"17. But I am eliciting these implications of Adorno's reservations about Gestalt because what they imply is what Adorno leaves unsaid here, namely the contrast with his ambitions for the constellation. I should caution here that Adorno sometimes uses the word 'constellation' to designate historically given, that is, already familiarized, ideological arrays or Gestalts [for example, Critical Models 138, 260]; my usage henceforth will connote 'constellation' in the sense Adorno valorizes, as a device with the potential to be turned, in somewhat the manner of the Brechtian V-effect, against such familiarizations (though just this dissident potential, of course, is what mid-century avant-gardists were seizing on in Gestalt). And as we'll see, the word's 'antithetical' reversals of meaning are themselves indices of the 'dialectical'-ness of Adorno's immanent critique. We might say that these 'antithetical' meanings--'constellation' as unconscious ideological synthesis versus 'constellation' as consciousness-raising estrangement; 'constellation' as object of critique, or as subject of it--are themselves a kind of constellation implying or encoding, concealing or de-familiarizing a narrative, that of the classic Enlightenment project summarized by Freud in the formula, 'making the unconscious conscious.' Adorno may 'repeat' an over-familiar constellation and then reliquify (or, Medusa-like, petrify) its 'congelations'; or he may present an unfamiliar and even shocking juxtaposition, whose estrangement is to provoke a new and heightened consciousness of the ideological condition in which we are entrapped. The historical image that results, ideological and critical all at once, appropriates the critical force we saw Adorno ascribing to the Benjaminian dialectical image, turning it, immanently, to estranging or defamiliarizing, sc. critical or (Hegel) 'negative' purposes."
(Steven Helmling, 2003)
Steven Helmling (2003). "Constellation and Critique: Adorno's Constellation, Benjamin's Dialectical Image", Postmodern Culture, Volume 14, Number 1, September 2003 | 10.1353/pmc.2003.0030
"Tableaux vivants inspired by or involving pre-existing images have become Hannah's stock-in-trade, yet he continues to subtly alter how he approaches and restages history. He typically presents the viewer with projected videos that at first glance appear to be still photographic images. The slight quivering of his models, who are often holding strenuous or otherwise difficult poses, reveals the reality behind the images."
(Mark Clintberg, Canadian Art)
Fig.1 Adad Hannah 'The Raft of the Medusa' (100 Mile House) 2009 Produced with assistance from the community of 100 Mile House Courtesy Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain
Hu Jieming's "highly acclaimed photo-manipulated images Raft of the Medusa (2002) he references to Théodore Géricault's seminal and allegorical image, the Raft of the Medusa (1819). The historical painting serves as a mytho-poetic memorial of the 150 lost souls onboard the raft after a fatal shipwreck, from which only 15 survived. The painting very elegantly undermines the traditional heroic 19th century historical painting, and, instead, conveys a society in sinking collapse. Hu Jieming parallels this historic occurrence to the regime of the Cultural Revolution with all its sinister cruelty. His Raft of the Medusa, thus, is more than just a reference to the past: The photos are composed of today's excessive amount of consumer goods and advertisement imagery. Additionally, Hu Jieming juxtaposes pictures of today's youth in gestures of self-indulgent hedonism with monochrome grey pictures of the suppressed people in traditional mao-uniforms. These compositions made of images appropriated from different socio-political realities signify a strong critical engagement with both history and the present - it is a concern ranging beyond pure private considerations."