The Exhibitionary Complex

May 2, 2012

Secret punishment is punishment half-wasted”. (1)

Moving into our more contemporary prison system, Foucault states that we moved from the spectacle to the surveillance. (2)

By the turn of the century [the 1900’s], Dean MacCannell notes, sightseers in Paris ‘were given tours of the sewers, the morgue, a slaughterhouse, a tobacco factory, the government printing office, a tapestry work, the mint, the stock exchange and the supreme court in session’ (3)

With the current trial in Oslo against Anders Breivik, it is no doubt that our current punishment system have become a public domain. With little doubt as to the outcome of this trial, there is still very much a spectacle around the process.

Please remember when you get inside the gates you are part of the show” stated the 1901 Pan-American Exposition. (4)

The public no longer had to play the role of impressed spectators. They were invited to become frivolous participants. Order was replaced by jumble, and instruction by entertainment.” (5)

– It is clear that we are all a part of participatory system, not just part of a spectacle, but often the spectacle itself. During this trial, everyone has had a story to tell, and media has carefully orchestrates the ‘entertainment’. It was immediately assumed that a lot of money would have to be spent on the construction of new, more secure premises to be able to house the trial. This in itself speaks about not just the possibility, but more of a given that public in itself will be “part of the show” for better or worse.

References: Tony Bennett; The Birth of the Museum:

1. pg 64

2. ibid

3. pg 65

4. pg 68

5. pg 74


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