Once upon a time, the ‘grands magasins de nouveautés’ were focal points of modern life. Their development, as described in Emile Zola’s Au bonheur des dames ("A Woman’s Paradise"), introduced the transition from a production’s to a consumer’s society. The department store provided an alternative for the aristocratic-civilian, specialized consumption model. This conversation focuses on the paradoxes resulting from the democratization of luxury: staging as a luxury, but just as well luxury as staging and theatricalization, shielding the triviality of consumption. One might speak of a rationalization of desire, but also of liberation of the imagination. The paradigm of the daydream is present in the concept of the department store, but it might also be considered as the height of objectification, when Man disappears in objects and social identity is put together à la carte. Part of the BRT (Belgian radio and television broadcast network) television series ’Container’. Panel discussion with Lieven De Cauter, Bart Verschaffel, Christine Delhaye and Rudi Laermans.
Original broadcast date: 14/06/1989
00’00" Theme of the broadcast : the origin of department stores, their evolution, their importance in social and economic terms. Guests : Christine Delhaye (cultural sociologist) and Rudi Laermans (historical sociologist). 5453"
(Source: Jef Cornelis 1964 - 1990, Espace Art Contemporain : Maison de la culture et de la Communication de Saint-Etienne, 1991)