Author: IVC Author

Art For an Undivided Earth: The American Indian Movement Generation

Reviewed by Anthony Ballas, University of Denver Jessica Horton. Art For an Undivided Earth: The American Indian Movement Generation. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. 312 pages. In the shadow and in the wake of settler colonialism, a parallel shape of the world arose from the standpoint of Native Modernism in the late 1960s, 70s and 80s. Rather than conceiving an alternative to the hegemonic worldview of the colonial project, Native Modernism produced a universal vision of space undivided by discrete cultural and ethnic identities, emphasizing the shared albeit contentious ground of the unfinished project of modernity. This universalism runs counter to the oft-described fragmented modernities endorsed by proponents of identity politics; rather than assume the position of each fragment of Walter Benjamin’s famous broken vase metaphor, Native Modernism focalizes the undivided core around which each fragment vacillates, as well as the network they compose in relation to one another.[1] Jessica Horton’s Art For An Undivided Earth is perhaps the most involved and in-depth study of Native Modernism to date. The author departs from analyses of …

Aubrey Anable, Playing with feelings cover

Game Studies in Visual and Cultural Studies at University of Rochester

At the occasion of the launch of IVC 30 Poetics of Play and the “Breaking Boundaries with Video Games 3” conference held at University of Rochester on April 18-19 2019, we asked VCS alumna Aubrey Anable to share with us her experience of writing a dissertation on interactive media in VCS. Aubrey Anable is Assistant Professor of Film Studies in The School for Studies in Art and Culture at Carleton University, where she is also cross-appointed with the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture. Her book Playing with Feelings: Video Games and Affect (University of Minnesota Press, Spring 2018) provides an account of how video games compel us to play and why they constitute a contemporary structure of feeling emerging alongside the last sixty years of computerized living. Anable is an advisory editor for the journal Camera Obscura. She is currently co-editing The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Visual Culture. We invited Byron Fong, PhD student currently enrolled in the VCS program working on video game theory and organizer of the Breaking Boundaries conference to the conversation. The interview is moderated …

Pokémon Korosu In-Game Screenshots

Playful (Counter)Publics: Game Mods as Rhetorical Forms of Active and Subversive Player Participation

By Nicole Kurashige Introduction Though most digital humanities scholars readily agree that game developers need to offer more progressive functions and options to enhance player agency, such recommendations for further research or action often ignore how players are already able to enact their agency in spaces beyond the game itself. Online gaming forums serve as hotbeds of active player participation and (counter)public discourse.1 Players seeking to expand their agency within games can do so via modifications (referred to hereafter as “mods”).2 Mods, which are collaboratively developed in such online forums by players for players, are digital compositions that can alter the code of a game in various ways, thereby opening up more possibility spaces for players without having to wait for developer intervention. Players, thus, challenge, resist, and subvert the procedural rhetoric encoded in a game by exhibiting their agency through the creation, distribution, and use of these mods. Mods and their related modding communities have been around for decades, but, surprisingly, little to no research has been done to examine their rhetorical significance. This …

The Monster Has Kind Eyes: Intimacy and Frustration in The Last Guardian

By Kaelan Doyle-Myerscough The Last Guardian is a 2016 single-player adventure game that follows the relationship between an unnamed young boy and a giant gryphon-like creature, referred to as Trico, as they navigate the ruins of an ancient, apparently technologically-advanced civilization.1 The player controls the boy, who is small and weak—he is incapable of fighting the ghostly suits of armor that he and Trico encounter throughout the game, and he often cannot physically traverse the massive, vertical ruins in which the game takes place without falling or stumbling. Meanwhile, Trico, who accompanies the boy, protects him from danger and is essentially impervious to harm; however, Trico is vulnerable to hunger, distraction, fear, and to the lingering effects of traumas it has apparently suffered at the hands of something in the ruins. The boy and Trico, neither fully able to traverse the space they find themselves in, must work together to locate food, overcome obstacles, and defeat enemies. Critical and audience responses to The Last Guardian were mixed: though the game was praised for its map …

Unconsolable Contemporary: Observing Gerhard Richter

Reviewed by Stella Gatto, independent researcher Paul Rabinow. Unconsolable Contemporary: Observing Gerhard Richter. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. 176 pages.  Given the insurmountable number of publications already in circulation, contributing an innovative piece of writing to the existing literature on German artist Gerhard Richter (b. 1931) is no small feat. Richter’s website—which is carefully managed by his personal archivist—provides up-to-date accounts of the over 200 monographs, 186 articles, 178 solo exhibition catalogues and over 1300 group exhibition catalogues published since the beginning of the artist’s career in 1962. Albeit outside art historical, critical, and curatorial disciplines, Paul Rabinow’s Unconsolable Contemporary: Observing Gerhard Richter provides new insight into the work of one of the world’s most extensively exhibited and written-about artists. A Professor in the Department of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, Rabinow is most well-known for developing an “anthropology of the contemporary.” As outlined in the introduction of his seminal book Marking Time: On the Anthropology of the Contemporary (2007), Rabinow defines “the contemporary” as “a moving ratio of modernity, moving through the recent past and …

Loss of Control, Control over Loss: A Posthumanist Reading of Lars and the Real Girl and Black Mirror’s “Be Right Back”

By Prerna Subramanian “To define what is real is to define what is human, if you care about humans. If you don’t you are schizoid…and the way I see it, an android: that is, not human and hence not real.”- Philip K Dick quoted by N Katherine Hayles in How We Became Posthuman The idea that any discussion pertaining to what is human and what is not, matters only “if you care about humans” is an important connection this article probes further into.1 This particular prerequisite to defining what is human is significant to understanding how relationships, emotions, sentiments have often formed the field where arguments in favour of and against human exceptionalism have been played out. Human exceptionalism or the tendency to categorically put humans on a different pedestal than other beings has been a crucial tenet through which posthumanist scholars often ruminate over the idea of human, inhuman, non-human and investigate the boundaries between these categories. What posthumanist scholars tend to grapple with in their work is the idea of whether there is …

#typewriter dialogues

By Susanne Kass https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/typewriterdialogues/ I am fascinated by the way that text in the era of the digital world and social media has both expanded some of its properties but also adjusted some of the material aspects of words. In some ways I feel that written text has become even more material, or at least when writing I have felt a greater need to touch, feel texture, accept mistakes and markings as a part of the process of writing. Time has also become condensed. With instant publishing the present moment is just more essential, the thoughts and feelings of today may be forgotten or different tomorrow, I can write bravely because I really don’t think anybody cares. If I don’t say it now it will never be, or at least everything will be different tomorrow. In the loneliness of my studio I returned to my typewriter. Bought at a flea market as an instrument for a performance, more for its ability to produce noise than to spit out evenly spaced, legible type, it was heavy, …

Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds

Reviewed by Hanna E. Morris, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. Arturo Escobar. Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds. Duke University Press. 2018. 312 pages. “The notion of oww [One-World World] signals the predominant idea in the West that we all live within a single world, made up of one underlying reality (one nature) and many cultures. This imperialistic notion supposes the West’s ability to arrogate for itself the right to be ‘the world,’ and to subject all other worlds to its rules, to diminish them to secondary status or to nonexistence, often figuratively and materially. It is a very seductive notion […]” (Escobar, Designs for the Pluriverse, 86). It is only fitting to begin this essay with a provocative quote—as the author of the book under review, Arturo Escobar, chooses to begin each chapter of Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds (2018). Escobar, professor of anthropology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of several, groundbreaking works such …

Immediations The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary

Reviewed by Genne Speers, York University, Toronto. Pooja Rangan. Immediations The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary. Duke University Press. 2017. 254 pages. “What does endangered life do for documentary?” This critical, and often overlooked, question is the point of departure for Immediations The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary. In this book, Pooja Rangan, Assistant Professor of English in Film and Media Studies at Amherst College, articulates the paradox of participatory documentary and the problematic of “giving voice to the voiceless.” Rangan argues that the humanitarian impulse of giving the camera to the other is an ideological act. The gift of the camera appears as an invitation to the dehumanized other to claim and take up their position as a member of the community of humanity, however it doesn’t go far enough to engage the problematics of how we define the community of humanity, or how we can expand what we conceive of as the human/e. Crucially, this question of how we conceive of the human/e presents itself as a core concern of this book (158). Rangan’s neologism, …

Allegory and Its Interpretational Force in “mother!”

Jonathan Wright, York University Most critics agree that Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 film mother! operates as some sort of allegory. There are a few different allegories to choose from, including the biblical narrative of creation, fall, and sacrifice; the act of artistic (or even cinematic) creation as consuming and oblivious; and the depletion of natural resources by human cultures. The winding plot of mother! will not be recounted here, since it both relies on the element of surprise and is so baroque that it would take the larger part of this review just to present it. At its core, the film depicts a woman experiencing a set of increasingly dramatic trials involving her house, her husband, and her newborn child, most of which seem entirely inexplicable except within the schema of an allegory or extended metaphor. The idea of a film as a representation of other, different events is not unique to mother! After all, “reading” a film through a psychoanalytic, feminist, Marxist, or (more recently) queer lens has been an accepted approach in academia for …

How Heritage Feels: An Artist’s Sensuous Archaeology of Iraqi-American Relations

Exhibition review by Hilary Morgan Leathem, University of Chicago Figure 1 Michael Rakowitz, Backstroke of the West, Installation view, Reproduced with permission of Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Michael Rakowitz: Backstroke of the West, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, September 16, 2017—March 4, 2018. “It bemoans its lost wisdom There’s nothing left Its heritage is lost And one question follows the other…” —Tarek Eltayeb, “A Hoopoe”1 While heritage has become a subject of sustained interest across disciplines in the last few decades, most studies focus on its economic dimensions, allowing the moral, symbolic, and affective power of heritage to fall to the wayside.2 A recent exhibition at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Michael Rakowitz: Backstroke of the West, curated by Dr. Omar Kholeif, gives us a window into how to address this absence, exploring the moral economies of history and heritage, in part, by reconstituting missing, looted, or destroyed artifacts from Iraq. It also builds on the assertion that there still remains a palpable disconnect between the socially constructed “self” and “other,” “us” and “them,” …

Four Times ‘Egyptian Identity:’ Mural collaboration as dissent in times of crisis

by alma aamiry-khasawnih Figure 1: Multiple artists, Egyptian Identity, June-July 2013, paint, spray, metal, found objects, and wood, 82 ff x 13 ft (25 m x 4 m). Qasr El-Nil Street, Cairo, Egypt. (Photograph: Abdelrhman Zin Eldin) A mural 25 meters long and four meters high stands at the end of Qasr El-Nil Street in downtown Cairo, only three blocks away from the famous Midan El-Tahrir (Tahrir Square) and Mohamed Mahmoud Street where Egyptian protestors lived and died demanding the fall of the regime starting on January 25, 2011. The sunset sky of white and blue with hints of red and orange forms the background for a portrait of a young fallaha (rural) girl with flowers in her braided hair, looking into the distance contemplating her past, present, and future. Beside her is a poem: “When I first opened my eyes, and before my mother knew me, they applied kohl (eyeliner) to my eyes reaching my temples so I can look like your statues.”1 She is surrounded by metal sculptures, hybrid figures, human and non-human, with …

Notes on the Crisis of Historical Consciousness and Formal Knowledge

Artwork by Cameron McEwan, 2018 “With the fading away of the dream of knowledge as a means to power, the constant struggle between the analysis and its objects – their irreducible tension – remains. Precisely this tension is ‘productive:’ the historical ‘project’ is always the ‘project of a crisis.’” “The critical act will consist of a recomposition of the fragments once they are historicised in their ‘remontage.’” Manfredo Tafuri, The Sphere and the Labyrinth, 1980.1 The following collage studies and the accompanying short text approach the notion of crisis through a reading of what the architectural historian Manfredo Tafuri has called the “project of a crisis.” For Tafuri, crisis was etymologically linked with the political category of decision (de-cision, to de-cide, to de-fine), which shares the prefix de- from the Latin for “off” meaning “to cut off” or to separate and isolate. These ideas are given political and methodological significance in Tafuri’s work as he constructed a project from the fragments of the historical avant-garde and theorized the relationship between architectural and political ideology, between …

If Only Radiation Had Color: The Era of Fukushima

Exhibition review by Line Ellegaard, associate lecturer at The University of Copenhagen.  “If Only Radiation Had Color: The Era of Fukushima.” X AND BEYOND, Copenhagen. April 1, 2017 – July 2, 2017. In March 2011 a 9.0 earthquake hit the near-off shore of Japan creating a tsunami that, caused tremendous damage on land, initiating a series of explosions, and the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The ensuing release of radioactive material contaminated a large part of Fukushima and prompted the evacuation of another 154.000 citizens, in addition to the 470.000 already evacuated because of the earthquake and tsunami.1 During summer 2017 a three-part exhibition-series at X AND BEYOND surveyed work made by contemporary Japanese artists in the wake and aftermath of this nuclear disaster. “If Only Radiation Had Color: The Era of Fukushima”, co-curated by director of X AND BEYOND, Jacob Lillemose, the Tokyo based curator, Kenji Kubota, and independent critic and curator Jason Waite, looked at reconfigurations of the social in …

Affecting Activist Art: Inside KillJoy’s Kastle, A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House

By Genevieve Flavelle Photo credit: Allyson Mitchell, Lesbian Rule, 2013. Courtesy of the Artist. On a warm fall evening in 2015 a lesbian feminist entity known as KillJoy opened her fang bearing mouth in the center of Los Angeles’s Plummer Park. Inviting audiences into her inner sanctum, the maligned matriarch elicited delight, horror, fear, sentimentality, laughter, and reverence for lesbian feminist herstories1 Viewers grouped together in line with friends, or perhaps friendly strangers, awaiting their turn to experience the novelty of a Lesbian Feminist Haunted House. Reaching the front of the line, visitors’ introduction to KillJoy’s Kastle was brusque as Valerie Solanas was back from the dead and working the door!2 Brandishing her infamous S.C.U.M. Manifesto, a ghoulish Solanas instructed groups that what they were about to experience would not be “part of the ordinary.” As a group was being informed about nudity and instructed not to take flash photography, I joined in time to be advised that the “KillJoy’s Kastle is best viewed by the light of your pussy—if you have one.” I quickly explained, as I …

The Art of Definism

Artwork by Darrell Black, 2017 My name is Darrell Black, an American visual artist living in Frankfurt, Germany. I work in a variety of formats that include Paintings on canvas,wood and wall hanging sculpture I use in my creative process a mixture of acrylic paint, found objects and non-toxic hot glue on canvas and wood, that help to create a sense of realism and presence in the artworks. This form of  Artwork illusion and interpretation is called ”Definism” Which, in my opinion portrays various differences in human nature,from life’s everyday dramas to humankind’s quest to under-standing self. The main focus of  the artworks, is transporting viewers from the doldrums of their daily reality, to a visual world where images coexist in a alternate reality that  everyone in contact with the artwork can interact through touch while simultaneously interpreting and understanding with one’s own power of imagination.  

Extraordinary Conceptions

Artwork by Julie Tixier, 2016 Julie Tixier is a French photographer artist whose practice explores the way human nature is changing under the influence of emerging techno-sciences. She reflects on how these contemporary advances increasingly question the borders of humanity by altering and redefining our human species and its future evolution. Through her photographs, the artist reinvents the scientific language to tackle the experimental conditions of contemporary scientific research. She interlaces scientific methodology and unbridled imagination, blurring the boundaries between photographic representation and microscopic imagery, the organic and the synthetic, the human and the non-human. Somewhere between reality and fiction, the artist draws attention to complex issues in a satirical and playful language. Her websites can be found at: http://julietixier.com/ and https://www.instagram.com/jl.txr/ Extraordinary Conceptions (2016) ‘Extraordinary Conceptions’ looks at the current genetic modifications on embryos and imagines the future cross-breed new species of laboratories. The relations and boundaries between species are becoming increasingly blurred with the advances of biotechnologies. The current research enables the transfer of genetic material from one species to an other, from animal to …

Extended Flight: The Emergence of Drone Sovereignty

Artwork by Adam Fish, Bradley Garrett, and Oliver Case, 2016   Introduction  Landeyjarsandur, Iceland is a long expanse of black beach stretching down the southern coast of Iceland 1.5 hours southeast of Reykjavik. We took the journey to this place with two Icelandic internet engineers to make a film about how North Atlantic islands are linked by communication networks consisting of fibre-optical cables and cable stations. Landeyjarsandur’s features are largely organic – even the remains of long-abandoned fishing boats and washed up cultural objects seem to have long folded themselves into the environmental matrix. One feature remains distinct however: a small well-fortified building that houses the submarine communications cable landing point between Denmark and Greenland. Part of our methodology was to deploy drones with high-quality videos cameras to follow the cables from the air. However, in taking to the air, we experienced a methodological disjunction, a moment when our expectations and desires as pilots were outstripped by an event. This article, and the accompanying film, is about a situation where our previous experience of autonomy …

Pro-found Objects: The Magick of the Mundane

Artwork by Michael E. Stephen, 2015-2016 Everything is an object and we’re all a mysterious collection of them. a Topp’s trading card signed by that favorite sports athlete shoved into the spokes of a bicycle, a bag of Andy Capp’s Hot Fries from the ice rink; your special penny; a teddy bear missing a nose due to over excessive kisses; cults; all religions; cold glasses of milk; a moment of regret; blanket forts; a quartz crystal; the rare black witch moth (ascalapha odorata); a stranger’s Polaroid; the only gold plated VHS in the world; a chewed drafting pencil with embedded histories; cinephilism; first kisses; bruises and scars. Our attraction to objects is often mysterious.  It is here in this mysterious zone of attraction, where I seek to reveal the omen in the ordinary. From an auctioned set of wisdom teeth to a piece of lunar meteorite, my works, composed from appropriated, altered and cast materials, evoke the complex visual experience culled from subcultures of the 1970s-1990s. Cloaked in a psychotronic aesthetic of filmic culture, these …

Suturing the Borderlands: Postcommodity and Indigenous Presence on the U.S.-Mexico Border

By Matthew Irwin. For three days in early October 2015, the art collective Postcommodity launched a temporary art installation that reached fifty feet above the desert and two miles across the U.S.-Mexico border. I watched that weekend as they anchored twenty-six helium-filled balloons to the desert floor and let them ascend to create a visual and conceptual link between Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Sonora.(fig.1). Each yellow, ten-foot diameter balloon had been inscribed with four sets of concentric circles—red, blue, black, and gray, with a black center—to form two pair of “scare eyes” (fig. 2). Postcommodity repurposed a ten-inch consumer bird repellent product known as a “scare-eye” balloon, which is meant to repel birds from fruit trees, gardens, awnings, fences, and everywhere else they are unwanted.1 In fact, Postcommodity’s Kade Twist discovered the product while trying to break-up a “bird party” on his backyard fig tree in Phoenix.2 After the birds figured out that the balloons are harmless within a couple of days, Twist shared the experience with then-Postcommodity member Steve Yazzie, and Yazzie joked that …

Smooth Cruising: Bicycling across (In)Visible Boundaries

By Daryl Meador. In January 2015 I visited the border city of Brownsville, Texas, driving eight hours south of my hometown of Dallas with a friend to visit his father. During this brief winter visit I was unexpectedly introduced to the Doble Rueda (Double Wheel) bicycling collective operating within Matamoros, Tamaulipas, the Mexican city that shares the border with Brownsville. I joined a social bicycle ride within Matamoros, the first of many, full of unexpected turns and encounters which profoundly shifted my own perception of the place. This introduction spurred a year-long collaboration between members of Doble Rueda and myself, a collective research endeavor that methodologically took the form of many exploratory bicycle rides, lots of hanging out, a few formal interviews, and various modes of filmmaking. This essay compiles varied lines of inquiry that emerged from these collaborative experiences on the bicycle in Matamoros. The text journeys through personal prose, ethnographic observations, socio-political history, and spatial border theory, unraveling in sometimes unexpected ways that mirror the experience of bicycling as an inherently aleatory form …

The Nomad’s Baggage: Imagining the Nation in a Global World

Written by Ahyoung Yoo. The Nomad’s Baggage of History in Navigating the Empire An architectural fabric sculpture, made of silk, hangs from the ceiling (Fig. 1). It looks like a bottomless tent at first sight. Despite the blowy material it is made of , the sculpture is eerily serene as it hangs still. Upon closer inspection, the fabric sculpture reveals meticulous attention to details and patterns one could find in traditional Asian temples. The fabric is called eunchosa in Korean. This type of thin silk is from China, mostly used in making airy and lightweight summer clothes. The tactile quality of thin silk may be least associated with the building materials of architecture, to say the least. The way Home hangs aloof adds to the regal, majestic, and even ghostly calmness the work exudes. A material once so prized, associated with the highly covetable noble life style, the fabric evokes to the first historical trade route connecting the East and West: the Silk Road. What was once the material that symbolized the trade routes connecting …

1998/2017

By Rachel Haidu 1998. A year that I can hardly remember with any specificity. The 1990s were Clinton years, mostly: not great times, by a long shot, though of course these days it’s tempting to look at any time as more innocent than our own. And then, to catch oneself: “But those were the years of the embassy bombings, of Matthew Shepard and Monica Lewinsky”—of terrorism and state terrorism, homophobic and racial violence, the birth, or coming-out party, of a radicalized right wing that was plenty evident even then. This is the two-step dance of looking backwards, in 2017. Back then, it was always different—different enough—but still a mess: a time of loss, of ebbing hope. 1998 was the year that Hugo Chávez came to power in Venezuela. Those of us who had been consumed by the spectacle of state socialism’s dismantling almost a decade earlier began to look for signs of what Jacques Derrida had promised as the “new International,” or what Negri and Hardt would call, a couple of years later, building off …

Shilpa Gupta: Art Beyond Borders

By Christine Vial Kayser The Indian artist Shilpa Gupta (b. 1976) was born and educated in Mumbai, where she also lives and works. Having entered into global art market very early in her artistic career, she uses a global vocabulary is related to formal and conceptual vocabulary of Western Conceptual, Minimalist, and Relational art.1 Yet her use of local hand-made paper, fake Indian administrative forms, hand-woven fabrics, and local medicine, as well as the narratives embedded in her works, ground her practice in a South Asian context. Her aim is somewhat to foreground the preconceptions which we tend to project on our environment rather than engaging liberally with it. Many of her works confront essentialist and nationalist notions of identity in the context of the violence that predates intercommunity and family life in the Sub-continent. Her work is particularly concerned with the estrangement between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, which is cultivated by nationalist governments. She works against essentialist notions of identity as defined by social and political forces: gendered and religious narratives, and the nation-state’s logic …

Indexical Violence, Transmodal Horror

By Jason Middleton. Childbirth, aging, dying, and animal slaughter: these events that entail the passage or transformation of matter from one state into another have conventionally troubled documentary representation, evoking longstanding cultural taboos against their visualization. But what can we learn, and how are we changed, by seeing images that “cannot be unseen” (to use the popular idiom)? Documentary media that engage these events produce an experience of spectatorship that does not end when the film or video ends. Rather, through their production of affective intensities between bodies on and off the screen, they engender continuous processes of individual and collective realignment and becoming. A critical examination of the distinct and forceful modalities of feeling produced in and by these media motivates my book project, “Documentary’s Body: Instructional Aesthetics and Transmodal Affects.” It examines film and media objects whose intimate pedagogies of bodily transformation operate through their transmodal properties. By “transmodal,” I mean that what I term “instructional aesthetics” emerge from the transversal relations among a range of nonfiction media forms: feature-length documentary, activist video, …

Virgins, Saints, and Frida: My Year of Pilgrimages

By A. Joan Saab. I went on my first pilgrimage shortly before my fiftieth birthday, ostensibly for a book I am writing on visual culture for a series on sensory history. I had just finished a chapter on hoaxes and decided, for reasons still not clear to me, to add a chapter to the project on the persistence of what I am calling “miraculous vision.” So, as a first step, I hopped in my car and drove to Beaupre, a small town just north of Quebec City, to visit the shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupre—the second most visited pilgrimage site in North America—to look at the collection of ex votos on display in the chapel and its adjacent museum. From the Latin ex voto suscepto, meaning “from the vow made,” ex votos are small vernacular offerings placed in a church or shrine as acts of thanks for miracles received.  Ex votos can take the form of painted accounts or they can be small objects that in some way encapsulate the miraculous event being recorded …

Past Present Tense

Artwork by Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo, 2017. Where are you really from? Woher kommst du wirklich? I have always said Negerkuss. I am not a racist. Ich habe schon immer Negerkuss gesagt. Ich bin kein Rassist. Statements such as these comprise a large part of the collective experience shared by a number of people of color living in contemporary Germany, both in the former East and West. This complex and unfolding history formed the impetus for my video work Past, Present, Tense which observes genealogies and everyday realities of racism in Germany, from the fall of the Berlin Wall until the present day. The video work traces the political transition from the German Democratic Republic into current day Germany, a time during which many “contract workers” from Eastern Block countries (most notably from North Vietnam) who remained in the newly unified country became the target of rampant xenophobic pogroms, in particular Rostock-Lichtenhagn and Hoyerswerda.1 While much of the country was in celebration of  the unification and the fall of the Berlin Wall, homes for asylum seekers …

sub-stack protocols: digital borders and coloniality

by Nolan Dennis Introduction. This paper serves as a sketch for an experimental political cartography of stack-world. A world inscribed by planetary-scale computational infrastructure in which telecommunication network infrastructure is overlaid directly on a neo-colonial meta-infrastructure of an equal scale. This paper explores the notion of borders and borderization through the implications of what Benjamin Bratton describes as the the dramatic re-inscription and reinforcement “of state sovereignty and supervision over information flows” within a globalized computational infrastructure.1 This idea of state supervision is parsed through an expanded notion of borders, in which zones of control are articulated as a form of representation and informationalization of bodies. This paper looks at the ways in which these data-bodies form a techno-political apparatus of governance which is contiguous and continuous with colonial and racist techniques of control across time and place. Reading this techno-social apparatus through Bratton’s description of the dynamic between the archaic and the emergent, this paper explores correspondence of these protocols to what Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe describes in post-colonial Africa as “[how] social-actors continued to …

Borderline

The photographs in Borderline establish a pastoral landscape that is typical of the North American frontier. These pictures stand in contrast to our collective imagination surrounding the term “border,” which conjures up imagery of more heavily militarized zones of separation such as Israel’s Green Line, the Indo-Pakistani Line of Control, or the De-militarized Zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea.

Intimacy and Annihilation: Approaching the Enforcement of U.S. Colonial Rule in the Southern Philippines through a Private Photograph Collection

By Silvan Niedermeier A blurred grey-tone photograph. Probably taken from a boat. We see lightly rippled water, a landline with several mountain peaks, and billowed clouds in the sky. Whiteness emanates from a point behind the clouds in the upper midst of the picture indicating the position of the sun vis-à-vis the photographer and viewer. At first glance, one might guess that the photographer took this picture to capture the sublime scenery in front of him or her. Yet, why did she or he keep this photograph despite its apparent visual deficits? Maybe, the photographer wanted to remember the situation in which she or he took the picture or keep it as a memorabilia of the very view depicted. Or else, the taker of the image attached a certain aesthetic value to the picture as such. Our guessing continues until we view the backside of the slightly curled photograph. Suddenly, while reading the handwritten words, the image on the front side makes more sense; that is, its connotations begin to unfold, start to pierce and …