Ostalgia at the New Museum

ARTMargins Online December 23, 2011

Nostalgia has many guises – homesickness, yearning, desire, melancholia. Susan Stewart defines nostalgia as a “social disease,” a “sadness without an object,” a narrative that is fundamentally ideological. “Hostile to history and its invisible origins…,” she argues, “nostalgia wears a distinctly utopian face, a face that turns toward a future-past, a past which has only ideological reality.” Walter Benjamin wrote about Leftist Melancholia as a kind of nostalgia that opposes true revolutionary thinking. But more recently, Viktor Misiano and others have proclaimed a progressive or radical nostalgia that sees the positive effects of memory in understanding the traumas of history.

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