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Postmodernism is often viewed as a culture of quotations. The very structure of the television show quotes the classic era of the family sitcom.While the misadventures of its cartoon characters ridicule all forms of institutionalised authority – patriarchal, political, religious and so on – it does so by endlessly quoting from other media texts.
As a result, one of the most common themes addressed within postmodernism relates to cultural identity.
American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger’s statement that she is “concerned with who speaks and who is silent: with what is seen and what is not” encapsulates this broad critical project.
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I once asked a group of my students if they knew what the term postmodernism meant: one replied that it’s when you put everything in quotation marks.
It wasn’t such a bad answer, because concepts such as “reality”, “truth” and “humanity” are invariably put under scrutiny by thinkers and “texts” associated with postmodernism.The shift from modernism to postmodernism is seen most dramatically in the world of architecture, where the term first gained widespread acceptance in the 1970s.One of the first to use the term, architectural critic Charles Jencks suggested the end of modernism can be traced to an event in St Louis on July 15, 1972 at pm.Jencks argued that while modernist architects were interested in unified meanings, universal truths, technology and structure, postmodernists favoured double coding (irony), vernacular contexts and surfaces.The city of Las Vegas became the ultimate expression of postmodern architecture.Postmodernism describes not only a period but also a set of ideas, and can only be understood in relation to another equally complex term: modernism. Postmodernism is best understood as a questioning of the ideas and values associated with a form of modernism that believes in progress and innovation.Modernism was a diverse art and cultural movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries whose common thread was a break with tradition, epitomised by poet Ezra Pound’s 1934 injunction to “make it new! Modernism insists on a clear divide between art and popular culture.Marxist literary theorist Fredric Jameson famously argued postmodernism was “the cultural logic of late capitalism” (by which he meant post-industrial, post-Fordist, multi-national consumer capitalism).In his 1982 essay Postmodernism and Consumer Society, Jameson set out the major tropes of postmodern culture.Such as those of women, homosexuals and the colonised.The modernist canon itself is revealed as patriarchal and racist, dominated by white heterosexual men.