Author: IVC Author

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 …

Visual Unreliability and the Questioning of Security Measures in Homeland

By Greta Olson Having just begun its sixth season, Showtime’s spy thriller Homeland was greeted by television critics as a new type of critical post-‘9/11’ text when it premiered to great fanfare in 2011. The series has documented the United States’ sense of its continuous vulnerability to terrorist threats as well as the country’s ongoing obsession with security in the post-attack era. In this sense Homeland bears similarities with earlier ‘9/11’ texts such as the series 24 and the film World Trade Center. Nonetheless, the series appeared to provide critique of some post-‘9/11’ anti-terrorist policies and incursions on civil rights. The novelty or, as I will argue, the post-ness of Homeland as compared to dominant ‘9/11’ texts like 24 or the film Zero Dark Thirty was demonstrated by the series’ comparatively critical depictions of torture as a form of gathering intelligence. Rather than effective, torture was shown to be inferior to more humane and psychologically refined forms of learning about security risks. For instance, in “The Weekend” (SE 01 E07), CIA Division Chief Saul Berenson …

False Positives

Artwork by Esther Hovers. False Positives, 2015.   The project False Positives is about intelligent surveillance systems. These are cameras that are able to detect deviant behavior within public space. False Positives is set around the question of normal behavior. It aims to raise this question by basing the project on eight different ‘anomalies’. These so-called anomalies are signs in body language and movement that could indicate criminal intent. It is through these anomalies the algorithms are built and cameras are able to detect deviant behavior. The eight different anomalies were pointed out to me by several intelligent surveillance experts with whom I collaborated for this project. The work consists out of several approaches; photographs and pattern drawings. Altogether these form an analysis of different settings in and around the business district of the European capital: Brussels. The eight anomalies can be found within the images. The viewer is challenged to act as an intelligent surveillance system does and question the behavior of the different people within the photographs. Each photograph is a build-up of several moments; …

Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone

Reviewed by Kristin Flade, Free University Berlin Hochberg, Gil Z. Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. Paperback. 224 pp. “There is, in other words, no war without the spectacle of war.” In Visual Occupations, Gil Hochberg, Professor for Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at UCLA, sets out to examine what it is to see, what it is to be seen and what political potentials acts of vision might carry if brought into focus sharply enough. She “explores various artistic (cinematic, photographic, literary) attempts to expose and reframe the conditions of vision that underlie the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (3), contextualizing and connecting Palestinian and Israeli artistic interventions with readings of specific military technologies, architectural forms, and mechanisms of control and resistance at different points in time since 1948. Through which visual configurations does this conflict appear, she asks in her introduction, and cautions her readers a few lines later against taking the “conflict as our point of departure,” instead urging them to “explore the very making of the conflict—its …

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” …

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) …

Mike Kelley: Educational Complex

Reviewed by Kirin Wachter-Grene, New York University Miller, John. Mike Kelley: Educational Complex. London: Afterall Books, 2015. Paperback. 124 pp. John Miller’s monograph Mike Kelley: Educational Complex is part of the Afterall Books One Work series, which claims, “a single work of art can literally transform, however modestly, the way we look at and understand the world.” Indeed, one of Miller’s crucial insights is the extent to which the late contemporary artist Mike Kelley was a master of institutional critique, inspiring his viewer to question the social order inherent to education and subject formation. Educational Complex, the centerpiece of Kelley’s 1995 show “Toward a Utopian Arts Complex” presented at New York’s Metro Pictures gallery—now residing in the Whitney Museum’s permanent collection—is an all-white 57 3/4 × 192 3/16 × 96 1/8 in architectural model. The form evokes institutionalism, and the ghostlike appearance implies forgotten spaces, memory, and trauma, real or imagined. The model is an amalgam of what Kelley could remember of the floor plans of the schools he attended from elementary through CalArts, as well as his …

Representing Anti-Vaccination: From James Gillray to Jenny McCarthy

The natural body meets the body politic in the act of vaccination, where a single needle penetrates both. – Eula Biss, On Immunity: An Inoculation1 In the 1802 colored etching for the Anti-Vaccine Society, “The Cow-Pock—or—the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation!,” James Gillray, a political cartoonist, sensationalizes the scene of inoculation. Depicted in the center of the frame is Jenner using his lancet to penetrate the arm of a seated working woman. Surrounding them is a crowd of vaccinated patients who are in various states of bovine transformation – some growing horns and even erupting miniature cows like smallpox buboes from their bodies. The contemporary anti-vaccination movement first gained momentum in part due to a widely-circulated 1998 paper,2 written by Andrew Wakefield and published in The Lancet, which claimed a connection between the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine and autism. Despite the exposure of Wakefield’s unethical distortion of experimental data and the later retraction of the paper by the journal, many, including high-profile celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Donald Trump, have continued to be public proponents …