Walter Benjamin

Projecting the Arcades: A Talk at the Jewish Museum Takes Up Walter Benjamin by Malaya Sadler, Artnews

Jens Hoffman talked with Boris Groys and Michael Taussig.

To Groys, The Arcades Project represents Benjamin’s effort as an inveterate flâneur to “combine vita activa and vita contemplativa in a new way. Movement and repetition become mediated and combined,” he said. The flâneur, at once dispassionate and highly sensitive, adopts a contemplative disposition and also mobilizes it.

Taussig noted that he might read The Arcades Project and its cultural criticisms as a movement toward awakening from the spell of the consumer mythos of 19th-century Paris—and maybe from the spell of history itself. Benjamin’s conception of history, said Taussig, is coupled with an awareness of technology and a resistance to using archetypes, or static concepts, to understand an ever-changing and permeable modern world.