Images of Power and the Power of Images
by Cynthia Freeland
Real places and events are constructed and used to symbolize abstract formulations of power and authority in politics, corporate practice, the arts, religion, and community. By analyzing the aesthetics of public space in contexts both mundane and remarkable, the contributors examine the social relationship between public and private activities that impart meaning to groups of people beyond their individual or local circumstances. From a range of perspectives—anthropological, sociological, and socio-cultural—the contributors discuss road-making in Peru, mass housing in Britain, an unsettling traveling exhibition, and an art fair in London; we explore the meaning of walls in Jerusalem, a Zen garden in Japan, and religious themes in Europe and India. Literally and figuratively, these situations influence the ways in which ordinary people interpret their everyday worlds. By deconstructing the taken for- granted definitions of social value (democracy, equality, individualism, fortune), the authors reveal the ideological role of imagery and imagination in a globalized political context.