There was a moment in the 1990’s, in the era of high postmodernism, when it seemed that social reality has had no stable foundations and as such it can be freely and totally transformed by interventions in the registers of symbols and images. Various social, political and economic developments of the last two decades – from 9/11 terrorist attacks to the 2008 financial crisis to the recent populist uprisings on both sides of the Atlantic – blatantly contradict that over-optimist conviction. A lot has been said about what the populists get wrong, what is, however, more puzzling is that they seem to get some things right – as if people had a sort of political blindsight or – to put it in more philosophical terms – as if there was some kind of basic social and political unconcealedness/disclosure (alētheia) where the truth shines through the curtain of lies.
Jan Sowa is an Associate Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw. From January to June 2020 he is a Visiting Fellow at the IWM.