Author: IVC Author

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 Cesar Chavez 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 …

Call for Papers: Geographies of Interruption: Body, Location, and Experience

Geographies of Interruption: Body, Location, and Experience The 23rd Annual Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies International Graduate Conference April 8, 2016 at the University of Rochester Featuring Keynote Speaker: Jasbir Puar, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University Each year, a diverse group of participants gather in Rochester, NY for a graduate conference held by the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies. This conference aims to foster an environment of interdisciplinary communication, knowledge exchange, and collaboration. We take geography to be the practice and process of mapping bodies, spaces, and experiences. In particular, we hope to inspire questions concerning the interruptions of such geographies, especially those relating to gender and sexuality. Such questions might include, but are not limited to: How does social, bodily, and geographical mobility complicate the mapping of spaces and bodies? How do media forms constitute counter­geographies? Does sharing a photo of a fallen Syrian refugee on one’s Facebook timeline intervene in a meaningful way? In what ways are sexed and/or sexualized bodies …

“Bold German graphic design”: Arts et métiers graphiques and New Typography

Written by Kristof Van Gansen In this paper, I consider the way the French graphic arts magazine Arts et métiers graphiques (Graphic Arts and Crafts, 1927-1939) responded to New Typography, a form of typography that had its origins in the Central European avant-gardes and that strove for maximal clarity, submitting the form of printed matter to its function, and how this response is typical of the magazine’s cautious stance towards international avant-garde art—a position characteristic of France in the interwar period. A central work of New Typography is Die neue Typographie (1928),1 written by the German typographer Jan Tschichold, who is generally seen as one of the most important designers of the first half of the twentieth century. While other artists such as László Moholy-Nagy had already published on this new conception of design, Tschichold distilled and elaborated their ideas in what he wanted to be a theoretical and practical handbook for printers and designers that was in tune with the modern age of the machine and the engineer. In France, New Typography never really took off, …

Amending Rachel Whiteread’s Water Tower: Infrastructure as Art, Art as Infrastructure

By James Middlebrook Some commissions are obtained by indirect or unusual means. Several years ago, luck and other factors resulted in the author of this paper obtaining a design commission that was not sought after. Of particular note, in this case the commissioning client did not foresee that the commission would add on to a famous contemporary art installation piece. This scenario involved an artwork that intelligently works in a surreptitious manner – so much so, that client and viewers alike may not have recognized the work’s extents. Not only is it unclear just where the artwork ends, but the client initially did not acknowledge that working on the project’s context meant working on the artwork itself. The additions to this particular project were diminutive in physical scale, consisting mostly of four ladders, a number of steel railings, and an expanse of metal grating. It started as a simple work order from the Building Services Department at the Museum of Modern Art, but in retrospect, the conceptual depth of this project far exceeds that of …

Examining Amsterdam RealTime: Blueprints, the Cartographic Imaginary and the Locative Uncanny

Written By Ned Prutzer In Human Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions, Lucy Suchman argues that all plans or blueprints are contingent upon different modes, styles, and visions that precede the plan itself. Plans are rendered “abstractions over action” rather than final, complete, or faithful articulations of action.1 There are myriad contexts, actors, institutions, and agencies producing effects that are unanticipated by the blueprint. The ways in which plans often fall short is thus a worthwhile site of analysis. I want to focus on this notion of blueprints’ failure in precision to identify broader modes of representation underpinning locative art projects while critiquing their faith in precision and objectivity. For Amsterdam RealTime, an early locative art project from 2002, locative artist Esther Polak traced subjects’ movements with geospatial technologies as they walked, biked, or drove through Amsterdam. An animation of each subject’s traces results. When aggregated onto a screen, these traces draw out the Amsterdam city grid as the subjects have enacted it. Amsterdam RealTime was displayed as the final installment of the Maps of …

No-Stop City

By Alan Ruiz “Significant economic growth has taken place and productive forces have expanded (technology, the destructive control of nature) without disturbing the social relationships of production. […] Development hasn’t kept pace across the board. And this results in the magnitude of the inequality of growth and development.”1 Written in 1968, Henri Lefebvre’s observation foreshadows the consumption of the urban commons under present-day globalization, in which growth accelerates in disproportionate relationship to equality. Within today’s pandemic of gentrification, the urban economy undergoes a kind of standardized resuscitation in which developers perform facelifts and apply repeatable spatial formulas with successful track records – all to the effect that places becomes non-places and, more troubling, these non-places become places. This kind of development, a commodified and seemingly homogenized spatial condition produced by capital, or what Lefebvre called abstract space, seems almost modernist as a normative mode of urban development, yet emblematic of our present neoliberal moment. It was modernism, after all, that presented the universalist goals that embraced industrialization and standardization. As Marion Von Osten observes, modernism …

The BLUEPRINT/Product Disparity: Learning from Lofty Plans and Humble Products

Artwork By Robert Watkins Where do art and academia meet? Can academic writing be artistic? Are academic journals art? Journals like Kairos, Digital Humanities Quarterly, Computers and Composition Online, and InVisible Culture (among others) like to push the boundaries of what is art and what is academia. Some may argue that they don’t push the boundaries of what separates the two so much as showcase how art and academia intersect. These questions drive my work. My current work, the academic-ish comic, “The Blueprint/Product Disparity: Learning from Lofty Plans and Humble Products” only attempts to answer this on a meta-level. Years ago, I became fascinated with the visual and its effectiveness in presenting data. Work from visual gods like David McCandless and Scott McCloud made me realize how clunky alphabetic text can be in representing ideas. I wanted to write about using comics and infographics as academic mediums. My intention was never to undermine the power of the written word by any means. I worried that using traditional text to promote visuals might seem hypocritical and …

The Rhythmic Event: Art, Media, and the Sonic

Reviewed by Eddie Lohmeyer Ikoniadou, Eleni. The Rhythmic Event: Art, Media, and the Sonic. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2014. pp. 136. Along with a number of Deleuzian media theorists who have sought to map the affective function of digital technologies in recent years and think through how our engagement with such media might spur new senses and temporalities beyond a subject’s well-constituted cogito, Eleni Ikoniadou asks us to rethink our perceptions of the auditory and the sonic in her book The Rhythmic Event: Art, Media, and the Sonic. Her purpose here is clear. Joining in recent dialogue regarding non-conscious, affective experience that results in the flows between digital media and surrounding bodies, Ikoniadou explores the concept of rhythmicity and its impingement upon the body through sonic occurrences in digital sound art. To Ikoniadou, rhythm mediated through instances of digital sound brings underlying sensory and temporal experiences to the surface of human perception. This occurrence operates at a remove from Western society’s presumption that the “auditory” must be heard modally as well as measured through …

The Intervals of Cinema

Reviewed by Zachary Tavlin, University of Washington Jacques Ranciére. The Intervals of Cinema. Translated by John Howe. London and New York: Verso Books, 2014, 154 pp. Jacques Ranciére’s The Intervals of Cinema, a loose collection of essays on film and filmmakers ranging from Hitchcock to Costa, opens with an excellent preface in which Ranciére writes about cinephilia and his experience of learning to love film through “a play of encounters and distances which can be discerned through . . . three memories.” These disparate memories are his first viewing of Rossellini’s Europa ’51; his obsessive reading of books and magazines on cinema from which he tried to learn (simultaneously) “cinema theory, Marxism and the Italian language”; and his experience in the back room of a pub in Naples where he watched Nicholas Ray’s Run for Cover “on a sort of badly hung sheet” (1). The uncomfortable relation between an innocent love of cinema and the ‘higher’ aspirations of aesthetics, politics, and theory that emerges from these recollections is the book’s primary tension, and it is …

The New Prophets of Capital

Reviewed by Lyle Jeremy Rubin Nicole Aschoff. The New Prophets of Capital. New York: Verso. 2015. Paperback. 160 pp. The only thing more treacherous than a satanic minion is a false idol. For radical critics of society, the latter functions as a craftier version of the former. While the social Darwinist on Wall Street isn’t doing anyone favors, it’s the “socially conscious” reformer who’s really mucking things up, especially if that reformer is a tech billionaire who shrouds her Protestant work ethic in a wardrobe of defiant feminism (i.e., the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg), an entrepreneurial grocer who sells his free market fundamentalism as “organic,” (i.e., the CEO of Whole Foods Market, John Mackey), a rags-to-riches entertainer who preaches the bootstrapping gospel in a language of compassion and warmth (i.e., Oprah Winfrey), or a multibillionaire power couple attempting to save the world by showering various sectors of the global economy with the remains of their pocketbook (i.e., Bill and Melinda Gates). As the sociologist Nicole Aschoff explains in The New Prophets of Capital, …

Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience

Reviewed by Ryan Watson W.J.T. Mitchell, Bernard Harcourt, and Michael Taussig. Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2013. Paperback. 152 pp. How does one properly theorize and historicize a movement like Occupy that is inherently shape-shifting, leaderless, intimately tied to specific contexts and places, and still evolving? In Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience, three scholars from different disciplines, Bernard Harcourt (Law/Political Science), W.J.T. Mitchell (Visual Studies), and Michael Taussig (Anthropology), contribute to an emerging discourse about the role that Occupy might play as both a tactic and metonym for an inchoate type of political refusal—a form of “disobedience” that signals a new way of challenging entrenched forms of power. The text, comprising three interlinked essays, is what Mitchell refers to as a “stab at a second draft” of history that moves from the specificity of events in Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011 to more general thoughts on the concept of occupation and the possibilities of revolutionary change. Mitchell’s thoughtful introduction elucidates some of the productive tensions that emerge from …