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The Documents

The Dark Side of Humanity

Theme Description

Blackwhite—applied to a party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. —George Orwell, 1984

Penetrating light usually reveals a shadow. It falls on an object, illuminating the details of its surface. But lurking behind, blocked from the light source, is a side that’s unexposed. When the intensity of light increases, the shadow only appears darker. This dark side often takes shape behind the human condition. What may appear as goodness and light—government, religion, intellectual pursuits—can be followed by darkness.

Great thinkers have asked the hard questions: Is humanity nothing more than a collection of savages caring only for their own benefit and survival? Are societies formed solely for the purpose of lifting up the few at the cost of the many? Do the ends justify the means? Does power corrupt, as Lord Acton once opined, or is it instead the lust for power that corrupts the leaders of the state?

The struggle for hope and meaning—within the darker side of our existence—characterizes several documents featured in this exhibit. By ripping away the veneer of civilization, the malevolent aspects of the human condition are exposed and explored.

Sponsored by the Madge Rothschild Foundation