Design Culture
                 Design2context / MAS Design Culture / Irena Bockaj / stand 16-05-10  

Tools and the Language of National Identity

constructions and deconstruction

in federal countries.

The visual expressions of Nationalism.



ABSTRACT: An interdisciplinary research into national identities of federative countries through observing its visual representations, collective symbols, visual culture in broader term (visualities), visual rhetoric and expressions; together with the social, political and economic context and dynamics of processes, that give them shape and are influenced by them.



Using examples of official government visual representation systems, national visual symbols and signs, supported and promoted culture and cultural events, promoted architecture, design and arts projects (as well as some examples which are not); visualities of the government and its visual expressions examined in the field of public design, architectural design and visual communication; design of public spaces, and the design of build environment which is officially supported (as the examples which are not); visualities of mass culture system; the visualities of streets insignias, the visual expression of design of passports, id –cards and visas; visualities of political parties and of political campaigns, presidential images and visual representations and expressions of the state’s leaders, the displays of governance through public ceremonial practices, visual presence of army and arms, visual expressions of nationalism, public visual expressions, etc.
But also the social, political and economic context. Combining these two approaches would suggest to open the possibilities for re-interpretations of the dynamic transformations of the meanings, and of changes, in established concepts of nation, nationalism, national identity and nation branding; taken within the timeline context of their emergence at the turn of eighteenth century, till recent years.
Different models of states and nations imply different types of national identities, and the tools and languages of their construction, as well as deconstruction.
For example, for Belgium, it is its monarchy realm that is considered as binding spot of maintaining the federalism; for SFR Yugoslavia, the binding spot for federalism has expired, but the legacy is still here, and also all that was lived and visually presented, continued in some forms in its successor states; and as for Switzerland and its specific confederation system, the point of questioning is the centralization of culture; while in Germany it is the point of synthesis of two entities that were separated for some decades. Thus the stages of federative constructions / deconstructions differ in all four cases, but also their geopolitical positioning differs. How are these realities visible, what are their visual expressions, what is presented, what not; also how did it all evolve in time. Those would be the startpoints for comparisons.
Also the starting point is to collect and investigate the visualities of such phenomena and their context of emergence; the impact of their message, their artistic quality, their ability of political communication, their symbolic and communication values, and aesthetic and ethic values; and also by using the interdisciplinary approach the aim would be to combine and interpret the gathered visualities with the factual social, political, cultural, economic background; and to explore the emergence of new and different contexts and possibilities of new connections between occurrences; and to do so also by, at all moments, combining theory with design and art practices and experiments.
The question of exposing the various possibilities of employments of tools in constructions and deconstructions of national identities and nationalism, and making visible its political, economic, cultural and social background, through re-interpreting and re-contextualising signs and visualities of it, is the central issue of the research.
Also the nation would be observed through three variable perspectives: through the inquiry into “modern era” concept of national identity; through telling a story of a nation as a story of signs; and through investigating a concept that is emerging through the presence of global culture representations and symbols.
The question is: What are the tools and the language of national identities construction and deconstruction in federative countries, and what is the visual expression of nationalism?