Advancement in the technology of printmaking over the last five centuries has brought publications to an increasingly broader public. Educating, enlightening or serving as propaganda, the depictions of brave men entering strange and distant lands, subduing inhabitants and imposing their culture and religion, too often deny the reality of dehumanisation. Extolling the exploits of a superior civilisation, the conquered fall into servitude and become tools for those conquering, to enforce their vision of a utopian empire.
Drawing from visual language used in engravings over these periods: from Goya’s etched ‘Desastre’ series, to engraved records of the slave trade in these regions, my interest is in the link between dehumanisation and humanism in our present day culture. The program of dehumanisation is still very much at work in our society today, but in different clothing!
There are two fundamental ways of seeing the root of every worldview. Humanism believes that man is essentially good and will ultimately find a solution, creating the utopian environment in which mankind will flourish.The opposing view, is that man is essentially evil and in need of a divine power to save him.
The former and prevalent view in our culture today, and one that is ingrained into the fabric of our society, has been responsible for the greatest crimes against humanity in the course of history. No longer based on grounds of race or nationality, this new empire encompasses the world, imposing a new particular servitude.
As we become increasingly engulfed within a humanist system, in a digital world of diminished human contact, the divide separating those who hold different views becomes a gulf. What then, is our future in a dehumanised society?