by Lucy R. Lippard ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 1, 1997
A discursive look at the ongoing transformation of the American landscape. Art critic Lippard (Mixed Blessings, not reviewed, etc.) posits that Americans are rapidly losing their sense of place and their local loyalties as a result of the country's fin-de-siÃ¢cle homogenization, courtesy of look-alike Walmarts and McDonald's, strip malls and housing developments, and thanks as well to hybrid cultural styles that see a new Trump luxury hotel in downtown New York augured in by practitioners of the Chinese art of feng shui, or geomancy. Lippard writes with undisguised nostalgia for a different, more historically aware America; at the top of each text page runs a journal of her life in the little town of Georgetown, Me., where such virtues presumably still obtain. Recognizing that regionalism is a cultural invention and as such somewhat artificial, she explores the possibilities for place-based public art that ""has both roots and reach"" and that honors local history and mores. She also looks into the prospects for preserving that older, idiomatic, vernacular America while allowing that, given their druthers, most people would often rather build for the future than maintain the past. (Only lack of money keeps them from doing so, she writes, quoting a colleague who observes that ""poverty is a wonderful preservative of the past."") Some of her themes--for instance, ""alienated displacement"" and ""the possibility of a multicentered society,"" whatever that is--grow a little wearisome as they are repeated throughout the text. But on the whole Lippard's narrative is interesting and thoughtful, and her critiques are often delightfully acidic, especially when she deals with enervating planned suburbs and gated communities and the monstrosities that pass for public art today. The more than 150 illustrations in color and black-and-white complement and extend her discussion very nicely. A solid contribution to popular geography.
Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997
Page Count: 320
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997
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