All posts filed under: Past Issues

Introduction / Issue 28: Contending with Crisis

Artwork by contributor Anna Haglin The theme of the twenty-eighth issue of InVisible Culture makes explicit something that has resonated throughout the past four issues of our journal. From engagements with vulnerability and states of contagion (Issue 24: Corpus), and the intersections between surveillance, (national) security and the visual (Issue 25: Security and Visibility), to an issue inspired by the refugee crisis (Issue 26: Border Crossings) and another devoted to the proliferation of speculative imaginaries in the present moment (Issue 27: Speculative Visions), these issues suggest that “across diverse and geopolitical locations, the present moment imposes itself on consciousness as a moment in extended crisis.”1 Defined by the global uncertainty of a world afflicted by varied and ambiguously interrelated states of emergency, the concept of “crisis” here refers to a multitude of circumstances, events, and situations: military conflict, debt crises, issues of political representation, the mass migration and displacement of refugees, increasing ecological disruptions. These ruptures in the social demand constant attention from individuals and communities, constituting a need for committed artistic and scholarly engagements …

Contributors / Issue 28: Contending with Crisis

alma aamiry-khasawnih is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her scholarship focuses on access to the street in post-colonial and settler-colonial nation states as a site to understanding and articulating access to citizenship. Her current project examines ephemeral visual culture production as sites that orient, disorient, and reorient feminist debates on gender, class, and religion. She also examines how white-washing walls, cleansing, and beautification projects are all part of authoritarian visual culture and politics of respectability that aim at policing bodies in public spaces. Razan AlSalah is a filmmaker and media artist working between Canada, the US and Lebanon. Her work explores our contemporary (dis)connection to place, which particularly comes to question in digital spaces, and more so now in virtual reality.  Her short film your father was born 100 years old, and so was the Nakba, won Best Narrative Short at Cinema Days Palestine, has been acquired by the Palestine Films Collection and has been selected in film festivals including HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Ann …

Crisis of Invasion: Militaristic Language and the Legitimization of Identity and Place

By Emma Lansdowne On May 9, 2016, the alt-right news site Bugout News published an article entitled “It’s OFFICIAL: We’re Being Invaded By Illegal Immigrants And What Obama Has Reaped, We Will Sow,” in which the author declares that millions of Americans are “sick and tired of being forced to witness and accept a massive invasion of third-world poor into their country.”1This message of crisis, writes J. Dougherty under the web name Usafeaturesmedia, is a direct reflection of and signals agreement with the anti-immigration message put forth during the presidential campaign by current U.S. President, Donald J. Trump. 2 Trump’s hard-line campaign proposals on border control became a rallying cry for right-wing Americans who remain suspicious of asylum-seekers and view illegal immigration as one of the greatest threats not simply to national security, but to nationhood itself. Conservative journalist Pat Buchanan neatly summarized this position on the public affairs program The McLaughlin Group in early January 2016 when he warned that “if the invasion of Europe and the United States are not stopped, these — the …

Visibility in Crisis: Configuring Transparency and Opacity in We Are Here’s Political Activism

by Christian Sancto Fig. 1. We Are Here, Homeless on the street in the cold and rain after the eviction of camp Osdorp, Autumn 2012. Courtesy of the artists’ collective. We Are Here is the vehicle by which a group of Amsterdam-based refugees attempts to make visible the conditions of crisis that envelope its members’ lives. The group is comprised of refugees whose applications for asylum in the Netherlands are, for various reasons, no longer in process. Although they remain living in the Netherlands, they have no means of income, since they are not permitted to work. At the same time the government does not provide them with housing, forcing the group to move from squatted building to squatted building, or simply to live on the streets. The refugees formed We Are Here in September 2012 to provide them with a means for having their existence in the Netherlands recognized through collective action. The group’s website recounts that it emerged from an impetus to “make themselves visible” by “start[ing] a demonstration.”1 As interest in the group …

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 …

“La Bola de Cristal”: Puerto Rican Meme Production in Times of Austerity and Crisis

by Caroline Gil-Rodríguez Sky is a sea of darkness, when there is no sun Sky is a sea of darkness, When there is no sun to light the way When there is no sun to light the way There is no day There is no day There’s only darkness Eternal Sea of Darkness. — Sun Ra Puerto Rico, a US Territory with a population of 3.474 million people, that is neither a sovereign nation nor state of the union. The island is currently in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis with an accrued debt of over $73 billion and $49 billion in pension obligations, the largest economic insolvency in the history of the United States. The fiscal crisis has seen an abundance of meme trends that unveil the frustrations of the citizenry after decades of corruption, react to the recent imposition of a Fiscal Control Board, and draw on the island’s thorny history as a colony of the U.S. Who else, but a godless Richard Dawkins to coin the term “meme”? The evolutionary biologist and …

Black and White and Back: Reversed Negatives in Rula Halawani’s series “Negative Incursions”

by Sherena Razek Figure 1 Rula Halawani, Untitled XII, Negative Incursion series, 2002, archival print, 90 x 124 cm, edition of 5. Photograph courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery. Write down! I am an Arab I have a name without a title Patient in a country Where people are enraged My roots Were entrenched before the birth of time And before the opening of the eras Before the pines, and the olive trees And before the grass grew – Mahmoud Darwish, “Identity Card”1 Acclaimed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish expresses the inherent frustration of the Palestinian condition of invisible visibility in his 1964 poem “Identity Card.”2 Addressing an existence that is often negated, confined, and erased under Israeli colonial occupation, Darwish’s poetry speaks to a population that since 1948 has been constantly watched, but never seen. Half a century later, Darwish’s poetry maintains its relevance as the occupation continues to suppress and expand its hold on Palestinian territory. In 2002 during the Second Intifada, or Second Palestinian Uprising, Israeli Defence Forces launched “Operation Defensive Shield,” the …

Your father was born 100 years old, and so was the Nakba ابوكي خلق عمره ١٠٠ سنة، زي النكبة

Artwork by Razan AlSalah, 2017. Oum Ameen, a Palestinian grandmother, returns to her hometown Haifa through Google Maps Streetview, today, the only way she can see Palestine. Although Streetview came out of necessity – Palestinian refugees like my grandma and myself are denied entry to their homeland – I quickly understood that Streetview inherently poses the question of our (dis)connection to place. The film uses glitch poetics and Streetview’s aesthetics of erasure to tell a personal story as well as a universal disposition of loss, injustice and distance.

Emergency Blankets

Artwork by Anna Haglin, 2016. Fig. 1. I require assistance, 2016, hot-stamped foil on emergency blanket, 84” x 52” I want to protect us. My work explores the complexity of this instinct as a contemporary woman and visual artist. I put my personal gestures of care on display to exemplify empathy and examine moments when my emphatic response is futile. I question the anthropocentric systems that have led to environmental and humanitarian instability by symbolically mismatching material and function. In doing so, I provoke situational paradox, asking: how well anything or anyone can protect us from ourselves? The utilitarian objects I construct are hopeful tools for survival and recovery.  My emergency blanket series is an example of such tools. They are printed with both traditional wool blanket patterns and symbols from the international maritime signal code, thus addressing crises of communication, identity, and natural disaster.  Though flashy and graphic, at the end of the day, they are blankets—caretaking objects meant to help those in need. The relief they provide is only temporary.

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 …

Introduction / Issue 27: Speculative Visions

Artwork by contributor Julie Tixier. For Issue 27, the editorial board of InVisible Culture is honored to present a special introduction by Dr. Jeffrey Tucker. “Speculative Visions” is a title rich with denotative and connotative meanings covering the scope of this issue of (In)Visible Culture and of Cultural Studies more generally.  It is a formulation that parallels “speculative fiction,” an umbrella term for writing that addresses any of a number of topics–augmentations of the human body, journeys through space and time, the wonder and warnings attached to technological developments, utopias and dystopias, alien encounters, and more; it also covers a range of genres–e.g. science fiction, fantasy, and horror–belonging to what the late Tzvetan Todorov called The Fantastic.1 It is in this latter sense particularly that such coverage is warranted; look closely at the content, production, or reception of “genre” literature or film and you will see boundaries a-blurring.  Horror film director John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is based on the novella “Who Goes There?” (1938) by legendary science fiction editor and writer John W. Campbell, Jr.  …

Contributors / Issue 27: Speculative Visions

Darrell Urban Black was born in Brooklyn, New York, but he grew up in Far Rockaway, New York. In high school, he excelled in science with an affinity for outer space. In June 1969, as America fulfilled J. F. Kennedy’s dream to put the American Stars and Stripes into the dusty surface of the moon his fascination with spaceships grew. As a child, he made spaceship models eventually placing his artistic visions on paper resulting in some 500 drawings. Phantasmal spaceships eventually carried him to unique wonderland of strange forms and colors. In 1982, he joined the National Guard.  During this time, his previous drawings were lost – but not his passion.  In 1988, he joined the army and served another four years. He earned his Bachelor Degree in Science of Criminal Justice Administration at the University of Phoenix. In April 2001, he was nominated by the German government as a “candidate of the year’s prize for promising young artists” for his artwork titled “The Invasion” in the exhibition “The Zeppelin in Art, Design, and …

Horrific Flesh, Holy Theater

by Jenn Cole, PhD. Do away with the actor and you do away with the means by which a debased stage-realism is produced and flourishes. No longer would there be a living figure to confuse us into connecting actuality and art; no longer a living figure in which the weakness and tremors of the flesh were perceptible. – Edward Gordon Craig, from “The Actor and the Über- Marionette” When I was ten, I found a religious pamphlet in my stepmother’s purse, which I obsessively read and re-read. It featured a story about an eighth-century Basilian monk who, saying mass, was overcome with doubt about the transformation of the communion elements of bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.  As this monk began to doubt, the bread and wine turned to real flesh and real blood before his eyes. The pamphlet spent the rest of its brief pages describing the scientific testing that had been done to prove that the fleshy membrane and coagulated blood, conserved in an ornate monstrance, were, in …

The Branded Future: Brand-Placement Implications for Present Viewers and Future Narratives

by Barbara D. Ferguson In Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report, set in the year 2053, the protagonist John Anderton is wrongly accused of murder and forced to flee his own law-enforcement colleagues. In a subway station where commuter crowds should offer anonymity, the advertisements lining every wall become dangers Anderton hadn’t considered. Floor-to-ceiling billboards for Lexus, American Express and Guinness scroll and flash with animated life, and, because retinal-scan identification has been integrated into marketing, the merest glance at an advertisement triggers a personalized appeal. As he enters the station, a woman’s voice assures him on behalf of Lexus, “The road you’re on, John Anderton, is the one less travelled.”1 “John Anderton,” hails a genial voice a few hurried steps further, “you could use a Guinness right about now!” The faster Anderton moves through the corridor, the more his name resounds from all directions in a cacophony of goods and services offered.2 The film’s plot progresses amid a sea of branding, with Lexus receiving the most prominent screen-time and -space, but with Aquafina, Nokia, Bulgari, …

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 …

“Your Bad Theory Helped a Killer Go Free”: Recession Anxiety, Surveillance Labor, and the Hauntology of the Digital in Sinister”

Written by John Roberts I. Introduction In a dimly lit home office, a writer gets to work: taking notes while screening home movies and hoping (needing desperately, in fact) to make sense of the footage somehow, to scrutinize the screen until it yields a meaningful, self-evident explanation of its visual contents. The writer is Ellison Oswalt, protagonist of Sinister (Derrickson, 2012), but this description, with slight modifications, could just as easily fit the (post-)cinematic spectator of Paranormal Activity (Peli, 2007), who examines that film’s home movies with the same level of investigatory intensity, and with similar outcomes: both will be fascinated and frightened by the images they see, and also be made palpably anxious by the evidentiary truths those images do and do not disclose. Shifting frames again, the description could apply as well to the spectator of Sinister (academic or otherwise), engaging in processes of narrative hypothesis-testing and thematic construction: a forensic construction of narrative that pieces together coherent meaning from a flow of audiovisual data in time. This essay explores how Sinister, in …

A Tour of the Tactical Subjunctive: Virtually Visiting the Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History

by Daniel Grinberg In the Tipton Three Exhibition Space, a projection screen displays “Hung Lazy Boy.”1 Created by artists Carling McManus and Jen Susman, this animated GIF features the eponymous chair dangling in chains in a living room. On repeat, the chair swings near a home entertainment system and threatens—but never manages—to yield to the imperatives of gravity. Because this cryptic sequence is showing at the Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art of History (hereafter referred to as the Museum), its precarious status may prompt associations like the hooded man of Abu Ghraib; practices of bondage, hanging, and lynching; or the recliners in which some Guantanamo detainees consume media or receive force-feedings. It also suggests that Americans cannot shut out their government’s abuses in the fortresses of their comfortable homes. In the same exhibition space, a 59-minute digital video, “Performing the Terror Playlist” is playing.2 This work by Adam Harms is a found collage of karaoke singers who perform the songs that interrogators blared nonstop for twenty-four hours to physically and psychologically torture detainees.3 The sound …

Ghosts are Real: Digital Spectatorship within Analog Space in Crimson Peak

Written By Patrick Brame The prologue of Guillermo Del Toro’s 2015 film Crimson Peak begins with a white screen fading in on the disheveled, distraught, and bloodied protagonist, Edith, proclaiming, “Ghosts are real… This much I know.” Del Toro presents to the audience Edith’s first interaction with a ghost with a flashback of Edith’s mother’s funeral. On a stormy night, as young Edith weeps in her bed, the audible tick tock of a clock abruptly stops, with the shot lingering down a dimly lit hallway. A translucent, gaseous woman in a black dress slowly approaches and crawls into bed with her daughter. Edith’s mother returns to warn her, “When the time comes, beware of Crimson Peak,” then disappears from the room. As the camera exits Edith’s bedroom, retreating backwards down the hallway, Edith’s voice-over claims, “It would be years before I again heard such a voice. Or understood its desperate warning. A warning from out of time. And one I came to understand only when it was too late.” The end of the prologue fades …

The Utopian Failure of Constant’s New Babylon

by Darren Jorgensen and Laetitia Wilson For a period of almost twenty years, artist and architect Constant Nieuwenhuys, known simply by the name ‘Constant’, held tight to a revolutionary vision of a new world and a whole new way of life. From 1956 to 1974, he drew and painted, made collages and lithographs, designed experimental maps and built maquettes of this vision in a speculative city called New Babylon.  It is an exemplary vision of both the aspirations and the failings of the utopianism of the so-called ‘long 1960s’, an extended decade of cultural and political turmoil in Western countries.1 Fredric Jameson’s well known essay on this period, “Periodizing the 60s,”  argues that the failure of historical actors of this period, such as the counter-culture and civil rights movements, to bring about substantial change to the structure of Western democracies was built into the historical situation itself.2 This essay turns to New Babylon, the subject of recent exhibitions in Madrid and the Hague, to argue that this argument can also be made of this project, …

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 …

IVC 27: Speculations: An Introduction

By Jeffrey Tucker, PhD “Speculative Visions” is a title rich with denotative and connotative meanings covering the scope of this issue of (In)Visible Culture and of Cultural Studies more generally.  It is a formulation that parallels “speculative fiction,” an umbrella term for writing that addresses any of a number of topics–augmentations of the human body, journeys through space and time, the wonder and warnings attached to technological developments, utopias and dystopias, alien encounters, and more; it also covers a range of genres–e.g. science fiction, fantasy, and horror–belonging to what the late Tzvetan Todorov called The Fantastic.1 It is in this latter sense particularly that such coverage is warranted; look closely at the content, production, or reception of “genre” literature or film and you will see boundaries a-blurring.  Horror film director John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is based on the novella “Who Goes There?” (1938) by legendary science fiction editor and writer John W. Campbell, Jr.  Pulp science fiction pioneer Hugo Gernsback was an influence on DC Comics impresario Julius Schwartz.  And it is not unusual for …

Introduction / Issue 26: Border Crossings / Special Double Issue 25 & 26

In 1998, students in the University of Rochester’s Visual and Cultural Studies graduate program founded InVisible Culture as an open-access, online journal, featuring peer-reviewed scholarly articles, artworks and other creative projects, book and exhibition reviews, and other short writings. This spring, InVisible Culture proudly publishes its 25th issue. To celebrate this milestone, we present a double issue of the journal – Security and Visibility and Border Crossings – along with a number of special contributions from University of Rochester faculty. This special insert includes short essays by Visual and Cultural Studies Graduate Program Director Rachel Haidu, Chair of the Department of Art and Art History Joan Saab, and Director of the Film and Media Studies Program Jason Middleton, as well as an interview with renowned art historian Douglas Crimp about his memoir Before Pictures. Additionally, members of InVisible Culture’s Editorial Board collaborated with the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY, to curate a film series that expands Issue 25’s theme into a cinematic register. The series, titled (InVisibility) was screened at the Dryden Theatre in the …

Contributors / Issue 26: Border Crossings

Issue 26: Border Crossings (Special double issue, Spring 2017) Matthew Irwin is a PhD student in American studies at the University of New Mexico. He studies visual culture, critical indigenous studies, and environmental and social justice. His dissertation tracks and responds to discourses on citizenship and belonging along Detroit’s Woodward Avenue that, in Jodi Byrd’s words, “make Indian”—and therefore mark for erasure and dispossession—residents who stand to disrupt the city’s redevelopment regime. Christine Vial Kayser is a French art historian, museum curator, and lecturer at Institut Catholique de Paris and IESA International. In 2016 she was Visiting Assistant Professor at Nalanda University. She is associate researcher with CREOPS, a research center on Asian art history, and Langarts, a comparative and multidisciplinary lab. She is interested in the role of art in relation to the social as reflecting spiritual, vital queries, and in the role of the body, of senses, of memories in the permitting the aesthetic experience. After completing a dissertation on the work of Anish Kapoor and its reception in the West, she is now …

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 …