In this Dutch-language book project 'Mythisch - leven met en zonder oudheid', Maarten De Pourcq examines exemplary interactions between the ancient Greco-Roman world and the modern world. The book explores the role of classical references in the way in which modern people, roughly from the end of the nineteenth century onwards and taken from the perspective of the Low Countries, envision and shape their lives, their ambitions and their position in the world.
The position of classical reference cultures in modern and contemporary culture is a hugely complex topic of debate. The cultural heritage of ancient Greece and Rome has become part of an international repertoire that is globally shared and used to anchor various forms of power, renewal and revolt. It is closely related to historical and cultural processes of exclusion and inclusion, and it has been appropriated by different elites and rebels to help express their world views and claims to fame, also in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century, despite the fact that many people interested in the here and now deem classical references obsolete remnants of a not so interesting past.
But what does it mean for us today that the Dutch Golden Carriage depicts a classicizing Roman scene to position the Dutch kingdom in relation to the rest of the world? Why do classical references return in futurist skyscrapers that dominate the ever growing modern metropolis? Why do people, e.g., in songs, books, films, artworks, comics and even schoolbooks, rewrite Greco-Roman myths and consider this necessary for their survival as a social group? And how does this relate to other antiquities in the world? How and why is the postclassical repertoire attacked and defended; how is it left aside and taken care of, brutally or lovingly?
This book looks at ways of justifying and clarifying why we take care of antiquity and the relationships that it forges and develops between people and things. Or, in other words, what does it mean to live with and without antiquity today?
Prospected result is a Dutch-language book for a wider audience. The book project will play a part in conceptualizing and developing an exhibition on antiquity in the 21st century which will open the renovated Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen (2024-2025).