183 185 187 199 199 vi  6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15  The Grande Arche at La Defense. Interior of the Bastille Opera. Opera on the Place de la Bastille. Caricature of President De Gaulle as a builder-monarch. Mitterrand looking at a model for the Très Grande Bibliotheque. Official portrait of Mitterrand.  200 207 207 212 215 215  7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17  The Nation. Folkloric musicians under their departmental flags. Valseuse with child. Dancers with wooden clogs. Senegalese float seen from the back. British float with punk dancers and footmen. Paraders enter the circus. Russian float. Steel drummers on the locomotive float. Break dancer at rear of the American float. Caricature of fraternity at the turn of the century. “Fraternité.” Jean-Paul Goude’s sketches for “Les valseuses.” Poster published by “Comité français contre la faim.” The front of the Senegalese float. “Swan Lake” at the back of the Senegalese float. Caricature of “The Group of Seven and the Debt.”  222 222 224 224 225 225 226 226 228 228 236 248 250 255 258 258 266  vii  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Writing this thesis was made possible by the generous support of my father Michel Bonnemaison, and the department of geography at UBC through providing me with teaching assistantships. The intellectual support and criticisms from members of my committee, Derek Gregory, Gerry Pratt and RoseMarie San Juan, were always greatly appreciated and cherished. My discussions with David Ley were vital in providing the impetus to bypass the numerous pitfalls that I experienced in the course of working on this thesis. His enormous generosity and patience of the path I have chosen to explore has been of great value in times of confusion and doubt. The relentless support of Christine Macy, her engagement with the ideas pursued in this work and her help with my struggles with the English language allowed me to formulate ideas with greater precision and depth than would have been possible otherwise.  viii  CHAPTER ONE  INTRODUCTION  We live in a society where life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles.’ An appreciation of the transience of things, and the concern to redeem them for eternity, is one of the strongest impulses in 2 allegory.  Redeeming commemorative spectacles Between the massive amount of money spent on official spectacles and localized struggles to redeem the past, commemorations remain a highly ambivalent product of the encounter between spectacle and memory. The quotations above from Guy Debord and Walter Benjamin capture the ambivalence structuring much current discussion about spectacles and the landscapes they generate. On the one hand, spectacles have been interpreted within the nexus of power/knowledge as an effective way to make colonial order, capitalism, or religious belief systems visible, based on certain truth claims of progress, economic growth, or the divine word. 3 On the other hand, they have been interpreted with a redemptive intent as sites of “pilgrimage to the commodity fetish,” popular resistance, social interaction, and utopia. 4 In this thesis, I discuss the questions surrounding spectacles in relation to the Parisian commemoration of the French Revolution in 1989.  1 Guy Debord, Society of Spectacle (Detroit: Red and Black, 1977), sec. 1-8. 2 Walter Benjamin, cited in Richard Wolin, Walter Benjamin: an Aesthetic of Redemption (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 71. 3 Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); David Harvey, Condition of Postmodernity: An Inquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989); James Duncan, City as Text: The Politics of Landscape Interpretation in the Kandyan Kingdom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). Walter Benjamin, Paris, capital du XIXème siècle (Paris: Le Seuil, 1989); Peter Jackson, Maps of Meaning (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989); David Ley and K. Olds, “Landscape as Spectacle: world’s fairs and the culture of heroic consumption,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 6 (1988); Stacy Warren, “This heaven gives me migraines; the,,problems and promise of landscapes of leisure,” Place/culture/representation, ed. James Duncan and David Ley (London: Rutledge, 1993).  1  To be sure, as Timothy Mitchell argues, spectacles such as the nineteenth century great exhibitions were far more effective in imagining and implementing colonial rule than any other form of colonial propaganda. Mitchell uses letters written by Egyptians visiting Paris to read the exhibition against its grain, to make strange what we would take for granted: the city in miniature, the realism of a reconstructed street, and above all, the western notion of ‘spectacle’. Mitchell calls this particular arrangement between the individual and an objectworld the ‘world-as exhibition’. He does not refer to an exhibition of the world but to the world conceived and grasped as though it were an exhibition. His analysis leads us to an awareness of how the ‘world-as-exhibition’ was not simply a display of power and industrial progress but a way of seeing and implementing colonialism. I believe that in the transition to a ‘post-colonial’ world, the ‘world-asexhibition’ has not disappeared but merely adapted to the demands of current global politics. The American media, as Noam Chomsky has forcefully argued, is a powerful player in building consensus on a political situation. Whether the ‘world-as-exhibition’ is restricted to the media or whether it is a more complicated situation where geopolitical strategies make use of already-existing genres, such as commemorations, there is no doubt that Western nations use culture to make their views known to the rest of the world. 5 In contrast with the less visually oriented strategies of the World Bank, spectacles provide visual material readily incorporated in the flow of the media networks that constantly irrigate the globe. The spectacles of industrialized countries have consistently drawn from cultures they have construed as exotic, marginal or pre-modern. In the great exhibitions of North America “each large nation has taken arts of its crushed former peoples and erected them as symbols of ‘national ethnicity’ to distinguish each from the other, and all of them from their European homelands.” 6 This practice continues today. The British Columbian pavilion at the 1992 Seville Expo displayed the art of the Native peoples of the West Coast; in Europe, the Scottish tartan, Brittany fiddler, and Basque beret are repeatedly pressed into service as symbols of British and French identity. Spectacles repeatedly reaffirm in a way that is vital for localized struggles over memory the interconnectedness of --  --  Note the recent decision of the Canadian House of Commons and Senate Joint Foreign Affairs Committee to make culture one of the three pillars of Canadian Foreign Policy, the other two being politics and economics.” 6 Nelson H. H. Graburn, Ethnic and Tourist Arts, Cultural Expressionsfrom the Fourth World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 29.  2  global cultures. Indeed, the role played by culture is always growing as electronic media reaches out to ever more remote places of the globe. As Terry Eagleton says, “in the contemporary debates on modernity, modernism and postmodernism, ‘culture’ would seem a key category for the analysis and 7 understanding of late capitalist society.” What matters here is not so much the differences between the recent commemoration and its predecessor of 1889 (the subject of Mitchell’s work), but how Mitchell analyses the exhibition. He argues that Marx’s analysis of commodity fetishism has led cultural critics to denigrate spectacle as misrepresentation, while neglecting to analyse the actual process of representation. To the mechanism of misrepresentation by which power operates, Marx opposed a representation of the way things intrinsically are, in their transparent and rational reality. The problem with such an explanation was that, in revealing power to work through misrepresentation, it left representation itself unquestioned. 8 For Mitchell, an analysis of spectacles should focus not on how they alienate the visitor from the reality of life, but on how they promise the existence of that reality. This shift in focus from what I call demystification to a Foucauldian analysis of the mechanism of representation (and its effects on colonial life) goes entirely against the grain of most work done on spectacle to date. From the influential writings of Guy Debord (and its extensions in Virilio and Baudrillard) to the work of David Harvey, spectacles have been conceived like the whole of the entertainment industry as ‘misrepresentations’ of a ‘reality.’ 9 This duality between misrepresentation and reality finds its parallel in the opposition between ‘spectacle’ and ‘festival’. This opposition is most clearly expressed in the work of Henri Lefebvre, where festivals are seen as participatory and spontaneous expressions of popular culture, while spectacle is conceived of as an expression of power of the state, devious and anti-participatory. ° This duality 1 can be traced back to the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau who advocated the simplicity and naiveté of rural festivals in order to criticize the ‘opacity’ of the theatrical (and thus false and artificial) spectacles.’ 1 The work of Mitchell is set in --  --  Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), 1. 8 Mitchell, Colonizing, 18. Paul Virilio, L’espace critique (Paris: Christian Bourgeois, 1984); Jean Baudrillard, Simulacre and Simulations (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994); Harvey, Condition of Postmodernity. 10 Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991). For an essay to situate the opposing forces structuring the thoughts of Lefebvre, see Derek Gregory, Geographical Imaginations (Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell, 1994). For the philosophy of Rousseau relying on the opposition between festivals and spectacle see Jean Starobinski, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988).  3  opposition to this conception of spectacle that I would call ‘pre-Foucault,’ which focuses on the unveiling of spectacle while neglecting to analyse how the mechanisms of spectacularisation actually operate.’ 2 In Downcast Eyes, Martin Jay pulls out a thread from French philosophy running from Descartes to Derrida, which, he argues, is characterized by a persistent “denigration of vision”. “A great deal of recent French thought in a wide variety of fields is in one way or another imbued with a profound suspicion of vision and its hegemonic role in the modern era.” 13 For Jay, the notion of misrepresentation and its criticism, would therefore fall in the “essentially ocularphobic discourse.” 14 At the beginning of his book, Mitchell isolates the major features of the ‘worldas-exhibition’ which include “the remarkable claim to certainty or truth,” the way everything was ordered which “led to a political decisiveness” and the presentation of the “world as a picture” which set up a relation between representations and ‘reality’ a mode of power/knowledge he calls ‘enframing.’ These mechanisms allow him to show that the same methods are then used to discipline the colonies making them produce goods for the empire in an orderly fashion, ensuring the reproduction of colonial control through subjectivity formation. --  I see the focus on the mechanisms of spectacle as a crucial first step in interpreting contemporary commemorations, even if this method carries some limits which need to be discussed. As Derek Gregory remarks, what Mitchell does not explore “is the way the process of enframing constitutes not only its object but also its observer.” 5 By focusing solely on the mechanisms of representation and their effects, Mitchell elides the questions surrounding the formation of the modern subject (a theme that occupied Foucault in his later work) which leads him to describe an all-too-perfect colonizing machine. This makes it difficult to imagine how the Egyptians could ever have had the mental resources to fight for their independence. Even though “anti-colonial movements have often derived their organizational forms from the military 12 For others who have investigated the mechanism of spectacle, see Natalie Zemon Davis, ‘Women on Top,’ Society and Culture in Early Modern France (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975); Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1968); Louis Mar, Le Portrait du Roi (Paris: Editions du minuit, 1981); and David Freedberg, The Power of Images: studies in the history and theory of response (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989). Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 14. 14 Ibid 15 Gregory, Imaginations, 37.  4  and their methods of discipline and indoctrination from schooling,” 16 Mitchell cannot abandon the image of colonial power as a central authority because it would lead him to conceive of resistance as existing outside this power. Resistance, he says, is formed within the organization of the colonial state. But his description of resistance (like the Egyptian fieldworkers who would rather be blinded than leave their village) reinforces the bipolar construction of colonizer and colonized. In analysing the bicentennial, my question has been: how can we understand the inscription of history in the landscape (the techniques, references, erasures, rhetorical forms) without reducing the events solely to their spectacularization? I decided to investigate the mechanisms of representation in the landscape, but also to draw attention to the uncontrollability of meaning once images circulate in the public realm the way, for example, a certain event of the commemoration becomes meaningful through associations with entirely different events, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall or a grass-roots antiracist movement. The very publicness of spectacles predisposes them towards a redemptive interpretation. For once a spectacle is produced, monuments are built, and parades performed in the street, authorities lose their initial control over meaning and, in the manner of a kaleidoscope breaking an image into colorful fragments, possible audience interpretations multiply. By folding one onto the other, I think it is possible to see how a government finds it necessary to publicly commemorate and at the same time, to understand why people like to see commemorations. --  The choice of this particular commemoration was no accident. It begs the question of why spectacle should be redeemed, since the event being commemorated is the French Revolution (and, by extension the legacy of the Enlightenment), a period of history which has sustained severe criticism since the publication of Foucault’s first book in the 7 196OsJ My aim is not to redeem the ideals of the revolution, but rather to hold in tension that possibility throughout my study in order to find strength to fight the current denigration and dismantling of the welfare state in the West. There seems to be little resistance to governments cutting funds for social programs, and presenting such actions as a goal. This destructive wave, begun under Thatcher and Reagan in the 1980s in the UK and the US, is now hitting France and Canada. One could 16 Mitchell, Colonizing, xi. 17 Michel Foucault, Naissance de la clinique: une archeologie du regard medical (Paris: Press Universitaire de France, 1963).  5  trace it backward to find reasons for its existence, but this is not my intention, rather to search for ideas and arguments to combat this conservative turn.’ 8 That the duty of the state is to insure food, housing, health care, education and culture to its population is indeed a bourgeois concept in the most literal sense since it was nurtured in Europe during the Enlightenment and put into practice in France in a forceful way by the Revolution. Terry Eagleton, in his study of aesthetics in modern Western thought says that it is a mistake to reject that period ‘en bloc’ and it would be wiser to “use what you can” to pursue the task of emancipation which involves “freeing ourselves from ourselves.” From the Communist Manifesto onwards, Marxism has never ceased to sing the praises of the bourgeoisie to cherish and recollect that in its great revolutionary heritage from which radicals must either enduringly learn, or face the prospect of a closed, illiberal socialist order in the future. Those who have now been correctly programmed to reach for their decentered subjectivities at the very mention of the dread phrase ‘liberal humanist’ repressively disavow the very history which constitutes them, which is by no means uniformly negative or oppressive. We forget at our political peril the heroic struggles of earlier ‘liberal humanists’ against the brutal autocracies of feudalistic absolutism. If we can and must be severe critics of Enlightenment, it is Enlightenment which has empowered us to be so. 19 Indeed, throughout the bicentennial there was an underlying polarity, which on the one hand pushed for an image of the French Revolution as a time of violence, intolerance and destruction, and on the other as the foundation of the welfare state and human rights. The socialist government dealt with the situation by reclaiming the origins of welfare institutions as their ancestors of their government thereby creating a parental link between the socialist party and the French Revolution. Regarding the dark events of the Revolution such as the Terror and the repression on anti-revolutionaries, the government (and President Mitterand in particular) recognized and acknowledged the suffering, the horror and then, in an operation of reversal, turned the dark aspects of history into a “lesson” about the need for tolerance in our contemporary society and the need for the application of human rights in everyday life. --  --  18 For a reference on those who have traced this conservative trend, see Stuart Hall,The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left (London: Verso, 1988). 19 Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990), 8.  6  The organizers of the bicentennial commemoration were in an ambiguous situation: they wanted to render the Revolution meaningful to people for a range of reasons (the most obvious being the revolutionary legacy inherited by the Socialist party), but as the bicentennial events entered the public realm, they became caught in the machinery of the media and cultural industries which mercilessly turned revolutionary sentiments into consumer products. Even though the organizers tried to program many ‘non-spectacular’ events, public opinion agreed that the bicentennial commercialized and debased revolutionary history. It became painfully clear that the state’s involvement in creating a spectacle commemorating the French Revolution inescapably resulted in the commodification of culture. History, in the bicentennial, was turned into a commodity because the state used the same techniques to make the Revolution meaningful today that industry uses to make products desirable the cultural industries and media. Furthermore, the state had to address double meanings in order to deal with a complex and contradictory heritage of the Enlightenment and the Revolution as sowing the seeds of modern oppression and, at the same time, of modern notions of political criticism and emancipation. As a result, the commemoration tended toward indirect, metaphorical and allegorical modes of representing the past to avoid didactic rhetoric pleading the pros and cons of the revolutionary heritage, which would have led to explosive debates as to whether or not the revolution was a ‘good thing’. But the techniques used to bring the revolutionary heritage to life also allowed for its smooth passage into the world of the commodity. The cultural industry and its close cousin, the media, latched on the pictorialization of history, reified it in stereotypes, and diffused it in the form of cultural commodities such as puppets dressed in revolutionary clothes and period films all of which were seen as debased spectacle. --  --  --  To be sure, the organizers hired an ad man, Jean Paul Goude, to design the Bastille Day Parade (the major event of the commemoration), an act that was seen by many as the ultimate ‘packaging’ of the Revolution for public consumption. Yet Goude proved to be a master allegorist, mining history, grabbing fragments and permutating them with contemporary images in startling ways to make Paris mean the French Revolution. Certainly, Goude was familiar with these techniques from advertisement, a practice that functions allegorically. Indeed, advertisement uses all the tricks in the book of allegory from the traditional figuration (placing a young woman next to an olive tree to 7  advertise virgin olive oil) to the more surprising diachronic juxtaposition of the old and the new (a Marlboro advertisement depicting a stiff from the saddle cowboy riding in a shiny new ‘four by four’). But in the context of the commemoration these tropes of advertising were themselves used in a new and more disruptive context. As Mattei rightly remarked, the television took “the essence of memory” away from the commemoration which not only implies the influence of the media on culture, but more importantly the fragility of that memory, the tenuousness of our links to the past. Indeed, there is a growing concern in the postmodern literature about the ways in which we treat history: a strange mix of worshipping the past while commodifying it. I now turn to this apparent contradiction in order to develop a theoretical handle on the relationship between the pictoralization of the history by the commemoration and the memory associated with the sites of the city where these events took place.  History, memory and the crisis of meaning In his book on the ‘culture of amnesia,’ Andreas Huyssen argues that the approach of the end of the twentieth century coupled with the end of the millennium has turned our gaze “backwards ever more frequently in an attempt to take stock and to assess where we stand in the course of time. Simultaneously, however, there is a deepening sense of crisis often articulated in the reproach that our culture is terminally ill with amnesia.” ° The field of architecture has 2 become ever more interested in memory and the dismantling of the ‘Iron curtain has brought an urgency to projects such as the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Extension to the Berlin Museum. ’ The museum and heritage industry is expanding into realms 2 such as vernacular architecture and regional cultural landscapes that would have been thought as unworthy of notice in the past. Anniversaries and commemorations have become one of the organising principles of the cultural industry. In an unprecedented effort to interpret the past, the observance of cultural anniversaries has become both a cult and an industry. [During the 1980s], between fifty and a hundred major cultural 20 Andreas Huyssen, Twilight Memories, Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia (New Yorki Routledge, 1995), 4. 21 For an analysis of Libeskind’s museum see Huyssen’s “Monuments and Holocaust Memory in a Media Age’ in Twilight,24960.  8  anniversaries, both individuals and events, have been celebrated each year in the five most anniversary-minded countries, namely Britain, France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. 22 Anniversaries have become a major feature to dictate timing across the whole gamut of cultural productions and an important source of revenues. The tendency of postmodernism towards “a growing nostalgia for various life forms of the past” 23 is perfectly illustrated by this profusion of commemorations. The way the bicentennial of the Revolution was celebrated, with its disproportionate emphasis on the old, fits squarely with this “nostalgia” of the past. Thus, we are faced with a seeming contradiction: on the one hand, our relationship with time has broken down, producing a landscape of spectacle where fragments from the past are assembled and history is but one more consumer product; on the other hand, we are so fascinated with the past that ‘resurrectionary’ enthusiasms mark our era, such as ‘historic re-creations,’ entire regions volunteering to become ‘ecomuseums’, and music lovers recreating baroque and even medieval music with an excitement for the past matching that our great-grandparents had for the future. But as Samuel remarks “there is no longer, as there was in the nineteenth century, a historical school of painting. Memory-keeping is a function increasingly assigned to the electronic media, while a new awareness of the artifice of representation casts a cloud of suspicion over the documentation of the past.” 24 Samuel is right in pointing to the growing artifice in the way our society conserves the past. The artificiality of the trace creates a “cloud of suspicion” which, I believe was very much present during the commemoration. The availability of information regarding the revolution through Minitel (a form of internet), for example, turns memory into a series of bits of information that ultimately seem arbitrary. This brings me to the question of why the study of our relationship to the past typifies theoretical inquiry in our era, while cultural practices that work with the past to create new cultural objects (such as postmodern architecture, monuments and commemorations), are recognized as irredeemably commodified?  22 Johnston adds that in 1983, Franz Kafka received no less that eight centenary conferences held on three continents and during that same year the painter Raphael received at least a dozen 500th anniversary exhibitions in Europe and in America. William Johnston, Celebrations, The Cult of Anniversaries in Europe and the United States Today (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1991), 4. 23 Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide (London: MacMillan, 1981), 181. 24 Raphael Samuel, Theatres of Memory, vol 1: Past and Present in Contemporary Culture (London: Verso, 1995), 25.  9  A simple but persuasive answer to this question springs from the progressively abstract nature of history and the degradation of places of memory. Pierre Nora says that, in the West, people feel history vanishing before their eyes that “there are lieux de memoire, sites of memory, because there are no longer milieux de memoire, real environments of memory.” 25 This break originates, he argues, in the disappearance of peasant culture, the repository of collective memory. Lieux de mémoire originate with the sense that there is no spontaneous memory. [...J Modern memory is, above all archival. It relies entirely on the materiality of the trace, the immediacy of the recording, the visibility of the image. [..J The less memory is experienced from the inside the more it exists only through the exterior scaffolding and outward signs hence the obsession with the archive that marks our age. [...] No society has ever produced archives as deliberately as our own, not only by volume, not only by new technical means of reproduction and preservation, but also by its superstitious esteem, by its veneration of the trace. 26 As traditional forms of memory disappear, the need for collecting what remains in the form of images, recordings, and documents increases, as if they will be proofs of our existence at some sort of “tribunal of history. What Nora does not investigate however, is the way technical processes used to document and conserve memory are transforming our relationship to temporality. --  --  I am struck by the sense of loss that runs across the discussions of history and memory, from the loss of traditional modes of representations such as history painting to the loss of personal memory to electronic media. The milieux de memoire described by Nora were not simply pre-industrial forms of memory, they were communal forms of remembering. From storytelling around the fireplace to people gathering to play and sing in the living room, these milieux are vanishing from modern lives to be replaced by abstract form of memory such as taped music and museums. The postmodern forms of memory, for Pierre Nora, relate to present experiences in unequal ways. “Memory could be sensed practically everywhere in a thoroughly traditional society; it would be hard to find anywhere in a consistantly postmodern culture where all past moments would be equidistant, equally available and remote, from the present.” 27 25 Pierre Nora, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire,’ Representations 26, (Spring 1989): 7. The literature on memory has many facets. Among them are issues of monuments as memorial icons, the history of memory in literature as in Marcel Proust and other writers, the medical literature on memory and amnesia, the role of women in sustaining memory through oral traditions and the politics of memory in the identity of minority groups and independence movements. The articles in this issue of Representations gives a cross-section of this literature and indudes many references. 26 Nora, “Between Memory,” 13. 27 Natalie Zemon Davis paraphrases Nora in her “Introduction,’ Representations 26 (Spring 1989): 3.  10  Huyssen draws a comparison between our difficult relationship to the past and the end of last century “with its sensibility of decadence, nostalgia, and loss that we deem symptomatic of a fin-de-siècle.” 28 Julia Kristeva takes this comparison a step further in the postmodern lightness and arbitrary treatment of history, she sees a return of the ‘melancholy’ strain of modernist literature. 29 --  The crisis of meaning that drove modern literature into the secrets of its inner illness now appears as the occasion for a good time; the converse of meaning is no longer ‘abyssal’ meaninglessness but the pleasures of indeterminacy; the comic dance of representations within the exhilarating space that dead meaning has left behind. 30 For Kristeva, the ‘melancholy’ associated with the loss of meaning has been transposed with its alter ego, the buffoon. “Following the winter of discontent comes the artifice of seeming; following the whiteness of boredom, the heartening distraction of parody.” 31 Although for Kristeva, postmodern melancholy adopts comical, buffoon-like, aspects, it shares with modernism the horror of meaninglessness (the broken link between words and thing) which is the source of melancholy driven by a sense of loss. It is this melancholic sense of loss of meaning that provides me with a departure point to investigate the place of memory in commemoration. For Walter Benjamin, a sense of loss was a result of facing a chaotic world where the relation between word and things has ceased to exist. Through his interpretation of the past, he believed it was possible to restore language to its original richness. As Terry Eagleton explains, it is part of the mission of philosophy in Benjamin’s view to restore to language its occluded symbolic riches, rescue it from its lapse into the impoverishment of cognition so that the word may dance once again, like those angels whose bodies are one burning flame of praise before God. [...] Meaning is ripped from the ruins of the body, from the flayed flesh rather than from the harmonious figure. It is this kind of dismemberment, in the milder form of the shocks and invasions of urban experience, which the flâneur of the arcades project strives to resist. 32 Benjamin treats images as fragmentary ruins from the past that await the allegorist to become meaningful. “In this chaotic cosmos of desultory,  28 Huyssen, Twilight, 1. 29 Julia Kristeva, Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989). 30 Max Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics: Walter Benjamin and the Play of Mourning (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993), 2. 31 Julia Kristeva, quoted in Pensky, Melancholy, 2. 32 Eagleton, Ideology of Aesthetic, 335.  11  miscellaneous fragments, the allegorist alone is sovereign.” 33 In fact, the allegorist is entirely at home sitting in the midst of a landscape of ruins, for he strives on combining and recombining the pieces to draw out meaning out of meaningless debris. If we follow the trajectory set out by Benjamin’s project regarding the philosophy of language, we soon reach the work of Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari and Fredric Jameson, each of whom has turned to psychology to diagnose postmodern western society’s ‘abnormal relationship to language’. Benjamin, like the postmodernists, accepts that the relation between words and what they designate has been broken. For Benjamin, this takes a religious form: he locates the breakdown in the moment of original sin and the consequent fall from grace. Before the fall there existed no division between name and thing. [...] In this sense the utter sinfulness of the creaturely world described in the allegories of the baroque epitomizes a confused, godless condition in which name and thing have become separated, in which objects and their proper meanings no longer coincide. [...] Through the technique of allegory, the writers of the baroque period were able to conjure a relation to meaning in an age that seemed infinitely distanced from all meaning. [... This view] legitimates the unrestricted license conferred on the allegorist in his extravagant forays into the world of objects and meanings. 34 Kristeva argues that the theme of meaninglessness (or loss of meaning) reappears in the contours of postmodernism. For Jameson, the rupture between word and meaning takes a psychoanalytic turn, as he looks to Lacan’s theory of schizophrenia as a breakdown in language. Jameson applies Lacan’s description of schizophrenia as a linguistic disorder to the characteristics of the postmodern personality. If personal identity is forged through ‘a certain temporal unification of the past and future with the present before me,’ and if sentences move through the same trajectory, then an inability to unify past, present, and future in the sentence betokens a similar inability to ‘unify the past, present and future of our own biographical experience or psychic life. 35 The effect of the breakdown in the signifying chain is to reduce experience to “a series of pure and unrelated presents in time.” Harvey continues, This experience becomes increasingly vivid. The image, the appearance of the spectacle can be experienced with an intensity (joy  Benjamin, quoted in Richard Wolin, Walter Benjamin: An Aesthetic of Redemption (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 67 Wolin, Walter Benjamin, 68-69. Harvey, Condition, 53.  12  or terror) made possible only by their appreciation as pure and unrelated presents in time. 36 Basing his interpretation on Jameson, Harvey argues that the breakdown of temporal continuity is giving rise to a peculiar treatment of the past. “Eschewing the idea of progress, postmodernism abandons all sense of historical continuity and memory, while simultaneously developing an incredible ability to plunder history and absorb whatever it finds there as some aspect of the present.” 37 For Harvey, the postmodern introduction of historical references 38 into an essentially modernist landscape projects “spectacle and theatricality.” 39 In this schema, memory has been uprooted and history is treated as ‘portable accessories’ that can be combined and recombined into an eclectic mix of styles, historical quotations, a diversity of building materials, and ornaments. All the critics of postmodern landscapes converge on the loss of meaning, whether it be the loss of connection between memory and place or between past and present. In this critical context, the word ‘commemoration’ (in its meaning of ‘remembering together’) recedes into an idyllic past when this was indeed how people remembered. The influence of Lacan has reinforced the rejection of collective forms of memory (investigated earlier by Halbwachs) in favor of unique and personal interpretations of the past. For Halbwachs, “while the collective memory endures and draws strength from its base in a coherent body of people, it is individuals as group members who remember.” ° It follows that 4 there are as many group memories as there are institutions in a society. Social classes, families, associations, corporations, armies, and trade unions all had distinctive memories that their members have constructed, often over long periods of time. But it seems that we are now at a loss to theorize shared references and alliances across gender and class both in politics and in psychoanalysis. If Lacan had reread Jung instead of Freud we would perhaps be in a better position to theorize collective memories of postmodern mentalities. 41 Starting from the recognition that meaning has been lost, I treat history as fragments (or ruins, to use Benjamin’s words) dispersed in the commemorative 36 Ibid., 54. Ibid. 38 For example, Charles Moore’s ‘Piazza d’Italia’ in New Orleans addresses a fictional resident ‘Italian community’ (long since moved to more upscale neighbourhoods). It was not, and in fact could not be, used for any ‘Italian’ events, as an Italian piazza would have been. Surrounded by warehouses and office buildings, it sign fies Italianness and carried with it the hope for eventual redevelopment of a depressed area. Ibid., 93. 40 Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory, ed. and trans. Lewis A. Coser (Chicago; University of Chicago Press, 1992). 41 In the Braudellian sense of mentalité.  13  landscape. These fragments pile up ceaselessly in museums in the form of temporary exhibits and revolutionary heroes ‘dressed up’ for the occasion like puppets taken out of a closet to perform a show. Even commemorative monuments, like the Grand Arch meant to express the state of the art in innovative building technology was reviewed by the press in terms of the past; in this case, as an example of Mitterrand’s ‘Jacobin’ taste for planning. Fragments of historic Paris were identified and classified by the heritage commission of eighteenth century buildings and the ministry in charge of the commemorative monuments. Together, they turned Paris into a picture book about the Revolution in which every stone remaining from buildings considered significant to the Revolutionary heritage would be called out and added to a list of sites to be visited. When faced with a landscape filled with fragments, the point is not to remain in a state of melancholy over this treatment of the past on the contrary, it is an invitation for a creative response to assemble the fragments into meaningful constellations. --  --  To do that, I take the reader on a guided tour following my own cognitive map to resist and subvert the all-too-programmed message of the bicentennial: consume French culture. “We are compelled to create new memory walks through the city,” Christine Boyer says about her own investigation of the place of history in the contemporary city. In fact, the act of remembering as a way to reconnect memory and place has acquired a sense of urgency. “Remembering and recollection today have achieved new importance as the contemporary metropolis becomes a source of constant exchanges in and relays of information, and represents a physical site in which images and messages seem to swirl about, devoid of a sustaining context.” 42 For me, to treat the commemoration as fragments that need to be reassembled like a puzzle is a way to establish a passage between the different layers and strata of the city that were split open into hundreds of crevasses during the commemoration. Drawing fragments into constellations in order to recover a lost meaning is a critical method derived from the age old tradition of the allegorist. For Benjamin, the allegorical mode of criticism, emerging from a position of melancholy, runs through his entire production. Since I propose to draw from this mode of criticism, it is necessary to take some time and briefly investigate the unique way Benjamin made use of allegories. Christine Boyer, The City of Collective Memonj, Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995), 28.  14  Allegory as a critical tool One might wonder how Benjamin’s work with allegories can be appropriate for an analysis of the bicentennial of the French Revolution, an event nurtured by postmodern rather than the modern references investigated by Benjamin. Earlier, I turned to the work of Julia Kristeva for one way to answer this question. She says that modernist sensibility of melancholia has reappeared in postmodern spectacle. A sense of loss of meaning, according to her, provides a basis to both modern and postmodern forms of melancholia. 43 For this reason, the work of Benjamin is singularly relevant to a study of the commemoration, because it starts from a melancholic reflection on the loss of meaning. I have interpreted the laments that the media and cultural industries have emptied the commemoration of its memory as melancholia a melancholy over the loss of a meaningful relationship to the past and the ability to remember together! commemorate. --  When we realize the central role played by the allegory as a critical tool in Benjamin’s writings, it is surprising how little attention has been devoted to this aspect of his work. Susan Buck-Morss, who underlines the political features of his “Arcades Project,” dismisses the allegorical mode of interpretation for its potential to “dissolve into idealism and that this philosophical fact underlies the political impoverishment of the melancholy syndrome.” 44 On the other hand, Richard Wolin sees in Benjamin’s work the redemptive power of the allegory, but seems to miss the complexity of its critical dimension. Melancholy Dialectics by Max Pensky is the only analysis I have found, that keeps the complexity of the allegorical mode and yet clearly explains its critical dimension. For this reason I will draw from his work to explain how Benjamin uses allegory critically. Pensky argues that melancholy, both as a saturnine temperament and as a philosophical position, is at the root of Benjamin’s allegorical strategies. In fact, “melancholy occupies the space that separates Benjamin’s ‘messianic’ and ‘materialistic’ gaze it is a space that is carved between the subject and the object by a question concerning the possibility of meaning; a space Benjamin sought his life long to fill with the storehouse of images yielded up to him and --  See Kristeva Black Sun Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 139.  15  constructed in his shocking, healing writing.” 45 What constitutes melancholy? Generally speaking, melancholy can be understood as a ‘dialectic of loss and recovery’. For the medieval thinker, loss was symbolized by the Fall. According to Hildegard of Bingen for example, melancholy proceeds as a direct consequence of the Fall. 46 The conception of the loss of meaning as distance from God appears in many of Benjamin’s comments about the allegorical way of seeing. Contemporary cultural critics have recognized the resurgence of allegory as a critical form. For example, Craig Owens, a New York art critic and editor of October magazine, has delineated a relationship between Benjamin’s allegorical method and the work of postmodern artists. 47 His intent is to show that artists as different as Laurie Anderson, Robert Smithson, and Robert Longo all share a common project he describes as ‘allegorical’. But Owens does not make the link between the ‘allegorical impulse’ and melancholy as a form of disenchantment leading to a creative response and, as a result, his parallel between postmodern art and Benjamin’s approach to allegory remains undeveloped. Even if melancholy does not necessarily reach out for an allegorical mode of criticism, allegory, on the other hand, according to Pensky, always emanates from a position of melancholy. And for this reason, he argues, the present-day return to allegory in the arts and literature testifies to the existence of a postmodern melancholia identified as such by Kristeva in her book, Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia. --  The only way to attack the paralysis associated with melancholia is to transform it into its opposite. This leads to the oldest and most fundamental paradox of melancholy. [Melancholy] is a source of critical reflection that, in its ancient dialectic, empowers the subject with a mode of insight into the structure of the real at the same time as it consigns the subject to mournfulness, misery and despair. The very image of meaninglessness produced from a more hidden conviction, of an originary dimension lost, destroyed, or withheld meaning. Such a dimension is thus cryptically encoded into the very objects of melancholy despair; as objects of contemplation, they become both the key to a secret body of insight and the reminders of the impossibility of recovering what was lost. 48 Ibid., 16. 46 Ibid., 31. Craig Owens, Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power and Culture, ed. Scott Bryson, Barbara Kruger, Lynne Tiliman and Jane Wernstock (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). 48 Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 19.  16  In my work, I present the bicentennial as a spectacle that has lost its original commemorative meaning, but which carries within it the ‘key to a secret body of insight’. There is, in Benjamin’s work with allegories, a sense that one can decipher meaning out of the object one is contemplating, as if the meaning was actually there, written in invisible ink. Benjamin’s belief that meaning is ‘cryptically encoded’ into the objects recalls the era of ‘signatures’ Foucault attributes to the Renaissance, when objects carried the marks, the signatures of a larger divine order. 49 In this way of seeing, meaning is not imposed on the objects, it is drawn out of the objects. But in our time, this sort of deciphering is a constant reminder of the impossibility of recovering what is lost. In effect, one can see the desire to recover meaning, a desire that will necessarily always be frustrated as the essence of imagination. “In a dance of failed or jumbled meanings allegory represents the tension of melancholy itself. It contains within its motion the incessant, stroboscopic alternation of meaninglessness contained in the act of signification. The ‘resurrectional jubilation’ of assigned significance occurs only within the imaginative space of the object as already dead.” ° For Kristeva, this structural 5 ambiguity or alteration between meaning and meaninglessness, life and death, exaltation and despair, lying at the heart of allegoresis, is nothing other than an insight into the very structure of imagination itself. For Benjamin, criticism is not contradictory to melancholy, for if melancholy is derived from a subjective inwardness, “Benjamin demands a postsubjective, socially engaged form of thinking and writing.” 51 To write a critical text is not to assign meaning to, but to discover it within, fragments disclosing “the originary points of encapsulations of messianic memory and anticipation within historical time.” 52 The allegorical critique is made possible by establishing a tension between the object one is contemplating (in Benjamin’s case, the Trauerspiel) and writing a text about it. The two are essentially distinguished by the arbitrariness of the object of contemplation (the ruin or fragment) and the objectivity of the text. The critical text would then “indicate its relation to redemption by revealing and fulfilling the theological ground upon which the --  Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (New York: PantheonBooks, 1970). 50 Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 28.  51 Ibid. 18. 52 Ibid., 109.  17  arbitrariness of the former rests.” 53 Ultimately, the critical text completes the ruined work. Benjamin’s work is unique in its use of an allegorical mode of criticism to draw meaning out of the allegories of German tragic drama. In a sense, Benjamin’s “negative dialectics” can be situated in regards to both the writings of Nietzsche and the philosophy of Hegel. “Like Hegel, Benjamin intended to dissolve the rigid Kantian structure of possible experience into the space of history and to show how knowledge and experience were thorougly historical phenomena.” 54 But in order to understand Benjamin’s complex mode of allegorical interpretation of history, it might be wise to describe its major movements and to show how I intend to use it in my own work on the bicentennial.  The major movements of allegory One can identify three major movements in Benjamin’s allegorical mode of 55 The first movement, devaluation, is the melancholic recognition of criticism. the world which, as we just saw, necessarily precedes the allegorical technique. This is when the “subject beholds a world that has been drained of all its ‘inherent’ meaning.” 56 In this world, the relation between word and things has ceased to exist. The awareness of a crisis of meaning feeds the melancholia. Such melancholia often encourages flight into a place of solitude, an image cherished by the romantic artist, but Benjamin accepts the voyage into the depths of melancholy in order to confront it. In his own words, “for those racked with melancholia, writing about it would have meaning only if writing sprang from that same melancholia.” 57 As Pensky remarks, the movement of ‘devaluing’ the world of appearance has clear affinities to what Marx describes as alienation. “In both cases, the decay of an immediate unproblematic relation to the sensuous world results in a crisis of meaning. In both cases too, a creative response is engendered in which the objectively present features of a concretely structured world interact dialectically with a knowing and feeling subject.” 58 The response is not only creative, it also bears a political potential for criticism, stemming from a greater awareness. This is when the allegorist is no longer able to sustain “the mythic illusion of the unproblematic ‘objectivity’ of meaning in the appearance ii., 110. Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 65 Pensky also sees m Benjamin’s rejection of neo-Kantian phenomenology and the unwillingness to regard contemplative subjectivity as constitutive of the critical discovery of truth, a shared terrain with both Lukas and Block. Pensky summarizes the three movement in allegory as outlined in Hans Heinz Holz, Prismatisches Denken,” in Uber Walter Benjamin, ed. Theodor W. Adorno (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1968). 56 Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 116. Walter Benjamin, quoted in Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 19. 58 Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 116.  18  [of the] world, and recoiling with horror from the emptied world that results from this refusal, transfigures the abyss, reconceptualizes it, and by so doing discovers the actual course of historical happening itself.” 59 The movement from the devaluation of the world of appearances to a creative, critical response leads to the second movement of fragmentation. Together, devaluation and fragmentation are prerequisites for the third movement of allegorical construction. Fragmentation, in Benjamin’s work, is represented by the petrified landscape, in which allegory emerges as the expression of natural history. As Benjamin explains, “in allegory the observer is confronted with the facies hyppocratica of history as a petrified, primordial landscape. Everything about history that, from the very beginning, has been untimely, sorrowful, unsuccessful, is expressed in a face or rather, in a death’s head.” ° As Benjamin 6 discovered in the Baroque, “if nature has always been subject to the power of death, it is also true that it has always been allegorical. Significance and death both come to fruition in historical development.” 61 In this way, allegorical production is based on the vision of depth separating death (symbolized by nature) and meaning. --  For the allegorist to reconstruct meaning, the objects of contemplation have to be in fragments, the flesh must be pulled away from the bones so there is no longer any superficial illusion of beauty. The fragments become the material of the allegorical construction which seeks to make a coherent image from them. “This piling up of redeemed but now empty fragments shatters the mythic context of wholeness and completeness in which the fragments were initially presented. But so liberated, they become enigmatic and in this way point even more urgently to the crisis of meaning, the image world of natural history.” 62 In this way, nature itself becomes the landscape of the allegorist in which piles of fragments and ruins represent the historical catastrophe. 63 For a cultural geographer to treat the contemporary landscape as a ruin, full of 60 61 62 63  Ibid., 115. Benjamin, quoted in Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 115. Ibid., 118. Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 121. The theme of uncovering layers of meaning in landscape interpretation has been central to the new cultural geography. The work of James Duncan, for example, sees the landscape as multiple texts. The trust of his interpretive method is to uncover the underlying multivocal codes which makes the landscapes cultural creations.’ Duncan aims at finding meaning with the certainty that meaning can be uncovered if one uses the tools of hermeneutic interpretation. By contrast, Benjamin attempts to recover the lost meaning but this aim points to the mystery of meaning, away from any certainty of its existence. James Duncan, The City as Text: The politics of Landscape Interpretation in Kandyan Kingdom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 184.  19  disconnected fragments, is to give form to the melancholy expressed by the critics of the postmodernism. In this work, I treat the commemorative landscape as if it were fragments, rescued from the depth of Revolutionary history to be scattered by the commemoration. It is important to see the landscape as a ruin, for it is a prerequisite to the third, constructive, movement of the allegorist. If the objects of contemplation are driven by the arbitrariness of the fragment and sorrow, the creative response on the contrary, is not arbitrary, it is directed toward the recovery of meaning. This third movement is where the fragments of the puzzle are brought together by the allegorist. This happens in the course of critical or creative construction (such as writing or the production of art). Benjamin describes the passage from contemplation of the fragment to the recovery of its meaning in the following manner: The memory of the pondered holds sway over the disordered mass of dead knowledge. Human knowledge is piecework to it in a particularly pregnant sense: namely as the heaping up of arbitrarily cut pieces, out of which one puts together a puzzle. [...] The allegorist reaches now here, now there, into the chaotic depths that his knowledge places at his disposal, grabs an item out, holds it next to another, and sees whether they fit: the result never lets itself be predicted; for there is no natural mediation between the two. 64 Unlike other thinkers of his time, Benjamin resolutely refused to integrate the fragmentary insight into a broader ontological vision a “structural totality’ as Adorno later called it in which the history of melancholia would be transformed into the history of Dasein.” 65 By assigning subjective meanings to fragments, construction resists totalities and remains open, always driven by the impossibility to recover what has been lost. --  --  The role of images in allegory In the field of the allegorical construction, fragments are conceived of as images. In fact, the very act of writing bears with it the gap between the emblem and the act of inscription; it replicates the gap “between deathly nature (Being) and meaning, between whose poles the allegcrical intention tirelessly travels.” 66 The realm of the allegorist is filled with images seen as enigmatic emblems. The images are waiting to receive an assigned allegorical meaning by getting attached to moral qualities, to people or places, or to other fragments. The power of 64 Benjamin, quoted in Buck-Morss, Dialectics of Seeing, 241. 65 Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 117. 66 Thid., 120.  20  redemption comes from the lack of natural connection between the different fragments brought together into a constellation. For Benjamin, history is recalled in the form of images. “Only this [...J ongoing purgative labor which ‘mortifie& the past can reveal those few images that might have a positive effect in the present.” 67 Benjamin wrote about all sorts of images, from the ‘magic lantern’ slides (‘phantasmagoria’) to the rotating images of the panorama which were experienced in the arcades. As Derek Gregory explains, images are central to Benjamin’s excavation of modernity, Benjamin uses the phantasmagoria as an allegory of modern culture, which explains both his insistence on seeing commodity culture as a projection not a reflection of the economy, as its mediated (even mediatized) representation, and also its interest in the visual, optical ‘spectacular’ inscriptions of modernity. Indeed, Benjamin was one of the earliest commentators to understand the centrality, the constitutive force of the image within modernity. What he proposed to do, in effect, to harness the latent energy of the modern image, to turn it back on itself and thereby use that image as ‘a critique of reason’. 68 I have adopted Benjamin’s technique of bringing images into constellations and see in their diachronic juxtapositions a critical force that can be harnessed to shed light on contemporary culture. The commemoration excavated the depths of revolutionary history for images or fragments that would bring the past to life, yet this method of juxtaposing images rendered effortless their passage into the world of the commodity. To interpret the commemorative landscape, it is not enough to analyse the image, the critic must interpret the association of images. --  --  During the bicentennial, Paris was filled with images from the past: images of and from the Revolution, the 1889 centennial and other commemorations proliferated in the form of postcards, guidebooks, posters, pins, and in press articles. Diachronic juxtapositions between old and new were abundant, especially in shop window decorations and commercial advertisements riding the wave of the bicentennial year. I view the bicentennial as an accumulation (in Benjamin’s words, a ‘trash heap’) of these images waiting to be deciphered. In this, I avoid explaining the images through their filiation, as is done traditionally in art history. I do not, for example, explain the allegory of Liberty  67 Michael W. Jennings, Dialectical Images: Walter Benjamin’s Theory of Literary Criticism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987), 38. 68 Gregory, Geographical Imaginations, 233.  21  as performed by Jessye Norman on Bastille Day by looking at the history of black singers in France or the evolution of republican imagery in order to place a black Marianne (symbol of a free nation) within an evolution of images. I bring historical references that particular image draws upon in conjunction with other images circulating at the same time showing, for example, how the image of a black Liberty is inscribed first with the biblical imagery of the Exodus and then, when brought into a constellation with the figure of Toussaint Louverture (a Haitian revolutionary) acquires an additional meaning. The spatialization of history in allegory In the allegorical construction, images get attached to moral qualities, people, places, or other fragments. Attaching images rescued from the past to places is one of the most important operations of the commemoration. This aspect of the construction is the spatialization of history evident in nature in geological strata. The spatialization of time might well be the most intriguing aspect of allegory, yet is often left unnoticed showing once again, how space tends to be taken for granted. --  --  In the modern novel, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak argues, the allegorical form is not only visual, it is spatial. Its shorthand definition would be “a spatialization directed toward a meta-semantic system of signification. [...J I mean by ‘spatializing,’ a language that emphasizes the metaphor of space and describes icons, rather than emphasizing the metaphor of time and describing processes.” 69 Spivak’s analysis of modern and contemporary novels such as those by Claude Simon, brings her to The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence (1915) to show a “construction of an iconic dictionary for the dissemination of psychological and historical significance.” ° In the opening sequence, Lawrence converts history 7 into a handful of images by describing, in the manner of a panorama, the village where the story of a family through four generations will unfold. The spatialization of history “is a product of that generalizing tendency that we identify as a basic characteristic of ‘allegory’. What the reader is provided with in fact is a visual sign for centuries of a historic panorama... •“71 Seen in this way, the visual aspect of allegory is undeniably intertwined with the act of converting history into space.  69 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Thoughts on the principle of allegory, Genre 4, (Oct. 1972): 327-352, 351. 70 Thid., 337. 71 Ibid.  22  The spatializing aspect of allegory is crucial to my analysis of the commemorative landscape. The commemoration re-read the urban landscape in such a way as to underline places of Revolutionary heritage. It also built new monuments and in so doing drew from the history of each site in order to make Paris mean the French Revolution. Lastly, the ephemeral events like concerts and parades not only spoke about history, they often necessitated temporary architecture which gave the event its “historical dimension” -- to use the words of the organizers. Events took place in public spaces in front of monuments which functioned like landscapes in allegorical paintings: they might be in the background, but without them one cannot decipher their allegorical meaning. The desire of the allegorist is to make familiar places appear strange. “The landscape, so intimately familiar, known in every detail, suddenly looks inextricably wrong.” 72 All the pieces of the landscape seem out of place, as though “arranged by some unnatural force” and what seemed related by logic now appears as fragments, ruins scattered around in an arbitrary manner. But in the eyes of the allegorist, the world as shattered and meaningless is truer, it is seen as a higher truth about the nature of things than what was concealed before by an illusionary order. In the end, for Benjamin, “allegory goes away empty-handed” and the allegory turns upon itself to reach a greater awareness of the existence of God. 73 Yet for me, the investigation into the commemorative landscape is a secular investigation. My intent is to redeem spectacle by creating constellations of images from the fragments excavated by the bicentennial. Like Benjamin, I use the allegorical technique on allegories put forth by the commemoration. In order to treat these allegories allegorically, it is first necessary to break them apart into fragments and then recombine then with places, people and even other fragments. I will not follow the three movements as described by Pensky for to do so, would be to turn the analysis into a formula and remove the element of surprise necessary for the allegory to become meaningful to the reader. The recovery of meaning is the driving force behind all the chapters and, like Benjamin, my intent is not to find all the answers but rather to point to the mystery of meaning and leave the magic of interpretation open. 72 Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, page number. Gershom Scholem explains, “melancholia as (dialectically) both hypertrophied subjectivity and messianic consiousness [...] touches upon one of the deepest and strongest impulses in the messianic tradition in Judaism, the vision of the Tikkun, which restores the originary flaw, ends the metaphysical Galut, and reveals that in the end, all creation was God’s creation, all evil was deviation from God’s mind.” Pensky, Melancholy Dialectics, 133.  23  Description of chapters  My overall argument is that the government, by trying to make revolutionary heritage mean something to people today, used allegorical techniques of spatializing and visualizing history, 74 and consequently effected a smooth passage for this heritage into the world of commodity and spectacle. To analyze both sides of this dilemma, I shuttle back and forth between Mitchell’s analysis of the “world-as-exhibition” and Benjamin’s redemptive interpretation of the commodity. I use the first as a theoretical basis to investigate the mechanisms of representation and the ways the organizers attempted to make Paris mean the revolution. I use the second to explore the openess to interpretation by the public by bringing images into constellations with a redemptive intent. The juxtaposition of images from the past and the present should not be ‘explained’, there is no ‘therefore’. Each image is both irreducible and keeps its full grandeur as it is juxtaposed with the others. The links woven between them do not belong to the deductive mode but to the allegorical one which leaves open the magic of interpretation. Like perspective lines which are needed to structure a painting, but cannot be seen once the work is complete, I have used the formal qualities of allegory as an underlying organization for the thesis chapters. One of the characteristics of allegory is its ability to carry a double meaning, of which the hidden one makes a political, moral or philosophical argument. This is the nigma. The moral nigma, for example, is used by preachers who want to transmit their message through biblical stories. In the bicentennial, the program of commemorative events can be seen as a moral nigma. It was more than a simple matter of organising the events of the year, the program set up a “paysage moralisé” to use the words of W.H. Auden. The organizers sought to communicate the moral dimension of the commemoration through the content and sequence of the events. In Chapter Two, I investigate the introductory statement of the program, written by the head of the Bicentennial Commission as a moral nigma I read it as a moral tale of origin, community and the principles of heritage. --  --  In Chapter Three, I investigate the tendency of allegory to contemplate the ceaseless accumulation of fragments from the past. As Owens says, “allegory is  With reference to Boyers ‘pictorialization of space and time,’ Spivak’s “spatialization of history,” and Foucault’s “making statements visible.  24  constantly attracted to the fragmentary, the imperfect, the incomplete.” 75 This could be seen most clearly in the disproportionately large number of exhibitions mounted to display objects from the revolutionary period. The largest of these exhibits, which took place at the Grand Palais, surprised art critics with its lack of direction and curatorial commentary. I treat this exhibit as an accumulation of fragments that need to be deciphered, and I create constellations of images drawn from the exhibit to create different stories about history. The aspect of allegory that I call the spatialization of history is explored in both chapter four and six. In Chapter Four, I bring three images into a constellation in order to recover the meaning of a temporary monument built on Place de la Concorde for the Bastille Day Parade. The diachronic juxtaposition of these images with the architecture show that the original meaning of the monument has been entirely reversed. In Chapter Six, on the other hand, I explore the spatialization of history through three major monuments built for the commemoration: the Grand Arche, the renovation of the Louvre around the central motif of the Pyramid, and the Bastille Opera. Their placement in the Parisian landscape reshaped the historical narrative associated with the history of the axis which links them. In Chapter Five, I look at one of the best known and most traditional forms of allegory, as the personification of abstract ideas such as liberty or equality. In the bicentennial, this was noticeably accomplished by the choice of a black American opera singer to personify Liberty and the Nation. I also investigate the reverse of personification, when historical figures are treated in a formulaic way so that they become ‘walking ideas’ in allegory, this is called figura. I investigate this in the figure of Toussaint Louverture, a real person, who was taken up by the commemoration to represent the idea of ‘equality’. --  Lastly, certain allegories group enigmatic emblems in an ‘unnatural’ manner, with no apparent rational interrelation. Surrealist painters, exploring ways to depict the landscapes of the Freudian unconscious, used this technique. In Paul de Man’s view, the apparent irrationality of allegories simply underlines the metaphorical aspects of language. “[He] recognises the interference of two distinct levels or usage of language, literal and rhetorical (metaphoric), one of which denies precisely what the other affirms. [...] Yet because literal language is Owens, Beyond Recognition, 55.  25  itself rhetorical, the product of metaphoric substitutions and reversals, such readings are inevitably implicated in what they set out to expose, and the result is allegory.’ t76 The Bastille Day Parade, designed by Goude, falls in this category. In Chapter Seven, I investigate how the parade brought together images with no apparent logic in order to tap into the imaginary. But it also had an allegorical meaning, one that would be deciphered by some but not all: the parade spoke of localized struggles for cultural identity and the interconnectedness of culture throughout the world. In treating the parade allegorically, I can show how the same image was interpreted in opposite manners by different audiences, which points to the instability of meaning but also finally, to its redemptive potential.  76 Paul de Man, quoted in Owens, Beyond Recognition, 83.  26  CHAPTER TWO  THE PROGRAMME AS A MORAL FABLE  The programme of the commemoration is a volume of over 300 pages listing all the events planned for the 1989 commemoration of the French Revolution, not only in France but throughout the world. The events include exhibitions, plays, musical performances, outdoor events, colloquia, television debates and films. Out of the 7,000 events listed, 5,000 were directly sponsored by the government, the other 2,000 came from corporate or private initiatives. The published programme costs 40 francs and could be bought at a number of information centres. The programme is introduced by Jean-Noel Jeanneney, the president of the ‘Mission du Bicentenaire’, the name given to the temporary organization responsible for planning and executing the bicentennial celebrations.’ The printed version of the programme is introduced by Jean-Noel Jeanneney, Here it is, made available to everyone, the definitive programme of the commemoration not carved in stone since the unexpected will surely continue to intervene, but still, it is now fixed according to clear lines of action. I am ready to bet that the publication of this portrait of the commemoration as we have constituted it in its full richness, by bringing us into the era of realization, will contribute to dissipate the last skeptics. --  The reader will especially appreciate the implication of this profusion in terms of the French Revolution’s impact on so many hearts and minds that still exists today: initiatives to honor its memory appeared from everywhere. A commemoration solely focused on France would be absurd. As we hoped, foreign countries are participating wonderfully. Over the past few months, I have gone through many countries: I have been struck by both the enthusiasm of those who act, as the 1 The full name of the organization is La Mission du Bicentennaire de la Revolution Francaise et des Droits de iHomme et du Citoyen.”  27  bicentennial takes on different colors depending on the type of Nation it is and its particular history. On top of the list is North America, Japan, various Latin American countries, Senegal, and quite a few of our European partners: Italy, Germany and Belgium are in the front row. But everywhere, as we will discover by browsing through the list of events printed in these pages, a multiplicity of intentions has bloomed. In France as well, different regions organize themselves according to different imaginations and passions: the Revolution’s history offers, in itself, the explanation. But in general, the rich panorama of projects also reflected by the information accessible by Minitel for the public will reassure those who feared that things were organized in too centralized a fashion, too Parisian. --  --  Nevertheless the events of the capital will contribute before all others to give character to the celebrations: a natural thing, when we know the chronicle of the historic events. Even if the point is not to recall the entire Revolution, the major dates of 1789 will be the structuring markers. If we flip through these pages, by going back and forth between these markers and the dense framework of all the other events, we will see, I think, that the events prepared by the Mission [...] will succeed quite well to confer to the commemoration both its moral and civic dimension. When it comes to the National significance of what we will build together, I cannot do better than to offer to re-read Victor Hugo’s text that the Mission has published in all the national newspapers on the first day of the year. It dates from 1875, but we find it quite current. “All histories are about the past. [...J The history of the revolution is the history of the future. The Revolution has been the conquest of what is ahead. [...J It has brought us even more promised land than gained territory; and as one of these promises will be realized, a new aspect of the Revolution will be revealed. [...J When will this be whole? When will the phenomena be finished, that is, when the French Revolution will become [...] first a European Revolution, then a human Revolution; when utopia will be consolidated into progress, when the sketch will become a masterpiece; the coalition of kings will have been succeeded by the creation of a federation of people, and war among all, by peace for all. Impossible, unless one adds a dream, to complete from today onwards what will be completed tomorrow, and to conclude history with an unfinished gesture, especially when this gesture is full of so many rich future events. [...] Nothing more immense. The Terror is a crater, the Convention a summit. All the future is growing in these depths... 2 2 Jeanneney, Jean-Noel, ed., Programme des manifestations du Bicentenaire de Ia Revolution Fran çaise, 2 e edition (Paris: Mission du Bicentenaire de la Revolution Francaise et des Droits de iHomme et du Citoyen/Mundoprint, 1989), 2-3.  28  The introduction ends with this lyrical text by Victor Hugo. 3 The introduction to the programme does more than present the schedule of 7,000 events structured around a “chronicle of the historic events” and explain why the important events (the “markers”) take place in Paris. The programme carries another intention: to speak about the moral value of national heritage. There is in this introduction a powerful moral tale at work. Jeanenney is “ready to bet” this commemoration will “dissipate the last skeptics” and will show the “French Revolution’s impact on so many hearts and minds [...] today.” He is confident that the programme of events for the year will “confer to the commemoration its moral and civic dimension.” What is more, this moral tale is not a personal lesson, but acquires a messianic dimension in his assertions that “the history of the Revolution is the history of the future,” “utopia will be consolidated into progress”, and “the sketch will become a masterpiece”. It has universal aspirations, as “foreign countries are participating wonderfully,” “a multiplicity of intentions is blooming,” and his statement that the commemoration is about “first, a European Revolution, then a human Revolution.” If we consider these quotes from the introductory text as fragments, they can be gathered into a constellation organized around a moral lesson. They speak of the moral dimension of the memory of the French Revolution, and its “impact on so many hearts and minds today.” The choice of what is commemorated in the body of the programme reinforces that there is a moral to this story of the Revolution. The historical “markers” emphasize the “good” revolution over other more disturbing aspects of Revolutionary history and what is more, events that commemorate the darker side of the Revolution are presented as an opportunity for a moral lesson. 4 Jeannenay is quite clear on this point. Striking a balance between gain and sacrifice, Jeannenay defends the choice of ‘positive’ dates for the programme. He says that, we have tried, throughout the commemoration, to celebrate the [revolutionary] principles without concealing the moments when they were violated by the revolutionaries themselves: moments that the heirs of the victims can legitimately commemorate, but that the State should neither hide nor of course include in the celebration. [...] Do not think that putting a plaque for Condorcet at --  ‘  --  Taken from Actes et Paroles, 1875. The speech delivered by president Francois Mitterand for pantheonization of Condorcet to the Pantheon explicitly turns the memory of his life and his writings into a lesson for moral conduct in present day France I will come back to this later in the chapter. --  29  the Pantheon an exceptional gesture since there will be no transfer of ashes was a choice taken by chance or thoughtlessly. It will be an opportunity to speak not only about the contribution of Condorcet to the Revolution, but also what caused his dramatic 5 [...] We have tried to serve, within the strict limits of our death. political and social function, what you [might] call the intelligence of the past. 6 --  --  We see in the programme one of the oldest characteristics of allegory: its ability to carry a double meaning, of which the hidden one is a moral argument. This is the nigma. Generally, allegories proceed from obscurity toward clarity, even if they keep the enigma (the mystery) until the very end. Bertolt Brecht’s poem “The Stone Fisherman” is an example of an enigma with a political meaning. The big fisherman has appeared again. He sits in his rotted boat and fishes from the time when the first lamps flare up early in the morning until the last one is put out in the evening. The villagers sit on the gravel of the embankment and watch him, grinning. He fishes for herring but he pulls up nothing but stones. They all laugh. The men slap their sides, the women hold on to their bellies, the children leap high into the air with laughter. When the big fisherman raises his torn net high and the stones in it, he does not hide them but reaches far out with his strong brown arms, seizes the stone, holds it high and shows it to the unlucky 7 ones. The meaning of this parable, in which “the leader does not give his people what they need, but instead gives them ‘stones’,” becomes clear only as the reader pieces together the puzzle at the last line. I will interpret the programme not as a political enigma but as a moral one. The moral enigma is traditionally associated with a preacher at the pulpit who draws from biblical stories to speak about present situations. The preacher’s parables are moralitas, referring to hidden but intentional moral meanings. It is no accident that the organizers of the bicentennial had to turn to the tools of the Arrested as a moderate, Condorcet committed suicide in prison, after which his body deposited in a common grave the reason why there are no ashes to be placed in the Pantheon. Jeannenay adds, “we have never tried to hide the violations of the principles behind the principles themselves; no more than we have concealed the fact that those who, since the beginning of the process, have totally and deeply rejected the principles also carry a heavy part of the responsibility in the bloody aberrations that occurred later.” Jean-Noel Jeannenay, “Apres coup. Reflexions dun commémorateur,” Le Débat, histoire, politique, société 57 (Nov.-Dec. 1989): 194. 6 Jeannenay, “Apres coup,” 194. Angus Fletcher, Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1964), 32. --  “  30  religious world to communicate their message of the moral value of a secular and rational state. In fact, the relationship between Christianity and the revolution is as old as the revolution itself. The revolutionaries wanted to replace religious faith by a faith in rationality. To do so however, they used many techniques which had evolved in a Christian culture. Aware of the pitfalls, they constantly attempted to keep these two worlds separate and set up a war against the church. Over the ensuing two hundred years, the two realms have remained relatively distinct in law and in state education. 8 Yet as scholars investigate contemporary civic rituals, the religious underpinnings of secular rituals soon come to light. 9 I would like to propose that the moral tale of the programme uses Christian references and that an allegorical interpretation of the programme as a moral fable is essential to understand how the necessary political and symbolic dimension was given to the bicentennial commemoration. I propose that the moral enigma presented in the programme taps into the depths of Christianity in particular the desire to form communities of believers at work in bettering life on earth, a morality based primarily on tolerance of the other (a theme that will appear time and time again in numerous events of the programme) and the concept of self-sacrifice. --  A number of anthropologists and psychologists have investigated the continuity between societies culturally dominated by religion and those dominated by secularism. In psychology, Freud drew analogies between three kinds of obsessive neurosis and three kinds of religious rituals in “Totem and Taboo.” In the United States in the 1940s and ‘50s, Otto Rank further investigated the relation between the Freudian unconscious and ritual as he collected from folklore the necessary materials to bear out this analogy. “The so-called ‘true symbols’ of the dream (what we would call ‘Freudian symbols’) were indeed found to be present in a wide variety of mythological vocabularies.” 0 In addition, Jung and his followers have inspired innumerable mythic interpretations of literary works. In anthropology, Victor Turner remains a major influence on those who investigate the ritual and spiritual aspects of  8 In the current literature on popular images, the Christian roots of the revolution has been anaLyzed by Maurice Aguthon, Marianne au Combat: l’imagerie et la symbolique republicaines de 1789 a 1880 (Paris: Flammarion, 1979) and “La Maitie, liberth, égalité, fraternité,” Les Lieux de Memoire I: La République, ed. Pierre Nora (Paris: Gallimard, 1984); Raoul Girardet, “Las trois couleurs, ni blanc ni rouge,” Les Lieux de Mémoire I: La République; Thierry Gasmer, “Le local, une et divisible,’ Las Lieux de Mémoire III: Las France, vol. 2., Traditions, ed. Pierre Nora (Paris: Gallimard, 1992); Antoine de Baecque, La Corps de l’histoire, métaphores et politique, 1770-1 800 (Mesnil-sur-Estree: Calmann-Lévy, 1993). For an investigation into the strong Christian influence in conservative intellectual and political circles in the first half of the twentieth century, see Herman Lebovics, True France The Wars over Cultural Identity (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992). 10 Fletcher, Allegory, 285.  31  11 For Turner, the notions of “liminality contemporary industrialized societies. and “communitas” traverse most traditional expressions of Christianity from pilgrimages in modern Ireland or Mexico to alternative lifestyles such as hippie communes and rock concerts such as Woodstock. The width of his concept is has shown to be useful to many different kinds of investigations from theatre to art history and when carefully applied to specific, historically bound situations it can lead to remarkable analyses. 12  Sacrifice for the Nation Jeanneney’s introduction to the programme speaks of “honoring the memory” of the Revolution, of making clear the “national significance of what we will build together.” What is the memory that is being honored here? Not all the events of the Revolution, but only those that “confer to the commemoration both its moral and civic dimension.” What is being honored is the sacrifice that has been made for the good of the Nation. This is not the sacrifice of the Ancien Regime, or the body of the king, so the new order could be created. It is the civic sacrifice in which everyone must participate. An analysis of the cover of the programme can shed some light on this civic sacrifice (fig. 2.1). It is a detail from a painting depicting the departure of the National Guard from Paris as they join the army in 1792. The scene is located on the Pont Neuf, across from the royal residence of the Louvre. Here, the Guard are at the moment of leaving, prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for a cause clearly greater than France itself for the Revolution and the ensuing redemption of Mankind, and legitimating the beginning of a new Republican era. If this seems to be overstating the import of the image, we return to Hugo’s text, “It has brought us even more promised land than gained territory; and as soon as these promises will be realized, a new aspect of the Revolution will be revealed [...] when the French Revolution will become [...] a human Revolution; when utopia will be consolidated into progress, when the sketch will become a masterpiece; the coalition of kings will have been succeeded by the creation of a federation of people, and war among all, by peace for all.” This historical sacrifice --  See Carol Duncan’s analysis of the MOMA in New York which uses Turners theory of liminality to decipher the ‘script inscribed in the sequence of rooms of the museum. Carol Duncan and Alan Wallach, “The Museum of Modern Art as Late Capitalist Ritual: an iconographic analysis,” Marxist Perspectives (Winter 1978): 28-51. 12 See Richard Schechner, “Ramlila in Ramnagar and America’s Oberammergau: two celebratory ritual dramas,’ Celebrations, ed. Victor Turner (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984), 89-1 08.  32  Figure 2.1 “THE NATIONAL GUARD OF PARIS LEAVES TO JOIN THE ARMY” BY LEON COGNIET, 1792 The white frame indicates the portion used for the cover of the published programme of events, Programme des manifestations du bicentenaire de la Revolution Francaise. ed. Jean-Noel Jeannenay (Paris: Mission du Bicentenaire/Mundoprint, 1989). 33  has been constructed over the past two centuries as uniquely symbolizing the foundation/origin of French democratic republican government. Michel Foucault discusses the relationship between the construction of the civic sacrifice as a fundamental premise of the democratic republican state and the development of the apparatus of rational governmentality during the Revolution. In the 1780s, for example, five volumes were published to layout a systematic program of public health for the modern state. It indicates with a lot of detail what an administration has to do to insure the wholesome food, good housing, health care, and medical institutions which the population needs to remain healthy, in short to foster life of individuals. Through this book we can see that the care for individual life is becoming at this moment a duty of the state. At that same moment the French Revolution gives the signal for the great national wars of our days, involving national armies and meeting their conclusion or their climax in huge mass slaughters. I think that you can see a similar phenomenon during the second world war. In all history it would be hard to find such butchery as in World War II, and it is precisely this period, this moment, when the great welfare, public health, and medical assistance programs were instigated. [...J One could symbolize such a coincidence by a slogan: go get slaughtered and we promise you a long and pleasant life. Life insurance is connected with a death 13 command. Here Foucault establishes a relationship between the demand for young men to enlist in the army, to sacrifice themselves for the Nation, and the notion that the government is responsible for the welfare of citizens. 14 Seen from this point of view, the painting chosen for the cover of the program reinforces the link between the birth of the Republic (as a government) and the sacrifice of men for the Nation.  Distanciation from the ‘social drama’ In the introduction to the programme, Jeanennay does not speak of people reliving the revolution “the point is not to recall the entire revolution,” but for the “events prepared by the Mission to succeed [... in] confer[ring] to the commemoration [...] its moral and civic dimension.” In fact, for the --  13 Michel Foucault, The Political Technologies of Individuals, Technologies of the Self, ed. Luther Martin, Hugh Gutman and Patrick H. Hutton (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988), 147. 14 The National Guard is departing for the battle of Valmy against the Prussian army. Their victory on 22 September 1792 was the first victory by the army of the Nation (joining the regular army) against a foreign power.  34  commemoration to be successful in this, it must remove the emotional charge of the revolutionary events and structure its remembering so that its moral lesson can be reflected upon. The program represents the structure given to the commemorative ritual which organizes a potentially chaotic celebration and emphasize its moral dimension. The public life of the republic is organized around highly structured rituals like inaugurations, the taking of the presidential oath, state funerals, and so forth; yet, in the case of this commemoration, the commemorative ritual refers to time of ‘anti-structure,’ a time when everything seemed ‘between and betwixt.’ Victor Turner calls such a time “social drama.” 15 As Jean Davallon says, the commemoration refers to the social drama as something that belongs to another time, to a time of disorder that is present in all transitions from one order to another. [The commemoration is the opposite of antistructure] since, as in all rituals, it aims at establishing regularities, preventing crises, repairing accidents, explaining difference. 16 If the commemoration evokes too powerfully the moment of the ‘social drama’, the public might respond in unexpected and uncontrollable ways rather, the organizers want people to draw the appropriate civic and moral lesson from it. Parades, fireworks, musical performances and other attributes of commemorative rituals regulate the disorder of anti-structure in the public realm. They represent a shared sense of order and a common language. They secure the potentially explosive differences of the ‘social drama’ within the margins of convention and the structure of the ceremonies. 17 --  But the event also promises wonder. As Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett says, “a key to the appeal of many festivals, with their promise of sensory saturation and thrilling strangeness, is an insatiable and promiscuous appetite for wonder.” 18 A 15 See Victor Turner, The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-structure (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969), especially chapter 3, “Liminality and Communitas.” What Turner calls liminal’ and liminoid corresponds here to the commemorative ritual and the anti-structural aspects of the historical events. 16 Jean Davallon, “La commemoration: une pratique symbolique politique”, Politique de la méinoire (Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 1993), 205. 17 The distance created by the programme was further orchestrated by modem technology which made its content accessible to the public through the Mmitel network. Minitel is a personal computer accessed through telephone lines which allows anyone in France to obtain information such as phone numbers, train schedules, showtimes for theatrical performances and to communicate through writing. By typing 3615, followed by the code B 89, at a Minitel terminal, anyone could access over 5,000 entries regarding the bicentennial an information that was updated weekly. One could also reach into the depths of the revolutionary past by accessing historical files. For example, the original text of the cahier des doleances (a questionnaire done during 1789 asking people what they were unhappy about) had been copied into one the files of accessible by Minitel. Anyone could find out what had been recorded in the cahier in a certain vifiage, town or city in France by reading a transcript. Accessing such powerful, and often emotional, historical material by simply typing on a Minitel keyboard, made the past more more accessible and yet, at the same time, also more structured, more organized. 18 Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, “Objects of Ethnography,” Exhibiting Cultures: the poetics and politics of museum display, ed. Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), 428. —  35  thrill of strangeness and the structure of ritual commemoration are not contradictory, on the contrary, one depends on the other. The form of the ritual secures the symbolic meaning of the event, in order for ‘sensory saturation’, ‘the thrilling strangeness’ and wonder to exist within its borders. Reflection on the ‘lessons of the Revolution’ Reflecting on his work of organizing the commemoration, Jeannenay speaks of the moral lessons contained within it, the commemoration offered, particularly to the younger generations, an opportunity to reflect on the fragility of the [revolutionary] gain and on the sacrifices it had required, [...] with an opportunity to breathe life into the analyses and the ambitions of the revolutionaries, particularly in the line of Condorcet, by focusing especially on attitudes towards those that are excluded, [such as] the poor and the immigrants. 19 This reflection on the lessons of history is perhaps the most powerful way that the symbolic meaning of the commemoration is secured. Many events in the programme invited such a meditation on ‘meaning’ of the revolutionary heritage. Reflection on poverty, for example was the subject of an exhibit housed in a thirty foot high elephant called ‘L’éléphant de la mémoire’ (the elephant of memory). On entering the body of the elephant, visitors saw a slide show about poverty during the revolution (fig. 2.2). The elephant is believed to be the animal with the largest memory and during the revolution, it came to symbolize the memory of the poor. The slide show drew from the story of Gavroche, the hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, who slept inside the elephant that stood on Place de la Bastille. ° By recalling a well-known story, the exhibit invited 2 audiences to reflect on poverty today. Reflection took a therapeutic function during the commemoration of the Jeu de Paume (the Tennis Court Oath) on June 20, the day when revolutionaries from all three orders swore to stay united. The therapeutic function of reflection Drawing from semiotics, Davallon remarks that the sense of distance, structured by the conventions of rituals and performances, tends to favor the human body over language. He argues that in order to be effective, regulating disorder needs to exist outside of language. For Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, “ritual searches to establish regularity where there was none [...] and its symbolism takes over at a time when language can no longer frame the event” (Ibid., 417). Nowhere was the sense of distance better illustrated than in live performances in museums about the revolution. The museum can be considered “a form of environmental theater — visitors moving through experience a mis-en-scene visually and kinesthetically” (Ibid., 415). A key to the appeal of performances in museums is the contrast between live performing bodies and the dead objects surrounding them. “Performance oriented approaches to [pasti culture place a premium on the particularities of human actions, on language spoken and ritual performed” (Ibid.). Such approaches grapple well with large and complex historical events and present them to relatively small groups of people in the intimate setting of the museum. 19 Ibid. 188. 20 In 1808, a papier-mache sculpture of the elephant was built on place de la Bastille honor one of the revolutionary to projects, then it was left to decay. This gave Victor Hugo the idea to make it a refuge for his character Gavroche.  36  Figure 2.2 RECONSTRUCTION OF THE ELEPHANT OF MEMORY IN LILLE, 1989 Photograph reproduced from 89, Le Livre du Bicentenaire, ed. Claire Andrieu (Paris: Le Chêne-Hachette, 1990), 108.  37  became clear in the speech given by the President on that occasion. As Dominique Julia argues, “the discourse called on the very old rhetorical exercise of the magistra vitae, which consists in reflecting upon history to derive a moral 21 Mitterand argued for assuming the entire heritage, including the value.” painful memories of the massacres and not to erase the harshness, not to retain only what is convenient. He was quite explicit in his account of the Terror, “the ghastly images of Nantes, Lyon, the Carmes, the September prisons, the list is long. [...J The exercise of the Terror has made crime blasé just like strong liqueurs numb the palate, the Revolution is chilled.” 22 The intention of such an analysis is to reintegrate in the heart of the commemoration what is impossible to commemorate. Through the act of speaking out, by saying the unspeakable, what tore people apart in the past became what linked them together -- that was the therapeutic function of this reflection. Yet for the organizers, reflection on the past was most often coupled with an intention to provoke a reflection on the present. In the words of Jeannenay, “what is most disturbing is what remains to be conquered.” 23 One of the presentday moral lessons intended by the programme is tolerance, especially towards those treated by others as less than equal. Many programmed events were intended to entice participants to spread notions of tolerance. The Bastille Day parade for example, was, according to Jeannenay, designed “to incite a lot of people to fight with more vigor to understand the Other and to fight for tolerance on a day-to-day basis.” 24 Other events as well focused on tolerance. The installation of three revolutionary personalities -- Condorcet, Abbé Gregoire and Gaspard Monge -- at the Pantheon was intended “to focus on the attitudes towards those that are excluded, the poor the immigrants.. “25 Condorcet was a philosopher and an aristocrat, politically a moderate, whose wife ran a salon influential in revolutionary circles. He was a vigorous advocate of educating and informing a voting public and establishing a free public education system. He was against slavery and a strong advocate of the rights of women. Abbé Grégoire was an elected representative to the Third Estate and a crucial link between the ‘lower 21 Dominique Julia, “Les évêques et le Bicentenaire,” Le Débat: histoire, politique, société 57 (Nov-Dec. 1989), 197. 22 Francois Mitterand, speech published in Le Monde on June 22, 1989. “Les images atroces de Nantes, de Lyon, des Carmes, des prisons de septembre, la lisle est longue. [...] L’exercice de Ia Terreur a blasé le crime comme les liqueurs fortes blasent le palais, la Revolution est glacée.” 23 Jeannenay, “Apres coup,” 187. 24 Jeannenay, “Après coup,’ 197. 25 Ibid., 188.  38  (working) clergy’ and the revolutionaries. He was a defender of minority rights, especially of the Jews and ‘coloured peoples.’ In 1790, he was elected president of the ‘Societe des Amis des Noirs.’ By pantheonizing defenders of the rights of blacks, Jews and women, the government invited reflection on contemporary forms of exclusion and, implicitly, on work that remains to be done in that area. Lastly, Gaspard Monge, a symbol of the patriotic professor, the creator of the scientific establishments, was chosen to reflect on the links between science and ethics. By choosing to highlight revolutionary ideas that correspond to contemporary concerns, the government programmed reflection on “what remains to be conquered,” from freedom of access to information, to racism and human rights, and to the ethics of biological research. Commemoration as a rite of re-enactment Like any ritual, the commemoration is based on repetition. If there is a national heritage to speak of, it is because it has been repeatedly reinscribed through different civic rituals such as Bastille Day balls, oaths of office, and public 26 Repetition is there to secure the fleeting meaning of the parades. commemorative act. Mona Ozouf calls this insistence on repetition “la logique du même” (the logic of the same), that is, the logic that pushes programmers of commemorations to repeat the same acts, in the same place, on the same dates. As Ozouf says, in past commemorations, “to change sites or to commemorate the ‘wrong’ date was always felt as a waste of sacral energy.” 27 Ideally, the commemoration would reenact all the events of the revolution, one by one, in the actual places where the events took place. In the bicentennial programme, the site of the Champ de Mars (the traditional place for the revolutionary commemorations) was programmed by the mayor of Paris for an event celebrating the centenary of the Eiffel Tower, not a revolutionary event. This was seen as a transgression, as a politically childish act that prevented the parade from taking place in its traditional site. 28 As a result the parade was moved to the Champs Elysees, a site 26 The history of rituals commemorating the French Revolution is discontinuous, since each time the monarchy returned to power republican celebrations were stopped. Fourteenth of July balls for example, were only reinstituted in 1880. But this only shows to what extent traditions are presented as if they have a long and continuous history. For an analysis of this phenomena, see Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). 27 Mona Ozouf, “Peut-on commémorer la Revolution Francaise?”Le Débat, histoire, politique, société 26 (Sept. 1983): 163. 28 See interviews of visitors to the exhibit at the Beaubourg Museum during 1989 for peoples reaction to the local politics surrounding the choices of bicentennial in Patrick Garcia, Jacques Levy, Marie-Flore Mattei, (eds.), Revolutions,fin et suite (Paris: EspacesTemps/Centre Georges Pompidou, 1991), especially pp. 147-164.  39  which had up to then been associated with military parades and not revolutionary events. For Maurice Halbwachs, the physical presence of the site where the event occurred is central to the principle of collective remembering. For those who want to believe in the greater significance of what they are commemorating, they have to be confident that they are seeing and touching the very places where the facts subsequently transformed into dogma had happened. [...} If a truth is to be settled in a memory of a group, it needs to be presented in the concrete form of an event, of a personality, or of a locality. A purely abstract truth is not a recollection; a recollection refers us to the past. An abstract truth by contrast, has no hold on the succession of events; it is of the order of a wish or of an aspiration. 29 In that regard, the commemorative act is for participants to feel linked to the revolutionaries, not only to feel the same as them, but the same among themselves. Ozouf argues that the festive programmes, the planning of parades, the projects for monuments and the speeches assert the following affirmations: those who we honor are the same (between themselves), we are all the same (between ourselves), we are still the same as back then, we remain the 30 As an example of “we are the same as back then,” in 1889, the Bastille same.” was entirely rebuilt as a stage set in order to reenact its storming on July 14th 1789, after which it was symbolically demolished just as it was a hundred years earlier. Likewise, during the bicentennial in 1989, the planting of liberty trees throughout the country was recognized as one such reenactment of the past. The programme referred to the month of March as l’enracinement (taking roots) because on the 21st (the vernal equinox), 36,000 liberty trees would be planted throughout the country; reenacting one of the few revolutionary ceremonies which emanated from popular culture. One of these celebrations recalled and honored the participation of the church during the revolution in the presence of President Mitterand. As Dominique Julia says, “the Eveque of Poitier came (dressed in civil clothes) to plant a red oak from America in Saint Gaudent to replicate the gesture done in May 1790 by a patriot priest called Norbert Pressac.” ’ 3 The calendar of the bicentennial year was structured around the major “good” historical dates of the French revolution. These were the Opening of General 29 Maurice Halbwachs, On Collective Memory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 200. 30 Ozouf, “Commémorer,’ 162. 31 Julia, “Les eveques,” 198. The inclusion of the church in the official celebrations of the bicentennial was, in general, resisted by the Catholic authorities, but the governments attempt to do so was still significant. I will talk about that in the section on “reflection” below.  40  Estates (May 5, 1789), the birth of the National Assembly (June 20, 1789), the storming of the Bastille (July 14, 1789), the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (August 26, 1789) and the victory at Valmy (September 20-22 1792). Through these few dates, one can see that the first part of the revolution is favored over the period known as the ‘Terror’ (1793-94), the death of the king (January 20, 1793) is omitted and the “night of August 4, 1789,” when the abolition of all privileges was voted, recedes in the background. The only date that refers to an event after 1789 is the battle of Valmy, an event associated with the birth of the nation as a Republic. As the programme says, on that date “the course of history was altered by the Nation joining the regular army, which led 32 to the institution of the Republic.” The French historian Michel Vovelle comments on the choice of dates which favor the portrayal of a ‘good’ revolution. In 1989, one chose to celebrate the year 1789, conceived as the privileged frame of the ‘good’ revolution, the one of freedom, and the one of the Rights of Man. This was a way to avoid pushing further to 1793 and 1794, or even to the break of August 10, 1792 [the storming of the Tuileries palace]. This political choice that is understandable and can be justified in terms of searching for a minimal consensus after all, the storming of the Bastille and the Declaration of the Rights of Man [...J are no futile objects! 33 The question of choice is central to commemorations: ‘what do we choose to celebrate, what do we omit?’ These are the questions awaiting the organizers of any commemoration. --  In her analysis of the correspondence between the political parties and choices of dates to commemorate in the Revolution, Ozouf says that the officials responsible for the celebrations that were politically located in the center, both in 1889, in 1939, and in 1989 recognized that there were many revolutions. Their choice of dates from 1789 was not only emblematic and strategic, but analytical, as a consequence of a conscious selection. It is revealing that in 1989, one of the official presentations insisted that the Revolution was not one block. “For me, I do not accept to say that the Revolution is one block. The hatred between men has stood in the way of ideas.” 34 On the other hand, in the commemorations of the moderate-left, “the French Revolution can be commemorated not as a promise but as a gain.” 35 32 Jeanneney, Programme des manifestations, 7. tviichei Vovelle, Combat pour Ia revolution (Paris: Editions la découverte/Sociéte des etudes robespierristes, 1993), 85. Herriot quoted by Ozouf, “Peut-on commémorer,” 168. Ozouf, “Peut-on commémorer,” 169.  41  By contrast, in the celebrations put on by the extreme left either during 1889 and more clearly during the communist festivities of 1939, there is a desire for homogeneity. All the major actors of the revolution are commemorated, one after the other along the progression of time, all the way to Thermidor (when Robespierre lost power). There is no discrimination. “What distinguishes these commemorations from the official ones is their extraordinary capacity of absorption, to digest and abolish the contradictions existing in the patrimony.” 36 But among the most radical believers in the Robespierrist government of 1793; no one, Ozouf remarks, has thought to commemorate the death of Robespierre or, as for the terror, no one has paraded a guillotine. For the extreme left, the Revolution is not over. In 1939 the Workers Party protests against the term “The Ancient Revolution” and say that in reality “the revolution is permanent. It is of an eternal actuality. Our fathers saw the beginning, we would not even see the middle. Because the causes that produced it are, for centuries to come, in the heart of people.” 37 By contrast, on the side of the reformists, the Revolution is definitely finished, or should be. For the moderate left, Ozouf explains, by 1939 the Revolution no longer appears as a promise but as a gain. In 1989, the program established by the Mission shared the ‘centrist’ tradition of official commemorations which recognized the plurality of the revolution but like the ones of the moderate left it attempted to recognize the gains even if they arose from confronting the dark sides of the past in order to draw out a moral lesson. On the one hand, we have a position represented by Michel Vovelle that says that all dates should be commemorated, and on the other, a position that says that only the dates relevant to our situation should be celebrated. In between the two, we find discussions about the type of assumptions involved in choosing. The weakness of the argument for commemorating all the dates, says Mona Ozouf, “is to confuse commemoration with history. We could nearly sustain that these two activities are contradictory. An historian who would occlude the ‘September massacres’ would be undignified. On the other hand, to me, a commemoration that does is dignified.” 38 Commemoration, for Ozouf, is 36 Ibid., 168. Ibid., 168. 38 Mona Ozouf, “A laise dans la commemoration, Forum de la Revolution, Special edition of Le monde de Ia Revolution francaise, Special edition for the exhibition Forum at Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou/Le Monde, 1989), p. 2.  42  generated by a desire to bring people together, not distance them; that is why commemorations do not need exactitude, she says, but “euphoria and poetry.” That the program insisted on the year 1789 and the site of Paris shows more than a search for “euphoria and poetry,” it reveals what Halbwachs calls a process of concentration. Landmarks are chosen, he argues, for the power associated with these places before the events took place. In collective memory there are in general particular figures, dates and periods of a time that acquire an extraordinary salience. These attract to themselves other figures and events that happened at other moments. A whole period is concentrated so to speak, in one year, just as a series of actions and events, about which one has forgotten its varrying actors and diverse conditions, gathers together in one man and is attributed to him alone. 39 As if following this analysis, the major dates of the program were clustered around events which took place during the year of 1789, and favoring Paris traditionally the seat of power over other cities. For Halbwachs, rituals delibarately pursue the physical concentration of memories in places “so that, without moving, [an] assembly of believers could evoke them simultaneously and embrace them in a single act of adoration.” ° 4 --  --  In the text, one reads that “the rich panorama of projects [...] will reassure those who feared that things were organized in too centralized a fashion, too Parisian.” This “rich panorama” is offered by the Mission as a cure to over-centralization on Paris. But the emphasis on differences and diversity does not imply, according to Jeanneney, that Paris is unimportant on the contrary, he states that “the capital will contribute before all other places to give character to the celebrations.” In other words, Paris is the part that represents the whole of France, just like the crown represents the king. In that logic, Jeannenay argues “[it is a natural thing] when we know the chronicle of the historic events” implying that most of the revolutionary events occurred in Paris. Thus, the commemorative ritual is spatially recentered and the memory of the revolution radiates from there to touch people’s “hearts and minds” throughout the world and gather them for the commemorative ritual. --  40  Halbwachs, On Collective Memory, 222. Ibid., 223.  43  The mapping out of the commemorative events is a construction. The Mission clearly wanted to make Paris the centre of the bicentennial, since it had been the theatre of the establishment of the Republican government. What was retained above all from the stories of the Revolution were the major steps leading to the establishment of a government that would vote the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. By placing the Declaration on centre stage, the programme insists on the gains of the revolution. “The month of August is dominated by the celebration of the fundamental oeuvre of the French Revolution: it is a time for homage.” ’ The Declaration, therefore, was constructed as the good event par 4 excellence for its proven success, as it has flowered worldwide in the rise of organizations promoting of human rights. The choice of certain dates over others (since a choice is necessary) calls on one of the fundamental aspects of morality: the discrimination between between good and bad actions. Such a discrimination is based on a set of standards by which a particular group of people decides to regulate its behaviour to distinguish between what is legitimate or acceptable in pursuit of their aims from what is not. --  A symbolic society, visible and invisible The opening statement of the introduction, “Here it is”, uses a rhetorical device usually practiced in public speeches. It calls out to the audience and metaphorically points to the real presence of the object (the programme), which is the subject of the speech. This device makes the reader aware that he or she is part of a larger group of people who are also becoming acquainted with the document. By enunciating the real and visible qualities of the programme, the statement “Here it is, made available to everyone” refers to a symbolic society of participants in the commemorative ritual. Jeannenay’s emphasis on “what we will build together” goads the reader to become an active participant in the commemoration. But there is also the sense that the symbolic society is surrounded by potential non-believers. A statement such as: “[the programme] is not carved in stone and I am ready to bet that the publication [...] will contribute to disperse the last sceptics” acknowledges the 41 Jeanneney, ed., Programme, 6.  44  existence of sceptics. Jeanneney shows that he is well informed of the cool reception indicated by opinion polis while at the same time, telling those who persist in their skepticism that they are insensitive to the ‘richness’ of the Revolutionary heritage and its Charter of Human Rights. Once the “symbolic society” is established, the next step is to speak of the powerful radiance of that society. The Mission was the name given to the organization responsible for the programming of the bicentennial, it seems that such a choice invites some comments. “The Mission” is a profoundly Christian term that has been claimed for a governmental organization that, in principle, is entirely secular. To be on a mission is to be one sent, a messenger proclaiming a greater message and, in Christian tradition, sent universally, herein a beginning to the sacralization of the Revolution. Jeanneney’s introduction presents the memory of the revolution as having ‘converted’ people world-wide, suggesting the power of its radiance. Yet these converts celebrate the commemoration in different ways: “the bicentennial takes on different colors depending on the type of Nation it is.” This is because the ‘converts’ draw their value from the fact that they are commemorating differently they have taken the heritage of the revolution into their own lives. In honoring its memory, the revolution has gone ‘native’ and these differences are presented by the Mission as proof of its intrinsic power. Similarly to the ritual of communion, which is about including more and more people in its society of believers, the introduction has the zeal of the missionary for multiplication. The statement “a commemoration solely focused on France would be absurd” underlines the inclusive nature of the revolution throughout the world. To restrict the commemoration to the French territory would be turning the bicentennial into a nationalistic celebration, rather the statement brings the event into the realm of the global, the international society comprised of all those who want to share the commemorative ‘ritual’. The exhibit of posters announcing the bicentennial in countries outside of France shows the desire for participation elsewhere. The colloquium on the image of the French Revolution which gathered scholars from around the world is another example of making visible a ‘society’ that would otherwise be invisible. --  In order to speak of the symbolic qualities of the event that are being commemorated (the sacrificial body), Jeanneney praises the French Revolution with traditional rhetorical forms found in panegyric speeches. If he were to say 45  how important the commemoration is, he would be praising his own work; therefore, he praises other people’s genuine enthusiasm for the celebration, indirectly showing the importance of what is being commemorated. The phrases “struck by enthusiasm,” “a multiplicity of intentions have bloomed,” “countries are participating wonderfully,” and “the revolution’s impact on the hearts and minds of so many people” all point to interest of others to actively participate in the celebration of the commemoration. This rhetorical device of praising other people’s interest in your own work also suggests an “ever growing crowd” of believers. More and more people from “other countries” are participating “wonderfully”: they are adding to the number of participants. As Louis Mann remarked, these people form a “society” that is (in the New Testament Pauline language) “both visible and invisible.” The “society” become visible as it finds its way into representations, either on television during the coverage of the events of the bicentennial, or in crowds of visitors in museums, public conferences and in colloquium. The community of believers in the Revolution is constantly being reaffirmed through celebrations in and around the real and visible marks of the revolutionary heritage. These visible marks include the celebration of late eighteenth century architecture with guided tours and exhibitions of architectural drawings; the display of books and printed documents; even the posing of the descendants of famous revolutionaries to have their photographs taken the café Procope (fig. 2.3). By using the words “promised land,” Hugo clearly makes an allusion to the famous biblical phrase. The desire for the “human revolution” to follow “the European revolution” is striving for perfection “when the sketch will become a master piece.” But the overall sense is one of control over history: “to conclude history with an unfinished gesture, especially when this gesture is full of rich future events. [...] Nothing more immense.” The sense of history as progress, telos is also a reference to the Biblical view of fulfillment in the ‘end times’, tending towards an “utopia”. The words “nothing more immense” is the final point to the rhetorical praise of the French Revolution: nothing can be as grand, nothing can equate it. The success of the commemoration depended on the union between the political strategies of the government and the symbolic strategies of distance, reflection and repetition I uncovered in the programme. As a political strategy, the government scheduled the Summit meeting that was taking place in France that year on the days preceding the most important event, the Bastille Day Parade. In 46  Figure 2.3 THE DESCENDANTS OF THE REVOLUTIONARIES HOLD IMAGES OF THEIR ANCESTORS AT LE PROCOPE On the left A. Dusquene, a descendant of Robespierre, and on the right C. Arnoux, a descendant of Danton. Photograph reproduced from 89, ed. Andrieu, 49.  47  addition the counter Summit of the poorest countries invited over thirty presidents from third-world nations. By scheduling these three events, two political and the other symbolic, at the same time, the political and symbolic 42 dimensions could work on each other. To read the programme as a moral enigma is to recognize that the union between the symbolic and political operates within certain references that are specific to the history of rituals performed by and for the French government. Even though we are far removed from the power of the ‘roi thamaturge’ kings that so fascinated Kantorowicz, civic rituals tap into these age-old sturctures when needed. 43 And 1989 was such a situation. As many scholars have commented, the bicentennial could not have begun under worse auspices. The very concept of ‘revolution’ only brought out cynicism and at the time, saw no great threat to human rights in Europe. People were more interested in day to day rights than in the great ideals of the Revolution. Finally, the notion of reflection is perhaps the distinctive mark of the moral dimension of the bicentennial program. The organizers were so keen on the meditative aspects of the commemoration that, once it was over, Jeannenay said “maybe I have illusions: it seems to me that the collective reflection substantially outgrew the celebration of the gains [of the revolution].” 44 “Our conviction put forth was that the Revolutionary heritage, on the condition to choose (and why not?) what fits our present notion of progress, would allow [us] to better incarnate in everyday life a number of values, in particular brotherhood.” 45 In Chapter Seven, I will investigate the Bastille Day Parade as an allegory to speak of tolerance, one that works with the irreverant and surprising form of the carnivalesque. Now I would like to move in the rooms of the commemorative exhibitions that brought together so many art objects that no one knew what to say about them. Their sheer accumulation seemed significant, but an allegorical critique of this insatiable accumulation will draw out stories about the ways the exhibition invoked history.  This process is investigated fully in Chapter Six, “Cosmopolitan Tribes.” Ernst Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies, A Study in Medieval Political Theology. Princeton: University of Princeton, 1957. “Peut-htre me fais je des illusions: ii me semble que la reflexion collective a largement débordé la seule celebration de l’aquis.” Jeannenay, “Aprhs coup,” 187. “Notre conviction affiché était que l’heritage de la Revolution, a condtion de choisir, (et pourqui pas?) ce qui convenait a notre actualité d’hommes de progres, permettait encore de faire mieux s’incamer au quotidien un certain nombre de valeurs, en particulier Ia fraternite.” Jeannenay, “Apres coup,” 79.  48  CHAPTER THREE  REVOLUTION AND NARRATION  As we have seen in the previous chapter, exhibits formed a major part of the bicentennial program organized by the Mission. From children’s toys of the late eighteenth century to scientific discoveries, the French revolution was narrated, interpreted, “put into representation” as Louis Mann would say, with an impressive array of objects and documents that were, until then, hidden in the back rooms of museums and the archival vaults of libraries. Most of these exhibits were traditional in scope. Focused either on an artist (such as Jean Louis David) or a subject (for example, revolutionary architecture), they were organized according to themes and/or chronologies. What retains my attention here, is the major bicentennial exhibition: “La Revolution et l’Europe” at the Grand Palais. It was by far the most ambitious and certainly largest one, with more that 1,100 works gathered from nearly 300 different sources. But the curators decided to simply let the works “speak for themselves” without providing any guidance to the visitor. A number of reviewers such as Linda Nochlin and Philippe Bordes have rightly criticized this decision. Philippe Bordes suggests that it might have been caused by a fear to stir up the divergent interpretations of the Revolution. He says that, “given the passionate political polemics of France today, the organizers have evidently preferred to steer a safe course.” As a result, the exhibit had an enormous quantity of objects strung along a chronology of revolutionary events, which left the visitor to either turn to the weighty catalogue or rely on their own knowledge. With the existing context of new historical methods to analyze images and the current debates about exhibit curating, there was a great deal of expectations regarding the show. The “reality-effect” of history displayed at the centennial  1 Philippe Bordes, Exhibition Review, The Burlington Mrigazine 131, no. 1035 (June 1989): 441.  49  analyzed by Mitchell, whether it be in the exhibition on the history of dwellings 2 (fig. 3.1) or the reconstruction of the Bastille, embodied everything that French historians, starting with the Annales School onwards, have reacted against and attempted to replace. The Annales historians (Braudel, Furet, Le Goff, Le Roy Ladurie and others) “regarded narrative history as a non-scientific, even ideological representational strategy, the extirpation of which was necessary for the transformation of historical studies into a genuine science.” 3 The more semiologically oriented literary theorists and philosophers (Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, Todorov, Kristeva, Beneviste, Genette and Eco) “have studied narrative in all of its manifestations and viewed it as simply one discursive “code” among others, which might or might not be appropriate for the representation of 4 Finally, the hermeneutically oriented philosophers, such as Gadamer reality.” and Ricoeur, TT have viewed narrative as the manifestation in discourse of a specific kind of time-consciousness or structure of time.” 5 With all the new approaches for studying history and theories regarding historical narrative, one would have hoped to see the fruits of these changes in the major bicentennial exhibition. Since the five major commemorative exhibitions held between 1889 and 1939 (these appear to have been swamped with print and clutter) that this exhibition might reasonably have been expected to provide an intense visual experience the thrill of seeing a whole world redeemed by 20th century art history from oblivion. The world is there to see, but the light trained on it is remarkably dim. 6 --  In fact, there is a remarkable similitude between the five commemorative exhibits after 1889, that were “swamped with print and clutter” and this one, described as “enormous” and “unintelligible.” It seems that, when it comes to displaying art, all these commemorative exhibits insist on accumulation. Burton Benedict compares this desire for accumulation to the native “potlatch” as he describes the ways Western nations strive to impress one another by a “massive display” of objects. Seen in this manner, “symbols are used flagrantly to impress  2 The architect Charles Gamier (and a group of collaborators) designed a special exhibit to show the history of dwellings from the Roman house to nomadic tents. For an analysis of the exhibition, see Alexandre Labat, “Charles Gamier et l’exposition de 1889 l’histoire de l’habitation,” in 1889, La Tour E(ffel et l’Exposition Llniverselle, ed. Caroline Mathieu (Catalogue of the Exhibition at the Orsay Museum, Paris: Edition de la Reunion des Musées Nationaux, 1989), 130-161. Hayden White, The Content of the Form: narrative discourse and historical representation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1987), 31. Ibid. Ibid. 6 Bordes, “Exhibition Review,” 442.  50  r  0  -I.’  ÷  “  X  -iCl)  3  Cl)  .  0  .rT  Th  Cl)  -  (OoJ  Q_I—-i  •-,.  tiifl•  (  -  Cj  ,.÷—  I—.  U’  Cr)  hi  Cr)  .  c  O4;j,  ‘— •I•7,  rivals and the general public, for the rivalry would lose its points without public acclaim for the winners.” 7 But in order to find a way to interpret this commemorative exhibit, I find that I must return to the sense of disappointment voiced by its critics. If we look at the exhibit allegorically, this disappointment is an expression of melancholy over the fragmentary. I see, on the other hand, the ceaseless accumulation of fragments from the past pointing to their own allegorical rescue. Indeed, allegory is consistently attracted to the fragmentary, the imperfect, the incomplete an affinity which finds its most comprehensive expression in the ruin, which Benjamin identified as the allegorical emblem par excellence.” 8 For the ruin was once a building and is now returning to nature, being reabsorbed into the landscape; in that sense the ruins stands for history as an “irreversible process of dissolution and decay, a progressive distancing from origin.” 9 --  I therefore propose to conceive the bicentennial exhibit as an accumulation of fragments of the revolutionary period that can be gathered in meaningful constellations. Like pieces of a puzzle which come together to create an image, these constellations gather around the notion of “historical narrative.” The historical narratives I draw out of the exhibit comprise a Marxist narrative, the concept of scientific history put forth by the Arinales School and a story about fragments itself. These three constellations will shed light on the ways in which the exhibit was putting history into representation. But before embarking on these allegorical constellations, it is necessary to put the exhibit in context both historically and in the specificity of its Parisian site: the Grand Palais. Natalie Zemon Davis says that “whenever memory is invoked we should be asking ourselves: by whom, where, in which context, against what?” ° 1 I will take the questions one at a time. Who organized the exhibit leads us to realize that the story of the French Revolution was turned into a European story; the question of context attracts our attention on the connection between commemoration and the idea of showing art to the public, where the exhibition took place becomes significant when we realize that the building was constructed  Burton Benedict, The Anthropology of World’s Fairs: the San Francisco Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915 (London and Berkeley: Scolar Press, 1985). 8 Craig Owens, Beyond Recognition,, Representation, Power, and Culture, ed. Scott Bryson, Barbara Kruger, Lynne Tiliman and Jane Weinstock (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 55. Ibid. 10 Natalie Zemon Davis, “Introduction, Representations 26 (Spring 1989): 2.  52  for the centennial Universal Exhibition of 1889; and against what is most directly answered by looking at the contemporary criticism of museography.  “La Revolution Française et l’Europe” In a sense, the entire program of the bicentennial was structured around the idea of recalling what happened during the revolution. But the exhibits had the mandate to actually ‘tell the story,’ to narrate the revolution as a way to distance the ‘social drama’ of the events of 1789 through storytelling. As I answer the questions of who organized the exhibit, in which context and where, my investigation focuses on what it was that the curators seemed to react against. In the current debate about the role of narrative in the telling of history,” I think we can agree with Natalie Zemon Davis that post-structuralist criticism has broken down the opposition between a supposedly “organic” flow of memory that gives either unvarnished truth or, inversely, tells uncritical tales, and the historian’s more or less calculated accounts of the past. “Collapse the natureculture distinction,” she says, “and both memory and history look like heavily constructed narratives, with only institutionally regulated differences between 2 I want to underline this last point. The idea that history is equally them.” constructed whether it is in a museum or a biography escapes authors like Carol Duncan who tend to regard public museums as places where historical “truth” is more distorted than in other more marginal, personal or popular sites of 3 It is important to investigate all sites of collective memory with the memory.’ same attention, not assume that publicly funded exhibits will manipulate the past more than private collections because the latter are personal and simply “reflect” the individual taste of the collector. Who organized the exhibit? “La revolution française et l’Europe” was the largest of all the exhibits and thus, one might argue, it would be the closest to a comprehensive exhibit of the revolution. It was organized by the Conseil de l’Europe, as the twentieth in a  See Hayden White, “The value of narrativity in the representation of reality,” Critical Inquiry 7 (Autumn 1980): 5-27. 12 Zemon Davis, “Introduction,” 2. 13 Carol Duncan regards public museums as places where historical “truth is more distorted than in other more marginal, personal or popular sites of memory. See her “Art Museums and the Ritual of Citizenship,’ Exhibiting Cultures: the Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, ed. Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), 89-104.  53  series of exhibits held in the various countries of the European Community, which means that exhibit was supported, financially and politically, by most of the countries of Europe. As a result, the goal of “La revolution française et l’Europe” was to “place a period of a country’s history in its European context.” 14 A total of 1,143 paintings, drawings, engravings, posters, sculptures, manuscripts, furniture and objects were borrowed from fifteen European countries. The geography covered by the exhibit needs comment for it is exceptional that the narration of the Revolution is not centered on the French nation and thus raises questions about the positioning of France in the European context. It might seem that it would pass without comment that an exhibit put on by the Conseil de l’Europe would display art objects from all member countries of the European Community. But in his preface to the catalogue, the Minister of Culture, Jack Lang, justifies the European nature of the exhibit by contrasting the present political context to those of the past two commemorations. In spite of the popular appeal of the centennial, the 1889 commemoration was ignored by the other countries of a Europe that was just as monarchist as at the end of the eighteenth century. The situation was even worse during the 150th anniversary [1939], that coincided with the eve of the second world war, the triumph of the dictatorships.. 15 Today, the situation is quite the opposite although several have maintained monarchies in name, all the European countries have elected governments, universal suffrage, and a constitution, and are in no way threatened by the ‘republican’ content of the commemoration. 16 The bicentennial exhibition is therefore presented as a celebration of European concord and consensus on the value of a republican form of government. --  The uniqueness of the present situation is cited in the exhibit catalogue as a reason to transform the traditional narration of the French Revolution into a story of Europe at that period. “Even if the relations between the different countries (with a few exceptions) were violent and bloody,” the French Revolution is placed within “its historical process, linked to the entire context,” in order to shed light on both “its necessity and its contradictions.” 7 As a result, 14 Quoted in L’Express, 21 April 1989, 59. p. 15 Jack Lang, “Preface,” La Revolution fran çaise et l’Europe 1789-1799, vol.1, ed. Jean-René Gaborit (Catalogue of the Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris: Edition de la Reunion des Musées Nationaux, 1989), xvii. 16 Some invited countries, such as Saudi Arabia, refused to participate in the commemoration of a historical event they deplore. This information was reported to me by Catherine Greenblatt, who worked at the Mission du Bicentenaire in Paris. 17 Lang, “Preface,” xvii.  54  the narration acquires two levels: one about the commonalties linking Europe into a “context” for the revolution, and another about the contradictions which pulled people apart. The first level included issues such as how the European royalty exercised and maintained power, rural and urban life, the modernization of industry, and the intellectuals of the Enlightenment throughout Europe. A most vivid example of this commonalty was the section called “The Eve of the Revolution,” which showed a Europe essentially agrarian, from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. The second level dealt with the way the revolution divided people. The “necessity” of revolution was most evident in the section called “The Revolutionary Event” which showed a country split by internal and external forces. That these divisions held “contradictions” was visible in the third and last part of the show, “The Creative Revolution”, which showed the results of artists’ attempts to give an image to revolutionary ideals such as republicanism, citizenship, liberty and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The list of contributors to the catalogue reflects the European nature of the project. Interpretations of the images are written by authors from all over Europe, setting it apart from the usual practice in which one writer links all the images into a narrative. Both the catalogue and the show insist on telling the story of the French Revolution through a panorama of all European countries before and during the revolution. The story is no longer one of nationalism but of a set of nations contained within the border of Europe. The show no longer defines the subject as a citizen who inherits the principles of the French revolution which are equated with the origin of the modern state, but as a citizen of Europe who is part of a complex and evolving historical process. Citizenship is extended across national borders to include all of Europe and in that sense, if nations exist, they are inscribed in their plural form. This insistence on the European nature of the Enlightenment and the revolution reworks the commemorative narrative into a European one against, in a sense, the rest of the world. The founding principles of the French Revolution, like the Declaration of the Rights of Man and republicanism, still hold their central role but they are expressly diffused within a European narrative through a process of contextualization. Where was the exhibit? The exhibit took place in the Grand Palais, a large iron and glass pavilion built for the centennial commemoration and universal exposition of 1889. In that 55  year, the story of the revolution was physically as well as narratively pushed to the margins of the exhibition. The major narrative of the centennial exposition was the story of colonial capitalism and this story was told through exotic pavilions from the colonies and shows about western art, technology and machines. The history of the French Revolution on the other hand, was told hors les murs, beyond the boundaries of the exposition grounds. There, a complete reconstruction of the Bastille prison and entire boulevards operated as a set for re-enactments of the storming of the Bastille and other events that occurred in the Saint Antoine quarter, on avenue Suffren and in the Vieux Temple 18 (fig. 3.2). Built like a stage set, it created a believable and safe environment for theatrical re-enactments. The buildings from different locations were reproduced at a smaller scale and brought together on one site, creating its own sense of place. The square formed by the “Bastille” and a section of the “Faubourg Saint Antoine”, for example “looks forward” to the urbanism of Disneyland where world geography is compressed into a landscape of fantasy. The detailed realism of the construction was just as attentive and carefully executed as the “Street of Cairo” inside the grounds of the exhibition analyzed by Timothy Mitchell. What Mitchell calls the “reality-effect” of these reconstructions was the remarkable claim to certainty, to truth: “the apparent certainty with which everything seems ordered and organized, calculated and rendered unambiguous ultimately, what seems its political decidedness.” 9 -  The emergence of an historicized framework at these world exhibitions was an innovation, but not an isolated one. As Tony Bennett shows, the development of the “historical frame” was concurrent with other practices, such as new practices of history writing (whether the historical novel or the development of history as an empirical discipline), which aimed at the life-like reproduction of an authenticated past as a series of stages leading to the present. ° Alexandre du 2 Sommerard’s Hotel de Cluny of the 1830s for example, is relevant in this development of museum practices for it aimed at “an integrative construction of historical totalities, creating the impression of a historically authentic milieu by suggesting an essential and organic connection between artifacts displayed in rooms classified by period.” ’ For Bennett, the two principles elaborated by du 2 18 Caroline Mathieu, ‘Linvitation au voyage”1889, La Tour E(ffel et l’Exposition llniverselle, ed. Carole Mathieu (Catalogue of the Exhibition at the Orsay Museum, Paris: Edition de la Reunion des Musées Nationaux, 1989), 105. 9 Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988),102-129, 13. 20 Tony Bennett, ‘The Exhibitionary Complex,’ Culture/Power/History, A Reader in Contemporary Social Theory, ed. Nicholas B. Dirks, Geoff Eley and Sherry B. Ortner (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 139. 21 Stephen Bann, The Clothing of Clio (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984),85.  56  Figure 3.2 RECONSTRUCTION OF THE BASTILLE AND THE FAUBOURG SAINTANTOINE FOR THE EXPOSITION UNIVERSELLE, PARIS, 1889 Photograph reproduced in 1889, ed. Mathieu, 105.  Sommerard, the galleria progressiva and the period room constitute “the distinctive poetics of the modern historical museum.” 22 But it is important to add that this discourse on history was linked in more ways than one to the development of the nation-state. Museums of science and technology, heirs to the rhetoric of progress in national and international exhibitions, completed the evolutionary picture in representing the history of industry and manufacture as a series of progressive innovations leading up to the contemporary triumphs of industrial capitalism. 23 When the bicentennial exhibit “La revolution francaise et l’Europe” took over the Grand Palais of 1889, it operated a re-reading of the centennial. The largest exhibit would not be housed in a new building speaking about technological progress (like the Grande Arche) but in one that was built for the last major commemoration. As a result, the 1889 discourse about progress which presented itself as a break from the past, was replaced by a discourse on heritage and commemorative tradition. If the centennial built perfect replicas, the bicentennial, by contrast, was keen on preservation and heritage. Continuity with the past was also made visible by the content of the exhibit: there were all originals from the eighteenth century such as common objects, paintings, documents, and furniture, as if, through the marks of wear and tear, the visitor came in true contact with the past. I propose that the claim to certainty, or truth, embodied in the exact replicas at the centennial was replaced by a search for 24 authenticity.  In which context did the exhibit take place? Today, public exhibits can still be seen as an instrument of government to educate its citizens. That schools continue to bring children for museum visits attests to the importance of the museum in establishing common cultural references and in forming children into like-minded citizens. The notion of the museum as an open “public space” was one of the driving forces behind the design of the Beaubourg Museum for example. 25 Yet, since the mid-1980s, an increasing number of academics have looked at museums and the process of collecting with a critical eye. These analyses drew curating into the current Bennett, “Exhibitionary Complex,” 140. Ibid., 141. 24 I will come back to this point in the section “Narration through originals.” For a reference on the search for authenticity when people visit museums or other cultural sites, see Dean MacCannell, The Tourist: A New Theory of Leisure Class (New York: Schocken, 1976). For a critical analysis on the notion of the “public” in Beaubourg see Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, “Counting the Public or the Public that Counts,”The Museum Time Machine, ed. Robert Lumley (London and New York: Routledge, 1989).  58  criticisms of public institutions and their conservative view of culture and cultural production. Feminist artists, critics and art historians drew attention to the neglect of women artists and to the stereotyped views of women’s art. Many books were published which made accessible the names and works of hundred of women artists from all periods of the history of art. 26 Cross-disciplinary explorations between anthropology and history provided additional tools for a critical analysis of museum studies. Carlo Ginzburg sees the common area of research between history and anthropology as a result of two crises: “the end of the structured, self-confident notion of history and the growing consciousness among anthropologists that the presumed native cultures were themselves a historical product. Both crises are connected to the end of [a] world colonial system, and to the collapse of the related unlinear notion of history.” 27 As a result, cultural anthropology has influenced both historians and curators by taking a critical look at ethnographic collections of native American and “exotic” cultures. 28 In North America, the voice emerged as a crucial issue in the design of exhibitions. Whose voice is heard when a curator works through an established genre of exhibition became a recurring question. Moving between anthropology and art history, Sally Price attacked the cultural arrogance implicit in western appropriation of non-western art in her book, Primitive Art in Civilized Places, while James Clifford’s influential article, “On Collecting Art and Culture”, was published in 1988. More recently, two edited volumes of articles Exhibiting Cultures and Museums and Communities, the Politics of Public Culture examined the often-controversial interactions between museums in North America and the communities they profess to represent and serve. 29 The essays illustrate struggles and collaborations among museums and communities which, in the past were seen as peripheral to the main currents of national history. For the moment, the issue of the voice has been largely restricted to the North American context, and in that regard will not be directly useful for my --  --  26 See Rozsika Parker and Griselda Pollock, Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981). 27 Carlo Ginzburg, “A Comment,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 12, no. 2 (Autumn 1981): 278. 28 One of the first was Victor Turner and Edward Brunner, eds.,The Anthropology of Experience (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1986). 29 Sally Price, Primitive Art in Civilized Places (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1989); James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988); Ivan Karp and Steven D. Lavine, eds., Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display (Washington, D.C.: Smithonian Institution Press, 1991); and Ivan Karp, Christine Muller Kreamer and Steven D. Lavine, eds., Museums and Communities: the Politics of Public Culture (Washington, D.C.: Smithonian Institution Press, 1992).  59  own analysis. What, on the other hand, has found a warm reception across the Atlantic, is an interest in telling the stories of those who have been excluded from official history, such as women and the poor. ° Along with historians 3 focusing on social history, these concerns have led to a number of exhibitions attempting to put events in a socio-political perspective. Critical theory, inherited from Adorno and the Frankfurt School was, and still is, shaping most of the investigations into the “publicness” of European museums. The museum’s exclusionary practices were first investigated by Pierre Bourdieu in L ‘amour de 1 ‘art published in 1969. Through interviews with visitors in 21 museums, Bourdieu and his team showed that, despite policies initiated since 1959 by the Ministry of Culture under André Malraux 31 to increase access to museums, in the late 1960s, 45% of museum visitors came from the upper classes, 23% from white-collar backgrounds and only 4% from the working 32 For Bourdieu, museums are places that confirm one’s social position by class. inviting in those who are already “initiated” to the “saintly sites” of culture and excluding those who are not. As in the previous chapter, we see how blurry the line separating the realm of religion from official culture really is in France. Museums reveal, in their most minute details of morphology and organization, their real function, which is to reinforce the feeling of belonging in some people and the feeling of exclusion in others. Everything in these saintly sites, where the bourgeois society gather reliquaries inherited from a past that is not their own, ancient palaces or large historical houses to which was added imposing buildings in the nineteenth century, often built in the greco-roman style of civic sanctuaries, reaffirms that the world of art is opposed to the world of everyday life, just like the sacred to the profane: objects are untouchable, a religious silence is imposed on visitors, the equipment is of a puritan asceticism, seats are rare and uncomfortable, there is a quasi-systematic refusal of any didactic, the decorum is solemn, colonnades, vast galleries, painted ceilings, monumental staircases, everything seems to be there to remind the visitor that the passage from the world of the profane to the sacred asks for, as Durkheim says, ‘a true metamorphosis’. 33 30 The work of Ferdinand Braudel and the Annales School provided a ‘basis” from which the new generations of historians worked on cultural and social histories. For an account of this development see Roger Chartier, “Le monde comme representation,” Annales Econamie Sociétés Civilisations 44, no. 6 (Nov-Dec 1989): 1505-1519. 31 About cultural development as a goal of national politics in France, see Dumazedier and A. Ripert, Sociologie de La culture et J. de l’état (Paris: Le Seuil, 1966). 32 Pierre Bourdieu and Alain Darbel, L’amour de l’art, les musées d’art européens et leer public (Paris: Edition de minuit, 1969), 7. “Les musées trahissent, dam les moindres details de leur morphologie et de leur organisation, leur fonction veritable, qui est de renforcer chez les uns le sentiment de l’appartenance et chez les autres le sentiment de l’exclusion. Tout en ces lieux saints de l’art oü la société bourgeoise depose les reliques héritées dun passé qui n’est pas le sien, palais anciens ou grandes demeures historiques auxquels le l9eme siecle a ajouté des edifices imposants, bâtis souvent dam le style greco-romain  60  In fact, a recent survey by Connaissance des Arts showed that over half of the respondents associate museums with religious spaces. 34 The paradoxical situation of modern museums, designed to intensify both access and exclusion, was investigated further by Stephen Greenblatt in his work on the visitor’s gaze. Museums put objects on display as treasures but the “fantasy of possession is no longer central to the museum gaze, or rather it has been inverted, so that the object in its essence seems not to be a possession but rather to be itself the possessor of what is most valuable and enduring. What the work possesses is the power to arouse wonder, and that power, in the dominant aesthetic ideology of the West, has been influenced into it by the creative genius of the artist.” 35 In Greenblatt’s view, we are currently witnessing a shift from the “spectacle of proprietorship to the mystique of the object.” 36 His work complicates the inclusion/exclusion model set up by Bourdieu in the late 1960s and introduces a discussion of the irrational (his ‘mystique of the object’) into what appeared to simply be a discussion about the politics of access to the museum. A growing literature on fetishism and the museum object as well as the notion of the trace and the ethnographic fragment is pushing these types of investigations even further. 37 As I showed in this brief outline, recent work on exhibitions works from within many disciplines, including history, anthropology, and the more inclusive field of cultural studies. Many curators are working with the current theoretical interest in exhibitions and are responding with increasingly more layered and interesting shows. In this aspect of culture, it seems that the loop between critical analysis and production has been creative and quick in its response. In this exciting and creative context, the lack of curatorial guidance in the exhibit “La Revolution francaise et l’Europe” appeared to be a suspicious silence a serious retreat from these discussions. --  --  --  des sanctuaires civiques, concourt a indiquer que le monde de lart soppose au monde de la vie quotidienne comme le sacré au profane: lintouchabilité des objets, le silence religieux qui simpose aux visiteurs, lascétisme puritam des equipements, sieges rares et peu confortables, le refus quasi-systematique de toute didactique, la solennité grandiose du decor et du decorum, colonnades, vastes gallerie, plafonds peints, escaliers monumentaux, tout semble fait pour rappeller que le passage du monde profane au monde sacré suppose, comme dit Durkheim, ‘une véntable metamorphose’.’ From Bourdieu and Darbel, L’amour de lart, 166. “Le nouveau culte des ancientes?,’ Connaissance des Arts, vol.44, no.3 (1989): 122-132. Stephan Greenblatt, Resonance and Wonder,in Exhibiting Cultures, 52. Ibid. For a classic work on how objects recall souvenirs, see Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the miniature, the gigantic, the souvenir, the collection (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1984). For particular ways in which fetishism of artifacts can operate in museums, see Peter Gathercole, The Fetishism of Artifacts, Museum Studies in Material Culture, ed. Susan Pearce (London: Leicester University Press, 1989), 73-82.  61  Historical Narratives and the Exhibit I have outlined the significance of the exhibit site, its sponsor and its context, I am now focusing on the way objects of the exhibit has put history into representation. Since there was no clear curating intent, I treat the exhibit as an accumulation of fragments from the past. Like ruins scatered in a romantic landscape painting in which one has to guess what is the hidden story being presented to the viewer I too must guess what are the hidden narratives. By looking at the objects on exhibits I have put together the fragments three constellations. The first one is a story about an insistence to show original art works and the way they acquire meaning as we look through the lens of a Marxist historical narrative. The second is about the notion of “historical context” given to the revolutionary events, and the Annales School’s conception of scientific history. These two attitudes toward the past can be read into the exhibit but was also expressed by certain people interviewed during the 38 Thirdly, I fold over the notion of fragments onto itself as I draw bicentennial. together the different aspects of violence on display some of which literally were fragments of broken statues that were destroyed during the revolution. --  Original art objects on display In contrast to 1889’s reconstruction of the “Bastille” and the “Faubourg Saint Antoine”, this bicentennial exhibit narrated the revolution through the display of original art works from the period. According to the curators, the exhibition responded to Michel Vovelle’s desire to gather a large collection of original images and art objects together in one place “for the public to discover directly not through the intermediary of reproductions the extraordinary production of historical representation, allegorical or caricatural, that are characteristic of that 39 Here the Benjaminian “aura” of the artwork is valued, with the period.” implication that a photographic/televisual reproduction of the same image would not enable the necessary “discovery.” But there is more being discovered with narration using originals than the simple “production of historical representation, allegorical or caricatural, that are characteristic of that period.” --  --  Vovelle is a historian who has dedicated most of his research to revolutionary images. As a Marxist, he does not study the past in order to construct what 38 For an in-depth sociological analysis of visitors responses, refer to Patrick Garcia, Jacques Levy and Marie-Flore Mattei, eds., Revolution fin et suite (Paris: Espace Temps, 1991). Jean-René Gaborit, “Avant-propos,” L.a Revolution fran çaise, vol.1, xviii.  62  happened in it (in the sense of determining what events occurred at specific times and places), rather he studies history in order to derive laws of historical dynamics. “It is these laws that preside over the systematic changes in social formations, and it is knowledge of these laws (rather than those of structure) that permits [the] Marxist to predict changes likely to occur in any given current social ° In that regard, the presentation of original objects (as opposed to 4 system.” reproductions) is intended to help the visitor to see in these objects the “laws of historical dynamics” for themselves and draw their own liberating narrative. This view is based on the conviction that the artifacts of the world can be returned to life and speak to us. It is based on the assumption that the “human adventure is one” and that those artifacts have a place “within the unity of a single great collective story.” 41 For Marxism, the great collective story linking everyone (from the past and the present) together, is a meta-narrative about a collective struggle for liberation. In a novel, the characters are charged with the task of realizing the possibilities of the plot that links the story from beginning to end. Because Marxists conceive of history as a story, a Marxist visitor, who sees the bust for which Robespierre posed or a dish decorated with a revolutionary motto, will invest these artworks with meaning as someone might with characters in a novel. In order to do this, the visitor is “willing backwards” by identifying with the artworks and reading 42 Willing backwards occurs when we rearrange possibilities of change in them. events of the past that have been told a certain way, in order to invest them with a different meaning or to draw from them a different story that will give us reasons to act differently in the future. “It is human culture,” White remarks, “that provides human beings with this opportunity to choose a past, retrospectively and as a manner of negating whatever it was from which they had actually descended, and to act as if they were a self-fashioning community rather than epiphenomena of impersonal ‘forces’.” 43 Willing backwards has great effect when, in the process of revolutionary change, a whole group decides 40 White, The Content, 150. 41 Frederic Jameson quoted in White, The Content, 148. The master narrative linking us to the artifacts derives its claim to realism and truthfulness by virtue of its adequate representation of the structure (or what amounts to the same thing, the unfinished plot). For Frederic Jameson, “the adequacy of narrative to represent history provides a touchstone for distinguishing less between ideology and truth’ (because all representations of reality are ideological in nature) than between “ideologies that conduce to the effort to liberate man from history and those that condemn him to an ‘eternal return’ of its ‘alienating necessities’.” Walter Benjamin has taken this idea of “willing backwards” and elaborated it with other notions of constellation (which juxtaposes images from different times) and the concept of the ‘ur-form’ (the original form) which re-reads old stories through the eyes of contemporary questions. Both of these ideas were developed in his ‘Arcades project,’ in which he interprets the arcades of the early nineteenth-century as the ‘ur-form’ of contemporary consumer society. White, The Content, 149. White links the idea of rewriting the past to Nietzsche’s notion of “genealogy” in terms of substituting a genetic past for a self-constructed past.  63  to rewrite history so that events that were previously regarded as insignificant are now redescribed as “anticipations or prefigurations of the new society to be created by revolutionary action.’ The concept of willing backwards for launching projects in the future is central to Marxist thought. A Marxist notion of history insists on the fundamental narrative structure of history. The great story of liberation is seen as an incomplete narrative like an unfinished plot. This is the reason why the notion of willing backwards in order to rewrite history for future action is crucial to this view of history since it is through re-writing history, that we find a way into the future. 45 If we listen to what one visitor to the exhibit says about the revolution, we can see how history is constantly being rewritten (so to speak) into a larger meta narrative about liberation. Born in 1917, the woman interviewed is from Les Bouches-du-Rhône, was a worker and then was employed in a store she is now retired. Catholic, she does not practice but is a believer, and she has a close relationship to the communist party. What impressed me the most in the books I have read is the famous flour war. [...J It was in ‘75 I think, yes in April or May of ‘75, the author even gives the name of these poor people who were watching a cart full of flour rolling by, and they were dying of hunger, they knifed the bags. They arrested them and hung them right there. They took the names, there were young ones, old ones, there were people of all conditions. They were so desperate, it must have been about ten years before, there was an undercurrent that was feeding 1789. That is how I see it. [...J I know that people were desperately unhappy, they were riddled with taxes. I think that it happened very naturally. --  When the first assemblies happened with Robespierre, Danton, Saint-Just, Marat, well, all the bigwigs of that world, because there were hundreds of them, we only know a few, I think there, everything started to tilt over, it must have been an exhilarating time, especially when a man like Robespierre was on the podium [...]. He was quite a refined man, who had a relatively bourgeois upbringing, but not so rich, but still he grew up among religious people, he was very pure [...J. I think that he must have moved the crowds. Ibid., 150. The notion of willing backwards is not exclusive to Marxism. The process occurs in religious conversion when a person brought up in one religion (or without one), suddenly sees the light’ and embraces another religion. Here we see a parallel with ideas developed in chapter two regarding the Christian ethics of the programme; for the 45 Christian equivalent of the story of liberation is the apocalyptic view of history. The closeness of the two have drawn Marxism to insist on the value of working toward liberation on earth in order to distinguish it as much as possible from Christian thought. But the two remain close enough to see strong Communist feels taking roots in a practicing Catholic milieu, like in Poland for example.  64  I would say that the revolution was absolutely necessary. Of course there might have been errors. But nothing is perfect, we still see it today. I think that it turned the world upside down. [...] Do not forget that when Lenin died he asked to be wrapped in a tricolor flag. [...] I think that the revolution gave an advantage to the bourgeoisie in France, because if the mass of the people were educated like we are today with the media, the books, any worker, if he wants he only has to turn it on and he learns [...] but then the bourgeois class took advantage of the situation and that is why it did not last. 46 The revolutionary sentiment is clearly very close to her “the revolution was absolutely necessary” and as a communist, the figure of Robespierre has a central role in her story. She also expresses an emotional closeness with the oppressed, not only in the story of the flour bags but also when she talks about the necessity of the Russian revolution which I did not include here. The image of the people rising up, coming together to uproot the oppressor and changing the course of history are the signposts of the narrative. Through her own reading and personal experiences, she constantly re-writes the past and brings it into the present. --  --  The presence of original art objects in the exhibit allows the Marxist visitor to see them as evidences of the “laws of historical dynamics.” These laws drive the great meta-narrative of liberation forward and include class struggle throughout Europe. The struggle for liberation speaks of solidarity across national barriers against the dominant class (e.g. the intermarriage between aristocratic families of Europe and the common oppression of the peasant class). The pan-European character of the exhibit in this view does not emphasize that Europe is made of nations, it stresses that across Europe, class alliances were based on common experiences, common oppression and a shared vision for a revolution. A teleological revolutionary meta-narrative reworks the European story of a bourgeois revolution that occurred first in France, and was theorized in Britain by a German, expanded with the form of the 1848 worker’s revolutions across Europe, and was finally put into practice in Russia.  46 Interview quoted in Garcia, Levy and Mattei, Revolutions,fin et suite, 154.  65  “Social context” and the Annales School After investigating the Marxist notion of historical narrative, I now want to explore the second set of players in the deconstruction of nineteenth century historiography: the Annales School. The notion of “social context” is central to the Annales historians who argued that the long trends found in demography, economics, and ethnology (which are “impersonal” processes) are the true subjects of history. For the Annales, nineteenth century narrative history in the style of Michelet was a “political history conceived as short-term, ‘dramatic’ conflicts and crises lending themselves to ‘novelistic’ interpretations, of a more ‘literary’ than a properly ‘scientific’ kind.” 47 In the view of the Annales historians, the “social context” is conceived as neutral, impersonal and scientific. The curators of the exhibit went to great lengths to place the French revolution not only in a European context, but a European social context. This took the form of sections such as “the agrarian world”, “the administrative organization” and “public instruction”. These sections formed a backdrop in front of which the events of the revolution were meant to play their part. I want to argue that the mixture of common objects and paintings in the exhibit questioned the claim that a social context (as defended by the Annales) provides a scientific historical narrative which is neutral and impersonal. The ostensible neutrality of the social context became more difficult to sustain when the exhibit attempted to “describe” the context through artworks depicting life in the Ancien Régime. The average museum-goer would take these images as documentary evidence of a world well-balanced between monarchist power, represented in the series of royal portraits, and the farmers going about their work in the fields with rosy cheeks and healthy-looking children. The documentary qualities were reinforced by the titles given to different sections (e.g. “The Salons,” “The Religious War,” “Public Instruction”), which led the visitor to expect an “illustration” of this particular aspect of the society. What is shown in fact are painters’ representations of life on the farm in the eighteenth century. But no text in the exhibit makes this explicit, and one must look in the catalogue (three volumes which cost 400 francs and weighted ten and a half pounds) for an interpretation, which explains that paintings depicting farmers in the fields have been chosen for the exhibit to show the distance between urban artists and the realities of rural life. 48 That distance was further increased by the fact that White, The Content, 32. 48 The curators’ decision to narrate the French revolution without explanatory panels was criticized by reviewers like Linda Nochlin and Philippe Bordes who saw this as a way of avoiding the “passionate polemics in France” by steering “a safe course” into an unadventurous exhibit. According to Bordes, “the presentation only rarely contributed to a clear  66  painters were reading Rousseau, and that there existed at the time an entire discourse about rural life as unspoilt, “natural”, etc... which was contrasted (especially in revolutionary circles) to the artificiality and falseness of the court. 49 For a visitor to see the “distance” between what is painted and what might have been the realities of daily rural life, he or she must be sensitive to the fiction inherent in pictorial representations. I do not mean to say that these depictions are false. In fact, like Natalie Zemon Davis, I use the word fictional in the broader sense of its root fingere, its forming, shaping and molding element: the 50 Here, the narrative of social history links the idea of crafting of a narrative. social spheres to the influence of philosophy on artists, it does not however investigate the role played by these paintings as they were exhibited in the salons of European urban centres. The issue of fiction in the paintings was further complicated by the presence of two enormous ploughs set amongst a flail, sickles, salt mills and other agricultural implements of the time. The juxtaposition of these farm implements and paintings of rural life is startling. But the catalogue is quite straightforward in that regard: the curators wanted to show the different kinds of cultivated landscapes that existed in Europe before the revolution and tools used to work these lands. Following in the footsteps of Vidal de Ia Blache, paintings of landscapes are organized by region and the objects are meant to represent the diversity of regional cultures. From a critical point of view however, it seems clear that on its own, a salt mill does not “represent” anything, it simply lays there as a mute object; it will acquire meaning only in the context of the other objects in the room and will be brought to life only by the support of words and ideas, which in this case were not easily accessible. It is precisely because of the unexpected mixture of objects that the model of narrative history is being reworked here. One of the ways this happened was through the visual connections between the artifacts on display and the objects understanding of what happened, how it happened, and above all, why it looks the way it does.’ (Bordes, “Exhibition Review,” 442.) Since there was so little textual guidance in the galleries of the exhibit, I am assuming that visitors had their own attitude about history and knowledge about that period, which would be based (in a loose way) on the current views of history. In most cases their position is not ‘worked out’ from an academic point of view, but people interviewed after visiting the exhibit at the Beaubourg Museum clearly possessed their own philosophy of history which they are more than willing to explain. For a discussion on the construction of this opposition see Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution 49 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984) especially pp.44-46, 72-74 50 Natalie Zemon Davis, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and their Tellers in 16th century France (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987), 3.  67  depicted in the paintings. The farmer is ploughing the field in one of the paintings and we see different ploughs on display. Another painting depicts life on the farm in the evening, when farmers are gathered around the fireplace and the furniture depicted in the scene (a salt box, a commode) is on display in the next room. The division between the objective and fictional realms was reinforced by the textual interpretations of the catalogue. In fact, the text attempted to keep the two types of objects apart by using different forms of narratives. The artifacts were set in a “historical” narrative of social history about technical innovations and lineage, very much based on studies of material culture. 51 The paintings on the other hand, were interpreted in a “fictional” narrative telling the reader stories about the people depicted in the paintings, using the fictional devices of a novel: a plot, characters and dramatic events. The division between “fictional” and “historical” has been under attack by a 52 perhaps most clearly by Roland Barthes. In his essay “The number of authors, Discourse of History” Barthes challenges the idea that traditional historiography is closer to the truth than would be a novel or a play. His attack on traditional historiography underlines the commonality of the narrative form to both fiction and history. He finds it paradoxical that “narrative structure, which was originally developed within the cauldron of fiction (in myths and the first epics), should have become, in traditional historiography, at once the sign and the proof of reality.” 53 As if to illustrate Barthes’ point, the distinction between fictional and scientific narratives in the catalogue could not be maintained for long. The narrative structure takes over and turns both types of interpretation into storytelling. In several instances, the story about the plough intersects with stories of the paintings. One of the plows (the swing-plough) is said to have been the same type as the one used by Arthur Young when he won an agricultural competition  51 Studies in material culture have influenced museum curators a great deal. For a representative article on the theoretical discussion about material culture and museums, see Susan Pearce, ‘Objects in Structures” in her edited book Museum Studies in Material Culture (London: Leicester University Press, 1989), 1-10. 52 See Jacques Derrida, “The Law of Genre,” Critical Inquiry 7, no. 1(1980): 55-82; Julia Kristeva, “The Novel as Polylogue,” Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art, ed. Leon Samuel Roudiez (New York: 1980); and Jean Francois Lyotard, “Petite economies libidinales dun dispositif narratif,” in his book Des dispositfs pulsionnel (Paris: Le Seuil, 1973), 180-184. 53 Roland Barthes, “The Discourse of History” (published in French in 1967), trans. Stephen Bann in Comparative Criticism: a Yearbook, vol. 3, ed. ES. Scaffer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 18.  68  in England. 54 Young was a gentleman-traveller who described in detail the different landscapes of France at the end of the eighteenth century. These textual descriptions were used, the curators explain, as a basis for choosing the landscape paintings. In this instance, the story of Arthur Young as a traveller crosses the path of technological innovations in the British plough. In her review of the exhibit, Linda Nochlin wondered if the presence of real objects, like these ploughs, are transparently meaningful as opposed to paintings that are “representations” and therefore invite interpretation. The plows, she says, “have been inserted without commentary, as though, in their status as real objects from the period, they were self-explanatory. But of course, in the context of an exhibition an object like the plough or a flail ceases to signify as a mere thing or as a useful object; on the contrary, it assumes a powerful role as a representation, or even a symbol of larger values.” 55 A symbol of what? Nochlin does not give us an answer. We might also ask what is involved in trying to find the T ’real story” told by the objects gathered in this room of the exhibition. lit this kind of exercise, the viewer attempts to distinguish what is fictional from what is real and moves towards that which is “truer.” Even though the techniques of presentation are the same for both and all objects are displayed as if they were valuable, the farm implements were meant to “represent” life on the farm, and the viewer sees them as closer (than the paintings) to the “realities” of eighteenth century life.  Common objects as art(ifacts) That common objects can raise questions about issues much larger than themselves was clearly expressed by Marcel Duchamp’s exhibition of a mass produced urinal as an art object in the 1920s. The debate generated by this action changed how the role of the artist is viewed in modern society. 56 Would it be fair to see the objects at the Grand Palais as objet trouvés of the late eighteenth century? I do not think so, because these particular objects are not alone in the room, they are caught in an interplay with the paintings surrounding them. We might ask, like Meyer Schapiro did of van Gogh’s Old shoes with laces, “whose are they?” The question: “To whom do these objects belong?” is not entirely rhetorical since the attribution of objects to common people is about reclaiming  Jean-René Troché, The agrarian world’ La Revolution Française et I’Europe, 1 789-1 799, vol.1, ed. Jean-René Gaborit (Catalogue of the exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris: Editions de la Reunion des Musées Nationaux, 1989), 94. Linda Nochlin, “Fragments of a Revolution, Art in America (October 1989): 158. 56 Refer to Peter Burger, Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans. M. Shaw, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984).  69  the history of those who have none. Van Gogh confronted this question head on in his painting (fig. 3.3). In different ways, both Martin Heidegger 57 and Meyer 58 and later on Jacques Derrida, Schapiro, 59 were fascinated by the painting all three have meditated on the past owner of the shoes. --  For Heidegger, they are a pair of peasant woman’s shoes and their painting illustrates the nature of art as a disclosure of truth. From the dark opening of the worn insides of the shoes the toilsome tread of the worker stands forth. In the stiffly solid heaviness of the shoes there is the accumulated tenacity of her slow trudge through the far-spreading and ever-uniform furrows of the field, swept by a raw wind. [...] This equipment belongs to the earth and it is protected in the world of the peasant woman. ° 6 Meyer Schapiro says that they are most probably not the shoes of a peasant woman since the painting was done in Aries. “These shoes could not express the essence of a peasant woman’s shoes and her relation to nature and work. They are the shoes of the artist, by that time a man of the town and city.” 61 But even if Heidegger had simply remarked on a pair of shoes (instead of a painting) the problem Schapiro unveils here is the process of description as a subjective action first imagined and then projected into the objects (or the painting). “He [Heidegger] has retained from his encounter with van Gogh’s canvas a moving set of associations with peasants and the soil, which are not sustained by the picture itself but are grounded rather in his own social outlook with its heavy pathos of the primordial and earthly.” 62 The objects on display in the exhibition can well function as receptacles for the visitor’s projections about the pathos of life on the farm, or inversely, happy community village life. In other words the objects on their own can be drawn into an exercise about “the disclosure of truth” (as Heidegger would say). Schapiro’s criticism of Heidegger’s essay is perhaps even more important to us here. He says that Heidegger “missed an important aspect of the painting: the artist’s presence in the work.” 63 For Schapiro the shoes, as a theme, are a piece of  58  60 61 62 63  Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art,” (from a lecture in 1935-36, and originally published in German in 1950), trans. A. Hofstadter in Philosophies of Art and Beauty, ed. A. Hofstadter and R. Kuhns (New York: Random House, 1964). Meyer Schapiro, “The Still Life as a Personal Object--A Note on Heidegger and van Gogh,”The Reach of the Mind, essays in memory of Kurt Goldstein, ed. Marianne Simmel (New York: Springer Publishing Company, 1968). Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting, trans. Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987). Heidegger, “The Origin,” 662-3. Schapiro, “Still Life,” 206. Ibid. Ibid., 208.  70  Figure 3.3 “OLD SHOES WITH LACES” BY VINCENT VAN GOGH Reproduced in Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 258.  71  the artist’s own life, they are painted as “a portion of the self” which expresses a concern with the fatalities of his social being. 64 The difference between a painting of shoes by van Gogh and a pair of old shoes, Schapiro insists is the presence of the artist in the painting. 65 Similarly when objects are taken into a museum collection and are turned into an artifact they become meaningful like the painting is meaningful. The art of curating is present in the display, the choice of the artifacts. “Museum artifacts” Peter Gathercole argues, “do not possess properties intrinsic to themselves. They are often regarded as evidence per se of cultural behaviour, but until this evidence is recognized, they remain, literally speaking, mere objects.” 66 When the artifact is put on display it is transformed with all the tools available to museum technology: special lights, labels, and ropes keeping people from approaching it too closely. On display, the artifact is drawn into a web of meaning created by the other objects in the room, by the institution, its photographic reproduction in the catalogue and in postcards, its textual interpretation by experts and so on. But in order to acquire a new meaning, the object must first shed its private history. For Derrida, the shoes remain haunted: “as soon as these abandoned shoes no longer have any strict relationship with a subject borne or bearing/wearing, they become the anonymous, lightened, voided support (but so much heavier for being abandoned to its opaque inertia) of an absent subject whose name returns to haunt the open form.” 67 Like the shoes, the object, in order to become an artifact, must become anonymous, devoid of use its symbolic dimension is formed at the expense of losing the meaning it had when still a property of a family. In the context of the farm, the agricultural implement was an instrument of production and, of course had --  64 At the end of his essay, Schapiro reports that Paul Gauguin, ‘who shared van Gogh’s quarters in Aries in 1888, sensed a personal history behind his friend’s painting of a pair of shoes. He has told in his reminiscences of van Gogh a deeply affecting story linked with van Gogh’s shoes. ‘In the studio was a pair of big hob-nailed shoes, all worn and spotted with mud; [and I asked Vincent about them]. ‘My father,’ he said, ‘was a pastor, and at his urging I pursued theology studies in order to prepare for a future vocation. As a young pastor I left for Belgium one fine morning, without telling the family, to preach the gospel in the factories, not as I had been taught but as I understood it myself. These shoes, as you see, have bravely endured the fatigue of that trip.’ Preaching to the miners in the Borinage, Vincent undertook to nurse a victim of a fire in the mine. The man was so badly burned and mutilated that the doctor had no hope for his recovery. Only a miracle, he thought, could save him. Van Gogh tended him for forty days with loving care and saved the miner’s life. ‘Before leaving Belgium I had, in the presence of this man who bore on his brow a series of scars, a vision of the crown of thorns, a vision of the resurrected Christ.” (Gauguin quoted by Schapiro, “Still Life,” 208.) I have retraced this discussion about van Gogh’s painting in order to show how ‘common objects’ have been part of a discourse in the art world since the 1930s. Certain visitors coming to see the exhibit at the Grand Palais would know about these debates more or less inthnately, but most visitors would be familiar with the work of van Gogh, Duchamp and others who have worked with common objects and would bring this knowledge to their interpretation of the agricultural implements on display. 66 Gathercole, “Fetishism of Artefacts,” 74. 67 Derrida, Truth in Painting, 273.  72  symbolic and economic properties recognized by the members of the family. Once it is transferred to the museum, it becomes an instrument of representation which curators use to demonstrate their professional knowledge skill within the institution, but Derrida would say that the name of the family “returns to haunt the open form,” for it remains open to the imagination of the visitor. When we see what happens to the common objects as they intersect with the art world, whether as shoes painted by van Gogh or a urinal exhibited by Duchamp, it becomes even more difficult to see these objects as documentary evidence of a social context. 68 If we agree that fictions are spun like a web around each artifact, we should ask ourselves about their power to evoke stories in the context of the exhibition. Moreover, as Derrida said about the shoes painted by van Gogh, there is “an absent subject whose name returns to haunt the open form.” 69 Interpreting the artifact not as documentary evidence of the social context but as a the trace of lost agent recalls the “absent subject whose name returns to haunt” the form of the objects. Some of the visitors seem to have desired calling in the ghosts from the past by trying to imagine the revolutionary events through the eyes of different types of people. An interview with a woman who was born in 1947 is one such example. She lives in Seine-et-Marnes, is heading a publishing house, is a nonpracticing catholic and is politically on the right: Can you have a totally objective opinion about history, according to books you read? [...] There are ideas and in fact the way ideas are presented is very important, and I think that this could be very interesting in an analysis of the French revolution. [...J For me, I would like to see one day a great exhibition like the one at the Grand Palais; in one area we are on the side of the king and we see what happened, how he lived the revolution; in another area we are among the very poor who saw the revolution; in another area we are among the bourgeoisie who saw the revolution; in another area we are among workers but those who were employed by correct people, I mean those who saw the revolution. I expect that from 1789 let them take me in all those different places and I get a chance to put my mind in others and really live jt.70 To such a viewer, the notion of an impersonal and unvarying social context seems scarcely attainable, or desirable. --  68 See Ingrid Jenkner, Visual Evidence (Catalogue of the Exhibition, Regina: Dunlop Art Gallery, 1993). 69 Demda, Truth in Painting, 268. 70 Interview no. 1 in Garcia, Levy and Mattei, Revolutions,fin et suite, 147.  73  This concludes the investigation of the exhibit that I explored through the constellations gathered around the notion of ‘historical narrative’. The Marxist belief in a meta-narrative revealed an aspect of the exhibit which opened the door to empathy with the oppressed and a narrative about liberation. The panEuropean character of the exhibit, read through a Marxian interpretation, does not emphasize that Europe is made of nations, it stresses a class alliance across Europe based on common experiences, common oppression and a shared vision of revolution. The Annales’ belief in scientific history revealed an aspect of the exhibit that I called the ‘social context’ of the Revolution. The common objects on display were interpreted as a representation of objective reality of everyday life at the end of the eighteenth century. But, as I argued, such an interpretation could not be sustained. The introduction of the concepts of fiction toward old objects eroded the claim of impersonal and objective history present in the social context of the exhibit.  Fragments in the Exhibit After recovering certain narratives present among the objects of the exhibit I now want to fold the notion of fragment upon itself to show that a story about destruction was being told through in the display of actual broken fragments of statues and in images depicting vandalism. To do that, I will first interpret the presence of fragments in the exhibit as a story about the cyclical nature of destruction and creation. Then I will interpret images depicting mythic events and places of the Revolution (such as the storming of the Bastille) in terms of the political events which occurred in Communist countries before and during the bicentennial year of 1989. The rhetoric of fragments In a rhetorical analysis of museography, the museum is a space for the exchange of objects, where they are “quoted”, first in one context and then in another, where they are “re-written” into different stories, cut off from their familiar usage and properties. As Michael Ames puts it, “objects have not a single past but an unbroken sequence of past times leading backward from the present moment. Moreover, there is no ideal spot on the temporal continuum that inherently deserves emphasis. [...] In elevating or admiring one piece of the past, we tend to ignore and devalue others. One reality lives at the expense of 74  countless 71 others.” Art objects, in other words, can be seen as debris that has been collected by museums. As with quotations that appear in different texts, artifacts move from one glass box to another where their story is re-written differently each time. Nowhere was this shown with greater potency than in the gallery dedicated to the fragments of royal statues. I was well aware of the destruction of royal and religious statues during the 1790s, but I did not think that the pieces would have been saved, let alone shown at the Grand Palais. By putting them on display, the exhibition brought together opposing notions of destruction and creation into one and in the process, it opened the door to a powerful allegorical reading. The fragments of statues displayed in the exhibit at the Grand Palais were gathered together in one room. The section was called “Destruction of Royal Statues and Signs of Feudality” which, in addition to the fragments of statues showed images depicting revolutionaries in the midst of toppling statues (fig. 3.4) and architects’ projects to transform royal ornaments on buildings into republican ones through minimal interventions. Fragments of the mutilated statues of Henri IV, Louis XIV and Louis XV were installed in a giant still life in the centre of the gallery (fig. 3.5). They worked both metonymically (in that each fragment conjured up the presence of the absent whole) and as synedoche, because their accumulation presented the overwhelming image of the end of the Bourbon monarchy, of absolutism, and of the god-like king. The whole room full of fragments gave an image of the energy of the revolutionary sentiment, as Philippe Bordes says in his review of the exhibit, “fragments of mutilated royal colossi attest to the passing of a terrible storm.” 72 The fragmentation and mutilation of bodies was not restricted to this room but recurred throughout the exhibit. In historical paintings, body parts are shown offered in sacrifice; and in popular engravings about executions with the guillotine (fig. 3.6) or caricatures in which bodies are cut up and eaten, the artfulness of the detached body parts was a recurring narrative device in the show. This narrative undercurrent about fragments should not be interpreted literally but as an allegory of the death, violence and destruction present in ideologically driven revolutions. 71 Michael Ames, quoted in Susan Pearce, Objects in Structures,’ Museum Studies in Material Culture, ed. Susan Pearce (London: Leicester University Press, 1989). 72 Bordes, Exhibition Review,” 441.  75  3.  V  aP  ,.  I  I  Figure 3.4 “REVOLUTIONARIES TOPPLING A STATUE OF LOUIS XV” BY AUGUSTIN DE SAINT-AUBIN Reproduced in the catalogue of the exhibition at the Grand Palais, La Revolution francaise et l’Europe, 1789-1799, ed. Jean-René Gaborit (Paris: Edition de la Reunion des Musées Nationaux, 1989), 163.  76  Figure 3.5 FRAGMENTS OF ROYAL STATUES Photographed for the catalogue of the Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, 1989. Reproduced in Linda Nochlin, “Fragments of a Revolution,” Art in America (Oct 1989): 162-3.  77  M TIi4Y A lUPI,”1’TtN P3t’E I.P  .1ONC.1jt’L,S  COL’RONt)  a 4  C) CI tin (I  I-  “  e,,,,,,....,  ‘—“——4”  ‘v  “  R,.,.,&  .4,,,  -,,.d  1  .c aug 1.  ‘““  vi..’.  Iii  V  v•’” ,,.,  I.’.,  4  .‘t,,,,-,_,  ‘1Z’.  .1,’..,,  e  n(  4, .4 . ,,.-.,aacn’ f.,.,..  Si[Ioiis  p/vP.  ‘•‘.‘.&“.“  ,,  ’. 4 ,,.a.s  4 ..pp,  .‘..,,  4..,.,,  4,  -.,.-,..,p.,  na,,.,,.  ‘a’ ..u,. I,. —— .fl.”, ,,c’.,vw.,,,, .*t.4,, ‘.a,..,.,a .4. ,A.,.4.4.,,.,, 41.4. 4 na..’. I, ,i’.,,.,a,,.,,. ,,,., 4,4,  abi’t’ti v  ““.“  4.. V,,i,.....  ..__,  .n,,t,’.,., ,fl,,./,.,&., ..‘.,,  ,,q,.  ,.,,,,,,,.  sa,,,,,.  a’.,,a’,4-t  4’at’  4,...n,A,fa,,a,, t.-w.),.’ ,...,,...  5.’.... 4,  J.,,.,a-,,,,  4.4. 1..  •,,  Figure 3.6 SEVERED HEAD OF LOUIS XVI Anonymous engraving, 1793 (cat. 546). Reproduced from the catalogue of the exhibition, La Revolution francaise, ed. Gaborit, 422.  78  Of course the display of fragments is not new to the museum. The Cabinets of Curiosities in the sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe reveal a mannerist fondness for the conservation of body parts after anatomical dissections. 73 Later, natural history collections continued to preserve fragments of animals and ethnographic collections fragments of arrows, jewelry and so on. In the late eighteenth century, during the French Revolution, Alexandre Lenoir assembled the monumental fragments he had collected following the destruction of churches and installed them in the Convent of the Petits Augustins in Paris. I am contrasting the museum set up by Lenoir during the Revolution to the one set up by du Sommerard, which still exists today as the Musée de Cluny, to illustrate two radically different rhetorical approaches to the exhibiting of fragments in museums. To complete his collection, “Lenoir evidently had no scruples about mixing the authentic fragment with the contemporary, archaising bust’ t74 of a great historical figure for whom he had been unable to obtain a contemporary effigy. Using rhetorical analysis, Stephen Bann shows that a significant shift occurred in the mid-nineteenth century in terms of how collectors viewed fragments of statues and monuments, which can be seen as movement from the predominant trope of metonymy to that of synecdoche. 75 For Bann, the collection created by Lenoir represents a metonymic approach, where fragments are meant to represent the whole. “The connection between each tomb, or fountain, and its original context is a reductive one of part to whole, which in no way necessitates an imaginative link between the series of abbeys, chateaux, and other monuments that were Lenoir’s source of material.” 76 In this conception of historical narration the modern bust can find its place since it literally replicates the past. By contrast the mid-nineteenth century collection of du Sommerard at the Hotel Cluny represents a synecdoche, where the object from the past becomes the basis for an integrative construction of historical totalities. In creating “theme rooms” like the “chambre de François ler”, “religious life” and “kitchen life,” du Sommerard has “successfully integrated the detached fragment within an overall milieu, [he hasj restored the part to the whole.” 77 By displaying before our eyes a See Olivier Imprey and Arthur MacGregor, eds., The Origins of Museums: the Cabinets of Curiosities in 16th and 17th century Europe (Oxford: Clarendon/Oxford University Press, 1985). Bann, Clothing of Clio, 85. To recall the differences: it is metonymy when a part stands for the whole, for example when we say “the crown” for “the king”; a synecdoche is when the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, for example when we say “she is all heart.” 76 Bann, Clothing of Clio, 85. Ibid., 86.  79  complete image without breaks or disjunction, the theme room takes us from the objects to the user in a mythic system of “lived” history. Fragments as an undercurrent of the exhibit Historical paintings such as the depiction of the storming of the Tuileries or the Valmy battles against the Prussian army did not spare the viewer ripped-up bodies blanketing battlegrounds. Or in a cooler genre, fragmentation as sacrifice set in a small painting representing a hero so devoted to the nation that he has literally given his right arm for it. The arm itself, painted with a high degree of naturalism, is displayed prominently on a table. “In its macabre isolation, it looks back to the holy relics of the saints and, at the same time, forward to the entirely secular still-lifes of fragmented limbs created by Gericault early in the nineteenth century.” 78 Caricatures, of course, showed the most graphic version of fragmentation; from the depiction of characters eating body parts or sitting on severed heads, the grotesque was taken to the limits of obscenity. Britain’s prime satirist, James Giliray, pushed the carnivalesque body to extremes that have yet to be surpassed by the horror films of today. The caricature entitled “Un Petit Souper a la Parisienne: A Family of Sans Culotts [sic] refreshing after the fatigues of the day” gives an idea of what I am talking about (fig. 3.7). A table is featured prominently in the foreground for a scene of cannibalism. Two bare-bottomed revolutionaries literally sans are making a meal of their human victims. The monster culottes on the left, his bony legs thrust into appropriately plebeian sabots, is about to tuck into a nasty eyeball culled from the human head on the plate before him; he has an ear ready in the other hand. His companion at table, equally bare-bottomed and seated on the naked corpse of a decapitated young woman, a bloodstained axe tucked into his belt, is about to bite into an arm, while three women in the background chew indelicately on the heart and several unidentifiable human fragments. Above their heads, a ceiling larder is stuffed with further supplies of human flesh, while to the left, a group of baby revolutionaries dig into a bucket of entrails as voraciously as if it were a bowl of spaghetti. 79 The revolutionaries are described as violent human beings by equating the actions of the government to popular cannibalism. The presence of the children --  --  78 Nochlin, “Fragments of a Revolution,” 169. Ibid., 162.  80  —  4  ii,  4  I  II  ñ I  1 i  III  ))  Figure 3.7 “UN PETIT SOUPER A LA PARISIENNE OR A FAMILY OF SANS CULOTTS REFRESHING AFTER THE FATIGUES OF THE DAY” --  --  Engraving by James Giliray, 1792 (cat. 786). Reproduced from the catalogue of the exhibition, La Revolution francaise, ed. Gabori, 587.  81  implies that actions of revolutionaries will multiply through their offspring and the play on words with “sans-culotte” gives it a carnivalesque twist by linking it to other caricatures that used the visual sign of the “naked bottom” to create many different meanings. The caricatures ordered by the revolutionary government to promote the principles of the revolution were no less tender with the human body. Indeed as Klaus Herding points out, “it was the secret power and strength of the visual arts to provide what reason seemed to refuse, that is, a justification of the emotions in a (supposedly) rational society.” ° The stories of dismemberment depicted in 8 caricatures need to be seen against the middle class insistence on bodily dignity. The myth of Charlotte Corday, Marat’s assassin, is an example of the meaning given (or projected) onto the human body. The myth is the following: the Deputy Sergeant Marceau wrote to the President of the Revolutionary Tribunal that the executioner” held up Charlotte Corday’s severed head, and struck one of its cheeks. A blush of shame and indignation appeared on the other.” 81 The myth “survived all common sense obstacles,” Dorinda Outram points out, because of the intensity of the need generated by the terror and execution to externalize concerns such as the survival of a unitary experience of mind and body, and of the possibility of physical dignity, both of which seemed under extreme threat. Above all, it survived because it asserted that in spite of the guillotine’s capacity to evacuate all significance both from death and from the body itself, individual reaction to these outrages could survive even execution itself. 82 All these images of severed bodies exemplify the fears of the middle class for the preservation of the intact, controlled, unitary body-image, one that “differentiated them from the others, and allowed them to validate its claims to revolutionary control against the disordered, wild-passions and energies of the lower class political movements.” 83 In other words, bodily dignity, along with political and moral virtue, gave the right to rule. The rhetorical (as well as literal) abuse of the body defined a revolutionary situation. Returning to the fragments of mutilated statues, what is perhaps the most striking is to see them at all. One wonders why the curators put them on display: Klaus Herding, in the catalogue of the exhibition, La Révolutionfrancaise, vol. 1, ed. Gaborit, xxiii. Ce fiit le pouvoir secret et la force des arts plastiques doffrir Ce que Ia raison semblait refuser, a savoir de donner droit de cite awc emotions (pretendument) rationelle.” 81 Dorinda Outram, The Body and the French Revolution: Sex, Class and Political Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 118. 82 Ibid., 121. 83 Ibid.  82  to talk about the end of monarchy? In the catalogue, the story of the fragments is placed within a larger story of revolutionary iconoclasm. Indeed, a decree of the Legislative Assembly voted on August 14, 1792 ordered the destruction of all the “statues, bas-reliefs and monuments in bronze erected on public squares.” 84 If the monarchy was to disappear, it was necessary that all its symbols disappear as well. “The sacred principles of liberty and equality will not permit the existence of monuments raised to ostentation, prejudice and tyranny to continue to offend the eyes of the French people.” 85 But popular movements did not wait for the Assembly to vote. Starting on August 12th, the enormous statue of Louis XIV a powerful symbol of tyranny was toppled and broken into pieces. 86 The wave of iconoclasm swept through the country and people destroyed religious paintings, statues and church steeples. --  --  But the revolutionaries were culturally sophisticated and proud of their artistic heritage; they were confident that the visual arts were a school for both the illiterate and the literate, while they were positive that the values of the Ancien Régime were false and must be eradicated. Newspapers and pamphlets often approved of iconoclasm in principle but condemned it in practice. Fears were expressed that if the destruction continued, France would become a cultural desert and lose its leadership in the arts. Out of this dilemma, the Assemblée Constituante created an Arts Commission which was to “preserve those works of art remaining from the Ancien Régime which possessed a purely aesthetic or historical value.” 87 This led to the creation of public museums (like the Louvre) to preserve objects of the past and educate citizens. What is important here is what Idzerda calls “the dialectic, the tension between iconoclasm and the need to preserve the heritage of the arts.” 88 Indeed, this tension was echoed in the bicentennial exhibit. The room on iconoclasm with its fragments of statues was counterbalanced by the rooms on the “Creative Revolution” which showed the results of artists struggling to create new symbols, new visual codes for a new political order. The balance between destruction and creation takes on even more significance as we interpret the fragments of the royal statues allegorically.  Cited in Stanley Idzerda, “Iconoclasm during the French Revolution,’ American Historical Review 60 (1954): 16. Ibid. 86 The statue stood on what is today called Place Vendôme. 87 Idzerda, “Iconoclasm,” 19. 88 Ibid., 22.  83  Ruins speaking of the cycle of creation and destruction When we gaze at the the pieces of statues displayed in the exhibit, a foot from the statue of Louis XIV, three fingers from another statue of Louis XIV, the right hand of Louis XV, or the horse’s leg from a statue of Henri IV, perhaps we should not speak of the art object but of the ethnographic fragment. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett remarks that “the ethnographic object is an art of excision, of detachment, an art of the excerpt. [...] Where does the object begin and where does it endT’ 89 Like the ethnographic object, the fragment of a broken statue acquires a poetic dimension because of its detachment from the whole. For detachment works on two levels, “detachment refers not only to the physical act of producing fragments, but also to the detached attitude that makes that fragmentation and its appreciation possible.” ° What lies here as ruins of the 9 monarchy are highly significant fragments, they are remnants which attest to a once-tremendously powerful desire for complete change. For it is common practice in museums to pile up fragments ceaselessly, without any strict idea or goal, simply ordering them according to countries or chronologies. The leg from the sculpture of the horse, the fingers of Henri IV holding the reins, are supposed to bear witness to the miracle that these fragments of works of art have withstood the fiercest rages of iconoclasm and the neglect of two centuries. In their detachment, however, such fragments appear as the last heritage of revolutionary passion which in the modern age is dismissed as mere vandalism. But these fragments carry a hidden story. On the first level the group of fragments speak of the iconoclasm of revolutionary action and on the second level they speak about the inevitable rise and fall of monarchies and empires. For Walter Benjamin, it is precisely “visions of frenzy of destruction, in which all earthly things collapse into a heap of ruins which sets the limits upon allegorical contemplation, rather than its ideal quality.” 91 When the statues of the monarchy were toppled and broken into pieces they, too, were returned to the ground (“all earthly things collapse into a heap of ruins”). The monarchy displayed as “a heap of ruins” sets the parameters from which I can start the allegorical construction.  89 Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Objects of Ethnography,” Exhibiting Cultures, ed. Karp and Lavme, 395. 90 Ibid 91 Walter Benjamin, The Origin of the German Tragic Drama (published in German in 1928), trans. John Osborne (London: NLB, 1977), 232.  84  Because it was conceived from the outset not as a whole, but as a ruin, a fragment, Benjamin sees in the Baroque allegory the movement from things to nature. Allegories might represent death and melancholy but, as he argues, they also speak of redemption. “Ultimately in the death-signs [the memento mori] of the Baroque the direction of allegorical reflection is reversed; on the second part of its wide arc it returns, to redeem.” 92 The essence of one’s melancholic immersion in the meaning of the allegory, “does not faithfully rest in the contemplation of bones, but faithlessly leaps forward to the idea of resurrection. If we interpret the fragments of royal sculptures allegorically, the image of death inscribed in the broken body part leaps forward, (away from destruction) towards creative redemption. Earlier, I discussed that a narrative undercurrent of fragmentation ran through the exhibit, from the fragments of statues and the sacrificial body in historical paintings to caricatures. An allegorical interpretation of this narrative would start with the “death-signs” of the broken statues and in “the second part of its wide arc,” return to redeem creation, in a room filled with caricatures bursting with creative energy and imagination. In fact, because the section “Artistic Creation Under the Revolution” was placed as the final section of the exhibition, the visitor leaves the Grand Palais having found the second part of the arc that “returns to redeem”. When exhibitions seek to be “objective” in their display of material as powerful as these caricatures or fragments of statues, they attempt to hide the allegorical dimension of the narrative. In fact, the curators seem to be unaware of the extent to which what they displayed is inextricably bound up with, if not identical to, how they displayed it. At least, they did not make it apparent in the exhibition, since the fragments of statues were placed without any textual commentary like the rest of the exhibit. This is why it is necessary to subject “any historical discourse to a rhetorical analysis, so as to disclose the poetical understructure of what is meant to pass for a modest prose representation of 94 In the case of this exhibition, it means uncovering the allegorical reality.” hidden dimension of the narrative about fragments and body parts to disclose a story about destruction and creation.  92 Benjamin says that “In God’s world the allegorist awakens. ‘Yea, when the Highest comes to reap the harvest from the graveyard, then I, a death’s head, will be an angel’s countenance’.” (Ibid., 232.) Ibid., 233. Hayden White, “Historicism, History, and figurative imagination,” History and Theory 14(1975): 53.  85  If we listen to visitors, the themes of destruction and creation constantly appear in their stories. As an example, I quote from the interview with a woman born in 1971, who lives in Dijon, is a high school student, with no religious affiliation, and supporter of the socialist party: [The French revolution] is a very moving period of history, that has generated much polemic, that has seen a huge massacre. On the other hand, it has allowed men and women to express themselves in public and to acquire the human rights of free expression and freedom. [...J What impressed me the most is the execution of Danton and his group in front of Robespierre. I find the guillotine also impressive. It is always impressive that, on the pretext of having different political or religious ideas, one can have one’s head chopped off. I find it shocking. [If I were to tell the story of the revolution,] I would say that it is a fundamental part of history and that 1789 is at the basis of all the laws, all the freedoms. [...] I do not feel especially close to the revolutionary personalities. I feel closer to the people, that is sure. I think that people were right. Even with the sacrifices and the massacres, the uprising was necessary and turned out to be useful in time.. In her story, this student repeatedly puts forward an image of destruction followed by one she interprets as positive and creative. The “huge massacres” are explained as enabling the liberty of self-expression, and the “sacrifices and massacres” are justified as both “necessary” and in time, “turned out to be useful.” For her, remembering is a balancing act between recalling creative and destructive forces. The latter are redeemed by modern day benefits we share, in particular those which have crystallized around the politics of human rights. Fragments of revolutionary mythology I think we can agree with Hayden White that a “narrative becomes a problem only when we wish to give real events the form of a story. (...) It is because real events do not offer themselves as stories that their narrativization is so 96 If we accept that events come to us in the chaotic form of objects, difficult.” archival documents and images, then the exhibition narrative should be considered less as a ‘form than as a manner of speaking” 97 about events, whether real or imaginary. The work of Paul Ricoeur differs on this point. He argues that turning real events into a story is not a problem because real events unfold in Interview no. 6 in Garcia, Levy and Mattei, eds., Revolutions,fin et suite, 158. 96 Hayden White, ‘The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality,” in Critical Inquiry 7 (Autumn 1980): 8. Ibid. ‘  86  time. For Ricoeur, time links narrative and real life because both go through sequences of events. “Historical narrative, which takes the events created by human actions as its immediate subject, does much more than merely describe those events; it also imitates them, that is, performs the same kind of creative act as those performed by historical agents.” 98 For Ricoeur, history has meaning, because human actions produce meaning. Ricoeur has investigated in great depth the relations possible between the principal kinds of narrative mythic, historical and fictional and the “real world” to which they undeniably refer. His work is especially valuable to our analysis of the exhibition at the Grand Palais because his intention is to sort out the different notions of story, story telling and narrative informing the principal theories of contemporary narrative discourse. The result is his masterful three volume Time and Narrative. 99 As Ricoeur puts it, the book is a “three fold testimony of phenomenology, history, and fiction” regarding the “power” of narrative to “refigure time” in such a way as to reveal the “secret relationship” of eternity to death. ° 10 --  --  In the school curricula throughout Europe, the history of the French Revolution was, and still is, taught through the actions of Robespierre, Saint-Just, Danton and so on. The historical narrative creates a mimesis, Ricoeur would say, with the actions performed by the historical agents. The middle section of the exhibit, “The Revolutionary Event”, attempted to do just that: narrate the main events of the revolution through the actions performed by historical figures depicted in the paintings. But unlike the schoolbooks, the exhibition underlined the difficulty of narrativization in two ways: first by interpreting the images only in the catalogue, not in the room and, second, by exploring the dialectic between myth and history which I now want to investigate in detail. --  Storming of the Bastille as mythical origin The borderline between real and imaginary was best explored in various myths woven around the storming of the Bastille. Placed as the opening section of  98 Cited in White, Content, 179. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984). 100 Paul Ricoeur, quoted in White, Content, 170. Ricoeur’s work has influenced new French historians such Antoine as de Baecque who worked with Ricoeur’s La métaphore vive (Paris: Le Seuil, 1975) to show how the royal body operated as a powerful metaphor in the political imaginary of the readership before and during the revolution. By doing a minute analysis of hundreds of caricatures and articles from the popular press denigrating Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, he successfully shows the interplay of metaphor and history. See Antoine de Baecque, Le Corps de l’histoire, métaphores et politique (1770-1800) (Mesnil-sur-l’Estrée: Calman-Lévy, 1993).  87  “The Revolutionary Event”, paintings, drawings and engravings depicting the Bastille were grouped according to themes such as, the Bastille as a monument, the storming of the Bastille, its prisoners, Polloy and its demolition, the image of the Bastille in caricatures after 1789, and the Bastille in commemorations. One can clearly see how a myth of “the people storming the Bastille” was constructed over time out of a relatively minor event of the revolution. It should be said from the start that the Bastille was chosen by the revolutionaries as the object of their intentions because it already was a mythic place. In the political imagination of the time, this medieval prison was symbolic of the King’s abusive power: when people were arrested with a lettre de 101 they were imprisoned in the Bastille. “The creation of a myth of the cachet, Bastille as the embodiment of despotism reached its pre-revolutionary zenith in a pamphlet [printed in 1783] by the eloquent journalist Linguet. Its frontispiece depicts the king, Louis XVI, freeing unjustly imprisoned victims above the caption: ‘May you be free and live!” 102 (fig. 3.8). On July 14, 1789, a group of men and women led by Théroigne de Méricourt (called “the amazon of Liege”° ) 3 went to the Bastille prison to deliver its prisoners. When they arrived at the entrance of the prison and the man in charge refused to open the doors, there was a fight and he was decapitated on the spot. The prison was then opened and the seven prisoners found inside were liberated. After the taking of the Bastille, popular images linked this minor event to earlier mythologies of this prison as a sign of despotic power. The power of the “taking of the Bastille” to speak about larger issues was so effective that it was used in more than 150 different broadsides diffused throughout Europe. “As a symbol of the transition from the old Régime ‘despotism’ to the new era of ‘Liberty’, [the Bastille] functions as a semantic turntable.” 104 The caricature entitled “Réveil du Tier Etat” (The Awakening of the Third Estate) for example, depicts a clergyman and an aristocrat horrified by the Third Estate awakening from centuries of 101 A lettre de cachet was a letter signed by the king allowing the arrest of anyone without proof or trial. 102 Roif Reichardt, ‘Prints: Images of the Bastille,’ Revolution in Print: the press in France 1775-1800, ed. Robert Darnton and Daniel Roche (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 227. 103 Théroigne de Méricourt, who started a literary salon only for women, was given a golden sabre for having led the people to the Bastille on July14. On October 5, she again led the women to Versailles to ‘bring the king back to Paris. She was dressed as an amazon with her golden sabre at her belt on one side and a gun on the other. It was then that she was nicknamed “the Amazon of Liege.” It is interesting to note that none of the prints representing the storming of the Bastille show a woman leading the crowd. Natalie Zemon Davis explores the possibility that the crowd of October 5 included men dressed as women, afforded the license for transgression by wearing the habits of the ‘irrational sex,’ in her analysis of cross-dressing and carnival, Women on Top,” Society and Culture in Early Modern France, ed. Natalie Zemon Davis (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1975). 104 Reichardt, ‘Images of the Bastille,’ 226.  88  M MO JR ES  I  Suit  LA BASTILLE ET  IJR LA DETENTJO,j  DE M, IJNGUET, cRfls  PAR LUI.MEME.  Surrexit  C  mOrtuir.  I  A  IOYDRE.c,  DePlmprimerie de T. SPILSBUKY, Swio’wh?. 1I. DCC, LXXXIIL.  Figure 3.8 “MAY YOU BE FREE AND LIVE” “Memories of the Bastille,” engraving by Simon-Nicolas-Henri Linguet, 1783. Reproduced in Robert Darton and Daniel Roche, eds., Revolution in Print (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 227.  89  oppression (fig. 3.9). The Bastille is depicted behind the man prone on the ground representing the Third Estate. By contiguity, the Bastille comes to signify “popular upheaval”. In another image, “Destruction de la Bastille,” joyous men and women of all ages watch the first stones fall from the top of the walls as the demolition of the Bastille begins (fig. 3.10). Placed in the foreground, the crowd of onlookers are represented as larger than the prison. The Third Estate is no longer one man, but is now represented by a calm and jubilant crowd. These images narrate, not the event of the storming of the Bastille per Se, but other stories and ideas that were important to print. In fact Reichardt says, “we have only recently begun to recognize that the genuine and unique value of revolutionary prints as historical sources lies not in their depictions of individuals or events but in their symbolic, metaphorical and allegorical interpretation of collective ideas and the questions of the day.”° 5 All the rhetorical forms are at work to develop a myth that will be ideally suited to found a new national identity, more so than the later key events of the revolution, which were politically more controversial. We might recall that Levi-Strauss locates the impulse to mythologize in the very nature of language itself. “The presumed ‘coherency’ of history which Western historical thought takes as its object of study, is the coherency of myth. And this is as true of ‘proper’ or conventional narrative historiography as it is of historiography’s more highly schematized counterparts in philosophy of 106 Unlike the section on the exhibit about the social context that history.” attempted to keep fiction and history apart, the section on the Bastille unveiled the “impulse to mythologize” in the narration of the revolution. Even though this unveiling was restricted to this section, it created a space for “meditation” and activity. Edgar Morin believes this to be fundamental to commemorations: What really is fascinating with the French revolution is that myth in historical action and history is present in mythical action, and this occurs right from the beginning [with the storming of the Bastille]. From the moment that we are capable to confront this complex whirlpool without erasing the inexpiable conflict and the tragedy, then we can obey one of the fundamental demands of all 7 commemorations: to meditate.’°  105 Ibid., 225. 106 Claude Levi-Strauss, Le cru et le cuit (Paris: Plon, 1964), quoted by Hayden White, “Historicism, History and Figurative Imagination,” in History and Theory 14 (1975): 51. 107 “Ce qui est veritablement facinant dans Ia Revolution francaise est que le mythe est en action historique et que l’histoire est en action mythique, et cela des le debut, [avec la prise de la Bastille]. Des lors que nous sommes capable d’affronter le  90  JLEVEiL 11(1 TIERS EY 17  -7  b1 ‘1  ----  #  C.j, -  ._..__Z4k’  -‘ -  —  ‘.‘%J.’” .1.  .  4_._ 4 ,,,A,....,.-  -n  ,-te  fr‘. 1  Figure 3.9 AWAKENING OF THE THIRD ESTATE “Le Réveil du Tiers Etat,” 1789 (cat.518). Reproduced from the catalogue of the exhibition, La Revolution francaise, ed. Gaborit, 407. des exigences fondamentales de toute commemoration: méditer.” (Edgar Morin, “89 régénéré” in Le Monde, 9 June 1989, p.  2.)  -  91  Figure 3.10 DESTRUCTION OF THE BASTILLE “Destruction de la Bastille,” color etching by Desrais (cat.516). Reproduced from the catalogue of the exhibition, La Révolut ion française, ed. Gaborit, 407.  92  Destruction as an allegory of the fall of Communism Revolutionary mythology returned to the present day as the events leading to the fall of the U.S.S.R. occurred in quick succession during the bicentennial year. A visitor to the exhibit in the morning might have seen the events surrounding the fall of the Berlin wall live on television the previous night. In a flash, the end of monarchy portrayed in the fragments of statues at the exhibits took on a powerful meaning as one lived through the fall of the Soviet State with people toppling statues of Stalin. On Bastille day, the 14th of July, Mikhail Gorbachev sent an open letter to Francois Mitterand as the president of the G7 summit asking to be accepted into “our common house of Europe.” More specifically, Gorbachev shared his thoughts on the problems of world economy. “Our perestroika,” he wrote, “is inseparable from a politique tending towards full participation in the world economy. This tendency is determined by our direct interest in economy. By directing the world economy towards an open structure, the rest of the world will only gain by achieving access to the market of the USSR.”° 8 In this letter Gorbachev not only spoke of the benefits of East-West economic cooperation, but was suggesting a joint discussion about the problems of the “world economy,” especially global debt. Looking back, this letter symbolically represents the beginning of the end of the cold war. Like the walls of the Bastille, the wall of Berlin came down that same year. The interplay between the mythology of the French Revolution and political decisions in Moscow do not stop at the symbolic date of the 14th of July as a postmark on Gobachev’s letter. Until the mid 1970s, Russian historians agreed that the revolution of 1789, ideologically universal, was a bourgeois revolution, the Declaration of Human Rights was purely formal, and the Robespierreist government of 1793 gave a model of political energy but not a model of society. The Russian revolution of 1917 was seen as having gone beyond the French revolution by realizing the promises of 1793 and by putting in place a Communist State. But from the 1970s onward, this view began to be drastically revised. In an essay on the changing images of the French revolution, Edgar Morin explains that the sense of emancipation associated with the October revolution was dismantled by a series of auto-demystifications in the U.S.S.R., 108 “Notre perestroika, écrit-il, est inseparable de la politique tendant a la participation pleine et entière a léconomie mondiale. Cette orientation-là est determinée par notre interet economique direct. Mais a lévidence le reste du monde ne pourra que gagner a louverture en direction de léconomie mondiale dun marché tel que celui de 1URRS. Translated from Russian and published in Le Monde, 18 July 1989.  93  China (with the trial of the Gang of Four) and in Cambodia (with the atrocities of Pol Pot) all of which unfolded at about the same time. All of this has helped to resurrect the idea of democracy (which no longer appears as the ideological mask of the bourgeoisie) and regenerated human rights (no longer seen as a carrier of false and formal freedoms but as the only true freedom). What is truly extraordinary, is that this process happens in the heart of communist countries, where people aspire to pluralism and freedom in the midst of enormous totalitarian states. [...] Gorbachev insisted that democratization is the horizon of communism for the end of the millennium. And shortly later, thousands of students are singing the Marseillaise in Beijing. If in the schools of the USSR the students learned that 1917 was the future of 1789, 1789 has become the future of communism. Little by little, 1789 became the bright star of the future, in the East, in countries of Africa, in Asia and even in Latin America. 109 --  Ricoeur has investigated the shared territory between historical events and human actions, and in that respect, the rewriting of history by the communists gives a poignancy to issues of historical narratives. It seems that the “internal dynamic” of the exhibition insisted on the values of a unified Europe and the “ability to project itself outside of the work” was done by history itself. To retrace my way through the exhibition, I have said at the beginning that the curators displayed the art objects with little or no guidance for the visitor. I proposed to conceive of the exhibit as a landscape of ruins that carry in them stories that need to be uncovered. The first story was one about originals which I anchored in the Marxist interpretation of history. The Marxist narrative interprets the European story depicted in these original works by seeing a link between the oppressed of the different countries. The woman who remembers the event with the flour bags is moved not because these people were French, but because events like these ones (according to her) helped to gather a revolutionary momentum that brought people together to fight for their freedom. Then, I anchored the second story about “social context” present in the exhibition in the theories of the Annales School. In my criticism of the scientific and impersonal conception of the social context, I showed that if indeed a European context was shared by the different countries it was based on a sentimental attitude toward the past. The display of agricultural implements created a narrative about a lost agrarian life. 109 Morin,  89 regénere.’ Edgar Morin is head of research at the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).  94  The fragments of the royal statues and the narrative undercurrent of body parts in caricatures were interpreted as a story about destruction and creation. The series of events happening before and during the bicentennial in communist countries were brought into the interpretation of the exhibit as an allegory of the fall of Communism. The mythology surrounding the destruction of the Bastille and royal statues were read allegorically as the end of the Communist empire in Europe. Both the re-writing of history by Russian intellectuals and the event that occurred in the political realm in Communist states, during the bicentennial year, brought the historical narrative about the French Revolution into perspective. In this chapter the issue as to where the exhibit took place was treated in a cursory manner. In the next chapter, I will investigate the relationship between place and memory in greater depth and explore the politics of memory of a site that was seen a great deal during the Revolution. The organizers of the bicentennial wanted to recall its most positive aspects but other memories emerged from the shadows of the past.  95  CHAPTER FOUR  THE ARCHITECTURE OF MEMORY  As I walk along the edge of Place de la Concorde, instead of the usual car fumes and traffic, there is a strong smell of pine inhaling this, I feel both relaxed and revived. The resinous scent comes from a vast wooden amphitheatre that has been built here to welcome, for one night, over 16,000 spectators to watch the Bastille Day parade (fig. 4.1). A dozen workers dressed in dark blue overalls are busy attaching banisters to the bleacher stairs. The site is well-guarded by police who keep people from approaching the construction of this temporary monument. Passers-by comment on the atmosphere of serenity as they walk and look at the amphitheatre. A silence punctuated only by the sounds of woodworking seems to keep people there who, half-curious, half-hypnotized, are watching the slow but total transformation of a space they know so well. --  From an article in Liberation, “600 linear meters of wood, 60,000 screws and six weeks of relentless work have been necessary to erect these ‘revolutionary bleachers” ‘revolutionary’, because they are a replica of an amphitheatre that was built for the Fête de la Fédération of 1790 (the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789). It was the day when the newly elected representatives of each department came together from all over France to swear to protect the nation. Over the years, the Festival of Federation and the construction of its revolutionary amphitheatre by volunteers has become the “happiest” moment of the French revolution. --  The amphitheatre built for the bicentennial on Place de la Concorde is a quotation from history, a reconstruction of the bleachers that were built in 1790 (fig. 4.2). Mona Ozouf