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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDeserts of the Political

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under the pavement,» wrote Thomas Medicus in a 1982 Filmkritik article on Pier Paolo Pasolini s desert. He continued, «In a space of reduced contours, containing no symbols & the real desert becomes the metaphor for fate, since here, as there, only that which is most necessary is real, and encompasses both emptiness and abundance.»[5] It is not very difficult to continue expounding upon the existential, rhetorical, and semiotic characteristics of (more or less) specific images of the desert. Here, however, as an object of iconography and topological research, a «metaphor for fate,» or an «enduring metaphor for people reinventing themselves or getting lost on the edge of alien space,«[6] the desert is only interesting in as far as it takes on a structural, symbolic function at the points where various discourses of the late nineteen-sixties and early seventies intersect. Too much has been written about the desert. Indiscriminately and metaphysically it has been located everywhere. Seen from the «landscape perspective» (W.J.T. Mitchell), «the desert» becomes a building block for infinite comparisons.[7] New aspects continually appear, structured and controlled by the concept


of «the landscape.» The desert becomes a cultural and historical theme park. On the other hand, not enough can be written about the specific regime of the desert and the combinations in which it takes its part: from political platforms and aesthetic practices to kitsch, ideology, religion, and a range of other elements, which employ the discourse on landscape to, in turn, create a discourse on subjectification and its crisis. The desert, a culturally produced space as well as a natural «event,» is a place for selfdiscovery and at the same time, a place where one s identity can be shaken. It is threatening, yet it can also be used to threaten. By means of the passage into and through the desert (and by using it as a point of departure) an epistemology develops that dangerously exceeds social and urban thinking. Such a critical epistemology of the desert (which can be traced back to a crisis of the subject, among other things) can result in a special kind of desert snobbism that is, among other things, the result of a regeneration process launched on the part of the precarious subject. Alternatively, it may manifest itself in one of those «special relationships between man, machine, and wilderness,» to which the

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