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2017 Vol. 8 № 4

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‘The Radical Black Colour’. On the Semantics of the Black Colour in Anarchist Discourse



The subject of this paper is the semantics of the colour black in anarchism. The author analyses the sociocultural and ontological aspects of the colour black as a symbol of anarchist criticism of power and the state. The anarchist black colour is counterposed to the white colour — a symbol of power in many cultures. The author shows that the idea of destruction, which the black colour of anarchy manifests, is correlated with the anthropological universals of visual experience. This idea is connected with the prototypical root of the colour black — the night, which is associated with chaos across many cultures. The protest semantics of the colour black is increasingly used in contemporary art activism. The author considers examples demonstrating that the colour black is used to criticise political representation and the anonymity of power. The primary focus is on the artistic practices of blackout (painting over/blocking out in black ink), which are interpreted in the context of the criticism of the political idea of transparency. In conclusion, the opacity of the black and white colours is compared. It is shown that the colour black can serve as a tool to create a radical semantic gap.


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