All posts tagged: Review

The Networked Recluse: The Connected World of Emily Dickinson

Reviewed by Sarah Kinniburgh, College of William and Mary Colin Bailey, Michael Kelly, Carolyn Vega, Marta Werner, Susan Howe. The Networked Recluse: The Connected World of Emily Dickinson. Amherst, Massachusetts: Amherst College Press, 2017. 185 pp.  In The Networked Recluse: The Connected World of Emily Dickinson (Amherst College Press, 2017), a team of leading Dickinson scholars, curators, and poets takes up the task of contextualizing a figure in the American literary canon that has historically been understood as one-dimensional. In the popular imaginary, Dickinson is “lady in white” at best, total outcast at worst. A welcome complication of this portrait, Networked Recluse constructs Dickinson’s life as uniquely configured through her family and her broader circuits of correspondence in the town of Amherst in the years around the American Civil War. The volume was designed to accompany I’m Nobody! Who are You? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson, an exhibit which ran from January through May 2017 at the Morgan Library & Museum, and, as such, benefits from the combined expertise and care of Mike Kelly, …

Organic Cinema: Film, Architecture, and the Work of Béla Tarr

Reviewed by Anthony Ballas, University of Colorado at Denver Thorsten Botz-Bornstein. Organic Cinema: Film, Architecture, and the Work of Béla Tarr. New York: Berghahn Books, 2017. 221 pages. Thorsten Botz-Bornstein’s Organic Cinema: Film, Architecture, and the Work of Béla Tarr features an impressive multidisciplinary examination of the concept of organicism through a complex yet sophisticated web of philosophical, aesthetic, architectural and cinematic examples. For Botz-Bornstein, organicism grates up against mainstream or otherwise popular philosophical and aesthetic theories, offering a divergent path away from the post-structuralist, deconstructive, leftist ideologiekritik, as well as the “competition of different universalisms,” ranging from Islamic fundamentalism to western capitalism, which dominate our contemporary social and aesthetic paradigm (2-3). Filmmakers such as Béla Tarr and Andrei Tarkovsky, architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Imre Makovecz, writers such as Lázló Krasznahorkai and philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze and Henri Bergson, are the exemplars of organic thinking according to Botz-Bornstein, who highlights their theoretical and aesthetic import as advocates of contemplation, slowness, and ultimately the cosmic thought linking the relative to the universal, or, …

Socialist Senses: Film, Feeling, and The Soviet Subject, 1917-1940

Reviewed by Raymond DeLuca, Harvard University. Emma Widdis. Socialist Senses: Film, Feeling, and The Soviet Subject, 1917-1940. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2017. 407 pp.  In Socialist Senses: Film, Feeling, and the Soviet Subject, 1917-1940, Emma Widdis offers a groundbreaking history of early Soviet cinema. The October Revolution, Widdis argues, inspired a radical, albeit undertheorized, cultural project of transforming human sensory experience. Cinema, moreover, became an important medium of this sensorial revolution. The moving image could simultaneously depict reimagined sensory encounters onscreen and, what’s more, could emotionally, psychologically, and physically make itself felt on its spectators. Film, then, helped transform Soviet citizens’ relationship to their material world. Drawing on a wide array of films, Widdis reveals how this sensory project, beginning with the 1920s avant-garde, evolved from one of transforming external sensations (i.e., touch, sight) to one of reeducating internal sensations (i.e., emotions, feelings) under the Stalinist doctrine of Socialist Realism. In Chapter One, “Avant-Garde Sensations,” Widdis recounts the origins of the Soviet avant-garde’s preoccupation with the material and textural qualities of artistic production, what, in …

Dying in Full Detail: Mortality and Digital Documentary

Review by Gwynne Fulton, Concordia University Malkowski, Jennifer. Dying in Full Detail: Mortality and Digital Documentary. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. 264 pp. In Dying in Full Detail: Mortality and Digital Documentary, Jennifer Malkowski, Professor of Film & Media Studies at Smith College, looks at the intersection of death (as a corporeal and physiological process) and documentary (as a genre and mode of representation) in the digital era. Malkowski’s critical reappraisal of documentary death interrogates the desire to represent death in “full detail,” from analogue photography and film through live-streaming of digital video on mobile platforms. The desire to capture death, Malkowski notes, has “attracted many cameras” (3). It has been variously subject to cultural taboo and fascination; it persists in many modes and across multiple media, serving shifting social and political functions. In “Looking at War,” Susan Sontag registers 1945 as a pivotal turning point in representations of “death in the making.”1 New mobile lightweight technologies registered the brutal cost of modern warfare as never before, impelling debate about the incredible risk and imperious ethical necessity …

My East Is Your West

Review by Sophie Knezic, University of Melbourne. Shilpa Gupta and Rashid Rana, My East Is Your West. 56th Venice Biennale. May 5 – October 31, 2015. A satellite exhibition of the 56th Venice Biennale, My East is Your West was presented at the Palazzo Benzon, whose interior architecture of adjoining rooms, narrow corridors and cordoned-off, dimly-lit spaces suggested a mise en abyme of thresholds and crossings. Commissioned by the Gujral Foundation, conceived by its Director Feroze Gujral, and curated by Martina Mazzotta and Natasha Ginwala, the exhibition juxtaposed Pakistani artist Rashid Rana and Indian artist Shilpa Gupta’s respective explorations of geographical divides and subcontinental tensions. As nations locked in postcolonial conflict for much of the second half of the 20th century, neither India nor Pakistan has had the privilege of a permanent national pavilion at Venice, making this a particularly pointed curatorial pairing. Choosing to deploy a method of appropriation, Rana covered two walls with pixelated digital prints of two canonical works from Western art history: Caravaggio’s Judith Slaying Holofernes (1598-99) and Jacques Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii (1784), …