Art historian Professor Richard Clay explores how Mythologies, written in 1957 by French philosopher Roland Barthes, laid bare the myth-making at the heart of popular culture. Now, following in Barthes’s footsteps, Richard Clay dissects some of the everyday myths we still take for granted in the 21st century, revealing the hidden meanings in everything from money, Wi-Fi and race to the Madonna.
It’s a journey that takes us from Paris to Margate, from the streets of Manhattan to the Accademia Gallery in Florence. Along the way, Richard meets avant-garde artists including Clet Abraham, Ingrid Burrington, Molly Soda and Rene Matic, whose works subvert the assumptions underpinning the way we see our world. We are introduced to semiotics, the study of signs and symbols, which provides an analytical toolkit that helps us navigate advertising and its demands on our attention.
In today’s world of relentless digital information, Richard argues, myths have the ability to hoodwink us more than ever. What might Roland Barthes have made of the 21st century?