Meaning is not as stable and independent as it might appear. Rather than ideas being wholly self-contained, they are contingent, relational, dependent. Meaning depends on context, and the artist has room to intervene by changing that context. In “Left for dead”, artists work with text and image in contexts that provoke, intrigue, and even frustrate us as viewers. We are haunted by images and phrases of the past, always understood through the lens of the contemporary moment and the omnipresence of digital media, and this deeply affects cultural production. Since the protests of 1968, our idea of what constitutes resistance has changed a great deal–even now, the notion of “resistance” is debated actively. Stated simply, the same phrases and slogans can become inert as they are absorbed by markets and become commodities ever more rapidly and completely. Their afterlife is quite different from how they are described in their first, intended purpose. We live in the failures, partially fulfilled promises, and the triumphs of the New Left–what will come next, and to what extent can we act as agents of the future we wish to see?
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