What might we mean by monoculture? What is the impetus for ‘identitarian’ or nationalistic monoculture movements who do not see, or wish, their society to be pluralistic, not just in the context of Europe but globally? Might we locate positive or even emancipatory aspirations of monoculture? Might a culturally homogeneous society also be inclusive and transformational? What lies at the fringes of monoculture, and what does it not tolerate? What may be the position of the arts within the context of monocultural ideology? Or alternatively, how might the arts look under monocultural ideology when taken to its logical conclusion?

MONOCULTURE - ARTWORKS

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Schaal en Perspectief [Scale and Perspective], 1980
Sculpture , 80 x 80 x 80 cm
Bristol cardboard, plastic

The title Principles for Lessons in Perspective makes one think of a dull school textbook on technical perspective drawing. In fact it is the title of a series of installations in which Deleu picks up enormous objects from the vastness of the landscape and ‘knocks them over’ or ‘lays them down’ in a different setting. This makes us experience space completely differently. What prompted this was a trip to the United States, where he was hugely impressed by the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and by a sequoia tree in Califonia that had fallen down; according to Deleu we can only get an idea of the size and volume of the towers if one of them is laid flat alongside the other and we are able to walk around it. For a design competition for social housing in Barcelona he designed two identical buildings (on the basis of the Golden Section), one upright and the other lying flat next to it. He made a model of this, in which the ‘lying’ building overhangs a river and two ships (the Queen Elizabeth I and II) sail under it. A number of installations like this have been assembled under the title Scale and Perspective. But it is not only buildings (or models of them) that are used. For example, Deleu disrupts the familiar image of a tower crane projecting high above the surrounding buildings, by laying one down full-length on the ground at the Montevideo gallery (in Antwerp harbour) for several weeks. Another example is his 1970 proposal to saw off all the lamp posts along the motorway to save the wasted energy, an idea that was revived in the form of lit motorway lamps diagonally piercing a gallery in Munich.