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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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雲以外には変わらなかったものがなかった

 

Nothing but the Clouds Unchanged: Artists in World War INothing but the Clouds Unchanged: Artists in World War I
(2014/11/25)
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先週末読んだ本の報告です。第一次世界大戦が芸術家の作風にどのような影響をもたらしたのか、芸術家一人一人を簡潔に振り返っていくアンソロジーとなっています。ニューヨークタイムズの書評ではこの本のタイトルとなったNothing but the Clouds Unchangedの元のベンヤミンの一節を紹介してくれています。

‘Nothing but the Clouds Unchanged: Artists in World War I’
By KAREN ROSENBERGNOV. 26, 2014

The anthology “Nothing but the Clouds Unchanged: ­Artists in World War I” quite sensibly steers clear of sweeping ­assessments, offering instead a ­cacophonous cluster of short artist biographies. Edited by Gordon Hughes, an assistant professor of art history at Rice University, and Philipp Blom, an independent scholar, it accompanies the current Getty Research Institute exhibition “World War I: War of Images, Images of War.”

Its evocative title comes from Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay “The Storyteller”: “A generation that still drove to school in horse-drawn carriages suddenly stood under the open sky in a landscape with nothing but the clouds unchanged, and in the center, in a force field of destructive currents and explosions, was the tiny, fragile human body.”


ざっくり訳すと以下のような感じになるでしょうか。3月11日を迎えて、ベンヤミンの言葉がどうしても頭に残ってしまっています。

まだ馬車に乗って通学していた世代がいきなり大空の下で体験したのは、雲以外には変わらなかったものがない光景だ。その中心には、破壊をもたらすうねりと爆発の場には、ちっぽけでもろい生身の体しかなかった。

これはStoryteller物語作者というエッセイの冒頭に登場するものです。以下の引用は少し英訳が違っています。第一次世界大戦という体験はこれまでの延長線上で語ることはできないものだったと述べている部分です。

With the [First] World War a process began to become apparent which has not halted since then. Was it not noticeable at the end of the war that men returned from the battlefield grown silent—not richer, but poorer in communicable experience? What ten years later was poured out in the flood of war books was anything but experience that goes from mouth to mouth. And there was nothing remarkable about that. For never has experience been contradicted more thoroughly than strategic experience by tactical warfare, economic experience by inflation, bodily experience by mechanical warfare, moral experience by those in power. A generation that had gone to school on a horse-drawn streetcar now stood under the open sky in a countryside in which nothing remained unchanged but the clouds, and beneath these clouds, in a field of force of destructive torrents and explosions, was the tiny, fragile human body.

この本は以下の美術展に合わせて出版されたもののようで、Atlanticもレビューをしています。

World War I: War of Images, Images of War
November 18, 2014–April 19, 2015, GETTY RESEARCH INSTITUTE


下記の引用はWolfonianの Myth + Machine: Art and Aviation in the First World Warというまた別の展覧会の説明なのですが、こちらの展覧会での中心的な問題でこのベンヤミンの引用と呼応していると思うので紹介します。

The Art War Waged During the Great War
Two museums commemorate World War I with exhibits showcasing both the patriotic and dissenting imagery that brought the battlefield to the home front.

STEVEN HELLER
DEC 4 2014, 11:00 AM ET

Battlefield carnage was so nightmarish and unprecedented that a new language had to be created to visually and textually describe it. “Most artists and writers, even those who were fairly aesthetically conservative prior to the war, tended to view traditional forms of image making or writing as wholly inadequate to the task of representing the experience of modern warfare,” Hughes said. He pointed out Italian Futurism, and the watercolor drawings on cigarette boxes by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner as examples of the period's new visual vocabulary. It was, he said, an “effort to find a visual or written idiom that could represent, even if inadequately, what by its very nature cannot be represented.”

How did artists and designers choose to represent the unrepresentable? That’s the questions driving the exhibit at the Wolfsonian, according to its curator, Jon Mogul. The typical answer in art history is that World War I was a trigger for avant-garde innovation, since the war alienated artists from the established culture. That's not wrong, said Mogul, and there's evidence for that in the exhibition—works by Wyndham Lewis and Paul Joostens that depict soldiers and machines as nearly abstract geometric forms, a poster by Jean Carlu that incorporates a photo of a badly disfigured French veteran.

But Mogul was just as fascinated by the resilience of conventional, unrebellious depictions. Despite the rise of Cubism, Expressionism and, later, Dadaism, Mogul says that if you look at the art of period broadly, there’s more there than the modern-leaning, angsty stuff. He refers to a series of lithographs portraying the medical care of wounded British soldiers by an artist named Claude Shepperson, which avoided showing any evidence of wounds themselves or further suffering.


この本のエッセイでもベンヤミンに対応して以下のように新たな表現方法を模索していった芸術家について語っているものがあります。

Given Walter Benjamin's claim that “men returned from the battlefield [of World War I] grown silent—not richer, but poorer in communicable experience,” does it hold, as he goes on to argue, that “the art of storytelling is coming to an end”? The writings of these authors — Graves, Barbusse, Sassoon, Jünger, Blunden, the list goes on—would suggest the contrary. Rather than remain mute, abandoning narrative in the face of incommunicable experience, the trick is to find a new means of storytelling, a modern form for a modern war, a new voice. “I must go over the ground again,” Blunden writes of his perseverance in the face of his failed efforts. “A voice, perhaps not my own, answers within me. You'll be going over the ground again, it says, until that hour when agony's clawed face softens into the smilingness of a young day... then we'll change our ground.” To change ground — to give voice to the otherwise incommunicable — is for Blunden to change the very foundation of storytelling; likewise for poetry, as Blaise Cendrars (who lost an arm in the fighting at Champagne) suggests in the concluding lines of his 1918 war poem J'ai tué (I've killed).

Yuta自身直接体験したわけでもないのに偉そうなことは言うべきではないのでしょうが、このような厄災を前にすると紋切り型の言葉が氾濫してしまいます。もちろん追悼の意はもたなくてはいけないですし、今でも苦しんでいる方がいる中で心ない発言は慎まなければいけないことも分かります。でも、第一次世界大戦後の芸術家たちが模索したように、今回の体験の固有性を伝える表現の模索というのもあってしかるべきなんだろうなとも感じます。
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Yuta

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