Griffith Review 83: Past Perfect

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The past, famously, is a foreign country — but in the twenty-first century, it’s one in which we increasingly seek solace. No matter the relentless pace of technological innovation and the digitisation of everything from money to media – our appetites for retro design and aesthetics, for cultural products that reimagine technicolour-dream versions of decades gone by, or for fantasies of a past golden political age are ever on the rise. But what fuels this love affair with recycling our history? What periods do we choose to romanticise, and how do our rose-tinted glasses occlude reality? Is all this nostalgia signifying — as the late Mark Fisher opined — ‘the slow cancellation of the future’?

Past Perfect surveys our need to idealise, sensationalise and glamorise — and asks what the circular nature of our obsessions says about our present cultural moment.