All posts filed under: Issue 24

Introduction / Issue 24: Corpus

In spring 2015, when the spread of Ebola invigorated an immune response for countries such as the United States to suspend air-travel in the face of a deadly epidemic, we speculated on vulnerabilities that loomed within and beyond the realm of public health. From ISIS to continuous global and environmental crises, the media’s pronouncement of threats posed to individuals and collectives alike were ubiquitous. As urgency slipped into a normative state of being, for Issue 24, we asked contributors to explore the various meanings of vulnerability in visual culture. If the rapid diffusion of the Ebola virus could be read as emblematic of the vulnerability of globalism to systemic failure, then what other figurative antigens and foreign bodies remained latent within the global collective? While raising the question of “vulnerability” in our call for papers, we concomitantly held a graduate conference on the theme of “collectivity” here at the University of Rochester. The wide array of submissions to the call for papers and the conference quickly led us to discover that “vulnerability” and “collectivity” were …

Hans Richter’s Rhythmus Films in G: the Collective Cinematographic

Written by Erin McClenathan Filmmaker Hans Richter was one of the founding contributors to G: Materials for Elemental Form-Creation (G: Material zur elementaren Gestaltung) and the only to stay his tenure as editor through the journal’s entire six-issue run from July 1923 to April 1926.1 The G-group did not intend for their Berlin-based publication to uphold the tenets of a particular style or movement but to model a process through which the reader might recognize—and ideally gain the ability to shape—a unified aesthetics of the everyday. The collaborators’ mission, according to the statement embedded in the masthead of G’s first issue, was “[t]o clarify the general situation of art and life. We choose materials with that in mind. Articles and works that seek clarity—and not merely expression. Everything can be of use to creative work and the creative worker.”2 The diversity of topics that the multinational and multilingual panel of contributors submitted to G during its relatively short lifespan attests to the collectivist genesis of the project, from articles by Mies van der Rohe on “Industrial Building” …

A Stranger in the Gallery: Conceptions of the Body Through Art and Theory

Written by Sarah W. Abu Bakr Objects of Horror and Desire The Western gallery has historically been the pedestal for notions of the classical body, perfected in the Renaissance through the hands of White masters such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo. To this day, in this postmodern moment, the Western and Western-influenced gallery’s welcoming of the grotesque body, and the body of the stranger, remains problematic, and historically charged. The gallery in this paper is a conceptual space. While it may manifest in actual gallery spaces—white walled rooms inside white cube museums—what truly matters here is the act of exhibiting, in other words, who has historically been object to be viewed, and who is the viewer? Historically, when an image of the Other is placed in a Western gallery, it is there to mark its difference and strangeness.1 A clear example of this is the display of South African Sarah Baartman’s living and later deceased body (commonly referred to as the Hottentot Venus) as an object to be viewed by White spectators. Baartman’s body was …

Contributors / Issue 24: Corpus

Issue 24, Spring 2016 Sarah W. Abu Bakr is a dual degree Art Education and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies PhD candidate. Sarah is half Palestinian, half Kuwaiti, and holds an MFA in Computational Studio Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London. As an artist, Sarah’s work reflects on her identity as an Arabic/Muslim woman, and meditates on the culture-religion overlap and convolution in the Arab world as well as the Palestinian diaspora. As a scholar, Sarah identifies as a postcolonial feminist and her academic interests include identity, displacement, performance art theory, and decoloniality. Erin McClenathan is an Art History Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia, where she received her M.A. in 2013. Her doctoral project considers the interplay of photographic series and avant-garde filmic structures in interwar print culture. She has presented related research as part of multiple graduate symposia and has also spoken internationally on the relationship between photography and memory in the television series Mad Men. Ali Feser is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Her research explores …

Fieldnotes from the Hy Meisel Slide Collection

Written by Ali Feser An inquiry into the senses, in this light, directs us beyond the faculties of a subject to the transfers, exchanges, and attachments that hinge the body to its environment. Objects are endowed with histories of sensory experience, stratified with a plurality of perceptual possibilities.1 Outbreaks of nostalgia often follow revolution.2 Hy Meisel lived his entire life in Rochester from 1895 to 1980, and he worked as a machinist for Eastman-Kodak, which has been based there since the 1880s. Though Kodak now employs only a couple thousand workers, it was the city’s largest employer for most of the twentieth century. From census records I know that Hy didn’t finish high school but could read and write. While growing up, his family moved frequently to different homes in the same predominantly German neighborhood. His father was a sometimes preacher; they often took in boarders. I found Hy’s draft card and the passenger list from his cruise to Guatemala. I learned that Hy never married, that he never had kids. Much of this is …

Alone Together

Artwork by Erika Raberg. Alone Together, 2014, HD video, single channel projection, 3 minutes, looped. Artist Statement Alone Together considers the idea of partnership in opposition. Drawing from footage filmed from the VIP section of a boxing tournament, it visually isolates a specific gesture from boxing matches in which the appearance of intimacy emerges briefly within an aggressive, hyper-masculinized space. The video alternates between providing information through sound and through sight. Most of the time, the viewer sees nothing but hears the background noise from the stadium, and when this gesture does appear, it does so in silence, and only for a moment. Referred to as clinching, it is a moment of remarkable sculptural tension between bodies that looks like an intense embrace. These moments occur when, at the height of their exhaustion, one fighter pulls the other close to him in order to have the briefest moment’s reprieve from the fight. In order to rest they must lean into one another. The men push each other to extreme physical exhaustion and in doing so …

Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image

Reviewed by Najmeh Moradiyan Rizi, University of Kansas Laura U. Marks. Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015. Hardcover. 416 pp. In recent decades Arab independent and experimental filmmakers have presented the world with some of the most distinctive artistic works through their various cinematic practices. The scholarly and close readings of these works, however, have remained less-studied. Laura U. Marks’s latest book, Hanan al-Cinema: Affections for the Moving Image, is a singular contribution in this regard, providing a thorough analysis and a historically rich account of some of the experimental films and media arts coming from the Arab-speaking world. The significance of Marks’s study shows itself not only in the uniqueness of the subjects discussed, but also in its push of the notion of experimental beyond the medium of film to “low-end video formats to HD to mobile and online platforms” (2) in terms of materiality. This new perspective to moving images challenges the conventions of narrative in order to include “experimental narrative, essay films, [and] experimental documentary” (2) …