Once Upon a Time: Modernity and Its Nostalgias

Date: 29–30 April 2005
Location: Tamayo Museum, Mexico City

Contemporary culture and society has a problematic and ambiguous relationship to nostalgia. We look forward to a brave digital future at the same time that we seem captivated to an unprecedented degree by our nostalgic imagination—futuristic and retro fantasies coexist seamlessly side-by-side. This two-day conference will examine this ambiguity and its ramifications, in part by examining contemporary cultural and political phenomena and in part by looking at how the legacy of the Enlightenment’s paradoxical relationship to nostalgia continues to inform the framework of our own thinking. Topics addressed will include: the relationship between nostalgia and utopian desire; the uses and abuses of nostalgia within nationalist political discourse; the paradoxical relationship to nostalgia inherent in the project of modernity; nostalgia and science fiction; nostalgia and the formation of history as a discipline; nostalgia and architecture; the current nostalgia for ‘beauty’ within art criticism; nostalgia and psychoanalysis; nostalgia and the idea of the museum; and the nostalgia industry in the Europe and the United States.

April 29th

10:30: opening remarks

11:00–1:30: Past perfect/ pasado perfecto
Daniel Rosenberg (University of Oregon) will be presenting his timeline of timelines and speaking about the various notion of chronology in modernity
Mark Dery (New York University) on nostalgia for the present
— Moderator: Itala Schmelz

3:00–6:15: Distilled histories/Historias destiladas
Luc Sante (Bard College) on the politics of revivalist culture in the US
Renato Gonzalez (Mexico) on nostalgia and Mexican nationalism
Eyal Weizman (Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna) on how the notion of nostalgia has been used in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
— Moderator: Cuauhtémoc Medina

April 30th

11:00–1:00: Modernity and fragments of nostalgia/La modernidad y los fragmentos de la nostalgia
Sven-Olov Wallenstein (Södertörn University, Stockholm) will be addressing Winckelmann, Hegel, and Heidegger’s various approaches to the question of "Greece"
Celeste Olalquiaga (independent scholar, Paris) on melancholy, kitsch, and nostalgia
— Moderator: Sina Najafi

3:00–6:30: Activating the aesthetics of nostalgia/Activando lo estético de la nostalgia
Andreas Huyssen (Columbia University, New York) on the possible authenticity of ruins
— Screening: Hollis Frampton, "Nostalgia," 30 min
Cuauhtémoc Medina (UNAM, México) on re-enactments in artistic practice
— Moderator: Pablo Vargas-Lugo