Nestled near Cyber-A Café in the revamped corners of the UC Irvine Art Department, the University Art Gallery has been the venue for some of the most intriguing art exhibits. From studio art seniors exhibiting their collegiate work to guest artists utilizing a multitude of media platforms, the installations have always been insightful and thought-provoking.
“Freudemocracy: 2008-1968” is no exception; it reaches a vast arena of existence, spanning time and space alike. Its content renders ideas not only important to the curators of the exhibit, but also to the current social and political state.
Focusing largely on the student-led and later national rebellion throughout France in 1968, “Freudemocracy: 2008-1968” looks at the effect these events had on one of the period’s most potent minds.
Through films made by French new wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard, the exhibit showcases a selection of films as a themed montage. Beginning with the years right before the very crux of the movement in 1966, the exhibit then goes through films commentating on the moment of uninhibited rebellion and finally deals with the movement’s aftermath in 1972.
Many artists are still inspired not only by 1968’s brazen call for revolutionary change but also the creative works that subsequently emerged. Like others, curators Juli Carson and R.J. Ward have long since shared a passionate interest in this period of time. This political and cultural movement and its collision with rebellion, often symbolically visualized in Godard’s work, was an area of artistic endeavor often discussed by the two. Even the exhibit title serves as a multi-faceted vehicle of reference to not only the films exhibited but also the themes of scholarly study for the curators.
“The title comes from a scene in ‘Sympathy for the Devil,’ ” Ward said, “in which a young woman activist sprays the graffiti ‘FREUDEMOCRACY’ on a stone wall … in London. Juli is a Freudian scholar, and of course, Godard’s films focus on revolution and sexuality, so the title was both an inside reference and a perfect synthesis of what May ’68 represents to us.”
It seems only natural, 40 years after the rebellion and in this current political climate so befitting to the modes of change and reform, that “Freudemocracy: 2008-1968” sees fruition. The innovative mode in which the exhibit represents the span of years is part of the exhibit’s message and integral to its overall meaning.
“[The exhibit] foregrounds not just the idea of commemoration, but of the ideals of ’68 finding fruition in the present with Obama’s candidacy,” Ward said. “We obviously couldn’t know the outcome of the election when we started, but we believed the result would either be the ‘soft revolution’ of an Obama victory, or in the event of a McCain-Palin administration, the catalyst for a new kind of resistance movement.”
Beginning with “Masculin Feminin,” the exhibit reels in Godard’s focus on youth culture and how the fervor of sexuality and occupation with politicization motivates a desire for governmental change. Culminating with films made during the existence of the Dziga Vertov Group of politically vocal filmmakers, the exhibit comes full circle in reflections of the rebellion’s impact.
This exhibit hones in on the filmic artistry created during a period of realization, rebellion and reform across the globe. A more liberalist morality was at play throughout an overwhelming majority, and France remained a center for the rebellion nexus throughout the world.It is in 2008 that a re-evaluation of 1968’s necessary rebellion parallels our country’s move toward change. “Freudemocracy: 2008-1968” reflects on the past through Godard’s politically charged filmmaking while mirroring the change anticipated for the future.
“Freudemocracy” will be on exhibit until Nov. 26 at the University Art Gallery from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.