A Cultural History of Barbed Wire
Distributed for Reaktion Books
Invented in France in 1860, barbed wire was developed independently in the USA, where it was used to control livestock on the Great Plains, both to "keep out" and "keep in". Promoted as the Ideal Fence, barbed wire’s menacing qualities were soon made manifest. The epithet, "The Devil’s Rope", anticipated its transformation into a tool of war in the late 19th and early 20th century. Henceforth, it would become synonymous with repression. Barbed wire’s conflicting character makes it an appropriate symbol of modernity, and Krell shows how the use of this symbolism in contemporary art has given barbed wire meanings beyond the historical and political realms.
1. The devil's in the detail
2. Tortured bodies/touching sites
3. Making familiar
4. Entangled intimacies
5. Grasping the nettle