Author: IVC Author

Contributors / Issue 32: Rest and the Rest: The Aesthetics of Idleness

Irene Alcubilla Troughton is a PhD candidate at Utrecht University within the Acting Like a Robot Project, where she researches on what theatre has to offer to the development of human-robot interaction and the design of robot behavior. She holds two RMA degrees in Media, Art and Performance, and Theory and Critique of Culture. Other interests include posthumanism, critical disability studies, and queer studies. Emily R. Bock is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago whose research is situated at the intersection of critical race theory, black studies, queer theory, performance studies, and ethnographic methods/writing. Her dissertation, Ordinary Queens: the ball, the streets, and the beyond of survival, is an ethnographic investigation of the everyday lives of members of the underground ballroom scene in Chicago and New York, tracking the diverse aesthetic and performative practices this community has developed for imagining, performing, and securing the “good life.” Before securing an MA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, Bock danced for choreographers and performance artists in New York City …

Cracks of Productivity: The Vitality of the “flesh” in Danzad Malditos

By Irene Alcubilla Troughton “Are we not in awe of this piece of flesh called our “body,” of this aching meat called our “self” expressing the abject and simultaneously divine potency of life?” —Rosi Braidotti1 Introduction Idleness is usually seen as the opposite of productivity, with the latter term being a common imperative in our Western capitalist society. In our work, social media interactions, even in our leisure activities, we are demanded to perform, to be in a constant state of productivity. This essay will offer a perspective on idleness by analyzing the cracks of productivity and how its failures can offer novel ways of dealing with this imperative.  Throughout this essay, such an analysis will be made by looking at a case study: the Spanish theatre play Danzad Malditos, a loose adaptation of Sydney Pollack’s 1969 movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? By means of reference to the scenes, the monologues, and the way in which the performance is structured, this essay will offer a practical example of how the vitality of flesh can be presented, …

Dolce far niente, Ärjä

by Nina Luostarinen Ärjä island is known for its long sand beaches, high shoreline cliffs and deep pine forests. The island is a geomorphically important ridge island on the Oulujärvi ridgeline in Kainuu area, Finland. Its cultural history includes ancient indigenous Sámi settlements with grazing grounds and ritual sites. Later it became known as a pirate base in the 1860s, for its pine tar runners, and, since the 1920, as a leisure location for forestry company’s holidaymakers (fig. 1).1 Ärjä is also part of the EU’s Natura 2000 natural territory program and a national beach protection initiative. The Ärjä Art Festival, established in 2018 by the art group Vaara, is a designated anti-festival that provides little in the way of material infrastructure, thus requiring visitors to carefully prepare their visit. As Ärjä island is a delicate nature destination, the event is grounded in a holistic ecological and low-emission approach, with the aim of using art to create new communal forms to engage and deal with the changing world: Experiencing, gathering, and multidisciplinary art forms open …

The Somnophile’s Guide to Cinema: An Interview with Jean Ma

By Amanda (Xiao) Ju, Jean Ma, Patrick Sullivan, and Madeline Ullrich Featured Image: Still from Cemetery of Splendour (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015). Jean Ma was the keynote speaker for the 12th Visual and Cultural Studies Graduate Conference in 2019, dedicated to the theme “Rest and the Rest: Aesthetics of Idleness.” Since the inaugural event in 1995, the biennial conference has convened scholars from a variety of fields, such as film studies, museum studies, art history, and cultural anthropology, in accordance with the interdisciplinary approach of the program. This interview took place during Professor Ma’s visit to the University of Rochester in April 2019. Before the conference, students from the graduate program of Visual and Cultural Studies and the English department formed a reading group, which read and discussed parts of Ma’s first two books—Melancholy Drift: Marking Time in Chinese Cinema and Sounding the Modern Woman—as well as a portion of her current book At the Edges of Sleep, forthcoming with University of California Press. The excerpt combined writings from two chapters, both of which closely …

Attuned Within, Attuned Without: Hazel Carby and the Lessons of Leadership

By Michelle Ann Stephens I have always been someone who is most comfortable in her head. Whether daydreaming, fantasizing or developing an idea, time spent creatively in my own mind has always come easily. In these strange times, as we all live through stay at home orders and social distancing, that aspect of this global pandemic has not been difficult—time at home, around fewer people, with less obligation to be on the move, is more time to think. One of the more difficult aspects of academia for me has been its more competitive, performative, public face. My own books and scholarship I generated from the inside out, firmly centered in myself. On the public academic stage I find myself turned outward, focused on what others may think, speaking in order to address their concerns and needs. To the observer it appears as confidence, but the inward feeling is that it is based on air. While in the privacy of my own mind my thoughts are grounding, in the public space of academia all of that …

Susceptible Archives

By Anne Anlin Cheng In Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact and Exoticism in Modern America, a study of early Asian American sociologists who contributed to the birth of the famous Chicago School of Sociology, Henry Yu addresses the paradoxes of and for racialized intellectuals engaged in the construction of counter-narratives (that are sometimes narratives of self-identification) in the service of the production of academic knowledge. He reminds us that the racialized scholar is not free from “the ethnographic imagination,” defined as the task of “making a place seem strange and then gradually replacing the confusion with knowledge that make the place and the people seem familiar enough to be understandable and perhaps even admirable.1 What Hazel Carby has done in her new book, Imperial Intimacies, is to turn this insight inside out, making us see that it is not the packageable and digestible narratives of self-identification that may be risky but rather it is the impossibilities and the fractures of a narrative of self-identification that can contest history. It is the profound self-estrangement within Carby’s project—a schism …

Black Studies in the Digital Crawlspace

By Darren Mueller Featured image: I won’t be quiet so you can be comfortable, Washington DC, August 2020, Copyright Erica Jae. Let our rejoicing riseHigh as the listening skies,Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.—James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”1 Listen to pianist Jaki Byard. About seven minutes into Charles Mingus’s lengthy 1964 performance of “Fables of Faubus,” Byard’s solo emerges out of the slowly decelerating ensemble. He jumps from the dramatic to the playful to the playfully dramatic through quotation, interweaving a number of quick ascending scales between melodic fragments of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Dannie Richmond’s snare drum echoes Byard’s revolutionary invocation (7:30). Rather than the expected resolution to “Yankee Doodle,” Byard instead seamlessly transitions into “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Despite his hymn-like recitation, he dwells in restlessness. A few virtuosic flourishes travel into the highest range of his instrument (7:55) as if echoing the first stanza of James Weldon Johnson’s poem: “Let our rejoicing rise / High as the listening skies.” Eventually, Byard transitions back into a halting, even …

“Negros, aquí? Blacks, here?”: Blackness in the Mexican Archive

By Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva Featured image: Black Lives Matter, Washington DC, August 2020, Copyright Erica Jae. “If someone I found disappeared without explanation from a subsequent record, I hoped they ran, ran fast and far and re-named themselves so as to be forever hidden from capture by former owners and the archives.”—Hazel Carby, “The National Archives”1 I have a vexed relationship with colonial archives, especially those located in Puebla, Mexico, my hometown. For the better part of the last fourteen years, I have struggled with Puebla’s archives, with what they reveal and conceal. My work has focused on the intersection of slavery, freedom, urban spaces, blackness, and the social relations that gave meaning to all of the above. I have drawn deeply from the archive of the seventeenth century and am conscious of the violence embedded within it and cognizant of the dehumanization it enabled. And yet, I cannot help but wonder what Afro-Poblano history would be without the colonial archive. Indeed, in the wake of Professor Hazel Carby’s visit to the University of …

Archival-Futurism: Archives as Social Justice

By Miranda Mims Featured image: Inscriptions at MLK Park community installation “The Empire Strikes Black,” created by public artist Shawn Dunwoody. Photo by Quajay Donnell. There should be a space for alternative realities, alternative ways of knowing, in the archive. There should be room for imagining a world in which justice not injustice triumphed. —Hazel V. Carby, “The National Archives”1 As an archivist, reading Hazel Carby’s “The National Archives” is a reminder to me of the precedent on which archives were built, and the continual work we in the profession have towards transforming archival practices to reflect a social justice framework. Archives are spaces of truth and understanding as much as they are about secrecy and erasure. That which has been documented and preserved within a repository is so often duplicitous. Although archival practices have evolved, becoming more inclusive, the history of privileging the elite or powerful is still deeply entrenched in societal forms of racial and economic inequity and cultural hegemony. Archives are typically a reflection of the society in which they exist. Careful …

Knowing Yourself, Historically: An Interview with Hazel Carby

By Joel Burges, Jerome Dent, Alisa V. Prince, Patrick Sullivan, Jeffrey Allen Tucker, with Hazel V. Carby Hazel Carby was the University of Rochester’s 2018/2019 Distinguished Visiting Humanist. Since 2012, the Distinguished Visiting Humanist program has brought scholars and artists to campus for three to four days in activities that are both academic and public. This interview took place on the last day of Hazel Carby’s visit to University of Rochester in February of 2019, closing three days of formidable exchanges between Professor Carby and the Rochester community. During this three-hour discussion, graduate students and faculty from the university’s English Department and Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies engaged Professor Carby on her latest work, Imperial Intimacies, asking what inspired her to approach British imperialism through autobiographical writing, or what she calls “auto history.” The conversation centers on Carby’s imperative to think about ourselves as historical subjects. To trace this theme in her body of work, the interview covers her career trajectory from the United Kingdom to the United States, as she developed foundational …

Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965–1981

Reviewed by Stella Gatto, Independent Researcher Klara Kemp-Welch, Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965–1981. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2019. 480 pages. The theory of “Six Degrees of Separation” (or perhaps more humorously known in pop culture as “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”) contends that humans are all connected to each other by six or fewer acquaintances.1 The theory-turned-parlour game was introduced in 1929 by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy in his short story Chain-Links. Karinthy posited that with growing communication and travel, friendship networks would expand regardless of the distance between humans; the result being that via this growing network, social distance would also shrink.2 Working within this anecdotal theory as a method of analysis, Networking the Bloc: Experimental Art in Eastern Europe 1965–1981 highlights how experimental artists in the Soviet bloc during the 1960s–1970s engaged with artists and movements both inside and outside Soviet satellite nations (2). Through extensive research and well-documented archival materials ranging from artist testimonies and letters to press releases and images, author Klara Kemp-Welch offers an insightful and …

Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism

Reviewed by Luke Urbain, University of Wisconsin-Madison Ariella Aïsha Azoulay. Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism. London: Verso Books, 2019. 656 pages. With the urgency of a manifesto and the volume of a brick, Ariella Aïsha Azoulay’s recent book Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism foregrounds and rejects structural, sustained imperialisms as the basis for a shared world and asks readers to begin the ongoing project of actively challenging imperialism’s alleged inevitability.1 Such a turn to history might seem strange to those attentive to the recent nostalgia politics around the globe or those who fear that unlearning imperialism means an annulment of its inventory of traumas. Just as much anti- and ante-imperialism, Azoulay is clear to distinguish her call from selective nostalgia or amnesia. Unlearning Imperialism means, instead, to reject a temporality that consigns violences to a remote past; to see resistance and contestation present at every step of imperialism’s longue durée; and to amplify dormant potentialities crushed in imperialism’s forward drive. Azoulay can be a challenging photographic theorist, largely because photographs for her are not strictly essential to …

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 …