OF REGRET AND OTHER BACK PAGES
Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Virginie Bobin and Rasha Salti
Dear Rustam Khalfin
The Image and the Survivor
A Dialogue Between Ann Cvetkovich and Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz
The Slave at the Louvre
The Essence of Alexandria (Part II)
The Shuhada of the Past Fifty Years
Lawrence Abu Hamdan
When the Body Politic Ceases To Be an Idea
Hito Steyerl and Maja Petrović-Šteger CONVERSATION Gal Kirn and Robert Burghardt
The Sound Evidence of Sonic Warfare: Notes from the Aural Contract Audio Archive
The Form of Remains
Adnan Yıldız MATERIALS Karim Aïnouz and Marcelo Gomes
Yugoslavian Partisan Memorials: Between Memorial Genre, Revolutionary Aesthetics and Ideological Recuperation
The Portrait of a Lover
I Travel Because I Have To, I Come Back Because I Love You
Georges Didi-Huberman EXHIBITION ROOM
Cuauhtémoc Medina ETUDE
Of Dreamers, Ezzeddine Qalaq and Palestine’s Revolutionary Posters
Thoughts and Notes after rites, thoughts, notes, sparks, swings and strikes
Burak Delier MATERIALS
The Project Horizon: On the Temporality of Making
P. 112 Contributors P. 133 Colophon P. 135
We Will Win Survey, Selections
OF REGRET AND OTHER BACK PAGES
the retrospective gaze at and the evaluation of past experience. Pushing the argument further. self-critique is central to curatorial and artistic practice. whilst waiting
. restless and flimsy. Virginie Bobin and Rasha Salti
This third and final installment of Manifesta Journal.Editorial
Of Regret and Other Back Pages
Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez. only deepens this sense of solitariness. meditative. selfcritique is precariously private. groups of artists. redemption. people who attend a significant number of social events. cooptation. or better yet. subjective versus institutional memorialization(s) and nostalgia. social mores. wider socio-economic contexts and political stakes. the pace at which curators are generally expected to produce exhibitions. Moreover. It has a perniciously double life. It is also a familiar motif in the unguarded conversations between amiable curators with enough trust and affinity to disclose “insider” stories or lament their disappointing experiences. however. critical or theoretical meditations on the profession. For one. What is not as obvious. let alone in the framework of intellectual. set of codes. on a more superficial level. grant or award. the virtue of the curator’s position as mediator between the institution(s). if ever. For example: independent curators journey from one project to the next. the life of an arts practitioner can actually be profoundly solitary. Is it almost as understated and pervasive as a… taboo? The public life of a curator (as well as that of an artist) can easily be described as being intensely “social”. sensibility and feeling. and dynamics to another. paradoxically. Regret raises powerful questions as regards the relationship to time and contingency. comes from that space of solitary reflection. audience members. Obviously. are embedded in a merciless logic of cognitive capitalist production. seems to appear in public and formal realms. in a myriad of ways. Just recall a few quotidian moments: the silent. Yet—regret is fickle. Woven around the theme of “regret” and its many semantic and lexical connotations—remorse. language. The situation is hardly less complicated for institutional curators. However. marginalized and under-valued. concludes the red thread on “the politics of time”. they travel from one city to the next. to name a few—the issue takes up and further develops some of the pivotal themes that have been touched upon in the previous two issues. or at least our approach to the notion in Manifesta Journal #16. guest-edited in collaboration with Rasha Salti. but because the system in which practitioners operate and in which their labor is commoditized is so cruel. switching from one culture. and the material and immaterial paradigms by which their labor is evaluated (or “valued”). critics. artworks. is how. and. or juggle several at once. Regret. bereavement. the formulaic “we regret to inform you…” is (sadly) all too familiar to anyone who has applied for a job. “empty” time whilst waiting to board a plane or ride a train. regret rarely. the ambivalence of hesitation and the burden of shame. It involves a high degree of interactivity with all sorts of practitioners from very different fields—people who produce ideas and knowledge.
Neither is it entirely about redemption. No Future / No Past or Toxic do—to foreground their counter-productive potential as a site of resistance to the normalizing power of neoliberal capitalism. whose Aural Contract Audio Archive displays the distorted embodiment of law through transformed voices taken from famous recordings of trial hearings. with the infamous lyric: “Ah. When the Body Politic Ceases to Be an Idea is a passionate call to reconsider the (regretfully) oft-ignored experientialist knowledge of insurgent bodies. Ariella Azoulay’s generously annotated photo album. on the stories contained in the remains of “posthumous” bodies. It is our hope that this issue of Manifesta Journal will inspire a vivid discussion of the richly evocative significations of regret that weave themselves in and around curatorial practices. Edith Piaf’s “Je ne regrette rien”. which is conceived similarly to a journal. In her study of the posters from late Ezzedine Qalaq’s collection (PLO representative in Paris in the 1970s). a theme that ails from lack of “closure”. reflects provocatively on the strategic recourse to alternative and unconventional modes of engagement in order to circumvent cooptation. We thus did not want to shoulder the burden of that reference. Cuauhtémoc Medina’s Chinese Labels contemplates the implications of a curious curatorial wall text carved into marble. not quite a kind of mourning. in a caustic sleightof-hand. arid landscape in the northeast of Brazil. they are simply unguarded moments when the sordidness of life unravels in one’s mind and weaves unpredictable narrative threads. Rasha Salti explores how artists and illustrators articulated subjectivity and a sense of bearing witness for Palestinians and their struggle for nationhood in the 1970s. Khaled Fahmy’s The Essence of Alexandria. We conjure up ghosts of pasts yet unsettled with Françoise Vergès’s The Slave at the Louvre that unveils the (mis)representations of slavery in the very bosom of the renowned museum as well as the constitution of Europe’s modernity. sometimes like a taunting demon. Marc Nichanian’s The Image and the Survivor boldly explores what remains after the death of the witness and how artists have represented survivors. With “regret”. delivers an incisive and lucid critique of the centrality of the notion of “project”. especially those of victims of war. the “marketable” skills of artists and perceptions of the effectiveness of artistic production in Turkey. sparks. Another Side of Bob Dylan. we have settled for “Regret” adjoined to “Back Pages”. the conclusion to his masterful deconstruction of nostalgia for the city’s colonial cosmopolitanism (whose first part featured in Manifesta Journal #141). by curating an iconographic montage of classical and contemporary representations of lament from the wide repository of art and cinema. In collaboration with Robert Burghardt. but it certainly dwells in the same neighborhood. We inaugurate this issue with eloquent mourning and hauntings: Leeza Ahmady’s compelling eulogy to the late artist Rustam Khalfim preempts the guileless gesture of the art establishment’s self-congratulating and posthumous “discovery” of artists kept away from visibility during their lifetime. with the mission to “develop alternative languages and imagine other possibilities to deal with politics”. Karim Aïnouz and Marcelo Gomes’s “Etude” of I Travel Because I Have to. in reference to Bob Dylan’s My Back Pages. and explaining to no avail what it means to be a curator… These are by no means moments of truth. and Gal Kirn and Robert Burghardt’s Yugoslavian Partisan Memorials parses an unlikely. It seems paradoxical to conclude a triptych with “regret”. Mnemosyne 42 enacts an open-ended writing of history that reclaims the political agency of grief and grievance. politics of listening are likewise investigated by Lawrence Abu Hamdan. nor is it entirely about nostalgia. Regret is not remorse because it does not bear the cross of responsibility. and Mustapha Benfodil’s gut-wrenching The Shuhada of the Past Fifty Years. it is not exactly melancholic. regret often creeps in. a scathing reconsideration of Algeria’s fifty years of independence. traces of a love story that were gently. which evaluates. and sometimes like a wise. Valentina Desideri proposes a practical tool to engage with social and political questions that can sometimes be overwhelming. and how we apprehend them. Returning to examine the predicates that regiment the conditions of our labor and creative production. in Political Therapy. Of regret and shame: in their conversation.manifestajournal. however. Meanwhile.org/issues/souvenirs-souvenirs#page-issuessouvenirssouvenirssmell alexandriaarchivingrevolution0 6
II memorials that snake their way through the posthumous territory of the once-federal republic. while Cosmin Costinaş’s Thoughts and Notes after rites. at once poetic and penetrating. we have culled selections from Burak Delier’s We Will Win Survey. It travels between these notions. they are not pregnant with epiphanies. which drafts—and incarnates—a meditation. They attempt—much as Boudry and Lorenz’s works Normal Work. but I was so much older then / I’m younger than that now”. And last but not least. thoughts.
. has already once been appropriated by the French Legion battalions that served in the Algerian War. we have thoroughly enjoyed indulging ourselves in the irreverent gesture of searching through the vast jukebox of pop and rhythm and blues tunes. chronopolitics and queer theory. and obsessively collected by the novel’s bereft protagonist. With Mnemosyne 42. In turn. Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz examine the so-called negative effects of regret and/or shame as regards activism. but melancholic and retrospective reckoning. I Come Back Because I Love You. notes. captivating (hi)story of Yugoslavia from the trail of World War
1 www. soliloquizing as he comes to terms with the loss of love. Remains of what can never be again: in Maja Petrović-Šteger and Hito Steyerl’s exchange over The Form of Remains. and not altogether memorializing. swings and strikes. Ann Cvetkovich. In these moments. released in 1964 on his album of folkish protest songs. the feature film they co-directed. On the other hand. In the two previous issues. shares glimpses of their protagonist’s car journey through the desolate. Georges Didi-Huberman revisits Aby Warburg’s notion of art history as a “ghost story for adults”. and the most infamous one. Cinders of loves lost: Adnan Yıldız’s The Portrait of a Lover visits the museum that Nobel-laureate Orhan Pamuk curated after his own bestselling novel The Museum of Innocence. where he showcases everyday objects.after being interrogated by an immigration officer (who vigilantly guards the borders of a G8 country on high alert because its unemployed youth are protesting new economic austerity measures). Bojana Kunst’s The Project Horizon: On the Temporality of Making. Instead. Kirn reveals the mechanisms of the co-optation of these monuments that arises in parallel to the disintegration process and its new nationalistic moments. song titles containing the word were remarkably fewer.
You seemed to have never learned Dari from yours. date unknown.
Dear Rustam Khalfin
Rustam Khalfin. The Space of Minimal Distances. I plan to explain this sometime. Refusing to learn it. but not just yet. During my last visit to your two-room studio apartment your health had taken a turn for the worse. and took over two stories of an empty building. Clay Project. not all captions are complete or fully accurate due to the current unavailability / accessibility to an archive of the artist’s works. Photo documentation of installation as part of Zero Level. I decided you might perhaps be the greatest Sufi-Fluxus wonderer on earth. 1990–2000
Sunday. 1949–2008 All images have been provided courtesy of AhmadyArts
Pulota (Hand). 1990–2000
Photo documentation of performance installation. 2012. Though they were cross-checked with secondary sources. Dear Rustam Khalfin. Almaty. translating analog photographs of scenes I had missed by only a decade. Kazakhstan or Bishkek. and humbly smiled with glee. Unknown location (Almaty. Shut down for lack of funds—or was it poor luck with leadership? Anyway. recycled article about your life and work in Universes in Universe. We drank tea. This is perhaps because you were not Uzbek. nor in the Sunday columns. I have been irritable about your having left recently without any utterance anywhere of your passing. I was thrilled to be on the grounds of what was in the 1990s a sacred site for contemporary artists. Photo documentation of performance. Almaty. which made me even sadder.
I wanted to write you because when we first met I did not speak Russian.
So I came to know your work by listening to others discuss its novelty. At least that is not a shame. I photographed the mostly crumbling remains of your old printed matter. leader. teacher. Their presence still resonated through your messy albums. 1990-2000 Untitled photographs. Kyrgyzstan) 9
. Many months later. already the fodder for vicious friend and family disputes. I found only an old. With my newly purchased digital camera. you have many spiritual brothers whose limelight you might share. Kazakhstan
You were neither mentioned in the papers. Installation lasted one year. SCCAA died even before you did. Almaty. Please know that art history is profoundly limited and ludicrously slow to awaken. protagonist. Unfortunately. Your twin brother Beuys. perhaps just as soon as clever dealers organize luxurious tours for collectors to traverse the region where you once lived.
The Space of Minimal Distances. Photo documentation of installation as part of Zero Level. By the 1880s my TajikUzbek grandparents had probably forgotten to speak Kazakh. I was unwilling to sacrifice my already rusty half-dozen tongues that I had picked up along my traversal of immigration routes to America. You shrugged your shoulders. and prophet of contemporary art. during that meeting you opted not to speak. just die. Clay Project. Your art works were scattered in museum storage rooms and defunct galleries. for example. 1999–2000. with only the skipping of a few dozen-heart beats that knew and loved you?
Untitled photographs. installations and other paraphernalia. my mind conscious of captivated audiences. For sure you will be auction material someday. You simply made gestures and stared at me in English. 1999–2000. documentations of performances. How can you. though you were born in Tashkent. I am still coming to terms with your being elsewhere. nor even amidst the massive abyss of the World Wide Web! I imagined paying for an e-flux ad to announce your death. Untitled. I remember how we sat at the base of a tree in front of Soros Center for Contemporary Art (SCCAA) in Almaty. Kazakhstan
Untitled photographs. Photo documentation of a performance as part of Zero Level. For now though. Kazakhstan
The Space of Minimal Distances. Clay Project.MATERIALS
Please note that all the image captions are based on notes that were made by the author during her visit with the artist in the summer of 2008. might have already met up with you by now. Kazakhstan In Rider’s Honour. Supported by Soros Centre for Contemporary Art. 1999–2000. Invitations. the proclaimed founding father. September 9th. 1997. Almaty. So we spoke through images. but I was broke and the idea seemed disproportionate to the kind of loss that I felt your passing was to your community and to generations of artists.
1997. (My Ruins). in yet another corner of the world. During that time he became a follower of Vladimir Sterligov. Kazakhstan
Untitled (fragment). 1990–2000. location unknown (Almaty. Photo documentation of the installation that took over two stories of an empty building. photography. Kyrgyzstan) Contemporary Art. Kyrgyzstan) Towards Realization of Boundaries.
. Large Glass. Photo documentation of performance. Leeza Ahmady. Almaty. 1995. Kazakhstan 10 11 Kazakhstan or Bishkek.
Towards Realization of Boundaries. Photo documentation of performance. Photo documentation
Flying White. Kyrgyzstan)
Rustam Khalfin was born in Tashkent. Photo documentation of Khalfin’s first performance art work. having played an integral role in training young artists and intellectuals. Kyrgyzstan) Please note that all the image captions are based on notes that were made by the author during her visit with the artist in the summer of 2008. Soon after. Photo documentation of performance during Clay Project. Photo documentation installation / Performance. after which he settled in Almaty where he spent the rest of his career. in an altogether different timeline in history. Kazakhstan or Bishkek. not all captions are complete or fully accurate due to the current unavailability / accessibility to an archive of the artist’s works. location unknown (Almaty. In the process. 1996. and video. I have wanted to share some of the images stored in my hard drive. In 1972 he graduated from the Architectural Institute in Moscow. I hope that others may also have the opportunity to decipher the significance of these titillating moments in art and performance. Kazakhstan Towards Realization of Boundaries. (My Ruins). in commemoration not unlike other memorials to unforgettable artists. installation. and was supported by Soros Centre for Autumnal Gestures of Wrath. the last survivor of the Russian historical avant-garde. Kazakhstan or Bishkek. Zero Level. Clay Project. Installation lasted one year. Khalfin is now considered to be the father of contemporary art in Kazakhstan. Clay Project. performance. 1995. Large Glass. Almaty. Large Glass. 1999–2000. Khalfin’s practice progressed through media to encompass sculpture. location unknown (Almaty. Kazakhstan in 2008. he started an artist group with his wife Lida Blinova and other like-minded artists who began organizing underground shows in apartments and basements in Almaty. 1995. Khalfin’s work has been widely exhibited throughout the countries of the former USSR in addition to many cities in Europe of late. Kazakhstan or Bishkek.
Yours truly. Almaty. including the Venice Biennale 2005.
Zero Level. Uzbekistan in 1949 and passed away in Almaty. location unknown (Almaty. A prolific painter. Though they were cross-checked with secondary sources. 1999–2000. Photo documentation of performance.Above and beyond regrets and claims.
Derrida himself did not intervene in the decisions of his translators. secondary revolutions. Carol Fékété is the second. Today. The exploitation was equivalent to a denial.” One must read with caution the English translations of Derrida’s essays and books. for instance. belongs to the modern era and it is at the origin of the time of nations. the translator never renders “survivre” with “survival. Here is what Jibilian had to say about it: “When I. It is the time of the aftermath. One shall therefore never read. the worth of which is measured exclusively from within. A phenomenology of survival truly requires a phenomenology of the image. with ultimately no unity visible. Aram Jibilian is the first. In order to avoid these ambiguities and these approximations (and the usual trickery that risk motivating or accompanying them). national cultures embody the decline of the great civilization (the civilization of Empire).” Gorky took his own life close to this house on July 21. Such a “phenomenology of the survivor” is a very paradoxical affair. was an exploration of “what remains” in the aftermath of a traumatic event. We must invent a new language for it. A superb but ambiguous idea. We live in the time of nations after all. equally crucial. Yet. which never fails to present itself under the form of an analysis of the “mortuary resemblance. discussed how the ghost of Gorky continues to live with her. The second reason for the extraordinary paradox that is the phenomenology of the survivor is that it has in fact already been formulated. And the time of nations is the philological time of cultures. the Pratt Museum in New York hosted Blind Dates: New Encounters from the Edges of a Former Empire. The curators of the exhibit were Defne Ayas and Neery Melkonian. Derrida once proposed a remarkable reading of these narratives. each pulling hither and thither. entitled Ce qui reste (“What Remains” (published by éditions Biffures). of which I shall give two examples. Any reconstruction of a “before” is aleatory or requires a work of interpretation. the reverse of a subject. which would be the opposite of the grammar of public exposition that contemporary art is. It was not exactly unknown beforehand. Clarke. If we have long suffered from the colonizer’s melancholia. the revolution of the subject. I believe it was analyzed for the very first time in the extraordinary pages Maurice Blanchot devoted to “two versions of the imaginary. to translate into a dead language as if it were alive: that was a very beautiful idea. and this for a number of reasons. A fabulous invention. the political revolutions. “What remains.” to initiate or provoke improbable encounters. my collaborator. now The Madness of the Day. We shall see what it is about immediately. from Derrida’s English pen. or the time of civilization’s decline? This is what seems to have been presupposed by at least one of the contributions to the Blind Dates encounters. 1948. Back in 2003. Aram Jibilan was interested in the ghost of Arshile Gorky. and by them only. this simple sentence: Survival is denial. she again recounted numerous stories of when she and [her] guests were visited by his ghost. then. That same year. More simply: because the survivor is nothing but the dead witness. (The modern subject was invented in the eighteenth century. III. as the word subject indicates. there is no phenomenology but of a subject. we need a phenomenology of the survivor. in the unexpected form of the acheiropoietic image. in one of his early great texts translated into English (in Deconstruction and Criticism ). At the core of the subject is now the imagination.” At stake. He himself theorized this in the lower section of “Living On. The subject. which produced and exposed a text in the (dead) language of the Empire. On the other hand. she who has returned dead. All this involved a considerable risk.” in the form of a challenge to the translator. who contributed to the Blind Dates project in 2010. outside of a Spenglerian paradigm and with no reconciliation in the offing. “which revolves around Gorky’s history at the Glass House. she published in France a magnificent book of photographs. He made a mask and staged Gorky or his ghost. in the aftermath of the holocaustic events of the twentieth century. What is less known is that the modern subject is also he who produces
himself as an image. as if it were alive. understood here as a breakup that leaves behind nothing but dispersed and ill-fitting fragments. is what we will be told by those who returned as ghosts [les “revenants”]. Was the Empire claimed by the exhibit’s title a unique and unitary space of civilization? Was it transformed with the advent of the new time.” as Maurice Blanchot would say. It took the form of a novel in the narratives written by Blanchot in the late 1940s. The modus operandi of this exploration consisted in the construction of “pairs. these living-dead that are sometimes called survivors. his own witness. with a changed title. The subject is always and again the one who obeys.” the resemblance of cadavers. namely. First of all. the radical phenomenon of the “mortuary resemblance” was inscribed—and served therefore as the object of an implicit experimentation—in the work of photographers and artists. with a preface by PhilippeAlain Michaud. when the good news spread that the subject had turned sovereign. II.” The English title: “Living On. Finally. not least Death Sentence (1948) and this narrative entitled “Un récit ?” from 1949. therefore. our very contemporaries. The French title of the essay that Derrida devotes to Blanchot was “Survivre. albeit equally surprising and no less decisive. The survivor is. though. and to inscribe the “remains” by way of collective work.The Image and the Survivor
I. who described their project in the following terms: “The Blind Dates Project departs from the premise that the Empire’s abrupt rupture and its violent reformulation into nation-states have their lingering effects on life to this day. published as a book by Blanchot in 1973. however. today we shall experience a different melancholia—one appropriate to those who identify with the fallen Empire. It brought about the next. which had obsessed the conservative right of Germany and of Europe (and some high-flying Armenian intellectuals as well) for a large part of the twentieth century. The matter was exploited over the course of centuries in Western Christianity. to see the expectations of the project reinterpreted by the couples thus formed. of course. Playing with the idea of Gorky having lived his life in an in-between state of exile. even appear to the eyes of some. and the curators of this project met Ms. he had read an article in the New York Times.” Jibilian thus made use of a self-portrait of Gorky as a teenager (itself painted from an old photograph that the artist had kept). with no “beforehand” available in the form of a memory. Connecticut… The current owner and resident of the home. our time. all the way to his terrible and majestic entry onto the horizon of our own gaze. in a much more modest manner. This first revolution. before the law and by means of the image.” two versions of the image. He abandoned his texts to their discretion. no decipherable image for an informed audience.) Why is the survivor the reverse of any subject? Because he denies himself as a survivor.” and forbids himself the thought that the survival in question could have anything to do with the figure of the post-catastrophe survivor. From November 2010 to January 2011. his home in Sherman. These stories serve as the point of departure for my proposed series of photographs for Blind Dates. Aaron Mattocks. translated from an original
written in English. according to the claims of an always fantasmatic and immemorial past. And if it is not the decline of the West. One suspects it of having overturned a Spenglerian paradigm. who produces the truth in image. it seems. Here. One knows. that what he henceforth obeys is the law that he himself instituted. the time of autarkic cultures. What I draw from this is that a ghost cannot come to inscribe itself directly onto a photographic plate. It cannot print or impress itself chemically. it will be that of the East. To my knowledge. thus became the witness par excellence.
at the end of The Space of Literature in 1955. The survivor was already denying himself in the image. she whose life is no more “than the return.” therefore. there is a third reason. That is in fact what happened. Why not? Why is it that the ghost can circulate freely in every corner of the house. and when the nations learned to provide themselves a past fantasized and imagined for them by philology. which has yet to exhaust all its resources. Mortuary resemblance. whether individual or national. Martha Clarke. make noise in the bedrooms. but cannot be photographed? I draw something else from
. I seek to capture what his current in-between state might be.
the mask. “at this moment. an effect of the light. in an Appendix where he immediately proposes the following parallel between the image and the “cadaver” (or “the remains”). I can see. As to Maurice Blanchot’s reflections on the image. the Byzantine called the keramion. It was discovered again a few centuries later. this splendid being who radiates beauty: he is. Photograph courtesy of the artist
this as well: thanks to the artist. I think. And why is this the case? The explanation comes slowly. From the beginning. with translations by Paul Auster. the image and translation in a living language as if it were dead (which constitutes therefore the exact opposite of the example we encountered earlier). Or perhaps he was already dead? Was he dead already? That is the question. the Byzantine version of the Veronica.. The image was hidden in a niche in Edessa. then as what? As a subject? As a man? As an exile? A survivor? An artist? A witness? And if as a witness. sees a photograph in which two faces are superimposed. This new rendering of the image made without human hand. that is the mortuary resemblance.” language. to Blanchot’s
1 The English version cited here is from the Station Hill Blanchot
Thus. neither dead nor alive. 15
. The self-portrait was a death mask.. whom we suppose is. In actuality. Philippe-Alain Michaud recounts the tale in the version attributed to Constantine Porphyrogenitus. doesn’t language itself become entirely image. Blanchot transposes. The story was used of the envoy of King Abgar. Blanchot. one can also read these extraordinary lines with regard to the remains. The envoy did not succeed in fixing the traits of Christ
In literature. upon which the Son had called him closer. the ghost can now show itself in image. that of Christ and that of a young woman. in literature. who was also a painter.” Further on. The lamp was still burning and. Our astonishment knows however no bounds when we perceive that this figure. This is the image “made without human hand” theorized by Byzantine theologians at the time of the civil war between the partisans of the image and its adversaries. between the image and the survivor. or as already dead. Blanchot says. This envoy brought to Edessa a portrait of Christ. therefore. The Station Hill Blanchot Reader: Fiction and Literary Essays [Barrytown: Station Hill Press. than to render this fact obvious to whomever wishes to see. Which also signifies that Gorky gifted posterity (and himself too) his own death mask while he was still alive. the Image par excellence. the true icon. It is as if the ontological status of the ghost were the same as that of the mask. “If we look at him again. therefore. It is spoken on the ground of absence. who must be granted. She thus finds herself for a few hours in the uncertain and undefined space between life and death. The Byzantine made the story into a philosophical tale. when the presence of the cadaver before us is the presence of the unknown. ?1
firing a shot. he resembles himself. with a lit lamp in front of it.Aram Jibilian. collective credit (M.. Pratt Manhattan Gallery. which Blanchot calls here “the resemblance of cadavers. perfectly like himself. Michaud finds the conceptual origin of photography. and the image. The first narrative tells the story of a woman who wakes up from death only to die again. There. asked for a cloth and wiped his face with it. We are now incapable of distinguishing between the ghost. Blanchot establishes a faultless relation between image and survival. It survives itself. and Robert Lamberton.. As “its own image. and without
Reader. spoken from its own absence—in the same way that the image appears on the absence of the thing. 2010. but it could be that the strangeness of a cadaver is also the strangeness of the image…” (419). Installation view of the exhibition v. “At first sight. it is also now that the lamented dead begins to resemble himself” (420). in the form of a phenomenological description. We are lost. No more. the figure was carried over onto the brick that closed the niche. 1999]. is a survivor. in short. In his preface to Carole Fékété’s book. according to the most ancient tradition found in Syriac narratives taken up very early by Armenian translators (who seized the opportunity to make Abgar into an Armenian!). the narrator.” language is its own image. or an imaginary language. Without mask. this self-portrait painted by Gorky on the basis of his own photographic image. as a living language. a language that no one speaks—that is to say. and located beyond its use value. Yet something is obviously missing here for this relation to be fully comprehensible. But if “dead”. This novel presents itself as a double narrative. nor less. That is why Blanchot returns to this question at the end of his book. The cadaver is its own image” (421). in this tongue that “no one speaks. This is the famous kandilyon. Lydia Davis. so goes the rumor (but perhaps he was already a photographer). I shall say only one word about the acheiropoietic image. at the office of the doctor who must pronounce death. the image of language. His face was impressed upon the cloth. 415). In it. covering no more than the absence of what is supposed to be covered. She is a survivor. they appear first at the opening of The Space of Literature in the following passage: IV. no image. a language that is also addressed to the shadow of events. New York City. Aram Jibilian has done nothing else. then in what sense? Was it as someone who had lived through atrocities and who fervently wished for the world to know? Or was it as someone to testify of his own death as witness? Can a dead witness testify of his own death as witness?
on the canvas. When the remains is withdrawn from us. was in fact a death mask. A presence-absence suspended between two worlds. the image does not resemble a cadaver. a reality that he had explored a few years earlier in his novel Death Sentence. Gorky and the Glass House. In the same part of the tale.
With this superimposition. to remind him that their marriage contract was written in a living language as if it were a dead language. no hint of testimony. a ground. a stage. without human presence. I will conclude with this. a perfectly artificial intervention. after a fashion. no more environment. after the death of the witness. Dead while living. No chronicle. without frame. © Carole Fékété
. 1992–2000. in these images. “On the the survivor. She revisits and parodies the origins of photography. she magnifies it and signals toward its image character. to hide them. wall of his office there was an excellent photograph of the Turin Sudario. The images of this artist do not bring the human landscape onto the scene. Each time. She devotes herself to an archaeology of testimony through the image. He himself had described the procedure. She produces stagings. and to punish him. and as a matter of fact I distinctly saw. between the acheiropoietic image and the death mask. The work of this artist is remarkable in that it is resolutely opposed to the image-testimony to which we are accustomed. Christ produced his own death mask. Through photography. the visual critique (a kind of deconstruction by way of the image) of the image-testimony. no more world. If there is no contextual dimension at all. This idea of the dead face from which a cast is made while the person is alive appears again at the end of the second narrative. This is how the images of this photographer are so powerfully different from what our eyes are habituated to. to remind him that he bound himself to her as a survivor. There is a qualitative leap here. Photograph courtesy of the artist sometimes dangerous. By choosing to photographically reiterate a fragment of the cadaver. This exploitation is also the negation of the survivor. Christ. and offer up faces. No more circumference. The interpreters have never known what to make of this superimposition between the Veronica and the death mask. a photograph in which he saw two images superimposed on one another: one of Christ and one of Veronica. While on the other side: the death of the witness. however. without margin. “a Aram Jibilian. It is proper to the West. with no possibility henceforth of distinguishing one from the other.” the young Evil was done. their removal. But when looking forward. third century). Gorky and the Glass House. when there are human bodies in the shape of statues. She represented and she has seen her woman who had thrown herself into the Seine and own dead face.(136–137). She keeps only the face of the cadaver. based on Philippe de Champaigne’s famous Deposition and enlarged many times thereafter. one of the early works of Fékété was a series of faces of Christ. images that strive to erase the third dimension instead of producing an illusion of it. skulls and bones of all sorts. New York it is carried out on living people. She does away with any allegedly natural frame. The artist goes back to the Baroque era. The cadaver is its own image. for breaking the contract—Natalie arranges for a cast to be made of her own face. the features of a woman’s face extremely beautiful. Here are images without context. without world. no more place. She has her death mask made for her. as someone “with no life but the return”. 1654. detail. She exposes series. She shows their absence.
One must admit that this is already quite impressive. and at the very root of its Orientalism. City. When he understands what has transpired. as if on a cloth. so obsessed with the cadaver in the form of relics. show the world. But even before the series presented in this book. triptych (after Philippe de Champaigne. a process which… ” (183). Furthermore. during the life of the Son on this earth. she secretly signals the Christian. exploitation of the mortuary resemblance. In order to remind the narrator of the contract sealing their union beyond death. They are different from all the photographic works that arrest the instant. no world. The divine image of the face is just another form of the mask. It in fact offers a very simple equation: the acheiropoietic image and the death mask are fused to the point of constituting one and the same thing. tell a story in a tableau. surprising. then there is no time either. as Blanchot did in his time. 2007. she proceeds to cover them. she also speaks of what remains after death. she aims at the resemblance of cadavers. a wall. What remains after the death of the witness is the survivor. even magnificent in its strangely proud expression”
Christ. that impressed itself on the cloth or on the shroud. Louvre). © Carole Fékété
V. 2010. an envelope. eyes. Then there is Carole Fékété’s book of photographs. Each time. already. I mean. “the unknown woman of the Seine. The sentence interrupts itself. of “what remains” after the death of the witness. Installation view of the exhibition Blind process which is strange when Dates: New Encounters from the Edges of a Former Empire. a scene.
Mummy (after Roman legionary. Pratt Manhattan Gallery. What Remains. It is the dead face. the context is absent. and therefore Western. to the point of confusing the surface of the image and the surface of the object. This is so when she looks backward into the stream of time. behind the figure of Christ. On one side. the narrator finds himself beyond fright. It was the face of whose death mask had been preserved. a background. their becoming-absent. mummies.
and the problem of historical representation is how to represent that ghost. Empathy and Pornography (2003). the shift between analysis of representations of the “Black Man” and the “Slave” tends to repeat what colonial slavery has constructed: an equivalence between the two figures—yet two figures between which I believe it is important to mark
. I suggested organizing a programme of guided tours in the Louvre museum entitled. even though a great part of the riches of Europe and America were built upon its work. The figure of the slave remains so deeply evocative that it is often invoked to describe any situation in which the dignity and the integrity of a person are violated. both the past and a living presence. 1800. At a meeting with Okwui Enwezor.fr) in 20042 to the museums of France: to make an inventory of the figure of the slave in painting and decorative arts. but a memory “blinded” by the light projected by slavery on the society that practices it. artist. curator of the 2012 Triennial exhibition3 in Paris. 1995): 147. The germinal work by Fred Wilson entitled Mining the Museum (1992). For him. by its pornography.The Slave at the Louvre
“Slavery here is a ghost. cultural and socially predatory system. Musée colonial slavery in the making of the modern du Louvre. Paris. www. or to identify why the figure could be expressed in a distorted way. 1780–1865. recognizing the slave trade to be a “crime against humanity”. who in 2000 opened up a critical field with Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America.cpmhe. wrote the Haitian postcolonial thinker Michel-Ralph Trouillot. Nothing yet in France measures up to Marcus Wood’s innovative study. Power and the Production of History (Boston: Beacon Press. and its will and capacity to mask such violence. This inventory has yet to be finalized but the question of the representation of the figure of the slave has remained. © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Gérard Blot’s world. The main focus of the visits was to review the collections of the Louvre. a recurrent one. The aim was to revisit the collections in the Louvre in search of the figure of the slave. The role of slavery in human history and of Marie-Guillemine Benoist. for me. and its recurrence despite technological and Portrait d’une négresse was commented on by Shuck One. Portrait d’une négresse. and The Horrible Gift of Freedom: Atlantic Slavery and the Representations of Slavery (2010). All this draws out a cartography of an economic. 20 April–26 August 2012. the most pertinent artistic representation of the slave and of slavery is that which explores the catastrophe without closing its history.fr 3 La Triennale. how were they represented between the trade’s beginnings up to the definitive abolition of slavery in the French colonies in 1848? These questions were already at the heart of the proposition made by the Committee for the Memory of Slavery (of which I am a member. For Wood. Blind Memory is not a “blind” memory. and whose collections end at 1848 (with later works having been transferred to the Musée d’Orsay). In France. Critical and analytical work on the representation of the slave during the French colonial period has yet to be done. Paris. www. Silencing the Past. It was less about pointing out that something was missing than it was about examining what had permitted a lack or a marginalisation of such a central figure in the emergence of European modernity. the paintings by Turner have come the closest to this goal. humanitarian progress should already concern us. Filling in an absence or imposing the presence of the slave was not my intention. The Louvre agreed to and actively supported the program. “The Slave at the Louvre”.latriennale. Intense Proximity.comphe. a museum opened in 1793 by the Revolution.1 What can be said for the pictorial representation of this spectre? How did French artists from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries represent the slave? In particular. something that is and yet is not”. Palais de Tokyo and other venues. The goal was not to seek this kind of reparation but rather to come to an understanding of the necessary absence of this figure. www. its violence.org 18
partly displayed in the Louvre. in which he revisited the Baltimore Historical Society’s collection in light of the history of slavery in that city was an important reference. riches that have even been
1 Michel-Ralph Trouillot. and then took it further in Slavery. and which reminds us of the difficulty or impossibility of seeing what the living experience of the slave truly is. 2 This committee of twelve people was set up according to Article Four of the Taubira Law of 21 May 2001.
Paris. and Maryse Condé. Le radeau de la Méduse was commented on by Isaac Julien. Le radeau de la Méduse. “The Middle Ages”. tables. bringing freedom to the black slaves. Richelieu wing. by three people: Laurella artist.fr 21
. If colonial memories are often fragmented. are brought together there. © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / René-Gabriel Ojéda. The shifts. of teapots. and chocolate in Europe in the eighteenth century. the endless reproduction of paintings such as François Auguste Biard’s Abolition of Slavery. and the principle of universality. or about anything that the painting or the object brought up in his or her mind. Post’s painting was commented on by Carpanin Marimoutou. 1818. “The Revolution”) masks a cartography that extended far beyond European borders and brought new tastes. and the difficult and long battle that the abolitionists underwent. The narrow cartography of French history (the “Hexagon” or the binary couple “France / Colony”) heavily obscures the ways in which French identity.a distinction. coffee. Rinçon. For the dates and times of the special guided visits.5
5 Following its success.
4 Adriaen S. the program will continue in 2013. Isaac Julien. on the African coasts where it was used as currency for exchange (millions of cowries were transported from the Indian Ocean across the continent to West Africa). and the invited guest was given carte blanche to speak either about the work or the place of slavery in his or her own work. Musée du thus stop in front of the painting. and the accidents of history are all marginalized therein. paysage brésilien. a Conservateur du patrimoine. Each person chose one of the inventoried objects. Second floor. Hollande. 1650. Carpanin Marimoutou. looking at paintings of coffee cups. 1696. Théodore Géricault.louvre. all of which led to the construction of anti-Black racism. 15cm/22cm. Coorte. and by me. Laurella Rinçon presented the artists. I introduced the visit. Leonora Miano. without any critical distance. at the very moment of its accomplishment. The sentimentality and its prefiguration of the civilizing mission do not appear to cause any problems even among postcolonial critics. and the like). the denial of equality and its affirmation. The entire iconography of the colonial doctrine of abolitionism is there. The figure of the slave haunts the figure of the free and the citizen. © RMN-Grand Palais the visitors were welcomed (Musée du Louvre) / Michel Urtado. writer. of tables. The Visits The idea behind the guided visits was as follows: An inventory of the paintings or objects exhibited in the galleries and that made reference to slavery was sent to people that I had invited: Shuck One. their history is sometimes shared. Why. and two black men embrace each other. When did the slave become “black”? When did freedom become “white” and servitude “black”? Otherwise. and Maryse Condé. must we be reminded that the colonisation of Algeria started eighteen years before the abolition of slavery. the writer. 27 April 1848. Yet. and that in 1848 the same government that later abolished slavery declared that Algeria was to be divided into the French departments? Revisiting the complex artistic terrain of fragmented memories and crossed histories opens up new debates on representation. the painting transforms abolition into a gift. Colonial slavery lasted several centuries in the long history of French colonisation. tobacco. feel free to visit the Louvre’s website: www. The arts of living and of household consumption were profoundly affected by the arrival of sugar. was the slaves’s freedom so often represented by a “white” man or a “white” woman? What inspired the iconographic use of the image of the tied-up and kneeling slave during the abolitionist period—on both sides of the Atlantic? Why was freedom always shown as having been a gift given to the “Blacks” by the “Whites”? Sought in the aforementioned visits was not literally the figure of the slave. “Royalty”. Musée du Louvre. Servitude and revolt. brandishing their broken chains. The closed-chaptered approach (for which generalizing labels such as “Antiquity”. A black woman on her knees kisses the feet of two white women. One could Frans Post. new manners and nonEuropean people to France. the writer. professor on a Shelf4 to signal the presence of a cowrie shell. the economy and the State were affected by colonization. vases. laws that were not those of mainland France. On the day of the tour. Section 33 bis. the displacements. Paris. Indeed. Six Shells Louvre. Though their conditions of production had to remain invisible. the visual artist. and sugar bowls would likely achieve similar ends. the figure of the “Negro” was prevalent in the decorative arts (visible on crockery. the poet and professor of literature. however. for whom they have become iconic. obliterating any radical dimension. the Nation. It shows a “white” man carrying a French flag. 20
the echoes. Colonial slavery was a matrix for experimenting disciplinary and punitive techniques. Thus. first explaining the role and the place of colonial slavery in the culture and history of European society and the importance of its heritage for the contemporary world. states of exception. snuffboxes. this absence of analysis allows. The history of modern colonisation is thereby enlightened in a way that does not allow apologetic discourses. the graphic artist. absence and presence. by one of my guests. Le Char à boeufs. which was emblematic of the slave trade of literature and poet. it masks the bitterness of the slaves’s struggles.
The foreigners did not form a homogenous group. Jill Edwards (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. 260–261. to the Alexandria that has been erased by this discourse. Alexandria: A History and a Guide. 237–265.. 2004). Those who generated the Alexandrian cosmopolitan identity mixed together in cultural events and could talk to each other about certain intellectual issues. She argues that Alexandrian Neo-Platonism was something that Muslim philosophers were eager to engage with and that this engagement partly took place by translators. 163. the possibility of an Alexandria-to-Baghdad intellectual transference and assimilation. pleasant but careful dance. 101–103. and the Jews remained
1 Robert Mabro. 1882. Islam’s encounter with Classical and Hellenistic philosophy.” in ibid. Finding that even though the foreign community in Alexandria was sometimes very large.2
An Olfactory Tale of an “Arab” City
In what follows.” in Alexandria. “The Alexandria Archive”. 10. 179. multicultural milieu.”1 He raises considerable doubt about the degree to which Alexandrian society was truly open and cosmopolitan:
Alexandria was a fragmented society. ed. Mabro’s critical work on what he calls nostalgic literature on Alexandria stressed. commentators and philosophers who had either lived in Alexandria or who had been educated there. I would like to attempt to capture the smells of the lost Arab Alexandria and raise the possibility that these smells may be a sign both of a more inclusive Alexandrian cosmopolitanism than that which we are now familiar with and also of that which is usually left out from the idyllic picture of the city. This opinion is shared by Michael Haag. but also the downtown area. especially NeoPlatonism and Sufism. ed. [… But] the golden rule was never to talk seriously about the things that mattered most: differences in values. and did not pause to investigate.
. the] ambiguity of social life in cosmopolitan Alexandria lay in the coexistence of openness in economic life and [at the same time] closed boundaries elsewhere… Hence the need to tread cautiously. 1999). and argued that the
2 Robert Mabro. i. The degree to which ideas and intellectual trends were exchanged and/or created in cosmopolitan Alexandria is something that Sami Zubaida also doubted in his rightly celebrated essay on Middle Eastern cosmopolitanism. from this literature of nostalgia. ed. The impression was created—and people came to believe—that ‘we are happy together’.” in Cosmopolitanism. I pointed out the necessarily elitist and exclusionary components assumed in that discourse. the Place des Consuls. “Cosmopolitanism and the Middle East.” she remarks. But the Shawam* remained Shawam. Not only was the port under attack. “Nostalgic Literature on Alexandria. Robert Mabro.e. 2002). and not only along the Egyptian/foreigner boundary. Alexandria: City of Memory (Cairo: The American University of Cairo Press. and were therefore “Arabs”). ed.”4 In an earlier study and in a similar attempt to revisit the notion of Alexandrian cosmopolitanism. Roel Meijer (Richmond: Curzon. Fires broke out everywhere. 7 Halim. 27. 263–280. Anthony Hirst and Michael Silk (London: Ashgate. where he remarks that the “cultural mix and excitement [of Cairo in the 1920s and 1930s] was cosmopolitan in a much more profound sense than the celebrated EuropeanLevantine milieu of Alexandria. 6 Hala Youssef Halim Youssef. 2004).
5 Khaled Fahmy. With Love and Squalor: Some critical notes on the history and historiography of modern Alexandria. Halim similarly argues that Forster was oblivious of the significant Alexandrian contribution to medieval Islamic mysticism. and in spite of Forster’s insistence that it was mostly looting that led to the destruction of the city’s main square and the surrounding areas. among other things. namely. 4 Sami Zubaida..org/ issues/souvenirs-souvenirs#page-issuessouvenirssouvenirssmellalexan driaarchivingrevolution0
Alexandria: A Cosmopolitan City?
Recently published critical studies have highlighted the serious fault lines in the discourse on Alexandria’s cosmopolitanism.”7 With respect to Sufism. “The Alexandria Archive”. ones of an Alexandria in which another cosmopolitanism might be detected.8 there is little doubt that the smoke bellowing out of the city that day was the result of ten
8 Forster.” in Alexandria: Real and Imagined. PhD Diss. Muslim and Greek orthodox Levantines.6 In response to Forster’s categorical claims about the spiritual decline during the thousand year-long “Arab period” Halim takes stock of two theological areas that had been overlooked by Forster. Identity and Authenticity in the Middle East. 2004). which appeared in the January 2012 issue of Manifesta Journal #14: http://www. has closely studied the different Egyptian censuses from the late 1840s to the 1960s. Using police records of the city. Those who had a clear national identity held to it: it was the hard core of their inner being. with a ratio of at least three Egyptians to one foreigner. I attempted to draw a picture of quotidian life in late nineteenth century Alexandria. for example. the curious absence of Shawām. Anthony Hirst and Michael Silk (London: Ashgate.” in Historians in Cairo: Essays in Honor of George Scanlon. “For Cavafy. 247–262. a source hitherto rarely used.Khaled Fahmy
The Essence of Alexandria (Part Two)
Note from the Editors: We are proud to present you here the second half of the essay of the same name. “The Alexandria Archive: An Archaeology of Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism”. is it possible for the olfactory sense to provide us with other maps? Are they different itineraries. “Alexandria 1860–1960”. perhaps. in order to come up with a precise composition of Alexandrian society in its cosmopolitan age.
impressive details of daily life that this archival source provides can go a long way towards providing a historically accurate account of what it meant to live in such a multilingual. “Forster’s categorical statements on the subject.manifestajournal. quotation from 247–248. the British fleet started pounding Alexandria. * Note from the Editors: “Shawam” is Arabic for Levantines (Syrians. “The Alexandria Archive” ibid. one less tainted by Eurocentrism?
The Smell of Gunpowder
One of the smells that may have struck one’s nose during a key moment in the history of the modern city is that of gunpowder and smoke. (Los Angeles: University of California. Lebanese and Palestinians). and the impression that social life was a lazy. and “Towards a Social History of Modern Alexandria. and that “the Egyptian population constituted a significant majority. Real and Imagined. quoted in Halim. On July 11. 23
3 Robert Mabro. the Italians remained Italians. “indicate that he was unaware of. or in religious or political perspectives. 22
Jews… [Furthermore. “Alexandria 1860–1960: The Cosmopolitan Identity. 2004). If by sniffing around the discourse of cosmopolitan Alexandria one is able to detect both the limitations of this discourse and its questionable politics (especially given its undertones of Eurocentrism and its celebration of the Hellenism of the city as the only source of its vitality and creativity).5 One of the most original contributions to the critique of the discourse of cosmopolitan Alexandria is that which Halim provides in her study.3 (after all they speak Arabic. he stresses that it never exceeded a quarter of the population. which was the showpiece of the modern city that was meant to exhibit the multiethnic nature of the city. and specifically. 281–306.
1972). Everything seemed hostile and yet very intimate… The scent of the sea and of fresh raw fish permeated the slightly muddy alleys. Given al-Kharrat’s “morbid flinching from nostalgia’s indiscretions”. faint and slightly dry [coming] from the direction of the harbor. 110–113. bloody protrusions marking the heads and bellies. The smells wafting out of al-Kharrat’s Alexandria are full of life and fertility. buttressing against an always imminent collapse. 1860–1960. 185–186. 12 Edwar al-Kharrat. during a hot July. Cavafy’s Alexandria. Sacred and Untamed”. Instead.a. 22. Martin’s Press. The penetrating scent of native Jessamine. [and which were] of a refuse not ripe enough to pass for garbage and a urine a bit too spotty for official concern. 1989). It had the pungent. The agony of love. Justine. Edwar al-Kharrat’s texts embraces and celebrates this materiality in refreshing ways. “Alexandria: The Capital of Memory.
The Smell of a Quotidian Cosmopolitanism
In contrast to the highly sanitized way in which the materiality of the city is marginalized in the discourse of cosmopolitan Alexandria. the Muslim and the Egyptian components that have hitherto been denied recognition in the “Alexandria that we have lost”. flattened. passing through his room where he “listen[ed] to the heavy tone of [Justine’s] scent. In contrast. I was not sure she would come. 4. Natanson was eventually caught. City of Saffron. see Joel Beinin.
What is remarkable about this and other passages in al-Kharrat’s texts is the manner in which the odors of the city. who describes Alexandria on the eve of Durrell’s second visit as “spiritless. Robinson and J. and C. 19–20. the United States Information Service library in Cairo. borne by the moisture of the air. “My City. The English Historical Review.13 al-Kharrat’s mix of smells. and alleyways of the material city. their rusting gates opening into wild and unkempt gardens. of humiliation gnawed at me. to Durrell’s oft-quoted
11 Khaled.” and which is followed by a section where we retrace the footsteps of the protagonist down the narrow streets that are “soft now of rain but not wet”. however. 110–116. bringing the salt smell of the sea” (42). 152–155. not to withdraw their troops from the Suez Canal region. and Natanson’s attempt to blow up Cinema Rio ended in disaster (both for him and for his fellow terrorists) when the explosive device he had planned to leave in the Cinema caught fire in his pocket. The Alexandria that comes across in the texts of this Egyptian novelist. the one open on both sides.hours of bombardment by the British Mediterranean fleet under the command of Sir Frederick Beauchamp Paget Seymour. 87. even if they are putrid and suffocating. were offering the deep forgetfulness of parturition”. translator and literary critic. as Beinin rightly points out). Lavon Affair”. conjure a celebration of the city. to the “damp smell from the salt-marsh [and how it] still comes from over the railway-line wall” (15). their iron fences overhung with the thick branches of trees.L. and that were lined with brothels whose prostitutes “like the true inhabitants of Alexandria.” (20)
15 Keeley. Seymour. Politics. The smell of smoke that day is a poignant reminder of the colonial context of the muchcelebrated Alexandrian cosmopolitanism.”15 in City of Saffron16 al-Kharrat constantly refers to “the breeze warm and cool by turns on my face.. not knowing precisely what was happening to me.” al-Kharrat describes houses that were “like palaces.10 The smell of smoke hovered over Alexandria during another crucial moment of Egypt’s history. The campaign. careful not to step on the meager bodies of discarded fish. of jealousy. The puddles of rainwater from yesterday’s storm still sparkled and skidded with the impact of salt-licked gusts of wind. for an account of “Operation Susannah. Gallagher.k. trans. 345 (Oct. and settled on the basalt pavements. No.” and ending in his desperate attempt to remember the name of Justine’s perfume. rather than a feeling of disgust. and the smell of moist earth. By now I was almost sure she would not come. wafted to me. the smell of smoke reminds us of the imperial context that shaped life in modern Alexandria. Hala Halim. Frances Liardet (London: Quartet Books. It was almost as though I could not see the vendors and fishermen squatting behind baskets and hampers laden with sardines and mullet and blue-fish and prawns and crabs. in Alexandria. 2005). The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture. 16 Edwar al-Kharrat. The wall rose high to my left. and of the oblique complicity with that colonial context by many of cosmopolitanism’s key figures (most notably Forster and Durrell). called “Operation Susannah”. amazement or disillusionment. The man was Philip Natanson. This time it was in 1954. 24
Egypt. “The big street”. screening of Cinema Rio when pedestrians in Shāri‘ Fu’ād saw a young Europeanlooking man running out of the movie theatre in fireladen clothes. putrid smell of the tanneries that was suffocating me. its harbor a mere cemetery” and whose “palatial villas overgrown with bougainvillaea…. and was specifically before the 6:30 p. “The Bombardment of Alexandria: A Note”. In his Alexandrian texts (Rama and the Dragon and his autobiographical novels The Way of the Eagle. 10 See Halim. 790–794.m.9 The bombardment of Alexandria by the British fleet and the subsequent landing of British troops a couple of months later led to a seventy-year long occupation during which Egypt was firmly incorporated in the British Empire (although never as an official British colony). 179.
scene which ends with the famous words. chapters two and three. and a childlike wonder at its mysteries and secrets. is a city whose cosmopolitanism has a place for the Arab. City of Saffron and Girls of Alexandria) al-Kharrat does not provide a coherent guide to the city of his childhood and youth. aimed to attack several targets in Cairo and Alexandria—the main Alexandria post office. to the “smell of charcoal and flotsam. Alexandria Quartet. memories and loss ring less judgmental.12 the smells in his œuvre are never employed in a Proustian manner to refer to the essence of a lost city. I threaded my way. the Cairo train station. suggestive of dampness and the sea.11 Again. even if they are of discarded fish and puddles of rainwater. trans. Vol. his constant references to smells express not only a celebration of the city and its exuberant vibrancy but a joyful embrace of life itself. “The Alexandria Archive”. In fact. radical country and to thereby convince the British. they constantly draw our attention to streets.14
13 Durrell. In contrast to the smells encountered by Keeley which were “cut only sporadically by a pinch of sea-salt. Indeed:
I boarded the Mex tram. I stood under the old grey stone wall of the fort. “My City. a context that is presently missing from much of the scholarship on the city’s tradition of cosmopolitanism. The campaign failed miserably. 1961). tried and received a fifteen-year prison sentence. furthermore. pavements. abandoned or confiscated or left to rot by their impoverished owner. evocative of pleasure and desire. who had been engaged with the new revolutionary regime in
9 On the bombardment. 25
.” (24) And in contrast to Haag. a. and several movie theatres in Cairo and Alexandria. The intention was to show Egypt to be an unstable. and the Formation of a Modern Diaspora (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. 14 al-Kharrat. Africa and the Victorians: The Climax of Imperialism in the Dark Continent (New York: St. Sacred and Untamed”. see R. more generous. who as it turned out was part of a Jewish Egyptian espionage network that the Israeli intelligence had formed three years earlier with the intention of launching a sabotage campaign (what would currently be called terrorism if conducted by Muslims or Arabs.
carried it out to the landing and poured it out. echoing noise. heard the horses’s hooves coming along the white graveled road. ‘The police.Above all. al-Kharrat relates many episodes in which foreigners and Egyptians interacted amicably in Alexandria and the few European characters that are introduced in the novel appear in very positive light. Every year my mother arranged the pastries [… and] sent some of these pastries. In City of Saffron he describes how his Coptic mother and her Muslim neighbor.’ I heard my father’s voice. they’re coming’. it is the scenes and smells of communal life and of an inter-ethnic mix that is most remarkable in al-Kharrat’s œuvre.
I beg you. where the land is saffron. shining with sesame oil. Then she squatted on her haunches and wiped each stair with a piece of sacking. Rather. help me. Westernized class which has been celebrated by scholars of cosmopolitan Alexandria. and at Ramadan.’ (10–11)
Difference in religion did not prevent neighbors from getting together and helping each other out in their time of need. or to Westerneducated classes. and where on high a black dove flutters. fertile and living. (8)
life: ‘In the name of the father. We exchanged plates of ka‘k and biscuits and ghurrayiba and crisp milk crackers. He sounded very gentle and kind. The water cascaded down the steps. Uncle Qaldas. where the valley slides slope down. (106)
. to all her neighbors and beloved women friends—Umm Mahmud and Umm Hasan and Umm Toto. ‘Steady on a bit—may no evil eye of mine harm you!’ And she would bend down and lift the hem of her house-galabiya to reveal her plump dark thighs. husky from sleep. on big. When Hosniya.] Our Lord has commanded the protection of women from shame. Even Allied soldiers who found themselves in the city during WWII are not criticized by the narrator for their drunken. These started with the purchase of special oil from the neighboring oil press: where he “was overwhelmed by the sticky penetrating smell of pressed oil with its slightly sweet. its wings spread out to infinity. she implored. she could turn to no one but to Uncle Qaldas.” (25) What we see in al-Kharrat’s texts are signs of a different cosmopolitanism. the smell of hashish lingering in the stairwell until morning. with his Sa‘idi accent that he had retained all his
This tolerance and amicable co-existence that al-Kharrat describes in the city of his youth were not restricted to relations between Egyptian Copts and Muslims. rowdy behavior. In City of Saffron. and my maternal uncle Hanna and my maternal aunt Labiba. green with lily-of-the-valley and elderflower. They had words printed on them in Coptic. In this open tolerant city. Al-Kharrat describes in some detail the preparations that his narrator’s mother undertook for the feast of the Archangel Mikhail and the rituals associated with it. beating in my heart for ever. sugary overtones. we witness—and smell—a cosmopolitanism that is more inclusive and more tolerant than that of an elite. until she reached Sitt Wahiba’s door. my girl. Sidi. Throughout there is the extended invitation to experience another Alexandria. popular practices of tolerance and openness to others. I beg you on your honor—I kiss your feet. but included relations between Egyptians and foreigners. making a magnificent slapping. one which is not confined to members of the elite. an Alexandria
… which is a smooth boulder in the [heart of the deluge]. Sitt Umm Mikhail!’ she would laugh. shared the task of washing the stairs of the building they shared:
On the day when the stairs were washed my mother filled the pail at the bathroom tap.
(86–87) Throughout al-Kharrat’s œuvre. round and spreading slightly. and foliate Coptic cross. their neighbor. rather. they sent round jugs of khushaf. his is a more quotidian cosmopolitanism that is inspired by local. Their surfaces were cracked and golden brown. May he so protect the women of this house. Sitt Wahiba.” (17) Then there is a lengthy description of the rituals associated with his mother’s preparation of the pastries for the feast:
At the first glimpse of morning the pastry rounds
came out hot from the oven... looking at me bashfully as she did so— which I found strange—and finish wiping down to the bottom step. at the feasts of Easter and Adha and Christmas and Fitr: plates covered with ironed tea-towels. and when she realized that the police were on their way to arrest her as a result of Sitt Wahiba reporting on her and on her flat to which cabdrivers and others had been seen going night after night. religious feasts become occasions for communal celebration and mutual exchange of pastries among neighbors and friends across the religious divide. defeat and death. the narrator’s father. flat white-china plates decorated with blue flowers. The latter would be waiting: ‘Watch out of me. crackling. The Muslims among her neighbors and bosom-friends would return the compliment at Ashura with special Ashura dishes. come in! [. the Son and the Holy Ghost! Come in. checked or white. please help me—may God spare a woman of your house such shame—hide me in your house. he sympathizes with their ordeal describing their orgies as being the result of “despair. step by step.
Addressing a highly charged crowd during the summer of 1962. 28
Algerians. Ever since I was a child. hoisted onto Boumediène’s tanks. kidneys. 2011. leaving behind him a trail thick with the blood of 3. It would pit the followers of Colonel Boumediène. 29
All images courtesy of Mustapha Benfodil
. It is one of our founding myths. plural of shahid. Ramdhane Mekhaznia’s father and sister. “Ah! al-Djazaïr. brutally. “Sabâa snine
2 Shuhada. the legendary revolutionary party that led the battle against colonialism.1 as if my people needed to offer up every one of the supposed one and a half million bodies to some vicious deity in order to reach nirvana. Arabic for “martyr. “the shrine of the martyrs. rise up! In this account. The post-1962 martyrs. It follows us everywhere we go. against the Provisional Government (GPRA). 1962. When I travel to any other Arab country. He was the chief of staff and figurehead of the so-called Border Army (Armées des Frontières). the story of the river of blood that will not let. a small Algerian mining town that borders Tunisia. which in hindsight are striking. Beyond these guesses and exaggerations about the death toll are the so-called laurels of post-colonial martyrdom. that’s what I have heard. that this story of a million and a half martyrs was rooted in of one of President Ahmed Ben Bella’s impassioned speeches. the shuhada. Not watered gently. He was the only member of his family to have earned a diploma. 1962. to name two). not even fifty years after independence. One of the key phrases in our national story was thus etched into marble. I learned late in life.
The Shuhada of the Past Fifty Years
Portrait of Ramdhane Mekhaznia.2 were just so many offerings to this cannibalistic monster. but violently.3 Indeed. He lived in El Ouenza. It was the crisis of the summer of 1962.4 operating out of Morocco. It is a figure of myths and legends. of course. that your father was not really your father. to the death toll of the War of Independence (1954–1962). I want to trace.
1 A ceasefire between France and the FLN was established on March 19.000 deaths—most of them civilian. It was as if you had discovered. It wolfs down thousands of legs. Ben Bella. called out to be watered with fresh blood. The liberators had hardly put down their guns before the country plunged into civil war.000 bodies. at age forty. the day after the Evian Accords were signed. us Algerians. entered Algiers triumphantly on August 3. a muffled war was about to break out between the political and the military wings of the ruling party. A demon-god that I imagine takes the physical form of the Maqam Eshahid. someone is always there to remark. the land of a million martyrs!) It is a sort of brand we cannot shake. People filled the roads chanting. actually estimate the toll to be around 400.
“Seven Years is Enough!”
Emerging at last from colonial domination. hearts. a twenty-two year old biologist who immolated himself on August 16. I admit that I was a little sad. and other throbbing organs before puking them all up again into the Bay of Algiers. This beast devours a hundred men for lunch and as many for dinner. literally. 4 A nickname for Mohamed Boukharouba. Algeria. hacked and furrowed by the claws of conquerors. as the news referred to the fierce rivalries among the factions of the FLN.” a giant concrete beast looming over Algiers. he threw out this number on the fly. very late. in broad strokes.” (Ah. This bloodshed continued to torment the majority of the country even after the ceasefire. this parched earth. based in Tunis. balad al milioune chahid. an Algerivore that is never sated.”
3 Front de Libération Nationale (National Liberation Front).The Blood of the Martyrs Will Not Stop
“A million and a half million martyrs”. I admit I was astonished when I learned that this total was based more on legend than on fact and that historians (Benjamin Stora and Mohammed Harbi. as one would a garden. It refers. For a long time it was lodged in my mind and in the minds of thirty-six million Algerians. with his portrait. as soon as I say that I am Algerian.
He was considered to be the father of the FLN. And then on October 18. rise up again! Among the casualties were luminaries and leaders. The event was broadcast live on television. The Algerian Special Forces were most likely behind the job. Some say there were between 100. They were not brought down by the obvious enemy. and its own harvest of casualties. 1999: Abdelaziz Bouteflika was “elected” president. What does the future hold? 31
. Abdelhafidh Boussouf (yes. the renowned cemetery of revolutionary heroes.000 and 200. 2005: the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation was also adopted via referendum. and his assassination was seen as a sort of patricide. who on June 19. openly accused the head of the FLN’s secret service. the head of the FLN’s secret service. he took refuge at his stronghold in Kabylia and along with Colonel Oulhadj established an armed guerilla resistance. roadmap in hand: an amnesty project to be carried out immediately. And no government agency has ever been made to turn over an official report on the casualties. it wasn’t just the French whom the valiant Amirouche troubled—he clearly worried his brothers in arms. As soon as the country was liberated.
Remembrance is forbidden Heroes without a grave
Some heads of the Revolution proved themselves to be troublesome even in death. another historic figure and cofounder of the FLN. His remains were not dug up until 1984. and their tragic fate. Activists called the victims “martyrs of democracy. Yet there remains a sharp contrast between their status as icons and heroes. Barely six months after his inauguration. A child in the Hai Edhalma neighborhood.” Then came the war in the 1990s. who totes the Algerian flag on his jacket. Krim Belkacem. This meant total amnesty for the worst
7 8 Armée Islamique du Salut (AIS). was killed in Madrid. Khider’s mistake? He had denounced Boumediène. a revolutionary from the start. The photograph was taken in their neighborhood. More deaths. It was a way of erasing all trace of him. 30
April 15. and this praise is always strongly dependent on power struggles within the nationalist movement. Mohamed Khider.barakat!”. September 29. or “Seven years is enough!” Hocine Aït Ahmed. in September 1963. nicknamed the “Lion of Djurdjura”. The death toll: 400 combatants from Kabylia. While dissidents suffered under repression. son of Colonel Amirouche. Amirouche’s remains were thrown into the basement at the headquarters of the national police force in the hills above Algiers.8 This act pardoned the minor offenses of Islamist prisoners. this term is used in reference to the War of Independence (1954–1962). No one has the list. No one has the names. This was notably the case with Colonel Amirouche. After independence. He had to wait twenty years to claim the right to a monument in Martyrs Square.
Ramdhane Mekhaznia’s family. For civilians. On January 4. The most tragic part of this affair is that Amirouche Aït Hamouda never even had the right to a burial. we honor them selectively. occurring years before Algeria achieved national sovereignty. 1965 had ousted Ben Bella. the number of political assassinations escalated. on behalf of Algeria. created in its wake the Socialist Forces Front (FFS). 1999: a referendum is held regarding the Civil Concord and the fate of the Islamic Salvation Army7 the military branch of the Islamic Salvation Front. which literally means the “City of Darkness”. The most emblematic case was that of Abane Ramdane. the precursor organization to the political police. Of course. the French. but by their own brothers in arms. 6 At a farm in Tetouan on December 26. September 28. 1992 while giving a speech at a cultural center in Annaba.
5 In Algeria. who was killed near Boussaâda by French paratroopers on March 29. The first martyr of the new Algerian war was President Mohamed Boudiaf. a slum at the foot of the mine called Hai Edhalma.” cost him dearly. 1957. to mark the first coup in the country’s history. The numbers are shocking. which came to be known as the oldest opposition party.6 Some consider the assassination of Abane. “politics over militarism. Front Islamique du Salut (FIS). him again) of having betrayed his father. too. This dramatic end ushered in a new war. Their celebrated names fill history books and mark the main streets of Algiers. 1970. Boudiaf was shot on June 29. was strangled with his own tie in his hotel room in Frankfurt. the very man who had signed the Evian Accords that marked the end of French colonial rule. shut down the constituent assembly and. the violence did not stop in 1962—far from it. Algerians. the brains of the FLN and architect of the Revolution. The protests of October 1988 left 500 dead.
The deputy Noureddine Aït Hamouda.5 His motto. he was strangled in cold blood by Abdelhafidh Boussouf. This is precisely our relationship to our martyrs. one of the leaders of the original section of the FLN. 1959.000 deaths. bringing funeral after funeral to the streets of the country. razing his legacy. 1967.
It is as if only a pack of wild dogs had been killed there. A full fifty years after independence. everybody asks me.
10 Presidential decree regarding the implementation of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation. I do not know how to hasten the clotting of the blood of history. Frantz Fanon.000 people abducted by “agents of the state” remain missing to this day. and the number of self-immolations is soaring. Only words can heal. It was April 18. Kamel Belabed. They are a political movement. These families do not even have the luxury of mourning their children.” Another growing phenomenon that has emerged as a form of citizen resistance by contradiction is self-immolation. According to a report from the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights. Death toll: 126. a man or a woman. or undocumented immigrants to Europe) throw themselves into the sea. The regime wanted to move quickly and bury the dead without delay. a repentant former Islamist leader. Penitent (repentant): another word that was in vogue. over twenty years before the ones in Tunisia and Egypt. Some people requested that a reconciliation process based on the South African model. the official decree for total absolution—sparked a substantial popular rally.”) Where does the blood run from now? As the death toll escalates. I do not know what could stop the bleeding and heal our hearts.
Still more deaths. To top it all off. Numerous protests followed.
11 An FLN guerilla fighter during the War of Independence. after which the Islamic Front for Salvation had been robbed of their rightful electoral victory. “And you? When will your revolution come?” I regret that when the October 1988 uprising broke out. For them. especially for the families of the dead. where the main players—that is. There were only wounds torn open in the hearts of the victims of terrorism and the families of the disappeared. and Had Echkalla. put an end to the falsely cathartic lies. Nothing. a former mujahid11 from the eastern Algerian village of Souk Ahras who picked up a gun in order to defend himself and his family after repeated threats and taunts from Ali Merad. allowing for a cathartic processing of trauma. It is worthwhile to emphasize that at the moment when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and the people of Tunisia rose up. 32
12 Boutef is a nickname for sitting president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. to express even a sliver of regret for their actions. Worse. People told us they were sick of the violence. the movement never quite caught on at the popular level. and despite a strong mobilization of elites and supporters of democracy. the leaders never descended from the djebel (or mountain) not once. to damage the agents who have served with dignity. One day. Guermah Massinissa.000 to 500. I was simply astonished to see that the massacres of Bentalha. and Larbi Ben M’hidi can keep their heads down.killers among Allah’s guerilla fighters. He was sentenced to death in February 2001 for killing the penitent. Algerians just don’t know where to stop. are not marked by any monument.000 dinars. It is no longer possible. A presidential decree issued on February 28. Yet I am just dim enough to believe that mourning can begin when the terms of the autopsy are agreed upon.
a series of unprecedented riots erupted across Algeria. author. illegal migrants trying to reach Europe on makeshift boats. the Algerians stopped erecting new commemorative monuments. that at a certain point. father of a harraga whom he hasn’t heard anything from since 2007. the mothers of these victims camp in front of the headquarters of the National Observatory for Human Rights. artist. does not drench herself in gasoline and set herself on fire. We must relieve the corpses of their festering truths and let the graves blossom in full. demanding change hic et nunc (here and now). “Barkana dem!” they said. Every Wednesday.
The War of Monuments
When speaking of the current Arab insurrections. In the cities and towns where the so-called penitents had reintegrated into civil society. be implemented.10
the state—would admit to their crimes. they remind me of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina. they do not have the right to demand accountability from the state since the security services responsible for the abductions were granted amnesty outright. Gharbi refused to endure the affronts any longer and shot him point blank. Sometimes. The families of the dead also considered that this total absolution of crimes attributed to Islamist activists constituted an attack on the memory of their loved ones. 2006 expressly prohibited any inquests into “the national tragedy. she sets fire to her children. after Ben Ali. under the aegis of Nelson Mandela. The language of the autopsy. free speech. article 46. or otherwise acts to use or exploit the wounds of the national tragedy to undermine the institutions of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria. demanding the truth. The problem: both these projects were top-down measures. (“Enough blood already!”) Yet. not even a cardboard sign. that the heirs and heiresses of Djamila Bouhired. Rais. Unfortunately an insurrection broke out in Kabylia when a police officer shot and killed a high school student. groups of harragas (“burners”. life became agonizing. portraits of their children held tight to their chests. I am often struck by the succession of monuments to the dead. rise up again!
It was not just the families of the disappeared who were outraged by this text. the initial violence had been a justified jihad. rise up again! Finish the job. Mohamed Boudiaf. to weaken the state. 2001. I note with a certain shudder.” An excerpt:
Anyone who writes. Not a day passes in which a citizen. Algerians. speaks. This is a scathing critique of Bouteflika and his cronies. there was no al-Jazeera and there was no Facebook to give it the attention and support it deserved. This did not go over well with the population. How many times have I heard this phrase—how many times from former guerilla fighters themselves? “Mazal maddinache l’istiqlal. His case—which brings into sharp focus all the absurdities and the folly of the amnesty law. A perfect example of this situation was the case of Mohamed Gharbi. Our very own Boutef12 shouldered the mantel of savior by promising to put an end to Islamist guerilla warfare and to expel the guerilla fighters. declared to me in words full of truth: “The harragas are neither harebrained nor suicidal.9 some 18. Walking around Algiers. Qadhafi. improve their communities. I participated in many of these demonstrations. too. They were the martyrs of the Black Spring. Every day. Inevitably. There was no debate on the pardons. of kneeling at their graves. A new class of citizens who were going to invest in the public sphere. however. however. the fact remains that Algerians continue to die. Martyrs supplant martyrs. Each new war produces its own set of martyrs. the autopsy that reveals the true cause of death and that allows us to move on to other
things. or to tarnish the image of Algeria on the world stage will be punished with three to five years in prison and a fine of 250. disgracefully sacrificed at the altar of oppression and injustice. including a committee on truth and justice. Louizette Ighilahriz. Abane Ramdane.” (or. after Moubarak. We must begin to tell the truth. and journalist
All images courtesy of Mustapha Benfodil
. Strike one more time and seize this damn independence !
Mustapha Benfodil. which claimed fifty victims. “We have not yet gained independence. They stitched up the wounds carelessly. This new cycle of violence lasted three months. There was only death. the Islamists and agents of
9 Ligue algérienne de défense des droits de l’homme (LADDH). at police headquarters in Beni Douala (Upper Kabylia). We must put an end to the legends and the exaggerated tales. I know that the right words carry a sacred healing power. and the whole group of outworn dictators. Every day brings new offerings to the Maqam Eshahid (Monument of the Martyrs).
3 We have very few models for what it means to discuss acts of violence or to be a political leader who acknowledges mistakes. Other examples include Katherine Ann Power (who was involved in robberies in Massachusetts that led to the death of a police officer. for example. Here. for example. The minor archive of radical activists admitting their mistakes. eds. such as depression (the subject of my new book). or figuring out ways to make amends is thus useful. She went underground and then surrendered in Oregon in 1993). 35
2 See Tom Robbins. perpetrators (itself a loaded term)—Nazis. and Palestine—is a source of intrigue for radical activists committed to non-violent protest. If queer theory de-pathologizes shame. as well as David M. the colloquial term I have used for negative affects. particularly through the mournfulness of vocal sound itself. their cases don’t manage to provide much traction on the complex and ambivalent feelings that can accompany acts of violence. the politics of passivity. ed. artists Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz along with queer
A Dialogue Between Ann Cvetkovich and Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz
theorist Ann Cvetkovich reflect on the intersections between their recent projects. 2009). As a specifically political feeling.
explored under the rubric of political depression. The proposal for this special issue of Manifesta Journal places regret alongside nostalgia and shame. in which she argues for the complexity of the affective conditions for murder. 2012. 34
. murderers. of the ambivalent force of Edith Piaf’s “Je ne regrette rien” in which the world-weary diva articulates a tough refusal of feeling (one that can underwrite forms of historical amnesia) while at the same time indulges in feeling through its refusal. sexuality. sex offenders. Patty Hearst (the subject of performance work by Sharon Hayes). what would concepts such as reparation. and it is easy to project homogenizing and alienating concepts of evil onto them. “regret” is a suggestive category for this kind of investigation. Or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century (Durham: Duke University Press. in addition to my interest in whether or not women and lesbians who have committed acts of violence are more inclined to acknowledge feelings of regret. imperialists. Eve Sedgwick in Touching Feeling (Durham: Duke University Press. and feelings of ambivalence. 5 See Elizabeth Freeman. Because of that. Ireland. The case of the Weather Underground. such as Weather Underground members Kathy Boudin and Judith Clark “regret” their involvement in violent actions such as the 1981 Brinks Robbery that led to the death of a Brinks driver and two policemen. and the Baader-Meinhof Gang. social meanings. slave owners. Gay Shame (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. in order to explore their genealogies. Bernadette Dohrn. What happens when you intend to do violence.
(Ann Cvetkovich) In my collaborative work with Public Feelings groups. or making amends look like? Kathy Boudin and Judith Clark were. or when violence that wasn’t supposed to result in the loss of life doesn’t turn out the way you had expected? These difficult cases of the relation between feeling and action make for morally ambiguous stories of uncertain agency that are infrequently told in the popular media. atonement. participated in writing programs. But whereas political despair can be the product of doing what you think are all the right things and still not getting what you want. regret captures the circumstances of having tried something that you now recognize to have been wrong and even harmful to others. or impasse. and conceptions of masculinity are central here. “Queer Temporalities” Special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 13 (2007): 2–3. apology. They have taken feeling and politics as a point of departure. terrorists—are represented as unsympathetic. they reflect on the category of regret (the focus of this Manifesta Journal special issue). Depression: A Public Feeling (Durham: Duke University Press. and affective resonances.Toxic Feelings
In the exchange that follows. 2003). and trained service dogs. See The Queer Child. which cannot simply be explained in terms of “premeditation” or conscious “motives”. both categories that have been of interest for queer affect studies. and the productive value of negative affects. and Clark has taught parenting classes. particularly as the focus of efforts to depathologize negative affects and to consider their productive potential. (Gender. for example. and its implications for their work on toxicity. In so many examples. regret resembles the forms of disappointment and despair about the failures of activism that I and others have
1 See Ann Cvetkovich.” New York Times Magazine.2 (Boudin was also involved in the 1970 Greenwich Village townhouse explosion that killed three of her comrades.) If we had a better sense of how one might acknowledge a mistake and still move forward. 4 See.5 When queer theorists and artists seek versions of holding on to the past that retain the negative—ones that don’t abandon the present or the future in favor of
3 See Kathryn Bond Stockton’s discussion of the film Heavenly Creatures.1 Sometimes the work is associative.) I am intrigued by the ambivalent status of radical left militancy and by the feelings that accompany the turn to violence to make a better world. might it also de-pathologize regret?4 Does “de-pathologizing regret” mean that we refuse to regret or that we embrace it? Or perhaps that we can do both simultaneously as a measure of the contradictory nature of emotional life? (I think. and more generally the pursuit of militant action for a good cause—such as armed struggle in revolutionary contexts like South Africa. because doing so means displaying disparaged forms of public vulnerability. 2012). most notably. Halperin and Valerie Traub. in addition to the relation between past and present. “Judith Clark’s Radical Transformation. 2009). feeling regrets.) The link between regret and nostalgia is also suggestive because recent theories of melancholy and queer temporalities struggle with the problem of whether to critique nostalgia or claim it. and even tangential or impressionistic connections can be productive. and of how one were able to create a different relation between past feelings and actions and the future. cofounders of AIDS Counseling and Education (ACE) at Bedford Hills prison. we often start with what seem like minor key words or feelings. feeling bad. especially since it is another form of “feeling bad”. Although I haven’t done much thinking about it. Jan 12. respite. One of the first things that comes to mind is the question of whether militant women activists from the 1960s and 1970s.
because I was humiliated by nuns. and obviously as a sign of her masculinity. look for forgotten queer moments in the past and then rework them in order to create an archive of de-normalizing practices for a livable future. the politics of temporality. However. This is another interesting aspect that you characterized in your reports on the “Public Feelings Groups”: That the groups themselves started as a questioning or protest against “professional norms that demand success. * Note from the Editors: The plural and variegated resonances of chronopolitics are further investigated in Manifesta Journal 14 and 15. their inner workings are unpredictable since they are both motivated by contradictions. or giving a certain lecture. (Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz): As you have aptly pointed out.* Our films. since it is particularly produced by the meeting of contradictory or incongruous demands. Maybe not rejecting but multiplying the possible future of regret would be an interesting response. It seems important not to refer to these practices by simply quoting them but at the same time to look for deterritorializing moments where the racist and homophobic impulses weren’t successful.” In South Atlantic Quarterly 106: 3 (Durham: Duke University Press.org . productivity. because kids beat me up on the way to school. she writes that at the same time. since we might regret to have done something which in turn forces us to blush. in addition to intervening in the past in a way that may improve the prospects for the future. But I am wary of the dismissal of some versions of feeling as being truly bad instead of being useful.
or that sports and health should have been more of a priority. race and sexuality with post-Marxist and sociological concepts of work and precariousness. The permanent crossing of social positions is a very productive deployment but. Shame can also indicate that we have become someone we want to be on the one hand. 36
. we have worked more on “shame”.*12 If we think of regret as something that feels bad because we cannot change the past that unavoidably influences our future. I am curious to know how the term “regret” resonates alongside your work. “Why?”. 463. With this prelude in mind. such as “No Future / No Past” particularly reference the politics of Punk. Yet at the same time one might also fear having wasted one’s entire life working and not having been lazy enough— that political urgencies or disasters should have been left to the wayside. Outside Belongings (New York and London: Routledge Press. she loved dirt as a sign of achieved labor. including their relation to the category of the “toxic”. 7 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. 2012). erase negative affect or whitewash the past. We agree that just rejecting the feeling of “regret” full-stop might not work. I think our art works might intervene into this complex since they invest a lot into chronopolitics. 11 See Pauline Boudry. while we have already experienced or phantasized otherwise. (See also Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s7 and Elspeth Probyn’s8 work on shame). 8 Elspeth Probyn. since for you. Queer Art. 2007). 2011). because of Christ and the Crucifixion.” In: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. whose ambivalent meanings you have been exploring of late. A short excerpt: “… Because there was so much sickness. he or she might fear to regret something in the future which is or is not presently being taken care of. “Long Working Hours of Normal Love. In so doing. “Public Feelings. and Queer Performativity: Henry James’s The Art of the Novel. “Shame. A Freak Theory (Bielefeld: Transcript. Her leftovers from the late nineteenth century are a good early example of those contradictions: Having felt ashamed to have opened her employer’s door to visitors in a completely dirty and dripping dress. Therefore regret may be directed not only to dramatic events but also to really small and everyday practices. it doesn’t necessarily seem to be a primary category but rather one that is potentially present in the interstices of shame and nostalgia. “Why you are such a pervert and invest your energy in S&M practices?”. “Toxic”.11 refers to the photographs and documents of the Victorian housemaid Hannah Cullwick. in the context of a queer perspective on labor. Shame indicates that the gaze of others reveals us to be something that we don’t want to be. The American performer and artist Bob Flanagan wrote the great poem.10 a term that combines concepts of a performative. exhibition catalogue (Berlin: b_books. (Durham and London: Duke University Press. Renate worked on shame in her recent book. Temporal Drag (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz.6 but has developed the subject more extensively in Auwändige Durchquerungen. because I was different.manifestajournal. Regret and shame both seem to be indications of precarious (and thus of vulnerable) bodies. 1996).
6 Renate Lorenz. Our film.” In Normal Love. It also seems as if regret is particularly activated under current working conditions. as Hannah Cullwick’s photographic work shows and as we wanted to highlight in our film. repeated production of gender. refers to the violent history of photography as an instrument of the police and of racist colonial practices. 2003). or good versions of bad feelings and I thus want to retain nostalgia as a category. which has been an important subject in our common work since we met almost fifteen years ago. and a seamless public persona”9 and that many participants described a “sense of divided attention” between professional demands and political urgencies. productive. “Normal Work”. 37
9 See Ann Cvetkovich. Queer Art. because I was alone a lot. Theatricality. Renate Lorenz. If a person feels responsible for his or her own well-being. it might also lead to the complete de-normalization of such practices. This kind of ongoing negotiation is one part of a deployment of labor that we call “sexual labor”. because I like the attention. but on the other hand that we do not want to be like that by any means. which somehow seems to be “part of the family” of regret. Our recent work. I understand that these are significant categories for you. This flexibility and unpredictability opens up the concepts to resistance and de-normalization. because I say FUCK THE SICKNESS. such as working long hours. but actually all of our works.an idealized past but instead seize the negativity of the past as a resource for the future—they often try to reject bad versions of nostalgia that. Thus the concept of shame is an effective tool in the field of neoliberal labor. which seemed to answer the unspoken question. Sexuelle Arbeit (in German) (Berlin: b_books 2006). One might fear to regret having refused a task. Renate Lorenz. such as having uttered a wrong sentence or having forgotten to do something. like the sentimental. he seemed to produce a collection of everything in the past that might have influenced his future in a way that could have been regret but… well… it could also have been something else.
10 See Renate Lorenz / Brigitta Kuster. See www. because of Porky Pig in bondage”. as for me. 2007) 460. happiness or prosperous future. Touching Feeling.
Fruity Franky. The musician-performers provisionally take over the positions of four musicians from the punk movement: Darby Crash. 15 min and 15 min. Alice Bag. Rizo. G. 38 39
. and a choreographer (Werner Hirsch)–stage and practice outmoded acts and sentiments of the past that have been deemed useless. Instead of demanding social change. G. Olivia Anna Livki). This work takes another look – anachronistically – at the punk policy of aggressively slating and rejecting the present without ever proposing its own movement as the guarantor of future social justice. the five performers – four musicians (Ginger Brooks Takahashi/”Men”. Olivia Anna Livki. 2011 Performance: Ginger Brooks Takahashi. Fruity Franky/”Lesbians on Ecstasy”. Rizo No Future / No Past is a film installation and part of a series of two films that both work on punk archives from the period between 1976 and 2031 investigating the radical negativity. Poly Styrene. and Joey Ramone. Werner Hirsch.No Future / No Past Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz Installation with two Super 16mm films / HD. the self-destructiveness and the dystopia of this past moment.
indicated by colorful curtains and a projection screen. and the therapeutic in everyday and lived contexts. Not only to address the historic and present discourses around toxicity and to introduce the term as a critical instrument. Though there are references. although it is located in a theatre space. Anti-depressants and their marketing feed the desire to find a drug and ingest it in order to alter the biochemical substrate of felt experience. Chen. there is also a certain level of imperceptibility. When the two performers finally enter the stage they seem not to care about the slide show in the background. In the end. While working on the film installation we came to the assumption that it could be useful to see not only substances—chemicals or parts of plants. The people photographed are of unclear gender and origin. referring not only to early ethnographic imagery. They wear masks and strange costumes and show off assemblages. in addition to the way we continue to work both in and through them. Although this vulnerability opens up the body to toxic forms of contamination. Critiquing the medicalization of depression and pharmacological solutions—the idea that a pill can “cure all”—is important to me. Werner Hirsch inhales smoke from his cigarette and coughs a cloud of glitter out of his mouth. matters. ones between humans but also ones between humans and “animist” furniture for instance. 2004). and soft drugs (alcohol. The porous boundaries between people.Toxic and “Feeling Bad”
(Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz): We are currently very interested in the term “toxic”. 14 Mel Y. which are manifested both in writing and in art practices that re-imagine the medical. but also to queer underground subculture and to street protests. discourses and social effects that are implied therein. Xanax). They are seen in a series of “mug shots” (photographs taken both frontally and in profile at once. and it thus necessitates the new accounts of sensory experience provided by recent theories of affect. the political. “Toxic Animacies. Sometimes the people in the photographs don’t even look human. too. and was used by the police or in anthropology from the late nineteenth century onwards). on stage are many huge and small plants. which forces her to live her life within the confines of this very discourse of toxic danger. among other things—as toxic but the photographic / filmic apparatus as well: its history since the nineteenth century. The floor is covered with a dirty mixture of old glitter. The film starts without human performers. The usage of the word “toxic” seems not only to tolerate ambivalences but to produce and enhance them. and between body and mind.14 Chen introduces her topic by showing how the discourses around toxicity currently install racist hierarchies (toxic toys are produced in China. “Toxic Animacies. to “body-substance-assemblages”. The list of drugs in Toxic reveals the range of ways in which we seek the assistance of chemical substances. practices. and your work makes me wonder whether “toxicity” necessarily entails notions of the pharmacological. cigarettes). I. It refers to bodies. radioactive compounds that cross national borders). Queer Art.15 This conception of intersubjective and sensory embodiment is present in my thinking about depression. Let us briefly describe our last film. homosexuals and people from the colonies. objects. but you never know what dose might produce which effect. The two performers. Our work on toxicity was initially inspired by a text by Mel Y. to borrow a term from Teresa Brennan. 40
her critique of the discourse by explaining her own condition. but instead of protesting the toxic working conditions the discourse is more about China’s propensity to poison white children in the West).13 The doses of the substances are important. have been intrigued by Mel Chen’s discussion of “toxic animacies” and was excited to see your use of it in Toxic. practices of re-description are also central. for example. I am interested in new ways of working with the integrated relation between inside and outside. the technologies. “toxic” seems to be more about practices and relations.
15 See Teresa Brennan. a style that was invented to photograph criminals. heroin). Werner Hirsch and Ginger Brooks Takahashi. for forms of “chemical” (or biological) sensitivity are also about being attuned to people. cigarette butts and pills. and environments make for queer and unpredictable forms of embodiment and intersubjectivity. objects. narcotics (cocaine. Chen’s examples of small children licking toys and the intimacy between her fatigued body and a couch render vivid new theories of affect that underscore how the object/thing world is just as “animated” or alive as human beings are. (Ann Cvetkovich): Although I have not used it directly in my own work. Inanimate Affections. (Renate and Pauline’s work would be an exemplary case here. whilst Ginger Brooks Takahashi takes up a microphone and begins listing off a number of toxic substances. 41
. The “transmission of affect”. enter first as simple on-screen projections. including toxic ones such as winter roses and rhododendrons. it is also an enabling condition towards being affected by the world. favored the term “feeling bad” over “depression”. if you will. Instead of performers. takes place at a sensory level that is not necessarily conscious or cognitive. Yet even if the cinematic apparatus tries to allow for unmediated objectivity and knowledge it might also produce ec/static bodies and queer connections as dirty and uncanny by-products. As in the case of “regret”. and environments. 2011).” In GLQ 17: 2–3 (Durham: Duke University Press.) I have. She further complicates
13 For a further discussion of such a concept see Lorenz. which are permeable. entitled Toxic. or even better. sex workers. to a different beat in life and to the de-normalization of certain practices. Chen. The Transmission of Affect (Ithaca: Cornell University Press. treatments that supposedly heal (chemotherapy. which I describe as the result of being so overwhelmed or flooded by sensations from the outside world that one is unable to sustain a self. thereby obscuring the categories of environmental catastrophes (the Great Pacific Plastic Patch. 2012. (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). as Donna Haraway has said. Inanimate Affections“. extending beyond the layer of skin that contains them. but also to highlight its ambivalence— somehow we use it as an equivalent to “queer”—as a term which is as much bound to violence as it is to pleasure.
a punk figure in glitter (Ginger Brooks Takahashi) and a drag queen (Werner Hirsch).Toxic
Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz Installation with Super 16mm film / HD. They linger in an environment of glossy remains. 2012 Performance: Ginger Brooks Takahashi. While the punk gives a speech on toxicity and a performance referencing early feminist art works. a question is raised: what happens if the film and photographic apparatus is focused from a perspective of toxicity? 42 43
. the drag queen reenacts an interview of Jean Genet from the ‘80s and blames the filmmakers for exposing her to the police-like scenario of being filmed. both of unclear gender and origin. 13 min and archive. Werner Hirsch The film Toxic shows two protagonists in an undated time.As the camera turns and depicts the space-off. the space outside the frame. of toxic plants and transformed ethnographic and police photography.
those moments can contain resources for later insight or action. Finally.de/ 21 Avital Ronell. Open Secrets (Berkeley: University of California Press. choosing to long to destroy it without providing a better alternative. including ordinary words such as numbness. not getting better results).karinmichalski. we like Avital Ronell’s neologism “pathivity”. what forms of documentation or representation could help us to imagine other ways of thinking and feeling? (Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz): Referring to your question how to work on conceptions and representations that reject the demand for productivity under capitalism. a way to invest in imperceptible politics or politics of opaqueness. Our research on the Punk movement (No Future / No Past)20 was particularly concerned with the question of why it might still be useful to aggressively reject the world as it is. and sometimes they regret not doing less (for example. Mania (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press.19 In Depression: A Public Feeling I turned to memoir because I wanted to explore different ways of writing the non-dramatic moment—the forms of non-activity. Here. and enable new ways of thinking about activism that can include what otherwise looks like passivity. more ordinary forms of activity or even for states of being that do not look like action. or the moments that are articulated in a flat or affectless register. working less in order to leave more time for family and for leisure). 45
. but in ways that are unable to be anticipated and thus do not necessarily have implications for how the moment could be lived differently. or that happen alongside it. They possibly fit under the rubric of regret. which addresses a way of being passive whilst still moving.” Film/installation in A Burnt-Out Case. “regret” takes specific forms under capitalism—sometimes people regret not doing more (not working harder. Open Secrets. September 2012. We also like Heather Love’s work on “queer passivity” in Feeling Backward. 44
Regret may thus be resisted here.
16 Karin Michalski. shopping. These kind of actions seem to nourish the different types of ambivalences (for instance between the anti-capitalist moments of substance use and the toxicity and possible normalizing effect of medication against depression) instead of trying to straighten them or to produce a clear position (which often appears to be the most important precondition of leftist politics). which is inspired by the same “Public Feelings Discussions” on political depression that also catalyzed my book. Addiction. you also mention that negative affect should be seen as a resource for politics rather than as its antithesis.17 As I understand it. A useful resource for the concept is Anne-Lise François’s theory of recessive action that was laid out in her book. If we relinquish this demand. 2006). “The Alphabet of Feeling Bad. Public Feelings.21 This matches the idea that agency and passivity are not mutually exclusive. what affective experiences and what conceptions of politics might be possible? Furthermore. Berlin. NGBK. 19 Kathleen Stewart. Crack Wars: Literature. Perhaps your interest in the non-melodramatic moment in Toxic that appears in the midst of what looks like a theatrical staging of dramatic performance and affect might follow along these lines: the moments that come before or after the performance. 2011). and hopelessness. less melodramatic. going to the dentist. especially her argument that leftist politics produce their own norms. the “politics of passivity” is a way of describing conceptions of politics that don’t turn on heroic action or revolution.
20 See http://www.16 The Politics of Passivity (Ann Cvetkovich) We have both expressed interest in the “politics of passivity”. for instance. We think that there is a connection between the politics of ambivalence and queer passivity. Feeling Backward (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. As you also suggest above. see also Lauren Berlant. where it seems like nothing important is happening or where things do not add up to anything in particular. we would like to come back to our common interest in “ambivalence”. which further render certain politics and abilities invisible or useless and that it might be important to produce an archive of political gestures which are not based on those norms. 2006).boudry-lorenz. 17 Heather Love. These connect with my own interest in ordinary affects (as articulated by Kathleen Stewart) and especially in questions of how to represent them. (http://www. Neither do I want to play into critiques of revolutionary activism as a regrettable mistake nor do I want to neglect exploring them.de/). 18 Anne-Lise François. inaction. 2009). my recent film/performance collaboration with Karin Michalski. that make space for quieter. which seeks to generate multiple vocabularies for feeling bad. François identifies scenes of non-action that are emotionally sufficient even when “nothing happens. as well as shame or nostalgia—there is no point in thinking about how it might have been different.” I realize that having started with an image of 1960s revolutionary activism was no accident—it is actually a constant provocation for my efforts to imagine activism in new ways. Cruel Optimism (Durham: Duke University Press. You mentioned the moments of “flat” actions in Toxic. We suppose that a certain passivity of action also produces a rhythm or pulse that might be an important part of an alternative and anticapitalist “worlding”.18 Focusing on Romantic and nineteenth century texts that do not reflect Enlightenment notions of progress and productivity. in your text. dread. On dedramatized and flat affect. My interest in depression stems in part from wanting to sidestep the relentless demand for productivity under capitalism. it simply was.because I wanted a term that was open-ended and that wasn’t freighted with the medical connotations that so often foreclose more nuanced stories. The fact that you have privileged “feeling bad” as an element of concern with the everyday affect and the seemingly less-important distress instead of “trauma” seems to go in the same direction. or swimming repetitive laps in a pool.1992). As I tell the story. a concept that comes up in the conclusion of Heather Love’s Feeling Backward. Ordinary Affects (Durham: Duke University Press. Either way the condition that produces these forms of regret is the demand for productive results. and mixed feelings. such as sleeping in. This strategy served as a point of departure for The Alphabet of Feeling Bad.
simultaneously / The revival of civil language on a global scale / is a golden opportunity to reconstruct / rich repertoires of past civil actions / and to re-weave all its performances / that have been consistently oppressed by sovereign national regimes. ad hoc. showing that / of all places. 2010 Photographers strike in protest of a new regulation that allows policemen to arrest photographers as terror suspects when caught pointing a camera towards a photographic object that is not typically aesthetic or touristic. © Photograph Oli Scarff / Getty Images 47
. gender or race / not all governed are recognized as citizens / A regime-made disaster in which / the body politic is abstracted from all who are governed / and becomes an idea / A product of a ruling power / that by brute force decrees: these—yes. Trafalgar Square. only an idea on paper. what people do and experience and the system of words and notions that serves them as they exist and act / To deconstruct ruling language and its Justifications which will appear as acts of violence towards all those governed / To deepen civil syntax / While the various expressions of this language / serving citizens the world over / appear in one sequence / Revolution is revealed as a civil language / a form of partnership that renews itself / no one can claim to be its sole author / and deny it to others / and no ruling power is entitled or capable of killing it / Out of civil revolution one can begin to imagine a being together that is not subject to the sovereign power of capital and nation. whose people were expelled and oppressed for decades / has been spared the “award” entitled “nation-state” and the lie of self-determination / To contest the conformist idea that a nation needs selfdetermination and a nation-state / No state better demonstrates how the nation-state oppresses than the State of Israel / All those who do not belong to its people / Fortification of borders / Refusal of refuge to those who seek it within its area / and Use of the force vested in it by its citizens to intimidate them / and in the name of their security / Expel those marked as its enemies. Those who were distanced from the body politic / created in the great revolutions of the eighteenth century / women. Since then. sharing the space and claiming a re-partitioning / Determined to be. blacks.
To reconstruct a civil link among sense data.
London. nationality. Palestine. Here they are in the pictures / sweating. and not to be evicted / They transform time and again / Turn civil language into a spoken one / A language learnt in the body / and written in pictures / spoken in the
plural / together with others / Anyone who speaks it is present as a living reminder / of the fact that she is not a resource / neither she nor the world in which she lives / That rule is merely a temporary deposit / and when it does not enable being-together / it must be re-constituted. those—no. shouting.
Information with which to complete the list of photographers is welcome. holding fishing rods as well as pots and pans / with ropes and in underwear. putting up tents / surrounding policemen. when sometimes against all chances / Opportunity appears on the horizon / Citizens have not given up / The possibility of imagining another life / Once in a while they re-emerge and declare: / Without us there is no body politic. For the first time in history / civil awakening has managed to break through the shackles of the nationstate / Today in Bahrain. the poor. solutions proposed by oppressive politics / of which nationality. on behalf of the nation’s right to selfdetermination / expel entire populations / And in the name of the capital they covet / recruit all who are allowed to remain or enter / as the nation’s sentries.
A huge number of civil language speakers in places far and wide / are learning and using it nowadays. inspired by those great revolutions / revolutions that created / an ongoing regime-made disaster / A disaster for the mere fact that based / on religion. capital and war are its syntactic foundations / To reconstruct possibilities of being-together in which Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies / To recognize refugees as an ongoing “occupy” movement / to claim a civil state to which refugees return and shape their destiny as full citizens for all purposes / To realize the potential of the world’s political map.Ariella Azoulay
When the Body Politic Ceases To Be an Idea
Civil awakening at this time / sheds a new light on the great revolutions of the eighteenth century / exposes the fact that they are the revolutions of ruling powers / which. January 23. Civil language is not new / It is being revived today / because all over the world / simultaneously / more and more women and men speak to each other in civil language / The broad expansion of this language creates an opportunity to rethink Palestine / To suspend. tomorrow in Montréal / yesterday in Ramallah / next week in Tel Aviv / in June in Seoul / and in October in San’ah. The hour of Palestine has come / the time to revive Palestine / as a beacon for all nations—state in which / Palestinians and Jews will live together as citizens. For every horror / that today might seem a novelty / a precedent is found in regimes that rose. and children / are the ones whose civil awakening moved revolution / But the civil revolution was immediately replaced by governmental power revolution / and instead of partnership among members of the body politic / they became ruled.
Demonstrators surrounded by policemen are a common sight. Photographer: Pete Hendrick. Israelis and internationals in Nabi tribe costume fight imperialism. © Photograph Oren Ziv / Activestills. They reached public space equipped with ropes and pipes fearing that the police would prevent their protest. One might also ask if the answer for the question of why the policemen turn their backs to the mass of protesters that circle them cannot be found in this image of one particular protestor whom they have surrounded. When it reverses and the policemen are surrounded. however. The soldiers can insist that these are only Palestinians. June 29.chinadaily.Seoul. July 12. South Korea. Some of the protesters wore masks and sunglasses to protect themselves against policemen whose helmets imply that their setup in public space is ominous. they force the Israeli soldiers to chase them as if they were chasing (Jewish) prisoners under the Nazi regime. © Photograph Haitham Khatib / Haitham Khatib Photography
London. All rights reserved. 2008 Fifteen thousand demonstrators filled the streets in protest of lifting the ban on American beef importation. 2012 Palestinians.cn Bil’in. but the photographic act preserves the meaning with which Palestinians wanted to imbue the situation. February 12. Source: www. Palestinians are the ones who will be arrested. © Photograph Pete Hendrick 48 Bil’in. 2012 One hundred policemen surround a small encampment that has remained in the square after a night of “settlement” in protest of pension payment reforms. 2012 In this act. one may begin to ask poignant questions about the right to public space. too.org 49
. turning the film “Avatar” into an allegory of Palestinian existence. Whoever does not support their struggle against the regime that subjugates them is assigned a rather dubitable role in the plot. July 27. This time.com.
which has so far been used against Palestinians in the West Bank. in the civil awakening of Cairo. not banks!” All rights reserved
Cairo. they stand as guards of their own accord. along the sidewalk. are members of Public Movement. Wearing white uniforms. expressing their participation in the civil struggle. The “Raccoon”. January 28. 2011 The presence of a military armored vehicle in the city center is nearly as outrageous as the statue of a tyrant. © Photograph Oz Mualem / Public Movement
. as reminder or warning that the public has a part in the capital invested in the bank. and that keeping the public distant from the bank’s management and profit-making is the outcome of free-marked violence that should be challenged. The Spanish firefighters went a step further and initiated their own protests.Tel Aviv. © Photograph Goran Tomasevic / Reuters Tel Aviv. June 30. 2012 As a sign of their support of the demonstrators. 2012 An armored vehicle installed with state-of-the-art combat equipment—“Raccoon” (“Stalker”) intelligence-gathering system. The lack of reaction by the policemen in its turret to a garbage bag thrown at its windshield is another omen of the turnabout in the position policemen would adopt shortly after. August 2011 The bank is secured and an armed guard stands in front of it. Facing him. has begun to roam Tel Aviv-Jaffa freely. policemen remove the riot helmets they wear when suppressing protest. Rabin Square. © Photograph Ariella Azoulay
Madrid. and with their fists clenched. crying: “We save people. illegally gathering information on citizens and their political views. July 18.
© Photograph Dario Ayala / The Montréal Gazette
. 1910 In response to violence exerted against them (including sexual violence) for having contested the parliamentary illegality of excluding rightful citizens from elections. equipped as though they anticipated violent combat. November 18. and making them forget that they have no fewer reasons than the demonstrators for getting out on the street and claiming their share. © Photograph Ryan Rodrick Beiler / www. however.London. All rights reserved
Montréal. the Suffragettes smashed several shop windows. 2012 Palestinian and international volunteers rebuild the home of Selim and Arabiya Shawamrah without permission of the authorities. This. June 30. May 1. They claimed that the government was more concerned about protecting private property than about protecting the lives of women. are received by a line of demonstrators with “warning Anata.activestills. Napels. through the concrete manifestation of the violence they inflict upon the body (politic).org 52 53 rods” against the donut temptations offered to cops for free in various eateries. July 12. 2012 Policemen patrolling the sidewalk. they risk its repeated demolition by the Israeli regime. 2012 Demonstrators use their bodies to depict the common expression of their impoverishment—“We were left with barely our underwear”—and demand the return of economic and banking discussions from the abstract sphere in which they have traditionally taken place. In doing so. © Photograph Zero 81.
The blood shed by pilots at the touch of a button in the cockpit is foregrounded here by large red stains and signs that leave no doubt—“The blood of children is on your hands”. 2012 The human microphone is a simple and effective mode of action. 2009 Demonstrators wear overalls recalling those of fighter pilots. “Mic: Check” and waits for the echo of listeners. not merely in an effort to say. All rights reserved
. July 10.New York. In numerous localities. © Photograph Oren Ziv / www. supporters wore helmets and lanterns.activestills. The demonstrators are on their way to block the entry gate of the air-field from which lethal assaults on Gaza took off. January 2. The speaker calls out.org
Madrid. “We are all miners!” but in an effort to signal their actual presence to the mainstream media that so frequently ignored them—even when the police exerted violence against them. It enables people to bypass bans on citizens’s use of megaphones in public space and serves as a way to learn the syntax of a new—civil—language. © Photograph Lucas Jackson / Reuters Tel Aviv Jaffa. September 30. 2012 The miners’s march on Madrid received the support of a million citizens throughout Spain. invited to express their position with gestures while speaking.
© Photograph Ahmed Masoud. The separation of these two groups contributes to the naturalization of enmity between them.com drivers who shaped the word “STRIKE” as an image to be seen only from above. September 2012 For decades. Palestinians carried them. it is actually a part of the “Occupy” movement that has operated for decades now without being recognized as such. the Palestinians. If it reads within the continuum of ongoing Palestinian protest. denying them the means for a reasonable life. causing the governed—both Jews and Arabs—to perceive their lives only through its perspective. When they are not being cruelly suppressed as “terrorists”. the Israeli regime has nurtured the “national conflict”. All rights reserved
Nabi Saleh. Israeli citizens are subjugated to the same regime. enslavement to “the conflict” took over life in both: the Jews entrusted their life to the “security forces” that dominate every aspect of their civil life. However. 2000 In the existing world of political categories. preventing their possible recognition that they are actually struggling against the same regime. Source: www. as that which the regime can exploit its subjects in its name.org 56 57
. The Palestinian civil uprising—beginning towards the end of this summer and directed against the Palestinian Authority and its failing economic policy as protection for the Israeli regime—was a further step towards liberation from the burden of “the conflict”. as all other governed peoples the world over. Palestinians protest against Ariel Sharon’s visit at Temple Mount. September 28. Without any symmetry in the two populations. integrated with national longing for liberation and self-determination. All rights reserved.activestills. this photograph symbolizes the outbreak of the Second Intifada. The photo shows the protest of taxi Jerusalem. thereby denying their having been subjugated by the Israeli regime for decades and having a variety of claims that cannot be reduced and certainly cannot be solved solely by national self-determination. as if wishing to make the global protest movement recognize the civil nature of their own protest and their demands to be extricated from the national deal that the international community has been backing. while the Palestinians devoted their life to the struggle against occupation.aljazeera. Summer 2011 The tent in which Israel has forced Palestinians to dwell ever since 1948 (every time their homes were demolished or expropriated) finally became a symbol of civil awakening in summer 2011.Bethlehem. © Photograph Oren Ziv / www. State citizens—Arabs and Jews—put up tents in cities. it is far more convenient to depict them as the subjects of a nonexistent authority that is expected to represent them one day with a territorial agreement. covered with “social justice” slogans as a major cry in demonstrations. Splitting their struggles is an oppressive technique for the preservation of power. do not only protest in the terms accorded to them by the regime to which they are subjugated. and in the West Bank.
and another to those. Source: www. the reciprocal possibility of becoming a state-of-all-its-citizens is also open to consideration. One persistent red stain stands out in the map: a small territory called Palestine. The argument was that since they had each belonged to a separate history. May 15. 1947 The partition plans promoted by the UN in the late 1940s. They insistently refuse to let nation-state logic obliterate their civil claims. Perhaps from here. Source: Life Magazine. but also an ideology that enabled the existence of long-standing differential political bodies. history could be partitioned. Northern border of Israel. © Photograph David Douglas Duncan. The state by which it is ruled—Israel—has both prevented the inhabitants from founding a nation-state and has refused to naturalize them as its own citizens. 2011 Map of the world prepared by the UN which presents the spread of the nation-state concept to every corner of the globe. which led to the partitioning of Pakistan and India. as a beacon to all nations. National Library. and they non-violently advocate the obvious—their wish to return to and live in the places from which they were expelled.uprootedpalestinians. All rights reserved. created not only states with differential body politics. All rights reserved Calcutta.July 15. 2010 Palestinians expelled from their land over sixty years ago in a non-violent procession on Nakba Day. Thus this little stain has become nearly the only place in the world where aside from the obvious possibility of another nation-state being founded with all its disabilities.nl
.blogspot. The librarian in the photograph is required to separate the knowledge accordingly: one part to these peoples. thereby participating in shaping their own political future. 1947
Maroun al-Ras. August 18. Harry Ransom Center. the idea would spread throughout the world and civil language might turn things about.
are examples of the contemporary role of audio as a weapon of war. Palestinians took to the streets in protest. The two heavily distorted audio recordings he played to kick start his warmongering torrent of “evidence” speak clearly about the speech as a whole. © Photograph Oren Ziv / Active Stills
. testimony. human rights.manifestajournal. Pitch shifting and other voice effects were used throught the trial to disguise the witnesses
Tel Aviv Jaffa. Throughout the project I have built up a sound archive. The components of this archive are then mixed together. publications. truth and international law. June 30. Mamila Street. containing audio extracts of my works together with specific moments of juridical listening and speaking gathered from a wide range of sources such as the trials of Saddam Hussein and Judas Priest. compositions and workshops that examine the contemporary politics of listening through a focus on the role of the voice in law. For Manifesta Journal. UK police evidence tapes. whilst he was secretary of state. The contrast of Powell’s amplified address through the audio infrastructure of the UN security council. The condition for this is to do away with military occupation: Un-occupy Palestine. Colin Powell gave a notorious speech at the United Nations Security Council in which he made the case for war in Iraq. In March 2003. It is in his hybrid role of secretary of state and voice-over artist that Powell is able to both legitimise and initiate the war. exhibitions. both Colin Powell’s 2003 “Speech at the UN” and the “Trial of Saddam Hussein”. I have put together a selection of tracks from the Aural Contract Audio Archive to provide an audio analysis of the vocal manipulations and distortions that occur in the two political-juridical forums that buttress the war in Iraq. Here. which are carried by both Jews and Palestinians. November 1947 The UN’s newly unveiled partition plan is contrary to the wishes of most of the country’s inhabitants. especially under a political regime that uses the separation of populations as a self. re-draw the territorial continuity between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as a space whose definition the regime must change.preservation weapon of its older apartheid regime. The signs in the picture. borders. This was the last time Palestinian protest was perceived as a civil movement. Since then they have been doomed to expulsion and have been viewed as mere assailants from without. 2012 The necessary condition for the persistence and expansion of the new civil awakening movement in Israel lies in its possibility to recognize itself as a fraction of a civil movement that preceded it for several decades and was led by Palestinians. films such as Decoder and readings from texts including Italo Calvino’s “A King Listens”. In October 2005. Courtesy of Central Zionist Archive Part 1: Colin Powell’s Sound Evidence Part 2: Sonic War-Farce Part 3: The Chipmunk in the Court of Saddam
Listen to the sound file on www. generating audio documentaries and narrative compositions that immerse its audience in the heart of a discussion about the relationship of listening to politics.org
Lawrence Abu Hamdan
Aural Contract is a project that is constituted by a series of events.The Sound Evidence of Sonic Warfare : Notes from the Aural Contract Audio Archive
Jerusalem. No civil movement can exist on the basis of ethnic or national differentiation. Saddam Hussein’s trial began. with the raw crackles of an intercepted walkie-talkie exchange readily reveals who dictates the right to speak and who controls the capacity to hear in such forums.
HS – So none of the testimonies could that unlike in academia. During the war. was unknown. this horror scene. killed in this massacre. estaba con los criminales. “Sutjeska”. (London: Sage. HS – After being taken prisoner in the end In–place de haber sido tomadaracks hold parts batalla.August. 2 Klinenberg Eric. en qué circunstancias? difficult to police. and (on para presentar cargos. crimes and atrocities.que no hay exhumaciones ni hay posibilidad de hacerlas (on the one hand) a “real” body. no. over the past decade. que ha salido ahora a la luz. to be material object. Standardized for a long time now by the BBC in addition to other media channels is the voice-disguise technique that pitches down voices in an effort to preserve their anonymity. Human remains stand above all as evidence of war HS There are witnesses who have seen it. By aurally zooming into the use of voice manipulation. these representations existed. where “the body” is generally testimonios no podían ser verificados. you know.2 Yet over the course charges. understood more tangible. what are bodies and what are remains? Some authors suggestbe verified. is sometimes a “commodity” se encontró el lugar donde están las fosassold. These absurd and puerile voices allow the court to perform the ascendency of the nation into its “democratic” adulthood while at the same time ordering the death of its father. ¿Y se conoce cuándo fue ejecutada. no. the documentary in which you recreate some of the personal and HS – So. “the body” must always be which involves manyas apeople—about forty people were HS – A few weeks ago. MoreKurdistán anything else. The whole case is said to be people nobody will touch it. again. the other) a conjectural or metaphorical one—or between ordinary and “spectacular” bodies—a distinction that is increasingly CS – ¿Y la fosa. a set of political intentions can be discerned. left to rot. cómo fue descubierta. 2002). of the Yugoslav wars. palpable. JG – Pero of a war crime? Moreover. JG – Hay testigos que lo han visto. In Commodifying Bodies. my friend disappeared in Kurdistan thirteen years ago. material objects sometimes shared the same destiny as people—dented by shell splinters. these people or JG – Está desaparecida. CS – ¿Y apareció el cuerpo de ella? scored. sí. She was. dile que está equivocada. it’s extremely Ljubljana—Frankfurt know the answer to my question. Nowadays. 61–80. en qué circunstancias? CS – Está parts play a crucial role in post-conflict attempts to make sense of–what happened.
tendrá una respuesta a su pregunta. body cuerpo de ella fue exhumado? ¿Identificado? CS – ¿Y el has been dematerialized in certain representations to the point where it is no longer intelligible as them is impossible because there is no investigation into HS – No. As de los know. con los autores de Serbia and Tasmania. In SAIS Review: A Journal of International Affairs 22 (1). my research attended to the ways in which JG – Fue identificado el lugar de la fosa. war? What constitutes proof hasta ahora la localización de todo este escenario era desconocido. Considering various cases of JG –post-conflict la ejecución. political burials. It’s not. evoked for me the various local and internationally-run DNA and re-associationuna ejecución sumaria. material practices the criminals. I’ve been examining a range of JG – Unoyou testigos. “The Ends of the Body: Commodity Fetishism and the Global Traffic in the Organs”. 62 63
Hito Steyerl and Maja Petrovic-Steger
who testified in defense of Hussein. “Bodies that Don’t Matter: Death and Deriliction in Chicago”. the prisionera después de una of commingled and sometimes decomposingstill missing. Hence this audio composition gathers together and processes a set of archival materials that testify to the role of listening and voice in both the destruction of nations and the reconstruction of political realities. furthermore. sí en Kurdistán. donde están los restos de esta gente. HS – So.000 JG – Y fue asesinada en labs that store unaccounted-for at a firefight. se aliñó con el PKK. lugar de exhumations. you know. Could you please translate. exchanged.
JG – Dice que es muy importante para ella hablar contigo porque piensa que eres una de las pocas personas en el mundo que
These two examples complicate the conventions of sonic warfare: from sound canons and Metallica songs to that of complex audio manipulation and vocal destruction in sites where speech acts. Edited by Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Loïc Wacquant. well. He conflict. In Saddam Hussein’s trial.
The Form of Remains
. through movement PKK memories a summary have during a 1990s Bosnian wars Jenny? footage about and 13 años. one offamily members in was with the perpetrators—the people who executed the prisoners. all ready for testing. pocked. the voices are pitched up to the level of “chipmunk”. grave was discovered: under which circumstances and by whom? JG – He’s asking how the mass or to use to understand the experiences of those who had lost the witnesses came forward. HS – With the perpetrators. HS – Yes. JG Después of films. CS – Pero no fue abierta la fosa?
1 Scheper-Hugh Nancy.
Dear Hito. 1—An Artist’s Impression (2007) CS – Bueno.1 Others think that the dead JG – Hace unas semanas that can be bartered or comunes. of El problema es I’ve found distinctions between porque es un caso inexistente y no hay nadie JG –my work. she joined the Kurdish insurgent collectiveand she was killed inpeople executionof thefirefight. the archive. JG – Su amiga desapareció hace belonging to the ex-Yugoslav film studio. burnt. in society at large and in the global economy. I've recently watched your Journal No. one that. sí. human remains from the more than 40. HS – So she was and is body parts. or the site of this massacre. an effect that infantilises its witnesses. 2012 important for me to talk to you because I think you are one of the few people in the world who HS – Mr. or what The people are simply said not to haveof bodies do not helpinexistent andto understand press any it means to be a victim of a human catastrophe. with its burnt racks and missing CS – ¿El than Turco? films. JG – Así que los treated as a text or a trope. re-interments and claims for bodily CS – Pero fue identificado elmass la fosa? O la fosa fue abierta? retrieval and repatriation. por quién. Slepoy. (2002). these desaparecido. hidden. Exhuming the people or identifying a former social being—and that the case. undeniably “real”exact—was found. Yet what does it mean to make sense of the HS – But until now the location of. the grave site. not and rhetorical strategies engaging the dead body in Sí.
que lo preguntará. it means that someone has answered her repeated and as-yet unsuccessful pleas for assistance with an issue that is so politically inconvenient that even blatant evidence of human rights violations remains invisible. esa persona estaría muerta human remains tend to be conceptualized as being fractured. which I show them ason at the site. spiritual. que has experience. revealing the excessiveness.
CS – ¿Y luego? JG – It’s an enforced disappearance. suyos. and trying to press. Not because the images would be específico de su amiga. Bodies included. JG –a veces están en el medio de una ciudad.cuestiones. por favor. despair. scientific and hay grupos que están trabajando shape and enable CS – Ahora esto de que se están encontrando muchas fosas. the crime does not expire. inaudible and impossible. remains are there. pero si esta persona estuviera disponible. The eventualmente y a partir del momento que se kind of constitutive empezaría el cómputo de la prescripción. pero también ha de quedar claro. the reason is that everybody rather inquired into how representations—and the They were too afraid before. seobjects for emotional de que esa persona es and cathexis.people imagine and enact relations between the deceased and their corpses. Nor an exhumation. they are perhaps the text of a story. en ese momento. of refused to stop until the gravedead body could also be a synecdoche for He victimhood. De cualquier manera no es un problema que se determinara cuando fue asesinadadisproportionality. missing. intersected by a set of highly charged contemporary discourses of the HS – It’s also very difficult to investigate there. además de la presuncióna number of still-not-completely articulated reasons. fueron anulados. it was said that there was HS – Yes. can be aroused by the sight of bare bones? Moreover. even as person knew HS – In some cases the graves have been opened. la que relate her life JG – Si esta persona sigue desaparecida podría estar viva por lo tanto. nos plantee ahora. ¿no? almost always stand for parts. and construct Andrea’s (hi)story. que identificaría el lugar en donde hay una fosa donde CS – Sí. like in your información. niofarmada ni el and turco tiene controldiverse parties have JG – Y es muy ethnographic cases la Serbia estado Tasmania. […] Your work—your ahí. and which I’m really interested it mean that disappeared people are not predicaments of others? What kind of emotions is the idea to be moved by thedead but still alive. That the dead body is public.legal resources that en esto? Cómo es que se están the movement of the deadestas fosas fue abierta. eliciting easily moral. Andrea became a CS – Pero. She has been missing since 1998. compassion). and production. entonces. Somehow Ioffeel one should HS – Well. they want to look into the faces of those searching que the remains están también ahí enterrados. and why haven’t any exhumations and investigations JG – He is asking why the mass imagined futures. in a very remote region. ¿si se ha intentado o sito ancurso alguna acción CS – Bueno. it also named a conceptual JG – None of these graves has been opened? tool for understanding the past and projecting a future. no? ¿Cómo es que Needless toestas fosas? ¿Quién identificando? Si mal no entiendo ninguna de or dismembered body. Se pararon porque parece ser no había suficiente JG – Hubo un intento en Turquía y uno en Alemania que In one of your letters. Se puede perseguir mientras notoo are stories. ¿Es así? CS – En todo the “dead body” ninguna de estas fosas ha research was often an undeniably material object. they meant something more inclusive cases where bodies have been categorized have come withbare physicality of bones to HS – But. the que hay exhumaciones. My no hay investigación ni exhumación porque toda esta gente es inexistente para las the realities of the JG – Yresearch sought to illuminate and contextualize autoridades. one in Turkey and one in Germany. and the peace of the cuando cavan las fosas. no. assuming amiga. I too have y varios testimonies del presunto crimen. luego Hito ha estado ahí y After my talks. nor identification of the bodies because all the people HS – Yet there still hasn’t of DNA-coded information—were always more various are than the official said to never have existed. bueno. a modern buscándola y… Amazon. So the crime does not expire. se han identificado say. what interested me tipo de acciones the creativity with which people deal with their las ha identificado? ¿Quémost was se están llevando a cabo? ¿Por grupos civiles. this principio de que una persona mientras está desaparecida no está muerta. un hombre que se or claimed dead bodies. en part process. back instead was a poster of a smiling freedom fighter adorning an insurgent banner. there’s a new witness. you wrote that “They JG – Do you think that there In your email on March 21. narratives of attribution and assignment suggested. their relation to ideas of modernity. ¿tiene nombres de los que produjeron el asesinato? revered martyr for the Kurdish cause. but always knew where the mass graves were but only now are people saying it openly in HS – Well. When o bodies del lugar donde se encuentra. For se podría aportar CS – Si. I came instead HS – Relatives have known where their loved ones are buried but they have been too afraid to talk about it until now. this fragmentation go on with the body goes there’s an exhumation. entonces vamos a verstills. So long as the text is white.experience—of dead bodies enact people who are buried there who have been coming forward necessarily the site exhumation. no information. What came HS – Yes. which means that we are able to pressand remains signify. it means that not only this issue but also those of hundreds of other mass graves in the region have been left unsettled and unaddressed. But if thedocumentarywould it be possible to open an investigation? a series of photographs of a roped SBM model (yourself). En todo caso. make terrible / impossible aesthetic objects. as commodities. disappeared. But ifhand in hand and if the body notion of the fragmentary nature of the no antes. excerpts. post-conflict societies. in the processes by which body parts are es “pressed” into sense. the genetic las pruebas. property and human rights. and emotion-triggering. no hay un problema de prescripción. identified the recovery graves identification Kurdistan. with the is found… investigation. destruyen todas or DNA souls of the queda algo de específico en todo esto. neither the army nor the Turkish state has control over scientific rationality and legitimacy. I mean. se tendría que determinar cuando fue asesinada shattered form invokes a CS – Y truth(s) people attribute to remains. participatese termina de hablaba de la desaparición. perseguible por cualquier tribunal del mundo. They a partir de ese momento. Por ejemplo. ¿esta persona entoncesthe free women’s army of Kurdistan. “assumed crime”. sí. Y después. Societies conceive death. horror. 65
. by presupposing a specific physical reality. so aparezca esa persona viva o muerta prescripción. about one hundred mass and have been discovered inof bodily remains. solidarity. you try to avoid showing bones or dealing with human CS – Falta de pruebas. In the territory. and the necessity Está claro que desde el punto de vista de que es una desaparición forzada el delito es perseguible. you know. for of a physical individual is a wrongful assumption. evoked. Andrea lo que te preguntaba es si esta persona. In various reconstructions of Andrea Wolf’s story. facts. I sought to document and understand the value and meaning the site until now. or bodily están empezando a sacar a la luz pública los testimonios. hablar porque hasta ahora tenían demasiado miedo y JG – Mayoritariamente son familiares que ahora están empezando aand interpersonal attachment in a variety of ways. en cuanto esto que recollections—give the audience the chance to read. Human remains. become mere objects. The crime is still in operation and should be brought to trial. differentdifícil llegar ahí porque de hecho. si a disturbing. El people related to. In “November” (2004). sobre esta zona. (shock. este. JG – Hito asume forlos restos de su amigaof their missing relatives or those of the forensic archaeologists que lawyers taking care of repatriation claims. español? The link between it in front of a Spanish court? JG – Would the person declare martyrs and pin-ups comes up again in the 2007 film “Lovely Andrea”. because. y a través de los diferentes casos en losin myestado involucrado.puso en huelga de hambre durante 64 días hasta que le dejaron exhumar el cuerpo de su hermano. of Está body and montañas y solo remains in the twenty-first century. HS – An idea thatto be palpable. But what does in. Should the letters suddenly become legible here online. then hetoshe has technically been kidnapped. as private mementos. other works. material and conceptual—were all drawn into a coherent field marked by the term JG – Have any legal investigations been done? “the body”. is more evidence now than there was then? 2012. Eso en relación con el caso the idea of passing around the photos. It is consistent with what the witness is saying and wethe to assume that my friend’s myself have seen going little as possible but rather investigate have conditions and technologies that make them over/under-visible”. personhood. Para ir aclarando artifacts and CS – Bueno. HS – But now. Resisting the urge to ontologise the body. There is a sort investigation. en relación con esto último. in the context of the issues you are working with. reconstructs the search for HS – I don’t know. no sé si bodies that might accompany repatriation hay en “ancestral” home. que entiendo que Rohanî. the JG – Hay testimonios always avoided showing human remains. Yet both physical when they became frameworks through whichno information could be found. Pictures of remains are […] supposed has come up very often moving. So only two external or independent groups have seen
sites and exhumations look like. Just as bodies are both materially la consumarse. hunger strike for sixty-four days. and their subsequent fosas comunes que se están descubriendo ahora asKurdistán. there have been different testimonies of the. Eventually ¿no? was taken prisoner estaría además suthe name Sehîtes la persona esta que está oculta. Yet are even in the middle of the city. Bodies were no less were cancelled because there was no. And that people negotiated democracy. que están contando los testimonios for photographs. by whom. of investment. no. That person were available. you victimarios? say that her body be able to identify the perpetrators? JG – Would this testimony also was never found and has never been returned. The was opened. la policía vieneinterventions. la posibilidad de investigación. en una situación enyou se tendría que seguir through pictures of her as a strong and beautiful feminist. I have always felt disgusted at algún elemento de prueba. the clothes of the wardestroy all the evidence. se han juntado más elementos de process of exhibiting them. pero left Germany to join the Kurdish liberation movement. ella asume que los restos de su what mass-grave
HS – No. discursive. es el rather than opening up listeners’s minds. the red blood tipo de evidencia JG – En el caso en el scars left by aesthetic con excavadoras y básicamente destruyen todo cells of sick bodies. sería posiblethe una investigación? “Andrea” and featured in Japanese bondage magazines. is an ongoing crime. Whilstcaso quiero confirmar de quethroughout my sido abierta. One case that became very well-known was one in which a it offered a site of knowledge he decided to go on amoral dispute and the representation where his brother was buried. HS – Sometimes theythe forms in which body parts circulated in these situations— as A means for reconciliation.she¿si identifica además a represores and executed by the Turkish security forces. lab analysts for chemical weapons. who help her secure more evidence as well as test the evidence she has already collected from the remote mountain site where her friend Andrea Wolf was supposedly extrajudicially executed as a member of the PKK. ¿Y piensa ella que ahora hay más que las que había entonces? remains visually. As exhumara el se dé cuentabecome remains.of a healing or restorative JG – Hay cientos de return to bereaved families. are donde las fosas.to the view that different phenomena make up the “field of the body” in JG – Siempre han sabido donde estaban enterrados sus familiares pero hasta ahora tenían demasiado miedo. economy of representation— only showing the bones—has always tended or lock people into their HS – And that if the person is alive but has just legally disappeared.
The color of Hito Steyerl’s text will change to black once she has found experts—anthropological archaeologists or forensics. I will ask. the police than the excavators and just dug up the the body. eso está claro. cuerpo y se comprobara identificationla persona que se está buscando. who used abrir pseudonym JG – Dice que no lo sabe. profiles of corpses. in the and less securely exhumed. forensic chemists or otherwise. familiares que han ido a buscar a losWhencaso más conocido es el de JG – En algunos casos se or a placeholder for scientific value. they would partir de entonces but rather that in the prueba? Son dos cosas. The poster declared. by Turkish security forces as a fighter in declararía eventualmente delante de un tribunal CS – Bueno. si efectivamente se hiciera levantamiento de la fosa. totalmente externos han podido irfrom lugar an anthropological point of view. diplomatic. and accountability. and as physical remnants. hasta el JG –themuy alejado en las of human dos grupos independientes. sigue consumando. It’s very high up in the mountains.hay bastantes pruebas insitu de lo audience always asks y luego está el caso en el queThey want to knowamiga están ahí enterrados. Kidnapping presumptions of what dead bodies charges at any point in time. “Martyr Sehît Rohanî taken prisoner and murdered HS – Yes. let’s say. It’s mostly the relatives of the persons. han abierto algunas fosas. el delito no in.” You saw the poster in a cinema next to posters for erotic films. My work been performed? did not presume a straightforward equation of bodies with social beings. y no antes. remains. you can of the JG – Un momento. pero la pregunta or yo hacía era si. and emotionally meant. perhaps learned emotions HS – Yes. fragments. JG – Una idea que le interesa mucho en tu trabajo. and as a form been an investigation. in fact. de derechos humanos? troubled pasts andgraves are being identified. you said that in the “Kiss” installation. As long is the person isFurthermore. Efectivamente se entiende que mientras la persona está desaparecida. So yes. o sea. algún indicio lo suficientemente importante como para abrir una causa. nowadays. en relación con estas iniciativas judiciales que fueron archivadas por falta de pruebas. reconciliation. Phenomena of con esto? judicial dentro de Turquía en relación different orders—biological. está vivo en este momento el delito y por tanto no puede comenzar el cómputo deand conceptually capable of different constructions.
it must be said that socialist Yugoslavia pursued in many respects a more progressive politics than its successor states did. only through the materialization of the charged objects can we save these stories from complete oblivion. Examining Yugoslav monuments to the revolution is thus a manner of addressing certain moments. the categories and oppositions shaped by the cold-war block confrontation have been blurred. and if emancipatory politics always aim to address the history of the oppressed. testifying to their commonly shared past. one finds an impressive and scattered collection of socialist modernist memorials with peculiar aesthetic qualities. objects with the surrounding landscape. They form an invisible network of symbolic sites that still generate a consciously constructed Yugoslav space. or specters that continue to haunt the present. and rocks). However. but they contained their own peculiar typologies: monumental. ones that neither fit easily into the expected monumental narrative nor into the aesthetic memorial genre. Yugoslavia produced a genuinely specific memorial typology that linked the memory of WWII to the promise of the future brought forward by the socialist revolution. wings. and by whom. hands. often as simple memorial plaques on which the names of local villagers were listed. or were “at best” abandoned and rendered invisible. or even hotels. Instead of formally addressing suffering. Perhaps it is on these commemorative sites. Photo © Robert Burghardt
The Typology of Yugoslav Partisan Memorial Sites: The Beginnings of Socialist Modernism
Between 1945 and 1990. Then in the second phase. powerful. when partisan victory has turned into a defeat. and modern progress. memorial parks were conceived of as hybrid complexes. Many had already been built in the 1940s and 1950s. or radical disagreements. otherworldly and fantastic. from the 1960s to 1980s. designed by Bogdan Bogdanovic (1971). Twenty years after the bloody dismemberment. Walter Benjamin’s intervention in the history of philosophy resurfaces in its purest form here.Gal Kirn and Robert Burghardt
Yugoslavian Partisan Memorials: Between Memorial Genre. showcased by leisure-time destinations with picnic facilities. witnesses of an unrealized future. In yet other memorial parks. memorial sites are invested with ideology relating to the national past. In the territory of former Yugoslavia. Noteworthy here is that monuments to the partisan struggle do not resemble the many examples of massive socialist realist monuments that are more typical of either the Eastern European countries or the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia is a country that nowadays exists only in memory. and while a neoliberal capitalist recuperation is in full swing. Whose stories are being told. and that most post-Yugoslav societies did indeed miss out on emancipatory perspectives for the future. symbolic (fists. weak. stars. the promise of joining the European market does not have enough integrative force to make up for Yugoslavia’s loss of its previously diverse. restaurants. to grand events and historical victories. resistance. This first phase of memorialization was based on a mixture of popular forms of sculpture. which is now shattered into seven different new nation-states. and had a realist undertone.
Image of Jasenovac (concentration camp). Even if we are critical of a “simplistic” and nostalgic perspective. they do not occupy the more classic and highlyvisible sites of representation such as the central streets and squares of big cities. for those who encounter them. If dominant narratives in history are necessarily those of the victors. that historical drama is again laid bare. In its hybrid inbetween position. about the legacies are being outplayed. cafés. However. Sometimes museum and sculpture merged. and as a consequence are nearly always located outside villages or towns amidst open landscapes. a sweeping movement of memorial building [or memorialization] emerged under the label of “socialist modernism”. multi-ethnic and socialist perspectives. people and events that are long gone. this new historical constellation renders the monumental sculptures into very ambiguous objects: beautiful. museums or amphitheaters served as open-air classrooms. Nowadays. sad. even if we have condemned them to being completely forgotten? Some argue that memory must address specific stories of places. and through the legacy of the exceptional monuments they contain. A large majority of the Yugoslav monuments to the revolution were henceforth erected on historic sites of the partisan struggle. shouldn’t the particular lines of memorial development attempt to clearly show how disputes. the sculptures remain highly evocative: they could be ambassadors from far-away stars. Many were destroyed by nationalist forces in the early nineties. strange. Many of these memorials were placed in parks. This legacy points toward a past that had inscribed emancipation onto its future—far more than it tends to do today. Revolutionary Aesthetics and Ideological Recuperation
More than any other art form. and that have been buried in history. sometimes sculpture
. Indeed. several thousand monuments to the revolution were erected. is crucial for the determination of present and future. Others still were vandalized. bold (sometimes
structurally daring). Nevertheless. architecture with sculpture. The political dimension of memory is evident. In addition to their double function as sites of mourning and celebration. bold and almost invisible. flowers. merging leisure with education. after the bloody destruction of Yugoslavia. modernist memorial sites were intended to catalyze universal gestures of reconciliation. or to what after World War II related to massive sufferings and the collective remembrance of terror and violence. The monuments were not only modernist. In the Yugoslav context.
yet was simultaneously grotesque and fantastic. Croatian writer Miroslav Krleža renounced socialist realism in a remarkable text that was also endorsed by party officials. to name a few). and the path towards socialist modernism was advanced. is the result of very specific historical circumstances.
Between Abstract Form and Revolutionary Politics
Immanent motives of the monuments include various attempts at universality on a formal and artistic level. consequently following his path into abstraction. cinema. which aimed to question traditional patterns of reception / expression. He developed an abstract-surrealist language. took a critical stance toward the Yugoslav socialist system. in addition to the universality inferred by their politics. simultaneously. however. it aims to integrate the perspective of a worldwide or even
. Bakić entered into dialogues with the avant-garde art group. and yet we would argue that at the time. it adopted and appropriated new tendencies and positions in its own cultural policies. After the break with the Soviet Union. In the ideological systems developed after WWII. The idea of the communist revolution contains many all-embracing claims such as the equality of men and women. Photo © Robert Burghardt 68
is was actually integral to the amphitheater. Nove Tendencije (New Tendencies). formalism was no less of a phenomenon in the Western modern art system.Kozara monument. all the while fully supporting the partisan struggle. the Yugoslav state never proscribed a certain style. There is a certain fascination for the very sweeping character of the monuments. The relationship. and the landscape surrounding them is transformed into a park that in turn stages the monument. and performance art. who considered himself an agnostic. Yugoslavia began to aesthetically distance itself from socialist realism. or mere vassals of the authoritarian state. Artists such as the sculptor Vojin Bakić or the architect Bogdan Bogdanović worked for the state institutions most of their lives. who fought for artistic autonomy or freedom under the dominance of the socialist system. art that didn’t cause a stir. and that. and insisted on never giving up their own positions. which strove toward being universal. but even more than that. In 1952. but especially prevailed in sculpture and later on in other arts (theater. a formal strength that outlives its own time. the role of modernist art has been interpreted differently. As classical modernist works of art. while sometimes the monument itself unfolded into a stage set. In the debates on the artistic heritage of socialist Yugoslavia. they stand as objects in the landscape. serving it with the proud production of a modern image. It not only prevailed in architecture. Bogdanović. The mission of the amphitheater seemed to be important: it was regularly integrated into the sculpture. designed by Dušan Djamonja (1972). between the state and artists cannot be understood through the simple iconology of the “state artist” versus the “dissident. “Untimely timeliness” generates a multi-layered space and opens up a dialogue between the history of art and specific historical experience. The state preferred more formal and decorative types of art—in
other words. This formalist tendency within Yugoslav modernism earned it the title of “Modernist Aestheticism”. at the Yugoslav Writer’s Congress in Ljubljana.” Excepting for the early post-war period. Artists have either been considered heroes. the opposing models of socialist realism versus abstract modernism were respectively identified with the socialist versus the capitalist world. Instead.
and they awaken fantasies. relate to the realities of social practice? How can the trap of a program of prescribed and formalized memory be avoided. designed by Dušan Djamonja (1967). Narratives of progress and modernization are apparent in the time structure that many of them embody. thereby creating space for people to develop their own memorial practices. Their abstract vocabulary allows for an appropriation of meaning that bypasses official narrations. one must assume the indeterminate character of any “real” movement. The major task of these monuments to the revolution was to consider how their universal claims were addressed. Perhaps revolutionary history strives for the opening up of history itself. The Yugoslav monuments operate by institutionalizing collective memory of WWII events. Abstraction in this regard has mainly
. but people’s everyday interventions. however.Kosmaj monument. antifascism and the construction of a common. memorials instigate a certain sense of openness that allows for personal associations. its application took the form of the abolition of private property and a more just distribution of surplus value. which would then relate back to this change?
Current Ideological Investments: The National Reconciliation and Re-appropriation of Memorial Sites
The abstract monuments stand on symbolic sites. In their linear and progressive formulations of time. In the abstract formal language of the Yugoslav revolution. and then later formalized into an aesthetic language. difficult and complicated processes of social transformation. which would only follow from an official reading of the past. which celebrates the social power that leads to change. indicates that social change generates new stories and memories that people want to keep and experiences that people want to preserve. It is not only the grandiose form that can preserve revolutionary form for eternity. We are faced with a logical contradiction at the heart of the very idea of constructing a monument to the revolution. It is clear that the most obvious strategy of representing universalism is abstraction. where many people have died and/or experienced the horrors of WWII. revolution is rather idealistic. Photo © Robert Burghardt 70
cosmic planetary community. Simultaneously. The monuments in question play much more into the realm of modernist art. allowing access to the monuments even for people who disagree with their official politic. operating primarily through the destruction of institutions themselves instead of the destruction of memory and its institutionalization in the form of monuments. The memorial sites represent partisan universalism. The idea of “making history”. They remain receptive to multiple interpretations. the only social force that really rejected the logic of nationalism and consequently the logic of ethnic cleansing that was imposed by fascist forces. in addition to the projects of modernization.
They then evoke formal gestures of opening towards the future. In terms of transformation. Revolutions are generally associated with government overthrow and a destruction of certain (oppressive) heritages. and masks the often painful. if we consider history as both an open process and a revolutionary practice—as a practice to keep the place of transformation open for further change—then a monument should intervene in this practice without presupposing a simple “passive” position of the subject. education. How can a monument to the revolution. In the specific case of the Yugoslav communist revolution. multi-ethnic space.
the attention mobilized in the process of memorialization was less motivated by the idea of bringing historical truth to surface than by its exploitation for the coming battles in the 1990s civil war. in that it insists on their high artistic value (the tactic of claiming that the monuments are not political but instead. designed by Ivan Sabolić (1963).
If we partly agree with the statement that the new historical context re-appropriated monuments for the nationalist cause. for example). with the intent of rehabilitating local fascists and demonizing communists / partisans. triggering both enthusiasm and discussion. the monuments have been well kept (Prilep. Our knowledge of the past
. works of “pure art”). Certain sites have even been removed or destroyed in the instances where their narrative has directly countered nationalist interests. which symbolizes the other space (Yugoslavia). It is this formalism that denies the social function of objects and the complex role they play in a political discourse. It seems that this specter haunted some. On the contrary. this tactic is still problematic. the narrative of self-liberation and partisan struggle has more easily integrated into the new nationalistic narratives and has been reconciled with those of other patriotic groups such as the Chetniks and Home Guards. Indeed. If in the ethnic Albanian parts. Reconciliation thus became a part of the general nationalist politics that prepared the ideological grounds of the bloody breakup. these sites have been completely decontextualized. the post-WWII extrajudicial killings (some of which were motivated by revenge. then we disagree with the thesis that their abstract form allowed an easy re-adjustment. Decay and Decontextualization
Bubanj monument (fists). Monuments have been partly forgotten by most people. Things that we find in museums tend to have fallen out of use. Damnatio Memoriae aptly documents). and the Yugoslav politics of memory in addition to the centrality of the antifascist ideology was undermined. They attract attention as peculiar design objects posted on many design blogs. Unfortunately. Photo © Robert Burghardt
provoked opposition by nationalist ideologues who have criticized the monuments for neglecting to show what actually happened on the sites. in which the number of victims were either drastically overor under-reported by the opposing sides. Within Macedonia. They had to be destroyed. The gestures found in the monuments have been perceived as expressing particular national interests whilst conveniently suppressing others. Serbia or Macedonia. the form of abstraction they engender denies the logic of a “national” form. communist leadership would perhaps have been better off openly addressing these issues before the breakup. Similarly. others by politics) by communists and partisans were for the first time broadly addressed. which is actually one of the first Yugoslav films) the idea of broaching the subject of trauma just after the war had ended in a country that needed all the support for reconstruction it could muster was a problematic issue to say the least. Nevertheless. the partisan memory is increasingly condemned to oblivion. the memory politics of the Yugoslav Communist Party aimed at a conciliatory universalism that rested on a positive and inclusive idea of socialist Yugoslavism. that many modernist partisan monuments have been destroyed and/or left to decay (as Bogdan Žižić’s film. There. which makes the topic one of the most significant blind spots of the communist leadership. in the ethnic Macedonian parts.however (apart from the 1946 documentary film. Struga). inciting them to undertake a rigorous “monument cleansing” by means of dynamite. because it follows from a formalist understanding of art as an autonomous space. Yet the very recent fashionable academic turn toward “archaeologies of modernism” includes a renewed interest for these monuments. What seems contradictory at first glance might therefore best be described by the term. It could be argued that this interest is instrumentally helpful in saving some of the sites from total demolition. extreme forms of nationalism surfaced in various places. who have received their own memorial sites. Yet socialist Yugoslavia was actually more stable “right after the war” than it would be later on. Jasenovac. one that could be described as being part and parcel with the process of abandonment. The monuments still capture people’s imaginations. which especially in the Yugoslav context became a very problematic logic in light of the civil war in the nineties. opening many wounds of the civil war that had taken place during WWII. During the socio-economically insecure 1980s. the monuments are in utter neglect (case in point. In the eighties. Furthermore. “musealization”. Nowadays. New memorial sites were re-imagined and re-appropriated for the national cause. as well as a certain kind of politics of victimization. In states such as Slovenia. With most museums around memorial sites closed and very few regularly organized field trips. and due to their distant locations have become less and less visited (if at all then only by a few surviving partisans and art historians). the historical revisionism is dramatically visible. such as the
anti-fascist sites in Croatia.
The Fate of Modernist Monuments: Destruction. because they were a sign of a different future that embodied the universalist claim of the partisan figure. a bitter dispute over the number of victims in the Jasenovac concentration
and extermination camp was unleashed. it was precisely because of their antifascist and communist legacy.
the formalism of the “pure art” approach is embedded in the contemporary post-communist time-structure. Where the political investments of official power seem yet again to have been stripped of their ideological content—whether through past reductionism to Yugoslavian nationbuilding. or through the nation-building processes of the present—they fail to address their radical core. but rather freezes it in a stand still. Photo © Tomislav Medak
1 Raymond Williams wrote an impressive book Resources of Hope (London: Verso. which is embodied in the monuments themselves: the call for a different future.
Although the real future of the modernist memorials already lies in the past. They maintain an invisible network throughout the territory of former Yugoslavia and make apparent the disruption and segmentation of a formerly common space. As physical witnesses. designed by Vojin Bakic (1981). which is primarily characterized by two discourses: 1) the discourse of totalitarianism. It is not only about the consideration of “resources of hope”. and its role in the present thus nullified. and 2) the discourse of nostalgia. 1989). The memorial art work becomes “eternal”. the monuments are not only witnesses to WWII and the partisan struggle.1 as Raymond Williams has aptly put it. Returning to these monuments is thus not simply about saving them. Last but not least. the promise of a better future remains crystallized in the formal power of their material existence as sculptures. Totalitarianism dismisses everything that challenges the present order as a threat to freedom.becomes but a sediment. 74
Petrova Gora monument. It is only when these objects connect to a social practice that they are again imbued with true meaning. objects that challenge its order have to be either utterly revised or erased. Intervening in this context with the aesthetic ideology of the artistic autonomy of the object does not help us “rehabilitate” or mobilize the emancipatory potential for the future. to its irreverently progressive anti-nationalist and anti-fascist perspective. while nostalgia dwells in the construction of an idealized past. and in so doing stripping memory of its references to both the past and future references. but they have become monuments to Yugoslavia itself. and in this respect it is complicit with dominant post-communist manners of dealings with the past. Both lack the intention to open the present towards the future. in a way. but about the possibility of retrieving the emancipatory and antifascist politics that they embody. In the logic of this time structure. but about the possibility of their re-enactment and mobilization for present struggles.
Istanbul. her earrings. Pamuk took a step back. connected in much the same way as Anatolia and Istanbul are. The two are not far from each other. and would be disappointed to find the building closed. My earliest memory of Orhan Pamuk is of a public library in Karaman. Crime and morality are also some of the social dilemmas that create individual tragedies at the sites where both the public and private are violated. At the very end of Orhan Pamuk’s latest novel. newspapers. Füsun was from Istanbul. Kemal. not even as big as Kars. and lived with her family throughout her whole life. The museum was inaugurated in 2012. Kemal relinquishes all hope for life and his last wish is to establish a museum full of Füsun—a portrait of a lover. politicians and the idea of modernity. Istanbul. Throughout the novel. 2012. All the things that one would miss about the old library— its smell. Photo © Adnan Yıldız
The Museum of Innocence. and 1990s-style polished shelves.
The Museum of Innocence. the novel included the map of Kemal’s museum on the last page. Pamuk talks about Kemal’s strong form of obsession for Füsun: his memories of having spent his childhood and youth with her. logos of popular brands of their time. my hometown. later on. Upon encountering my first Orhan Pamuk novel. she died in a car accident. Karaman is a small city in Anatolia. Pamuk’s name later surfaced with the launch of the 2010 Istanbul European Cultural Capital program. It felt like nowhere. Everything looked like an airport. scratched up wooden shelves—had been replaced by new elements of design. After having lost Füsun in the car accident.The Portrait of a Lover
The Turkish word “Kar” is used for snow. Kemal (fictively) collected many of the items and objects that they had shared. At first. its particular light. Photo © Adnan Yıldız
. the library uncannily contained the same combination of glass. The same political climate existed in both Kars and Karaman. a hotel or a contemporary art museum. set in the eastern Turkish city of Kars. and the old. Used cinema tickets. He eventually brought his project to fruition as an independent institution and a not-forprofit foundation. Sleek and clean.
While he was hopelessly in love with Füsun. All the way down to the remains of the cigarettes that he had smoked (or supposedly smoked) while he was thinking of her. and is also the title of an Orhan Pamuk novel. I remember that the public library had been moved from its old building into a newly renovated one. 2012. everyday objects and all kinds of ephemera—pictures of celebrities. After speculations about corruption at the organizational level. with a hardly-bearable lightness. No distinguishable features from the previous space had been kept. Orhan Pamuk worked for several years on the project. Appearing throughout his work are civilians. postcards. It was the first time she had left them. The Museum of Innocence (first published in 2008). just before their honeymoon. which was a political failure for the Turkish supporters of the European Union membership campaign. in addition to the news for those fanatic readers who would go looking for the museum in Istanbul. Füsun is the muse of the main character. the army. steel. Eleven thousand people visited it in its first three months of being open to the public. as well as the eight long years of having stalked her. He inscribed everything with a date.
Istanbul. Its staged atmosphere attempts to reflect the silence and pain of the character. and their city?
Istanbul now has a museum of literature that has been the fodder for long discussions over many years. Orhan Pamuk produced his museum project as an artist.
. the museum resembles the public library that I used to borrow Pamuk novels from. however. it lacks a sense of sensitivity towards its context. The representation of Kemal (especially on the top floor) is very theatrical. Rest assured.The Museum of Innocence. Pamuk has mentioned the absence of a city museum or an institution that held the records of the modern urbanization of Istanbul. and due to the lack of investment. Istanbul still lacks a city museum. and he made them real for his readers. The museum space is dominated by wooden boxes filled with ephemera. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Pamuk acted differently. Nevertheless. and objects including projections and small installations. it cannot purport itself as such. it fails to communicate with the viewer and does not suggest that it was left behind by the character. who dies after his agreement with the author. Yet Pamuk’s museum seems too modest an intervention in this regard. Füsun’s view. to memorialize the history of its city life. he created a place for the imaginings of Kemal and Füsun. however. What happened to Kemal’s Istanbul. In general. Pamuk’s museum is frozen in its own conceptual time and spatial thinking. I have decided that it has lost its relevance for the locale. one can still visit the Orhan Pamuk Shop at the end of the tour in order to buy all kinds of Pamuk literature. and does not respond to any clear intellectual or political position. 2012. Having reconsidered this question whilst visiting the museum earlier this summer. Photo © Kristina Kramer
In several of his interviews. and worked in a more performative and collaborative way at a moment when Istanbulbased contemporary artistic and critical practices have particularly been flourishing. a curator and the author of the story. In the neighborhood surrounding it are so many antique shops selling items similar to those found on display in the exhibition. In so doing. Surprisingly indeed. or an equivalent. Not only does its architecture seem not to have made use of the potential offered by the relationship with its location. His design taste was not as refined as his writing skills were. one of the many concerns about this experiment is the artistic approach to the translation between two realms of imagination: namely from text-based imagination (the bulk of the material) into image-based imagination (the remainder). Kemal. Far removed from being a conceptual approach.
They have never lived anywhere else. but in content. regeneration. A geologist is dispatched on an official mission to Sertão. but I called him back in. I didn’t want to film them apart. or truck drivers. Altitude 450 meters. The prospect of bringing water to a semi-deserted area is itself a potent metaphor in the geologist’s life. and others still are sex workers.. geographical as well as interior journey. others are sad. The overwhelming longing. The various characters he comes across seem to embody different forms of solitude and abandonment. and the awareness of its impossibility on the other. Through letters to his former wife. the viewer is intimated to the chronicle of the protagonist’s emotional journey. search for self. They have been married for over fifty years. composed of arenites. released in 2009.
. Straddling between fiction and documentary.. I Come Back Because I Love You (Viajo Porque Preciso. poor farmers. recurs throughout the film and sets a cadence to this physical. the attributes of the natural environment begin to allegorically resonate with his interior state. have never spent one night away from each other. directed by Karim Aïnouz and Marcelo Gomes. The climate is arid. It is twelve o’ clock. I Come Back Because I Love You
This “Etude” is an excerpt from the film I Travel Because I Have To.I Travel Because I Have To. I am on the BR 432. I Come Back Because I Love You (2009) directed by Karim Aïnouz and Marcelo Gomes
Marcelo Gomes & Karim Aïnouz
Day 02. Fuck it! Thirty days. and the sense of loneliness are compounded by the aridity of the landscape around him. I take advantage of the mapping work to make contact with the few locals whose lands will have to be requisitioned in order to cut the canal. I Come Back Because I Love You is formally a road movie. Nino and Perpétua will be the first to be resettled. loneliness. The region is called Little Meadow—though there is not a meadow anywhere in sight. Volto Porque te Amo). the pangs of estrangement. Cambrian limestone clay. The Editors Film still from I Travel Because I Have To. I Travel Because I Have To. it is a long elegy on love. Some are pensive and quiet. have never had a fight. siltites and reddish-brown ferruginous conglomerates. and the loss of one’s sense of self in the search. the loss of love. Nino went out to turn off the radio. He waivers between painful memories of marital warmth and the desire to rekindle a love lost on the one hand. the terrain tertiary. at night. The scientific findings he collects along the journey thus become poetic measures of loneliness. and soon after. Kilometer forty-five. a far-flung region in the north east of Brazil. to survey water sources and study the proposed map for water canalizations. Duration of the field trip: thirty days. The opening sequence of filming the road ahead. Geological study of tectonic structures for the construction of a canal connecting the Xexéu region with the Souls’ River.
Seventeen days and twelve hours to go. I COME BACK BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. I wear myself out thinking about you so much. thinking of you the whole time. And that is all. sharp as a knife. No one is working at the department back in Fortaleza. but when I drove off it dawned on me what had been written there: I TRAVEL BECAUSE I HAVE TO. thinking of you the whole time. I wear myself out thinking about you so much. Good Morning! Good morning. I didn’t heed any attention to it at first. because I still love you..
Day 29 I feel bursts of love and hate for you. almost formal and you say you’ve had second thoughts that it doesn’t have to be the end of something so right and so casual. Hardly a soul on the road since leaving Fortaleza.
Film still from I Travel Because I Have To. you look me up. It seems like an eternity. there on Praia do Futuro. and you said. slogging away in the dry dirt. and suddenly everything is sent into a spin and the one who lost can now even win. my love. Blondie. back to the day you left me. I won’t go back. I started writing you letters and replying to others you never sent. but there isn’t anywhere to go back to. I want you out of my life. I took this trip to try to forget that you dumped me but it has just made it worse. I cannot stand the thought of being alone. I keep the radio on. Endlessly..Day 18. in Fortaleza. I Come Back Because I Love You (2009) directed by Karim Aïnouz and Marcelo Gomes
When you said never again Don’t call again. Unbearable! I let on that we were still together. I travel because I have to. that it was all insane all so absurd. I keep the radio on. It is October 28. with a romantic sunset. that we had never broken up. Civil Servants’ Day. and here I am. And that is all. Stopped at a gas station today and saw something kind of hippie painted across the wall. I think about going back the whole time. I remember our last sunset together. Just makes me remember. your voice all soft. Then out of the blue you call me up a few days later. Driving along this road. it’s better that way That wasn’t exactly What I wanted to hear you say. This trip is taking me back.
It is remarkable because it conjugates calligraphy. Yasser Arafat appointed him as the PLO’s representative in France after he graduated. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. 1948. and spread very quickly across university campuses in the Arab world. joined the Communist Party and was jailed briefly for subversive activities. 1978. defining the boundaries of the state of Israel and territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. artist unknown. From the Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. a natural born leader. his family was displaced to a refugee camp in Syria. The poster marks the first speech Yasser Arafat gave at the UN General Assembly in 1974. Berlin. This poster was conceived on the occasion of the twelfth anniversary of the revolution. his true passion. seconded by Arab armies. Beirut. villages and cities located in the territory of what would become internationally recognized as Israel. an art considered traditional. During the war of 1948.
Ezzeddin Qalaq in France. Produced by the Unified Information Office of the PLO. in a village near Jaffa. Adnan Hammad. He left in order to pursue a doctoral degree in letters. militias and armed Palestinians resistance fighters. the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) was established. Shattered and disenfranchised political representation. 1977.
On May 14. and shone. This. at the University of Poitiers. An armistice was brokered in 1949.
. The GUPS was actively invested in defending these basic rights in any and all of the public spheres to which they had access. the ability for Palestinians to return home.000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes. which was administered by the Jordanian and Egyptian armies respectively. by artist Kemal Boullata. dispossession and hardship in the decade that followed. the right for Palestine to exist. Produced by Fat’h. the entitlement to self-determination and sovereignty were each indeed at the risk of being absented. While Nakba refers to the shock and horror of military defeat and loss of homeland in 1948. Europe and the United States. The Revolution Continues. With the Nakba. when a bomb exploded in their office in Paris. Lebanon and Syria. dispersal and destitution. Produced by the Unified Information Office of the PLO. Whilst there. eluded and silenced. Kemal Boullata is very well established Palestinian artist and intellectual. within a modernist style of expression.
4 Fat’h. he joined the local branch of the General Union of Palestinian Students there. an estimated 800. namely Jordan. 85
2 Commemoration of the twelfth year of the Palestinian revolution. is his “wiki-style” biography. 3 Palestinian Cinema. Produced by the Unified Information Office of the PLO. An Essential Front in our Struggle. 5 Abu Ammar (Arafat) at the UN: War starts in Palestine and Peace Is Born in Palestine. From the Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. in France. it also marks the protracted lived experience of humiliation. On August 3. but also in neighboring Arab countries. by Ismail Shammout. In 1952. From the Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. These refugees were settled in camps within the West Bank and Gaza Strip. had broken out much earlier. near Damascus. the British colonial mandate was officially ended and the last of its administration staff and army corps evacuated. Qalaq was killed with his colleague. factions.A Virtual Exhibition in the Making
Of Dreamers. He traveled to Saudi Arabia and worked for nearly two years as a teacher. He studied chemistry at the University of Damascus. and the formal recognition of the PLO by the world community as the official and legitimate representing Palestinians. image courtesy of Claude Lazar. Ezzeddine Qalaq and Palestine’s Revolutionary Posters
Ezzeddine Qalaq was born in 1936. in brief. but war between armed Zionist groups. and he moved to Paris in 1973.
thus recognizing the organization as the official political body representing Palestinians worldwide. The first mural newspaper features two very short stories The Most Beautiful Place in the World (by celebrated Syrian author Zakariyya Tamer) and The Fisherman’s Fingers. A decade later. Tamam al-Akhal. the Palestinian Cinema Institute produced documentary films. Both its political universe and its aspirations were as much informed through their lived experience of humiliation as they were informed
8 The two posters are described as “mural newspapers for young adults”. And last but not least. as well as an article titled Our Arab Oil.
Soon. and remarkable on a worldwide scale. Qalaq was one of the most eloquent and inspiring of such high-ranking militants. Endowed with a charter. a constitutional text. the department of Arts and National Culture was both established and headed by Ismael Shammout. From the Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. conflicts between the Jordanian monarchy and the PLO command escalated to full-scale armed clashes that resulted in the PLO’s relocation of its headquarters to Lebanon. and to upheave comprador Arab regimes complacent to the prevailing order. The second challenge was to communicate with the world the legitimacy of their narrative and mobilize support. deep and widespread disenchantment. South Africa. as well as both military and civilian leadership. The International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine. a space supported by the PLO to exhibit art. 1980. it encompassed all of the political movements that had emerged until then in the West Bank. From the Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. artists discovered the institutional realm as well as the resources to innovate and experiment.
The new political class as well as intelligentsia that emerged within the PLO was culled from refugees and the diaspora. Throughout the 1970s. headed the Arts and Heritage Section that organized an exhibition of traditional Palestinian clothing and crafts. equality and sovereignty in the Arab world. Vietnam). it set up military training camps in Jordan and launched commando operations in Israel. Shammout’s wife. In lieu of ministries. From the middle of the 1960s. Produced by Fat’h. The Plastic Arts Section provided Palestinian artists with stipends and supplies. Palestine became a metaphor that crystallized the aspirations for a life with dignity for young militants in the Arab world. 87
. other arts
7 Revolution until Victory. dignity. as well as some leaders or figures that prevailed before the Nakba. and organized exhibitions in Beirut. comics. The “red lines” were remarkably loose (to the contrary of several other revolutions) and there was a world / mass audience to conquer. 86
A few influential cadres among the PLO’s intelligentsia had understood early on that the political struggle was as much a military as it was a discursive one. The overall outcome of the 1967 war between Arab states and Israel was a defeat that Arab populations experienced as a humiliation that eventually mitigated into a long-lasting. which was scattered across territories in refugee camps. Palestine. illustrator. Theater and Popular Arts. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. titled al-Fata al-Arabi or “the Young Arab”. In addition. he was elected the first president of the Union of Palestinian Artists (1969) and of the Union of Arab Artists (1971). It was premised on the existence of Palestine and the rights of Palestinians for self-determination. artist unidentified. The principal challenge was to represent and communicate with its own constituency.
9 Vietnam. etc. In addition to his position in the PLO. Chile. It has remained unprecedented in the Arab world. gifted and innovative artists and intellectuals to Beirut. In 1965. the Department of Unified Information and Culture was remarkably active in the production and support of cultural and artistic activities. Gaza and in the diaspora. From the middle of the 1960s until about the early 1980s. which toured in seventeen cities in Europe in the late 1970s. The PLO was structured to operate like a government in exile. at the Arab League meeting in Cairo. children’s books and literature for young adults in the Arab world. Egypt. a Palestinian artist who had studied art in Cairo and Rome.
By 1964. Iraq. in Beirut in 1978. In other words. Yasser Arafat (whose chairmanship lasted from 1969 until 2004) was hosted at the UN General Assembly. it instituted departments. Norway. as well as the Art Exhibition of the Palestinian Resistance at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. diversity and creativity of Palestinian posters is bewildering. The array of experimentation. Its Graphic Arts section instigated the production of posters. the country host to the second largest refugee population and sharing borders with Israel. the PLO would attract a nebula of dissident. and a funny educational game titled “What are the Similarities between the Life of Ibn Khaldun and a Day in the Life of Oussama?”. a pioneering Egyptian graphic designer. circa 1975. however. the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed and mandated to liberate Palestine through armed struggle. a higher command. Arab cities and the rest of the world: The Exhibition of Palestinian Posters 1967–1979 in Beirut Palestinian Artists exhibition in Oslo. Shammout and al-Akhhal organized different exhibitions in the Al-Karama Gallery. 1980. From the Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. replete with executive and legislative bodies. The PLO could not afford to bear that load. By 1969. Produced by the GUPS. and who had moved to Beirut in 1965.
6 No Peace without the Palestinians by artist Claude Lazar. in cities and under Israeli occupation. In their turn. Thus the Palestinian revolution was perceived and experienced as a profoundly transformative project that sought to restore justice.
through the liberationist revolutionary fervor that swept the region (Algeria. The second mural newspaper features the lyrics of The Camel’s Song.) and the rest of the world (Cuba. Latin America.included Folk Dance. the PLO’s chairman. also an artist. Artists and poets contributed to the production of posters (the roster is impressive and comprises some of the most well-known names of modern artists and poets of the time). the question of Palestine and the struggle for liberation were enounced as revolutionary projects that intended to defeat the settler-colonial Israeli state. Rhodesia. artist unidentified. They are the work of Muhieddine el-Labbad. and a foundational figure in revolutionizing graphic arts as well as pedagogy with regards to graphic novels.
Qalaq’s genial feat is to have regarded representation and agency as cornerstones of political and artistic practice at once. by artist Hilmi al-Touni. So for instance. If the body of Palestinian poster art is regarded as a political movement’s propaganda machine. behind her is a rainbow in the colors of the Palestinian flag and in the corner of the poster the Dome of the Rock. artist unidentified.”
Qalaq was also one of the most active PLO cadres in the production. was the then general secretary of the Jeune Peinture Salon. Who Are the Palestinians?). who. This poster was made to promote the film. Produced by the Unified Information Office. His calligraphic style was inspired by popular genres used for film posters. He had realized that the most effective means to counter the traumatic dispersal of Palestinians in safeguarding their sense of peoplehood was also through culture and the arts. [as] he was against the use of religious symbols to refer to Zionism. 17 The Land Belongs to those who Liberate It. In this poster. Second. The Israeli state systematically referred to Palestinians as the “Arab” population of Palestine. while respecting each one’s personal research. The Palestinian traditional folk dress was reproduced in its plural versions as a national symbol hallmark of Palestinian identity. In a brochure titled Figuration Critique. 89
12 Jerusalem. That statement or “representation” denied Palestinians the right to be. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. with the explicit purpose of “normalizing” the melting of Palestinian refugees into host Arab societies.
Revolutions invent the world as well as its people anew. 88
16 We Will Return. involved with several anti-fascist artistic events. or PLM). published by the Musée du Luxembourg in 1978. its visual imagining would remain visible and in myriad forms. facilitated events and actions and provided us with whatever we needed. its most astonishing feature is the extent to which its production was unshackled from dogma and its articulations close to the everyday lived experience of refugees as well as to collective memory. and Palestine embodied as a woman. He did not hesitate to criticize stereotypical and banal imagery and was strict on the political significance of our work. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. They were produced in an era when television broadcast was the exclusive purview of nation-states and was not beyond the means of the PLO’s extra-territorial framework. Produced by The June 5th Collective. A deep friendship was forged almost instantly. the poetic record of having had a home would remain alive. the alAqsa mosque. by artist Hilmi alTouni. if citizenship were denied. cost-efficient. He advised us. 11 Poster for the Moroccan association in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle. from helpless victims to fearless men and women who were shaping their own destiny against the insuperable odds stacked against them. 15 Poster commemorating the seventh anniversary of the founding of the DFLP. artist unknown. undercutting discourse and action of rights of return and reclaiming homeland. carrying Jaffa oranges and donning the traditional folk dress. PLO. Posters were an interpellative platform for the revolution’s constituency. Posters were lightweight. Lazar recalled Qalaq’s contribution:
First was the imperative to provide generations of refugees dispersed across countries that could not physically see Palestine with images of their homeland.
In 1973. From the Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. L’Olivier. directed by a group of filmmakers from the Cahiers du Cinéma in France. put forth by Golda Meir (who was Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974). he had once asked me to produce a poster on the theme “Zionism is a form of racism and discrimination”. If homes were lost. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. Palestinians transformed from peasants to revolutionaries. [he] encouraged our initiatives. He also inspired European artists to see in Palestine a mirror of the world’s injustice. Produced by the DFLP. and I had rendered the star of David from barbed wire. so were the Galilee’s olive groves. he met the French painter Claude Lazar.
. filmmakers from the Cahiers du Cinéma. dissemination and circulation of posters. he explained to me that using these elements could lead to misinterpretation. All are visual codes that iconicize Palestine. artist unknown. Produced by Fat’h (Palestine Liberation Movement. al-Touni represents a woman—who also “embodies” Palestine—. in which tribute is paid to women more generally and to their commitment to the revolution more specifically. In 1975. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. was the imperative to debunk the prevailing Zionist claim that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land”. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. El-Touni is considered a pivotal figure in children’s book illustration in the Arab world. Jaffa oranges branded worldwide as an “Israeli” product were reclaimed as a native symbol of Palestine. then being-in-the-world as Palestinian would thrive. by artist Abdel-Rahman al-Muzayyen. Qui sont les palestiniens? (The Olive Tree. Qalaq accompanied Guy Champouillet and Serge Lepéron. he helped us with obtaining accreditations. insignas and signage. circa 1974. if the land was too far removed from sight.
10 Artist unidentified. as they traveled to Lebanon and Syria for their film L’Olivier.
“Without him. His style bridged the legacy of folk drawing and modern artistic expression using a vibrant palette and reproducing symbols that children identified and memorized easily. Together they established a collective of “artists for Palestine” within the Jeune Peinture group. Posters explicitly depicted the people of Palestine and the myriad ways in which they belonged to the land. the traditional folk dress. PLO. Produced by the Unified Information Office. He mobilized artists and intellectuals to shape a representation and narrative of Palestinians that crystallized their aspirations and image of themselves.
14 Jerusalem in our Hearts. this collective would have never seen the light of day. easy to disseminate and fantastically communicative. For example. This poster iterates some of the canonical elements that would become minted as visual symbols of Palestine: Jaffa oranges. One of the reasons for this was that artists and propagandists were themselves children of refugee camps and not an elite intelligentsia socially disconnected from the “people”. 13 Struggle is the Only Path to Jerusalem. by artist Jumana al-Husseini.
Produced by the Unified Information Office. by artist Suleiman Mansour. al-karama means “dignity”: the battle and its double signification in fact became a foundational myth in the Palestinian revolution. 19 Ten Years on the Palestinian Revolution. The poster illustrates literally how from the ashen squalor of refugee camps. by artist Hilmi al-Touni. 25 Al-Karama Battle commemoration. He attempted to weave together traditional folk graphics and a modernist expression. when Palestinians living in Israel were protesting confiscation of their land in Sakhnin. May 15th. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. News spread and sparked more protests among Palestinians worldwide. Produced by the GUPS. countering the Zionist claim that it had never existed. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. The morning after. 22 May 15th. Karkoutly was a Syrian artist exiled in Germany whose style was distinctive. Produced by the PFLP.of their catastrophe and attempted to reverse the burdensome defeatist sense of loss and humiliation. Our Roots. 1977. artist unidentified. commemorating the al-Karama battle. artist unidentified. 21 Palestinian Women Fight for Liberation. 27 Al-Karama by artist Samir Salameh. Six were killed and others severely injured. a gesture that celebrated the courage and steadfastness of Palestinians in spite
18 Poster for the film Victory in their Eyes by Samir Nasr. artist unidentified. Produced by the PFLP-General Command. While the Palestinians fought to the last man and suffered losses. Produced by the Palestinian Cinema Institute. was christened alternately as the “Day of the Martyr” and the “Day of the Palestinian Struggle”. Produced by Fat’h. Glory to our Martyrs. 24 The al-Karama Generation. A large number of posters were produced for years thereafter. and obviously celebrates gender equality. 1976. Produced by the Unified Information Office. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. PLO. 1965–1975. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. by a strange twist of fate. in Arabic. Paris. Produced by the Unified Information Office. At the same time. artist unidentified. Produced by Fat’h. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. by an unidentified artist. by artist Burhan Karkoutly. The PLO coined March 30th as “Land Day” and produced posters at every commemoration. Thousands were galvanized to volunteer and fight alongside Palestinians. in the Galilee.
Another noteworthy date was marked on March 30. fighters—fidayyeen—rise. by an unidentified artist. almost “larger than life”. the posters recorded orally-transmitted collective memory and minted important events as milestones that refugees had lived first-hand. hope and dignity was restored to the Palestinian revolution. the battle was noteworthy because the Israeli army battalion had also lost a great deal and had in turn retreated. Produced by the June 5th Collective. and were shot at by the Israeli army. 1971. PLO. Furthermore. leaving a battlefield with charred tanks and dead soldiers. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. 90
One of the notable landmarks of the Palestinian revolution is an armed confrontation between a Palestinian commando and the Israeli army in the village of al-Karama in the occupied West Bank. the day that Israel celebrates its independence. in 1968. 20 Women’s Struggle Constitutes one of the Essential Pillars of the Struggle for Freedom. with a poem by Munib Makhoul. PLO. or that it was “stillborn” in 1948. The Day of Palestinian Struggle. The poster illustrates the transformation of Palestinians from peasants to revolutionaries. Suleiman Mansur is a leading Palestinian painter who now lives and works in the West Bank. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. PLO. 91
. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. newspapers published images that ignited shockwaves across the Arab world: for the first time since the humiliating defeat of 1967. 28 Land Day.
26 Hommage to the al-Karama Battle. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection.
24 18 19
Posters were instrumental in disseminating Palestine’s national history. 23 Unity is the Objective. Produced by the Unified Information Office.
30 Land Day by Galilee’s School Children. by artist Claude Lazar. it was one of the most important camps. iconicized. the quintessential martyr. Produced by the Unified Information Office. but
33 Abdel-Qader el-Husseini. 34 January 7th. To inscribe acts of violence into a serial record.
31 Deir Yassin massacre commemoration. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. Dhia al-Azzawi is a leading Iraqi artist who was exiled from Iraq in the 1970s. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. namely. located in the eastern suburbs of Beirut. for the overturn of the historic injustice he was subjected to. lived in Beirut before settling in London. Martyr or the al-Qastal Battle. PLO. evolving from a straightforward photo portrait of the martyr. Tall el-Zaatar. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection.
Every revolution has heroes. Domenici. artist unidentified. by artist V. You Will Not Be Forgotten. Posters celebrating the fidayyin were intended to debunk negative representations of fighters as terrorists. The modern use of the term to designate Palestinian insurgents was consecrated in a poem published during the Great Revolt of 1936. the fida’i was at once anonymous and epic. He traded his life for the defense of his people and land. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. to complex visual expressionist or abstract compositions with a poetic verse replacing the slogan. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. the popular uprising against British colonial mandate rule. artist unidentified. The Palestinian revolution was also a people’s war.
rarely idolized. and the fedayyin were everyday folk. for the recovery from the humiliation of passive victimhood. artist unidentified. He covered his head with a kuffiyyah to infiltrate enemy lines without revealing his individual identity. the word was originally attributed to Christ. PLO. The Palestinian revolution identified fallen fighters. Produced by the June 5th Collective. Produced by the Unified Information Office. 35 We Write our Revolution with our Blood. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. 1948. Martyr posters very quickly became a genre in itself. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. the Day of the Palestinian Martyr. They Were Killed in Tall el-Zaatar. The poster was produced to denounce one of the most cruel and violent massacres in refugee camps in Lebanon.
29 Land Day. PLO. 93
37 Because the storm promised me… (a verse from poet Mahmud Darwish). Produced by the Unified Information Office. Intrepid and steadfast. PLO. artist unidentified. Produced by the Union of Palestinian Writers. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. they were integrated in popular history. was a remarkable counter to the media’s indifference towards the Palestinian’s plight as well as a manifestation of the reclaiming of agency. attacks and war crimes that had been perpetrated against Palestinians from the beginning of their struggle against the Jewish colonization of Palestine under British colonial rule.000 deaths. and to publicly identify them as crimes.Posters were also used to denounce massacres. 32 Look… They Are Three Thousand. artist unidentified. and to mobilize generations to the call of battlefield. with name. The death toll amounted to 3. Semiologically. 36 Poster commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the assassination of Count Bernadotte at the hands of Zionist militias. 30 March 1976. Produced by the Unified Information Office. assassinated intellectuals and leaders as its heroes-martyrs. by Dhia al-Azzawi. artist unidentified. Assassinated Palestinian Intellectuals. date of death and political slogan.
The Palestinian freedom fighter was known in Arabic as “fida’i” (plural fida’iyyin or fidayyin). Ezzeddin Qalaq collection.
The Palestinian revolution captivated the hearts and minds of the progressive and militant intelligentsia in the Arab world, and Palestine became a metaphor for a just, democratic, free and sovereign Arab world. As regimes across the region became more and more autocratic and intolerant of dissent and critique, artists and intellectuals found a friendly haven in their engagement with the Palestinian revolution. Cultural production was prolific: exhibitions, film screenings, publications, and concerts abounded.
Palestinian political organizations were also faced with the tremendous challenge of the changing perception of their revolution in the West. In mainstream media, Palestinians were at best helpless refugees and at worst, unrepentant terrorists. The Palestinian cause found a friendly terrain of solidarity among anti-colonial, anti-imperialist liberation movements. Generally, they articulated two motifs: denunciation of Israeli crimes committed against Palestinians (military occupation, arbitrary expulsions, detentions, assassinations, massacres, bombardment, et cetera) and the righteousness of the revolution.
41 44 45
38 Twelve Years on the Palestinian Revolution. 1965–1977, by artist Ismail Shammout. Produced by the Unified Information Office, PLO. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. 94
39 This poster was actually the result of a competition, the artist is Jumana al-Husseini. Produced by the Unified Information Office in The Netherlands. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. Jumana al-Husseini is a leading Palestinian artist who lives in Paris. 40 Artist unidentified. Produced by the Unified Information Office in Spain. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection.
41 Artist unidentified. Produced by the Unified Information Office in The Netherlands. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. 42 Revolution until Victory, artist unidentified. Produced by the Unified Information Office in Paris. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. 43 Artist unidentified. Produced by the Unified Information Office. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection.
44 The International Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine, 1978, by Dhia al-Azzawi. Produced by the Unified Information Office, Beirut. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. The International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine was inaugurated on March 21st, 1978, in Beirut and open to the public until April 5th of that year. It included approximately 200 works by 197 international artists from approximately twentynine countries. The initiative was inspired from the Salvador Allende Resistance Museum in Exile, which was undertaken by Chilean artists in Paris in 1973 after the Pinochet coup. The works were donated with the aim of constituting a seed collection for a museum of international modern art in solidarity with Palestine, in exile. 45 The International Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine, 1978, by Mohammad el-Mellihi. Produced by the Unified Information Office, Beirut. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. Mohammad el-Mellihi is a leading Moroccan artist who saught exile in Beirut during the 1970s. 95
One of the tragedies of statelessness is the impossibility of establishing and administering proper archives. Qalaq had the visionary foresight to collect posters produced in Beirut, Damascus and Europe. His collection represents a unique and vibrant record of how Palestinians once saw themselves: dignified, sovereign and beautiful; men and women in color and in verse defying a world that denied the simplest fact of their existence. Who could believe that from the pallid squalor of mud-drenched, tin-roofed refugee camps that so much radiance, lyricism, valor and inventiveness could rise to reverse the course of history?
This virtual projection was inspired by an exhibition I was invited to curate the exhibition in 2008, titled Posters of the Palestinian Revolution. The Ezzeddin Kalak Collection. It was part of MASARAT Palestine, an artistic and cultural season in the French Community of WallonieBruxelles, an initiative of the Commissariat général aux Relations internationales and the Palestinian General Delegation at the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg, under the high patronage of the International Relations Ministry in the French Community, Mahmoud Darwich, and with support of the Ministry of Culture. Conception and Execution: Les Halles de Schaerbeek, Brussels. Posters of the Palestinian Revolution. The Ezzeddin Kalak Collection was hosted at The Mundaneum, an archive center and exhibition space in Mons, Belgium (www.mundaneum.be), from November 7 until December 21, 2008. The exhibition sponsored by the Commissariat Général aux Relations Internationales (CGRI) and the Palestinian General Delegation at the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg.
46 Poster for a Palestinian film week in Rabat, Morocco, artist unidentified, 1978. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. 47 Poster for a Palestinian film week in Valence, France, artist unidentified, 1978. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. 96
48 Poster for screening of a Palestinian film followed by a debate on the Black September massacre, artist unidentified, 1971. Ezzeddin Qalaq collection. The photograph in this poster was taken in a training camp, the emphasis of the revolution’s emancipation of women was noteworthy. The young woman’s disposition is endearing. She smiles: serene, self-assured and reassuring. Her gun is visible, but it rests against the wall, unthreatening. There is no celebration of violence; the composition of the poster is all about the young fida’iyyeh’s attractiveness. 97
Mnemosyne 42 is the experimental answer to Alain Fleischer’s April 2012 proposition to create a work on images in the context of Le Fresnoy Studio national des arts contemporains. The rules of this proposition were at once very open and very strict. Very open, because like everything that counts in Alain Fleischer’s eyes, it concerned a game of invention, with those very “serious” things that haunt us in history and in images: the general title that was eventually chosen for the game actually took up Aby Warburg’s phrase for defining his own object of study in the Mnemosyne atlas, or the history of images, as a “ghost story for adults”.1 It was nevertheless strict in that Alain Fleischer had directly set out the limits of space and visibility: first, it was a question of “doing something” with the space of the grand nave of Le Fresnoy Studio national des arts contemporains (approximately one thousand square metres). Second, Alain wanted everything on view to be seen exclusively from the gangway of the first floor where, moreover, we were to install Atlas, suite, a series of images by Arno Gisinger created from the Atlas exhibition2 (in its ultimate version, as it was exhibited in Hamburg at the Sammlung Falckenberg). Third, therefore, the “exhibition” to be invented had to be directly engaged with the discussion developed in Atlas and in Atlas, suite, namely, that the montages of images were specific forms of knowledge of the world and of its history. Fourth, everything had to be conceived of and created in just four or five months with relatively limited resources (Le Fresnoy being very different from a museum or a kunsthalle).
1 “Vom Einfluss der Antike. Diese Geschichte ist märchenhaft—to [= zu] verstellen. Gespenstergeschichte f[ür] ganz Erwachsene.” (“On the influence of the ancient world. This history is magical—to be dissembled. A ghost story for adults.”). A. Warburg, Mnemosyne. Grundbegriffe, II (2 July 1929) (London: Warburg Institute Archive, III.102.3–4), 3. Cf. G. Didi-Huberman, L’Image survivante. Histoire de l’art et temps des fantômes selon Aby Warburg (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 2002). Id., Atlas ¿Cómo llevar el mundo a cuestas?, trans. M. D. Aguilera (Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2010). — Atlas. How to Carry the World on One’s Back?, trans. S. B. Lillis (Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2010). Atlas ou le gai savoir inquiet. L’œil de l’histoire, (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 2011), 3. 2 G. Didi-Huberman and A. Gisinger, Atlas, suite (Zürich, Paris: JRP|Ringier, 2013). 98
So what was to be done? What was to be shown? Were we to bring together a new ensemble of works by different artists who created atlases of images? There was neither enough time for that, nor was there the means; and besides, what was the pertinent choice after the 140 or so artists presented in Atlas? Choosing a single work? But why only one, however complex or monumental it might be? (It is true that for an instant I thought of Franz Erhard Walther.) Then the most interesting aspect—but also the most restrictive—of the initial proposition came into play: that everything would be visible from above, viewable only from the gangway in the Fresnoy. I initially thought of using large tables (a memory of Gabriel Orozco perhaps, and perhaps because I would have liked to have included him in the initial presentation of Atlas in Madrid)—large tables upon which images would be placed, arranged like tarot cards during a visit to a circus clairvoyant (albeit on an enormous table). Then, in a flash, the idea of a projection came to light (a recollection perhaps of the very first exhibition at Le Fresnoy which was indeed titled Projections). It was coherent with the aim of the work as was envisioned together with Arno Gisinger: an exhibition without any “original” works, an exhibition that would be light and easily adaptable anywhere; all in all, a part of a portable atlas, part of a one thousand square-meter “exhibition in the age of its mechanical reproduction”.
The idea was quite simple: to project onto the ground, vertically from the ceiling of the nave, a gigantic plate from an atlas; to take up—because I have frequently come back to this in my works-inprogress over the last few years—the forty-second Mnemosyne plate that Aby Warburg devoted to the Pietà motif and to the lamentations that the living murmur, utter, shout or sing before their dead;3 and to pay new homage to this plate,4 not only by projecting it in dimensions that Warburg would never have imagined, but by accompanying it, by commenting on it, by prolonging it, and by making it come out of itself, in order to create around it a whole constellation of new images. The images are in black and white (as in Warburg’s work), but also in colour. Still images (as in Warburg’s work), but moving as well. Silent images (again as in Warburg’s work), and ones with sound. Images that I know, that I have before me, in that part of my computer, which for a long time now, I have come to refer to as my atlas. It would have been enough to choose, to arrange, and to make a montage of all these images or sequences of images. It would have been enough to experiment: to see what this might create, to play with the relationships between images, rhythms, scales, dimensions, or colours. Perhaps as Warburg had done with his black hessian screens and his little pincers with which he endlessly arranged and rearranged his great figurative puzzle of the “tragedy of Western culture” as he called it. And to the vertigo already aroused by the photographic montage of Plate 42 must be added, in vast proportions, the vertigo of other images whose coexistence, I imagine—since I write these lines before having seen or concluded anything whatsoever—could well produce something like a great kaleidoscope of the motions of the soul, from the perspective of, or according to, the
3 A. Warburg, Der Bilderatlas Mnemosyne (1927–1929), Gesammelte Schriften, II–1, ed. M. Warnke and C. Brink (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2000), 76–77. 4 I had previously attempted something like this, but in the space of a catalogue rather than an exhibition, in “Esquisse d’atlas”, Pascal Convert : Lamento, 1998–2005 (Luxembourg: Musée d’art moderne Grand-Duc Jean, 2007), 199–261.
cornerstone of mourning and lamentation. It would be worthwhile, one day, to attempt the same thing with joy. *
Aby Warburg, Bilderatlas Mnemosyne (plate 42) 1929 ©The Warburg Institute
Giotto. Bellini. The archival images will be collected in a montage by Artavazd Pelechian in Nous.
Bertolt Brecht. Also part of the exhibition is a martinete funeral of a cante jondo sung by Manuel Agujetas near a photograph of Carmen Armaya on her deathbed. All of this unravels as but an indication. Soon enough. the scales of figures. who prepared and prolonged Guernica through a whole series of studies on the cry. 1863 Courtesy Biblioteca Nacional De España
The images of Mnemosyne 42 arise to a certain extent from the memory—and even the citation which is central to the arrangement—of the Warburgian plate. Medea or Rabbia by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Crivelli). which is a more delicate operation to the extent that I did not seek a kaleidoscopic abyme or abyss effect. medieval frescoes and Italian altarpieces (Duccio. who documented and collected in a montage several Pietà situations in his work journal and his War Primer. tears and pain in the face of history. unknown to Warburg.
Film still from Cimetières dans la falaise (1951) Directed by Jean Rouch. As though by strata (for still images) or by successive waves (for moving images): archaic figures and ancient sarcophagi. hazardous desynchronization. 1955 Courtesy Eulenspiegel Verlag. Two extracts from Zhao Liang’s film Petition. Vangelo. in addition to ethnographic documents such as those collected by Ernesto De Martino in Italy in the 1950s. Boticelli. Terra em transe by Glauber Rocha. Los Desástres De La Guerra (Material Gráfico) 18th plate (out of series 50). The Court of Complaints will also be on view.Film still from Terra em transe (1967) Directed by Glauber Rocha. Yasser Arafat in 2004.
. or crucial moments: Eisenstein’s Potemkin. First of all. Kriegsfibel. as well as. One must then introduce movement. and then of course Picasso. Lorenzetti. the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and intensely sculpted groups by Guido Mazzoni or Niccolò dell’Arca. nor any chaotic confusion whatsoever. reliefs by Donatello or Bertoldo di Giovanni. to name a few. however. or Kim Jong-Il in 2011. but instead the possibility for the spectator to compare certain images in movement and to take advantage of space—through intervals. Perhaps even Bertolt Brecht. the great moderns: first of all Goya. for example. All rights reserved. or by Filippo Bonini Baraldi who in 2004 filmed a lamentation of Rumanian Gypsies. and the configuration of the ensemble—which this comparison beckons. whose Disasters of War. decline (to the point of nausea and infamy on the one hand and total dereliction on the other) the various gestures adopted by the survivors before the dead. © Jean Rouch
Francisco de Goya. the cinematographic documents of the public funerals of Buenaventura Durruti in 1936. there will be certain “monuments” of cinema in which scenes of lamentation intervene by way of narrative “hooks”.
as though the working were completed in a work. the site of the construction of a “laborious” labour (opus operosum). 103
. people who are not satisfied with pitying themselves in the face of death. I have.8). that pedagogy (the transmission of knowledge. it will give rise to other equally impermanent forms (except perhaps the book. “The Essay as Form”. 99.”6 The choice and arrangement of images in Mnemosyne 42 at last seeks to give clarity to the political dimension inherent in the way that the theme of lamentations is treated therein. Benjamin.since the “Lamentations” folder of my own atlas of images. nor strictly inductive. which contains some two thousand six hundred audio and visual documents. it is a question of making sensitive the dialectic established between lamentation (the emotion.
6 W. the “installation” is not to be seen as a work of art. however. is: Are the philosopher and the art historian—even the exhibition curator—not assuming the role of artists? Of course they aren’t. once again.
(3 July 2012). 2000). without an invention of forms. The first dimension of Mnemosyne 42 is its heuristic dimension: what will be seen in the thousand horizontal square metres of the nave is. Finally. More profoundly. in the only way possible. is far from closed. I simply consider the nave at Le Fresnoy to be like the exhibition space inherent to that space of experimentation and work that the Studio national des arts contemporains is. nor strictly deductive—that agrees to present a contingent and fragmentary material in which what is lost in precision is gained in legibility. The Arcades Project (N1a. The question should not be articulated in such terms. trans. * Mnemosyne 42 is thus presented like an immense carpet of images projected onto the floor of the nave of Le Fresnoy.
this project: literary montage. it is a working tool that is open to modification along the way. in The Adorno Reader. but who demand justice and who make a complaint against a certain state of the historical world. 2002). the refuse— these I will not inventory but allow. It is a projection of what happens on the thirtythree centimetres of my laptop computer screen. a place for exhibition is merely somewhere to lay out visual and reflective configurations. however. always proceeds in an experimental way. trans. Merely show.
On the other hand. the fact that Le Fresnoy is also a school engages the pedagogical dimension of Mnemosyne 42. as is commonly said.5 All in all. or “operated” (opus operatum). essentially working on a “presentation”. The spectacular “exhibition” of this tool is not necessarily something pinned to its own axioms (for otherwise its heuristic and experimental content would disappear) or on its visual choices. a form for not fearing “discontinuity” and for seeing in it. a “conflict brought to a standstill”. Yet there are no new questions. as I have from Bertolt Brecht or Walter Benjamin. that is. There is no production of knowledge without problematization. to come into their own: by making use of them. A place for exhibition: it is not a place for saying “I-me” or “I-methe-artist”. 109. not even new contents of knowledge. on the whole. it is not a “work” per se. it is simply a matter of the disproportioning of a visual arrangement that I develop—and modify—in my weekly lectures at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Adorno. But the rags. 104. 460. as opposed to being an aesthetic result. The question. a form for refusing to conclude and. It is therefore an installation. Albeit magnified. without a “form-making” that can draw our attention to the questions themselves. not in the least of “the gay science”) is such a crucial question that it cannot be separated from a poetic dimension. The fact that Le Fresnoy is a place of research had considerable impact on my choice. the pathos) and political demands. a form for producing arguments without renouncing their “affinity to the visual image”. learned from Warburg. We will see here how peoples in tears eventually become peoples armed. I shall purloin no valuables. just as someone who seeks to arouse another’s reflection lays out an argument. and it will not live on. Here too. through the de-prioritised coexistence of “documents” and of “works of art”. through the practice of citation—but not appropriation—with the aim of giving images back to everyone rather than “taking them” for oneself when “one” fancies oneself to be the author of everything.
Georges Didi-Huberman. Mnemosyne 42 is not a work of art for the very trivial reasons that it will not be for sale. It is a form that is both “realistic” and “dream-like”. even though its aim is clearly non-artistic. the non-power. July 2012. which remains the fundamental element of my work). Nor is it a place for the self-fulfilling “there is the work”. appropriate no ingenious formulations. Mnemosyne 42 comes under what we could quite modestly call a visual essay. without questions posed at a new expense. I needn’t say anything. it is a question of re-actualising this form of montage that inherited the paradoxical “method” assumed by Walter Benjamin in his Arcades Project: “Method of
5 T. a sort of dialectic at a standstill. for “letting the totality light up in one of its chosen or haphazard features”. It is worth remembering how Theodor Adorno characterised what is at the same time the theoretical and poetical form of the essay: it is a form for “coordinating elements rather than subordinating them” to a causal explanation. but a visual modus operandi that is at once historical and argumentative. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge: Belknap Press. and then. a form for “constructing juxtapositions” outside of any hierarchical method. where an old Romany woman filmed by an ethnomusicologist can rightfully appear alongside the Virgin Mary of Giotto’s Pietà. a form for seeking “a greater intensity than discursive thought can offer”. which reveals a certain relation to the work of art. Rather. and the work endowed with value. just a particular extension of the organisation of images—the open organization—by which I do my historical and philosophical research every day. In this context. It is a form which. It is an “open form”—neither teleologically closed. Brian O’Connor (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. but rather as a mere arrangement that instigates questions. or at least. concluded. consequently. It is intended to remain a site. yet. First. This is why. As such. able to “suspend the traditional concept of method” by seeking its truth content in the transitions. temporary draft for Mnemosyne 42. W. on the contrary.
when I walked in amazement into the Sculpture Gallery at the Shanghai Museum located in the People’s Square. they unfortunately remain dumb to the fact that the audience members (a. Traces vanish in the river of the information overload. 1993). Its placement seemed to have been thoroughly thought out.com/mw2007/papers/parry/parry.k. in fact.museumsandtheweb.3 institutions seem to consent to making texts as fleeting and immaterial as possible. Whereas the Chinese text stood proud as a stele displaying its golden ideograms under the spotlight. in addition to the ever-present hypnosis-inducing audioguide.ETUDE
Museum texts are probably amongst the most neurotic literary genres that exist. written in English for foreigners. the other half. which appeared to be made of granite and was marked with an inscription. The International Conference for Culture and Heritage Online. which would surely outlive any of the objects shown in the room. 2006). Rare are the voices that point out that reading is. On the other hand is the late modernist ideal of visual hygiene that identifies any interference with the purity of the contemplation of works of art as a loitering of its aura by academic graffiti. Curso de museología/Textos y testimonios. Mayra Oertiz-Williams and Andrew Sawyer. Yet however animated the objects become. for it drives the visitor to “consider the logic and wholeness of something that cannot be present.a. “How Shall We Label Our Exhibit Today? Applying the Principles of On-Line Publishing to an On-Site Exhibition” Museums and the Web. 2009. Right in front of the doorway. in: http://www. I was struck by a one-and-a-half meter tall black stone. Photo © Cuauhtémoc Medina
. Reflection and Possibility in Museums and Libraries (Oxford: Altamira Press. To my disbelief.2 The use of videos and interactive guides beamed down to handeld devices. because “an exhibition is not a book and the objects themselves ought to speak”. La museología. wandering visitor-cum-zombies) have already got tired of the same old boring texts. Trad. this was not one of the exhibits of the collection: I had in fact stumbled upon the most daring of curatorial gestures. Antón Rodríguez Casal (Madrid: Akal. A Place not a Place. All those rules fell into dust in November 2009. one of the most prevalent activities of the audience in a museum. 3 For an experience of ephemeral labels. 2 Georges Henri Rivière. ventriloquize an infinity of artifacts.”1 Curatorial doxa still agrees with French museologist Georges Henri Rivière who hopes to see “the museum epigraphy” brought down to a minimum. html 105
Shanghai Museum: Label of the Sculpture Gallery. and hopes that the right staging. 2007. had toppled onto the floor. 474. lighting and dramatization will allow artworks and objects to babble. see: Ross Parry. a room label written for posterity. 57. Curators know that their ideas are never destined to be written in stone. Having just visited a Prada showroom fifty meters away that not only
1 David Carr. but is represented by something that is perpetually present in the object or the specimen. Even experimenting with LCD-editable labels that are continually updated from a distance. Sic transit gloria mundi.
and partly for their historical context (as the author wrote them just after visiting The Cloisters in New York City. predicated on the association of items of different physical quality and temporality. performances. a hong kong spring was defined as a one-month long restless exhibition. a hong kong spring. They were presented in different sessions. swings and strikes
. notes. and a space for reflection on what we are doing. rescuing them from the midst of primitive western alphabetic writing. strikes. for instance. it is an exercise in melancholy. It was intended to be a pause in the institutional unfolding of discernible programming. They will probably conclude that De Quincey was an imitator or disciple of Borges. 435. swings. sparks. Thanks to this bilingual label. A few weeks later. strikes. entitled rites. with the second project that Venus Lau and I brought to fruition in April 2012 at Para/Site. and were combined with talks. thoughts. they will be able to decipher the name of Champollion. Contributors included professionals from all different fields. notes. Partly for their content. the words of a Jorge Luis Borges poem were thick in my mind. installation view. with some luck. I feel a touch of vertigo.
4 Jorge Luis Borges. At best. in the city of Hong Kong. and in the grander scheme of the world? Rites. by Alexander Coleman (London: Penguin Books. I had to accept that the label as yet another omen of the impending demotion of Western hegemony. throughout the duration of the project. swings. Selected Poems. will be able to start bringing the works of Shakespeare back to life. thoughts. thoughts. which is yet another museological marker of the transfer of geopolitical power). Vol.4
Like Borges. within a deliberately provocative framework: a “Hong Kong Spring”. I also felt the structure of time crumbling under my feet.
Nothing is more daunting for a curator than critical analysis of projects past. The nature of their involvement was heterogeneous.We see in the tapestries the resurrection and the death of the doomed white unicorn because the time of this place does not obey an order. 106
sold overpriced garments. and geographies. sparks. This open-endedness and the neurotic ambitions that accompany it set the bar high enough to make almost every retrospective assessment disappointing.E. but whole silk sofa sets and bedrooms to the burgeoning new Chinese elite. what exactly is this context?). The laurels I touch will flower when Leif Eriksson sights the sands of America. a hong kong spring. Such is the case. the philologists of 3000 C. held in different venues in Hong Kong. but what is a museum if not a place whose time “does not obey an order”? I realized that the curators of the Shanghai Museum had effectively produced the Rosetta Stone of the future. 2. swings. They went:
Thoughts and Notes after rites. ed. disciplines. sparks. notes. Artworks and poems were installed at Para/Site. screenings and curatorial episodes by artists. notes. thoughts. We were acutely aware of the radical political specter that
Rites. strikes. the credit line for the curator who wrote the Shanghai stone was only recorded on administrative reports printed on acid paper. sparks. Courtesy Para/Site. Because alas. 2000). What weight and implications do the things we do have in the institutional context of Para/Site (moreover. I am not used to eternity. Aside from the common professional difficulty of revisiting one’s accomplishments—something not restricted to curators—our profession’s parameters and vocabulary are crafted in such a way that innumerable specters are embedded at the onset of every proposition.
the elusiveness. a method of confronting every object that is constitutional to our profession. do we hold a fetishistic attitude toward the forms of our practice. of collective history in the midst of its own miscarriage.the word once again resurrected (complicated as it was by the unity and univocality of spring as a semantic and physical object. In this organism of unstable form. so as to develop upon a few questions sparked at the intersection of our initial ideas. thoughts. We filtered these moods through a reading of Ackbar Abbas’s analysis in Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance. and would not have employed disembodiment and flexibility as its main ethos. in a more diffused but perhaps more catalyzing way. 1997. It emerged in circumstances specific to Hong Kong. the participant’s involvement and nomenclature were also not in line with the usual roles expected of our practice. curators have become uncertain of every tool at their disposal. Para/Site was founded as an artist-run space in early 1996. notes. when questioning the nature of our global encounters.
is most under question. a sense of heightened political awareness and a need for self-organization emerged in the city’s public sphere. In his opinion. reveals a self-righteous disbelief in both the specific means and language of art and exhibition-making. does our work manifest a constant desire to dismiss existing forms? Indeed. which are rather sterile developments in these times when the intellectual and the political relevance of art
Handwritten fragment of Alfian bin Sa’at’s poem.
In spite of being a central issue in the thinking about art today. and the relations at work between them. strikes. mourning the ghosts of a spectral history—a history yet to come—is a defining state in Hong Kong. sparks. a summoning of the ghost not my country” Photograph courtesy of Para/Site. The surrounding streams of tension in both Hong Kong and mainland China (which only intensified in the months after the event) entertained a sense of unease and unspoken hope. both in order to look at the art system in the city. a hong kong spring was the staging of encounters between a number of practitioners of our field. in which he describes the Hong Kong phenomenon of mourning for the loss of things that still Handwritten fragment of Alfian bin Sa’at’s poem. a museum that lacked satisfactory contemporary art programming) and. disembodiment and ungraspable nature of many current curatorial projects (a critique that does not exclude our own) seem to be better serving the system’s need for flexibility and unaccountability. our project followed neither the established structure of an exhibition. First and foremost. Looking at the project retrospectively. This looming sense of crisis in the vocabulary specific to exhibitionmaking feeds into the logic of the wider system—a system that constantly proclaims a crisis. however. people who each came from various contexts with different experiences of participation in the contemporary art system.
. away from the principles of production in the capitalist system. “Singapore you are exist. I will leave aside the forensic comparison of our original intent and its outcomes. I would like to go back to the beginnings of Para/Site and to another time in the history of contemporary art. and in order to interrogate the possibilities it offers for our own work. operates as if the very economic system that one opposes would still be organized along Fordist lines of production. hierarchies and translation issues are still at play? The most visible and perhaps the most successful component of rites. coming back every year with commencement and promise). Added to this is a fetishistic approach to theory and politics. this de-structuring was not the result of an a priori disengagement with such forms. and more precisely. “Singapore you are not my country” Photograph courtesy of Para/Site. the impending handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China. Nevertheless. nor the conventions of delivering art works and discursive items to audiences. In order to fully approach this question. swings. From large scale exhibitions based on nihilistic mantras that deny the very possibility of the art system to others that decompose exhibitions by staging them according to the logic of strolls in a park. and some lingering thoughts. Secondly. but rather. Looking at contemporary curatorial practices (and I am afraid that our project did more to feed into this logic than to effectively critique it). renaming themselves with various questionable synonyms. We tried to play this up. the curator’s need to constitute his or her own autonomous space of production. In the same way. starting with the very name of their profession. In that time of great uncertainty. on July 1st. such as the lack of contemporary art institutions in the city at the time (a fact that was made even more obvious by the earlier opening of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. what roles.
from newly established magazines to artists-turned-curators (and often. reproducing institutions. The above analysis was our premise.
110 Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor. or a strategic mistake altogether. is still a burning question for us. in many different parts of the world. and finally. taking us toward a dead end with yet more mistranslations and false assumptions along the way. During that phase of expansion. often directly towards the centers. The expansion has been remarkably successful. It is important to note that the geography of expansion towards the margins did not only follow the old colonial routes of expansion. curators-turned-gatekeepers). which still acted as filters of what was to be circulated further within the system. The lack of contemporary art institutions started to be recognized and named for the first time as such.
Whether or not this premise was naively ambitious (as many other previous attempts to create vehicles of internationalism were). I cannot help but ask the question that has been in many ways our greatest fear in the past decades: is the true nature of curating a metaphorical one?
. promoting the system within their contexts. This “resetting of the clocks” in the art scenes around the world and the abrupt synchronicity that the highly unified system and common language of contemporary art had brought about in the early nineties has nonetheless been imperfect. leaving some strains only partially connected and some narratives still un-translated in the different genealogies and the vastly different realities of production that were amalgamated. What occurred in Hong Kong and Singapore was analogous with what occurred in Glasgow and Scandinavia. was the artist-run-space. assuming that this internationalized field still has untapped potential for creating new forms of solidarity in addition to diving into the specificities and the un-translated blind spots that persist alongside the contemporary art nuclei in various parts of the world. the institution was in many ways also a symptom of a global phenomenon specific to the era. Yet perhaps the most available format.Historical specificity aside. practices and vocabularies. This happened as the places began to be regarded as part of the same realms as the regions in which the contemporary art system first emerged. Fast forward to 2012: a very different landscape emerges. the one that required minimal resources and better fit the pioneering ethos of the times. is our more melancholic question. bundled together by great economic forces. the global animal of contemporary art has indeed managed to impose a unified voice: common tools. mutually recognizable institutions. We chose to extract ourselves from the logic of furthering the global institutional construct but also from questioning the adequacy of contemporary art as a space for approaching our reality. not just by the founders of Para/Site in Hong Kong. The middle of the nineties witnessed an accelerated expansion of the system of contemporary art throughout the world. as margins within the central realms have been important pieces of this process. later. The methods of implementing the system relied on different agents—from biennials to residency programs. contemporary art set shop throughout the emerging world. 2011. Rite of Spring. Following the fluctuations of the economy more directly than ever in the history of art. Following the growing sparks and strikes that have been occurring in Hong Kong over the past months—ones that have primarily been set off by a young generation which has started to craft a new understanding of politics and self-organization that nobody would have been able to predict even at the beginning of the year—and following the language and use of spaces that are beyond the reach of art and its institutions. Following the great trade routes of the globalized era. and projecting production from their surroundings in the international field. which we accepted both as a critical description of our realities and as an aspirational project. and this in spite of the remaining (and mutating) differences. however. the anchor institutions performed an enthusiastic ambassadorial function. Photograph courtesy of Para/Site and the artists. Third.
probably several of them at the same time. and the perceptive complexity that accompanies them. and therefore stays in the realm of the known. Interest in young performance work has significantly increased in the last decade. with the development of numerous forms of support (networks. such acts of imagination always depend on a successful calculation between the present and the future. 2001). if we try to analyse this through the dynamics of contemporary production and the perspective of artistic labour. Performing Arts Journal. 149–150. It is directly related to the peculiar temporality implied by its use. The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition. Projective temporality also influences the acceleration of imaginative and creative work. “Projects” have turned out to be the ultimate horizon of creation today. of course. Lazzarato is describing the standardisation of social. However. residencies. So if you want to realize your dreams you have to work (always assuming that those dreams are
The Project Horizon: On the Temporality of Making
something that belong to a future scenario and not the present one). to squeeze too much out of a sheer pragmatic application of this particular word to artistic work? It is hard to say. The possibility is already implemented in it. continuously taking part in the relentless projective movement of production (and creation). art is losing its constitutive role in society. The Order of Things (Oxford: Routledge. demands continuous transformation toward a new. With this in mind. To do this. which Agamben has reflected upon) is the radical individualisation and homogenisation of subjectivity. Observable here is that through the new modes of working. politicians. producers and other cultural workers is the word “project”. but also overwhelmingly pervasive: everyone is involved in projects.
however. collaborating and creating. we are living in a time that is deeply characterised by the impotence and impossibility of imagining and creating modes of political and economic life different from the ones that we already know. and at the same time. Perhaps the term is being used pragmatically for a myriad of makings and doings. the production of subjectivity reveals itself to be the primary and most important form of production. 3 The use of the word. As Maurizio Lazzarato has said. Related to this is the fact that the production of subjectivity is at the core of contemporary capitalism. The intriguing relation between work and the future underlines the overwhelming use of the word “project” in artistic work as well as in other creative work in general. affective and communal sides of the contemporary human being. “Project” is also a name for a multitude of singular works. then. it does not produce the differences among them: at the end what always arises is a completion of already projected possibilities. but also a temporal attitude or temporal mode. educational formats. “Moreover. in the race to reach the horizon. and later. Over the course of this “projective time”. despite that so many creative people are preoccupied with imagining and creating proposals for the future.”4 With this production of subjectivity.) as a corollary. the ‘commodity’ that goes into the production of all other commodities. producers and all others who work in the so-called creative sector all are united through the one word with which they / we often use to name what they / we do: “projects”. it is always important to start again. it does not belong to the realm of change. In their discussion Fate Work. A significant amount of what artists and cultural workers do today seems to be caught up in this unaddressed and never-approached “projective time”. a concept that neglects to imply anything in particular.2 II. it nevertheless projects its own completion as the ultimate horizon of work. but at the same time. a paradox— in the continuity. one always has to begin again. insights emerge. and adding nothing to what we actually do. closely connected with contemporary post-Fordist modes of working.
I In recent decades.
2 Stefano Harney and Valentina Desideri. which is used for all kinds of cultural products and artistic works. the sheer frequency of the use of a particular notion or word can also be a reason for anxiety: the anxiety that springs precisely from the (sometimes unbearable) lightness with which the word “project” takes over the denomination of different activities and occupations. and therefore you’ll be productive. Stephano Harney and Valentina Desideri talk about how our current relation to the future has impacted our notion of work. a strategy. I would like to reflect upon how this peculiar temporality is framing contemporary artistic processes of making. it has never before been so standardised. they perpetually rehearse ways of imagining that which has yet to come or that which has yet to happen. This word seems to be not only endlessly extensible (it can describe anything and everything). However. and the productive processes of capitalism on the other.SPECULATION
The present text is a shorter version of the longer essay that was first published in the issue No. This overwhelming denomination. you have to work just as hard because you have to find a way. another indebted engagement to that which has yet to come. you will be working and you will be acting strategically towards a goal. Yet even while this “projective temporality” as I’ve described in the first part of the paper somehow opens many possibilities. “Project” always denominates. private notes. vol. In this peculiar continuity. 2012). artists are expected to successfully negotiate both realized and unrealized projects in addition to projecting new imaginaries upon the future. What is interesting about the status of young artists on the market is that
4 Maurizio Lazzarato. which belong to the production of value under capitalism today. the new start is not about differences but about another promise for the future. you are condemned to have a future. we’re condemned to work. However. it does not belong to the virtual. XXVII (Autumn 2012) of Maska. a link is forged between the work of artists and other creative forces on one hand. (Cambridge: MIT Press. Am I not inclined. as yet unpublished. Under capitalism. the projection can only be completed) if there is a successful financial implementation that enables the promise to be realized in the end. If you want to avoid work. 113
. etc. and. ones that come into existence as a continuity of endless additions (supplements). of course. there is always a breakthrough in which something different has to appear. The consequence of the standardisation of those forces (or of human potentialities. Whatever you choose. so that it stops functioning for a while and so that a space is opened up (a present). In order to change this dominant fate that wants to control the future. not only as a specific term. Since we’re condemned to have a future.3 This is. in the current economy.1 Of course. This is. Artists. All of us are finishing off old projects and starting up new ones. After each completion. if you are condemned to work. the future will come. where the completion is already implied in the projected future. “project” may also be brought to light with the help of Gilles Deleuze and his conceptualisation of the difference between virtual and possible: the project can only disclose the possible. namely contains a peculiar temporal dimension that has never been stressed or questioned as such.
of the word “project” because its sheer signification is never brought to task. An abstraction of language is at work in the use
1 112 Michel Foucault. In such a temporal dimension. you have to sabotage this double machine of work and future. denominating nothing. Paradoxically. scientists. you have to have a plan. the plain banality and everydayness of the use of the term “project” speaks to the fact that the term is often used as an empty signifier. which are difficult to maintain through these projective modes of working. the project can only be finished (or rather. The main paradox here is that artists are constantly challenged to imagine and to form proposals for the future. There are numerous reasons why this is so. Something very perplexing is at work here: regardless of the myriad possibilities it presents. In that sense. the ultimate horizon of the project can never be reached or exceeded. even more radical individualisation of the subject. however. creativity plays a central role in society today. 16. as Foucault once said. Fate Work: A Conversation. and in different places. whereby language and creativity (but also movement and lifelong learning) are the primary means of the production of value. the future is an open field ahead of us that we can shape and construct through our work. The role of art is closely related to both the inventive and imaginative temporal dimensions of being. These findings may be directly related to some of the characteristics of contemporary performance production. probably one of the most commonly used words among artists.
toward the accomplishment of that which was promised in the present. because with projective temporality. social and political relationships. a materialization. The “openness of the work” here is not necessarily connected to complexity and duration but is subjected to a rigid relation between work and the future. open processes. constantly in a state of “experimental precariousness”: a work force that is only illusorily well-paid. this situation is not without its consequences. have to be promising work—is shown and exchanged. where something is following something else from before. to the now without a future. Closely related to the role of time as one of the primary objects of capitalist production of value and privatisation is a project’s projected time frame. Projective temporality is closely intertwined with the subjective experience of time. the ideal intertwining of life and work is achieved through the project-work. but exactly this fusion of art. all work contexts seem to be the same (especially as they are increasingly managed in the same way). also less time to enable social. Indeed. collaborative. On that point. social. but also in the arts) is “deadline”. an experimental one. and at the same time the future is radically closed-off. because we have sold off the present in return for a project outline. The enumeration of projects is therefore connected to the notion of time acceleration. a pure completion. with the projective mode of working. out of the speculative balance between that which is and that which has yet to come. or even better: in the life of the artist. an implementation. In a project. it can be said that debt changes a society into a society without time. and which constantly has to be on the move in terms of travelling from residency to residency. shortening the duration of life lived “in the present”: it is as if we believe that only through such acts will the future arrive. the problem is that the future is never truly imagined anew. the differences between communities and collaborative complexities have become invisible. It is the material of social and aesthetic change. Only when we are able to simply be “alive” in the present will radical alternatives begin to bloom once again. Thus. Ironically. In many cases. Such a resistance to duration underpins the current discussions about crisis and austerity measures. availability and the sustainability of antagonisms. Art production and creation must therefore rethink the relation between temporality and its production. There is a lot of speculation in the current economy about the value of the artistic life as it becomes a perfect model
of contemporary living. For many. political or intimate relations. contemporary modes of working suffer from a real deprivation of time—an actual one. What we lack is the actual time of the present. This phenomenon indicates first and foremost the instability of contemporary artistic value that has to be mediated and tested continuously. intimate.5 This balance (or lack thereof) is precisely the reason why many people feel that present time is somehow disappearing.
tightly bound to the constellations of power in the present. which at the same time is. In that sense. It is not the fact that artistic life is fascinating per se. 2012). perceptual manifoldness. but also. the market is not actually interested in the pieces themselves. The possibility of the future only emerges in the balance with the current power structures: projective temporality is never related to the time out of joint. showings. with no after-experience. In such a situation. It seems as if the time frame of each individual project also influences the rhythm of the transformation of subjectivity. and find new ways in which to push the time “out of joint”. life and work is at the core of urban land speculation in addition to the popularity of specific modes of working through radical individualisation and project-oriented sociability. since every possible deviation of the debtor has to be put aside. and it is tightly fused with different economic processes (such as gentrification). but rather in artistic life. lies in the fact that the the lives of those who are involved in the continuous creation of projects in the cultural and artistic field are deeply affected by the projective temporality of work. The main problem of such continuous movement toward completion and consummation is in the fact that we are not referring to chronological temporality here. one of the words most used in cultural production to complete a project (especially in the academic sphere. but because of the “promise” they embody as regards their “young practice”: their work has actually to materialize. It is precisely this potentiality that is diminished in many societies today. The only way in which we maintain a relation to our present is through its administrative and managerial regulation. which is combined with the constant evaluation and re-evaluation of what we have done. with that. its value circulated. and. exhaustion and withdrawal. with that. contemporary subjectivities are increasingly experienced as the simultaneity of many projects. the difference between the two may only make itself known in the moment of break and total exhaustion. but we don’t actually move anywhere. a fruitful venue for formal analysis that would draw upon the example of young performance artists is the way in which “experimental openness” is administrated through projective temporality. toward the realization of possibilities. we not only have less and less time for work because we are so preoccupied with a foreseen but as-yet-unrealised future. When it comes to understanding the value of artists’s work. and that we will emerge from our crisis. It thus comes as no surprise that much art today is produced through numerous residencies. the project becomes the ultimate horizon of our experience. where the unexpected happens only because of the outburst of crisis. a strategy for managing the temporality of subjectivity—and the project itself very often functions in exactly the same way that debt does (though sometimes the word “promise” is preferred in the cultural and artistic sectors because it evokes a sense of generosity). It is precisely current power structures that also give us the belief that it is possible to foresee what is actually unforeseen. as we know. they have also been disempowered of their political power. cultural and political contexts of work. which must be flexible. A project is also
not a progression. The projective temporality of both work and activity is also intertwined with the acceleration of that same activity. not only a theoretical one: we never actually have time. but remains even more
5 We can again make the comparison with debt—debt namely is calculated future. public. especially when the act of considering the possibilities of a project implies the future. and of the surreptitious imposition of radicalism upon their experimentation and research processes. In this “projective endlessness”. be they private.
. Such a changing and flexible work force must always aim itself toward finalization. an equilibrium between the present and future is set up. At the same time. and works-in-progress. because there are so many projects to complete. yet at the same time move toward an accomplishment. an illusory feeling that everything continues on into eternity somewhat lightens up this tension. To that. In this regard. At the same time. Nor is it a narrative line. however. from their antagonistic and multiple forms of complexity. a daring one). it tells us a lot about the work that young artists produce today. It seems that the more there is to a project and the more possibilities there are to be completed in the future. The problem. through this exchange. From this. In that sense. and at the same time forms the peculiar temporality of subjectivity that is involved in its completion. no difference is produced. Artists participate in the production of subjectivity (a promising one. there are many mortal limits to be crossed. we are constantly projecting. the abstract omnipresence of such a state of affairs literally absorbs the experience of artistic work and work-making. because it is diminishing complexity. It is subjected to both the administration of the future and the recognition of the values that have yet to come. due to the administrative accomplishment of possibilities and as projective speculation of a planned but not-yet-lived future. still-incomplete work—noting that it does. The dynamic of projective temporality may concur with the role of debt in today’s economic. Austerity measures purify the present. subsequently affirmed. in the sense that whatever has yet to come is already projected in the present. or otherwise. In Lazzarato’s The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition (Boston: MIT Press. one might also add the temporal acceleration of productive subjects that is evidenced in the position of artists in society today: they are highly individualized and selfadministrated autonomous productive monads who all compete on the market with their enumeration of projects. However. a consummation of creative life. Debt has to neutralize time. one last comparison with another current problematic social dimension is perhaps useful. Debt is. where unfinished. it is directly related to artistic and aesthetic practice. subjectivity is abstracted from the present social. It must share the process of aesthetic transformation with its audience in addition to being prepared for lifelong learning. The present is thus a debt that we owe to the future: in order to live better we should not live in the present. and. It is no coincidence that debt is understood as the theft of time.they are not necessarily in the spotlight because of the projects they have already finished. Here. Time-deprivation is therefore cancelling the imagination and the creation of radical gestures in addition to disabling all experimentation with an enduring present. with projective time. and secondly. with all its imaginative and creative force. artists and other cultural workers have actually become more and more abstracted from the current context of work. At the end of any given project stands a mortal limit. however. That so many people consistently lack time is paradoxical. Temporality is at the core of the production of difference. the less time there is at our disposal to endure in the present (or in many different presents) and. Furthermore. A constant dispossession of duration is likewise at work in our society. The goal is always to reach something within the horizon of the project. a challenging one.
55. In collaboration with inhabitants and a support group of the tribe. if anything.7% 
We Will Win
31%  69% 
14. The surveys will achieve their purpose if they can make even a modest contribution to ongoing discussions of the role of art in the context of governmental power.1% 
17. In the first section. Invited to rework the project for the 2010 Taipei Biennial.6%  50%  30. I contributed to Taipei Biennial with a site-specific intervention with the Shijhou tribe.6% 
38. The aim was to understand public perceptions of the WE WILL WIN intervention. For Manifesta Journal 16. the work managed to accomplish in people’s perceptions. The intervention was located at the center of contested plans to dismantle housing for the purpose of “improving the quality of life” in a larger operation of “urban renewal”. 3) Audience members and 4) Staff / Interns.9%  61. Selections
2.5%  4.8%  64%  23%  3. Do you agree that art should be a critical power?
3.9%  5. The format of the survey was appropriated from market research techniques. and at the same time disclose the different agendas within the culture industry.9%  38. The survey addressed four groups that had a direct interaction with the art world: 1) Decision makers / managers. Do you think that art is a democratic and egalitarian field?
In 2008. attempting to explore what exactly.1% 
9.8%  6.7%  38.We Will Win Survey. I decided to conduct a survey that explored the impact of the WE WILL WIN intervention and the implications of the critical practice that it entailed. 2) Curators / Artists. which included the resulting data and its accompanying text.4%  42. I constructed a banner that claimed: “WE WILL WIN”. The questions in the second section related specifically to the work.2%  62. I investigated the general idea of how art is perceived.9%  44.3% 
57. The banner “spoke” from the ground up to the heights where powerful elites both plan and surveil their city.6% 
16.1%  13. readers will find excerpts from the book.
8%  55.5%  3.2%  3% 
0%  72%  28% 
3.9%  34. group or place.3%  34.5%  0% 
We Will Win
10%  55%  35% 
10.5%  48.7%  9.8%  12. Do you agree that criticality depends on specificity? (We mean a mode of address from a specific person.5%  21.8%  9.8%  74.1%  53. If No: Why not?
4.6%  16.4%  50.7% 
55.7%  21. If Yes: Why?
5.6%  44.4.3%  6.)
Freedom of expression
Openness to all
Labor exploitation conditions
Other: see page 39
100%  0%  0% 
10%  60%  30% 
0%  27.5%  32.8% 
. group or place to a specific person.9% 
2%  18. Did you like the project?
We Will Win
62.6%  41. an artistic conception and creativity Need the strong heart Cosmology Talent and luck Fortune and chance Creativity The political position and sensitivity of one’s own The power to touch people’s heart Need more creation Think seriously the essence of the art itself Unique version Self-characteristic Sustaining power The crossover and diverse generosity and appreciation All of the above
70.3%  29.5% 
Being prolific Personality.5%  30.8% 
To enlarge the declining mainstream concept The idea of the artist himself.7% 
79. messages he wants to convey. passion Individuality Humanities Above all Creativity
. Do you think that art should be autonomous from dominant political and economic power?
81.1%  38. it’s like osmosis of excrement Priority of the artworks Desire and ambition The true nature of creation
61.1%  37. to interact and communicate Subvert stereotype Personal taste and appreciation.7%  20.9% 
We Will Win
The sensibility and the ability of expression Fresh issue Style. What would you say is important for a young artist’s success?
No (for comments see page:41-50)
Attitude Originality Luck in balancing all of the above Self and the Other.3% 
77%  23% 
69. also the level of practice The passion and true heart of life
criticizing. different talents. bold
All above The political situation in Taiwan interferes with different aspects of life There is no equality Art is merely a medium. we should be win! Fighting for the justice Opposing Change Clear. art is different from other fields. eye-catching Trying to know the truth from different perspectives 1.
Consciously Minority Pure The influence Attitude. and a free form of display thoughts. different surroundings. different power relations. in the market or perspectives from general people
Now. its just showing what artists idea about the life he experienced
It’s another structure The core and the edge The talent is different Art could be subjective From every perspectives. different histories. politics that shows in art is not talking about politics. More self-formed class (rank) theories Different backgrounds. a position/a view Soft power Yes.B. the resistance of living environment and volition All of the above It is controlled by elites Justice doesn’t really exist I do not think democracy is a correct word to describe art world Above all. to unveil the problems Humanity Concise and powerful Not obvious Clear appeal Flustering. Therefore. introspection. direct
We Will Win
It is one of the modalities of cultural-colonialism and globalization
Art is a kind of privilege Hyped Marketing Not correlated It isn’t totally democratic Equally co-existed Clever and engaged Provocative. different situations. If No: Why not?
C. please indicate why?
The capability Art is everything. funny and strong Poetic Art intervenes the society. The truth 2. Caring about the issue on the marginalized society Because of its political engagement Concerning the locals It strictly go into the system by way of the hierarchy of global art Art intervenes the public area in the society Power and people Locality and to be visualized It is meaningful and beautiful Deep into the edge of the city. there’s no ontological essence in it The value of art is disgraceful. different institutions. the legal violence of bureaucrat Simple. no matter it is at school. everybody regards it as a commodity The difference of gift and talent. there is central and margin Art is always unique
. If Yes: With a keyword or two. and the method of evaluation is nonsense Mostly they are just toys of the rich It does not belong to the structure of such procedure The maturity of the society The gap between the rich and poor Art is subjective Once you are in connection with the authority...
to tell the truth. free speech Reality Attention-drawing . return Justice Beautify
We Will Win
Integrate with the reality To reflect the reality Draw people’s attention to this issue Reality Concern the community Revolution right Represent people’s thoughts Gold It’s a breakthrough Cool It’s a new style of expressionism and peace Devotion Crash effect Independence Art exists for people’s life Admiring and supporting To fight with desire To care about the minority. gentrification Meaningful and active It’s surviving art To go beyond To be critical To express rationally Straightforward. you will win To be simple and clear To speak it out Announcement Competition Love and care
We Will Win
Protection and anti-capitalism Social justice Deference To speak out We will win Influence.Make a statement Cool Against the real estate company Contradiction To arouse people’s attention Ambitious Co-exist with the local Retort Free and critic To tell the truth Public engagement and the conscious of democracy Introspection Let people know the truth Belief Bless. powerful. society To be meaningful To be symbolic To arouse public opinion Design It improves people’s life. no dirty secret behind Collaboration and win To express the feeling of minority Social practice The concept and expression is simple and clear which is very impressive Reality The power of art to combine with life. not for the benefit of itself but entire human beings To change everything from head to toe To reflect and convey the message To be powerful Once you insist.think differently To speak out for the locals Social related It’s sharp The cliff Show the justice of society Attentive Things that exist in reality To be meaningful Social care Freedom Culture and ethnic groups To be meaningful To fight with authority To fight for the truth Honest. influence. a kind of social movements To be clear In chaos To help the minority to win Natural and environmental care To care It’s a bridge It should be promoted
Observe the little things Intervention.not radical. concern To gain extra leverage To be critical Digest people’s thinking toward future To look for the beauty in our living space Power Fight. exposure. terrific Win-win situation It’s decayed Criticize. and make it better! Power. it’s critical and disguised
. it’s controversial We will win! Re-exam the problem To introspect and insist Thank you! Announce and challenge Speak for the people It’s creative and speak for the local Care Creativity Rebuild and become better Challange and sensitive It’s so meaningful Criticality and popularity Anomie Human rights Let people pay attention to this issue It’s special and unique This artwork comes from love towards human beings To be direct To be disappearing To be critical Reflect the reality and criticize the cliché of bureaucracy None Reality Cool and meaningful Golf course The conscious of the locals Simple and clear Keep working!! and you will be cool Practical involvement Controversial village. and discovering Protect the minority To express the expectation of local people peacefully but strongly Self-expressive Hope
Justice and mercy At least it’s optimistic Just three words but simple and clear Social participation It’s worth to be discussed.
which change people’s life. poor museum display Invalid The authenticity that people joined with this issue Grandstand act Politicalization What you want to say from the picture? Invalid. I don’t think this is an art piece than a social event Using English for the slogan is bit weird here and it isn’t so catchy Too direct It’s a bit prejudiced
We Will Win
Esoteric.D. safety Independent. Art project that change people’s mind. please indicate why not?
To care To be honest The reality To be influential To be powerful To go beyond Fighting To use the simple slogan express our thoughts to the government Justice To show the reality To speak for the people Win To support the minority and against the authority To express people’s thoughts clearly To be engaged in the society. care. not art Politics You can’t call it art You are trying to create conflicts It’s too biased I don’t have interest in it Not aesthetical
. resolution and focusing Speaking for the minorities We will win Practical and provoking Humanity Express the truth Reminding and existence Exposing abuses Radical point of view Simple&powerful Hollywood copy No feeling A closed statement. disconnected. minor group Minorities Lower golf course Anger
Isolation It can be replaced by other forms Political profit It’s a social event. and speak for the people Myth Environmental protection. murmuring Chaotic You want to be on the headline It’s a social movement. Not sure if it was the compromise of the artist or the people in the tribe didn’t support it It consumes the source material/ topic No creativity
Power To combine art with life Justice Supporting minorities Autonomy Daring. If No: With a keyword or two. and it didn’t lead to any protest. critical Seeable Concern. to observe and to introspect To resist Very good Living right To be provocative Great! Localization. fake issue The work was torn down too fast. to speak out Power of the truth To claim equal rights and against bureaucracy The value of existence Special & good for loca people To challenge and care To be friendly The silent protest
To criticizes the government’s political thinking and lack of humanitarian thinking Urban renewal For the sake of people’s welfare and keep originals Stress out minority issues Accuracy Enjoy Cool Speak for art and see the truth lies within Peace Have given much thought Clear appeal We Interesting Concern. fake issue Hard to feel its effect Invalid.
implying violence and abuse Temporary. these words are not enough. not like art Advantages and disadvantages. Will more people think of this as a kind of art? Where is the beauty of it? I don’t see any aesthetics within
Stunt I don’t understand So what Shallow and simple Not remarkable enough Very documental Worries It’s too political. with a political point of view doesn’t make sense to me.hypocritical Some places are not supposed to live. we should not compare them with others Art should be independent from subjective criticizing Temporary spokesman More like a slogan Local referendum and leave it to the government Nonsense Not beautiful like a art should be No feeling Too sharp Benefit The opposite Ordinary If you want to express something clearly. Art shouldn’t be subjective Close to life Vulnerable I can’t see its aesthetics What is the point? Is it only an artist show? On purpose At present Provoking ethnic disharmony Oppression
We Will Win
We Will Win
Too political Art is to influence people for what they constantly see and hear. response Controversy Political appeal Art production shouldn’t be connected to demonstration Lower golf-course It’s just social appeal
Pretentious and kitsch Effortless Lost Too controversial To be critical Over-confident It’s fake Demonstration To lose the motive of pure beauty Too controversial
.Not so beauty Trivial What do you want to show? No Should increase amount Can’t agree with it Self-satisfied The message is too plain without any self-reflection and self-criticism No comment If the mudflows and landslides happened. but not criticizing Vulgar Effect. spokesperson Not complete enough It’s cliche The target is too obvious Failure or success. so we should solve it in a political way To write in metaphor has less direct effect than you expected To be influenced by ideology Decontextualized. it’s all up to politics In vain Chaos It’s silly! too many contemporary artists are going to the wrong direction A waste So what? Conflict Some where i belong Is it powerful? Real estate company Political art The statement is too abrupt Too critical Freedom
The benefits To be extreme Art and politics should be separated To remove the imprint To disturb Too idealistic Strange Like a political statement Protection To be cruel The form of this work is too simple No sense of aesthetics The image is lack of group power Powerless To appropriate Useless. passers-by. scoop. just don’t ask for the national compensation Flat Can’t attract people’s attention It’s the issue of politics. innocent Not controversial Safety is the only concern Repetition To interfere with the tribe Art doesn’t need to be defined It’s just scoop Art shouldn’t be integrated with politics and business Ordinary It’s a conscious embedded performance art. To criticize something in the name of art. to mock social prototype.
Feelings and emotions are generally considered to be features of the individual. during conversations about politics. T tells P that she has finished and then asks P. putting the problem / question in the middle of the page and linking it out to all the thoughts. Minimum time is ten minutes. she may resort to therapy. (2) what we normally consider political problems. for example. nor want. a “political problem” is any problem. Haï (Paris: Flammarion. G.M. Le Clézio. There is no specific discipline or theory behind it. intellectual and spiritual. In that case it is enough to communicate this to your partner or stop the session entirely at any moment. at an occupation. for speculation to happen and for politics to be felt. Why do I feel this way? Why is this wrong? Is it wrong? How are the categories of right and wrong defined.
Who should give / receive Political Therapy?
Whoever puts him / herself in a position to give or receive a political therapy session is someone interested and open to discovering new ways of discussing politics. therapy is revealed to be a “treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder. Political Therapy deals with problems of a political nature and creates the conditions to develop other languages to talk about and live through politics. You can do it at home. at friend’s place. then we must also recognize that: (1) troubling feelings are not only individual problems but political problems. Its practice develops as it happens.
What is Therapy?
“Therapy is not the return of the sick body to normality but of Being to what is possible to be. However well-intentioned. J-M. as long as you have enough space for the patient to lie down. of an ideal healthy subject that consequently becomes the goal of the therapy. Le Clèzio
Should I give / receive Political Therapy?
Yes. at a dinner party. The session addresses a political problem that has been brought forward by the patient. To practice you can make your own deck of fake therapy cards. (as Denise Ferreira da Silva has aptly put it). connecting it with the original issue. It may be something that bothers or preoccupies her. when you or someone else around you has a political problem. how she is feeling and if any images. This is best if it is formulated as a question. as the negative feelings produced by the violent encounter with social norms rest solely on the individual. wordpress.”
Franco “Bifo” Berardi
How should I give / receive Political Therapy?
One person takes the role of the Therapist (T) and the other person takes the role of the Patient (P). If we instead assume that feelings and emotions are not only a feature of the individual. 131
. Anyone is welcome to practice it.” Yet. He or she does not mind pretending. Most often. ideological. however. Shame. and their connections with society often disregarded. to be fixed. this opportunity is not taken up. affect people on all levels: physical. at an art fair. Once again consulting the Oxford Dictionary. T invites P to embody her political problem and to lie down either on her front or back. and is a person capable of engaging in a present with no future goals or guarantees. When their weight becomes too great. who is made to bear those feelings alone. They shall continue until they both feel it has been enough. What a political problem may be is a category for us to define further. conceptual or existential level. emotional. who is still embodying the problem. A feeling such as shame might then provide the opportunity to collectively question social values (i. T shuffles the set of fake therapy cards and picks the first four cards from the top of the deck. the problem is treated as an occasion for language to develop. In operation.. but are also features of the social. ideas and possibilities that have emerged from the discussion.”
J.1 they therefore cannot exclusively be dealt with on an intellectual level. or issues. personal.
Patient Information Leaflet
What is Political Therapy?
Practiced between two individuals. personal communication. who is nonetheless fully committed and clear in his or her intentions.
1 130 Denise Ferreira da Silva. of normality. 1971): 7. you must be willing to take that risk. regardless of whether it is primarily lived out on a practical.G. T invites P to tell her what her political problem is. You can find the existing cards here: http://faketherapy. and it mixes direct discussion of political issues with hands-on healing in order to develop other languages and ways of dealing with politics. T and P engage in a discussion about the problem starting from what they experienced during the therapy.. such an understanding of therapy as a “fixing” procedure avoids questioning the very categories of thinking that give rise to the “problem” in the first place.
Where I should practice Political Therapy?
You can practice political therapy anywhere political problems present themselves that you want to deal with. thought or question that has a political dimension for the person who experiences it. thoughts or sensations during the therapy have come to P’s mind.
Political therapy is a playful way I have found to engage with this issue. at a conference. It is a form of therapy for those who neither need. You may also practice political therapy with whomever you would like. The role of therapist and patient are always exchangeable. Neither the therapist nor the patient is responsible for any kind of “solution” to the problem. T can start from the indication written on the cards to give a pretend “hands-on healing” session to P until T feels that it is enough. Option: T and P can write a conceptual map together.
Franco “Bifo” Berardi. in a comfortable and relaxed position. a disorder is a social category defined against a category of order. at work.e.
“Perhaps one day we will know that there wasn’t any art but only medicine. personal communication. and by whom? et cetera). is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour.” but “wrong” or “foolish” are categories defined by social norms. It entails individual sessions of approximately one hour. It is also possible that your political behaviour may change in unforeseeable ways.
What are the possible side effects of Political Therapy?
Some feel uncomfortable touching or being touched. T and P consult each other briefly in order to formulate P’s problem in the most concise and clear way.
after having been the curator at BAK: basis voor actuele kunst. will be released by Fordham University Press in 2013.
Curator and writer Cosmin Costinaş (b. Burak Delier (b. a city-wide biennial exhibition with public programs at major museums and galleries in New York. Ekaterinburg (in 2010). dramaturge and performance theoretician. which is shot in Germany and Brazil. Sexuality. Yugoslav Black Wave Cinema (JvE Academy) and editor of Postfordism and its Discontents (JvE Academy/Peace Institute). a researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas at the National University of Mexico. Marc Nichanian is today a visiting professor at Sabanci University (Istanbul). Garwood Centennial Professor of English and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and is the author of An Archive of Feelings: Trauma.
com) practices both Fake and Political Therapy. A renowned scholar in Middle East studies and former Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. Mourning Philology. Ariella Azoulay (http://cargocollective. Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz (www. art critic and historian based in Mexico City. Praia do Futuro.com) is a Brazilian scriptwriter. freelance writer and international programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival. has been presented at Tensta Konsthall. Mexico. or in the form of medically usable remains—become the sites of economic. He graduated from film studies at Bristol University. Maja Petrović-Šteger (mp333 [at] cam. In 2009. Cuauhtémoc Medina (cuauhtemoc [at] manifesta. Hong Kong. Kassel/ Vienna (2005–2007). Professor at Columbia University (New York) until 2007. Georges Didi-Huberman is a philosopher and art historian who has published some forty books about history and the theory of images in addition to having curated several internationally-renowned exhibitions. and. director and video artist from Recife. writes biographies by reading people’s palms. and is currently in the throes of production of his next feature. where she directs their international Master’s program in Choreography and Performance. Utrecht (2008– 2011). Marcelo Gomes (marcelogomesfilms [at] gmail. 1982.Contributors
Leeza Ahmady is an independent art curator and educator based in New York. Stockholm (2012) and Homeworks 5. Karim Aïnouz is a Brazilian-Algerian filmmaker and visual artist. among which is Les Bavardages du Seul. He is now developing a radio documentary trilogy produced by The Showroom London and Casco Utrecht. boudry-lorenz. Beirut (2010). Ann Cvetkovich is the Ellen C. and the curator of the last Manifesta 9: The Deep of the Modern. legal. a Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation (Pluto. Romania) is now the director of Para/Site.com) holds a PhD on the topic of French Contemporary Philosophy and Socialist Yugoslavia (University of Nova Gorica).com/ AriellaAzoulay) is at Brown University and is the author of Civil Imagination (Verso. Valentina Desideri (valedesideri [at] gmail.de) live and work in Berlin.org) is an international curator. dead. and Lesbian Public Cultures (2003) and Depression: A Public Feeling (2012).
London-based artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s ongoing project. he obtained a degree in Architecture at TU— Berlin. A philosopher. among other things. Robert Burghardt is assistant professor at the Academy of Fine Arts (Nuremberg) and is interested in collective art practices. where they have been collaborating since 1998. Khaled Fahmy is currently Professor and Chair of the History Department at the American University of Cairo.uk) is a social anthropologist who researches various contexts where bodies—whether living. scientific and artistic attention. and the editor of the documenta 12 magazines.ac. as part of a PhD at the Centre for Research in Architecture at Goldsmiths College. She has conducted long-term fieldwork in Serbia. which was awarded the 2004 Algerian prize for Best Novel. the co-curator of the 1st Ural Industrial Biennial. Mustapha Benfodil is an Algerian writer. Tasmania.
Rasha Salti is an independent curator. His forthcoming book. 2012).
Gal Kirn (galkirn [at] gmail. playwright and journalist who has written several plays and novels. Co-editor of Encountering Althusser (Continuum). Aural Contract. Bojana Kunst is a professor at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Justus Liebig University Giessen. and with the Swiss art collective etoy. 2012) and From Palestine to Israel. 1977) is an Istanbul-based artist who explores the relationship between capitalism and contemporary artistic practices. he does research at the ICI-Berlin on the topic of the Politics of Memory in the (post-) Yugoslav context. makes performances. political. She is the director of Asian Contemporary Art Week.
.i.org.u. Since January 2011. Manifesta Journal is made possible with the generous support of
Prinsengracht 175 hs NL .Hito Steyerl never managed to work as the documentary film director she was trained to be. and president of the French Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery. A consulting professor at Goldsmiths College. Adnan Yıldız has been the artistic director of Künstlerhaus Stuttgart. For any queries regarding copyright please contact subscription@ manifesta. she has been seen on an unspecified dirt road humming Elvis’ “Trying to Get to You” from the legendary Sun Studio recording sessions. Lately. London. Françoise Vergès (cus01fv [at] gold. ac. If you wish to use any content please contact the copyright holder directly. Photo © Robert Burghardt
PUBLISHED BY Manifesta Foundation Amsterdam.. Every effort has been made to contact the rightful owners of all content with regards to copyrights and permissions. at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart and Platform3. post-colonial museography and diasporic worlds in the Indian Ocean. The Netherlands CHIEF EDITOR Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez ASSOCIATE EDITOR Virginie Bobin GUEST EDITOR Rasha Salti MANAGING EDITOR Lisa Mazza and Georgia Taperell Assisted by Yvonique Wellen COPY EDITOR Shannon d’Avout GRAPHIC DESIGN g. Attribution—Non-Commercial— No Derivatives
All commissioned and reproduced texts are published here with the full consent of their authors. We apologize for any inadvertent errors or omissions. Paris: Nicolas Couturier Bachir Soussi-Chiadmi TRANSLATIONS Ariella Azoulay: Tal Harn (Hebrew—English) Mustapha Benfodil: Alena Jones (French—English) Georges Didi-Huberman: Shane Lillis (French—English) Marc Nichanian: Gil Anidjar (French—English) Françoise Vergès: Shane Lillis (French—English)
The contents of this journal are published according to the terms of the Creative Commons License unless otherwise mentioned. + 31 (0) 20 672 1435 (office) Fax + 31 (0) 20 470 0073 subscription@manifesta. He is currently producing a series of solo exhibitions called the Artistic Dialogues at Künstlerhaus Stuttgart.1015 DS Amsterdam The Netherlands Tel. in addition to a discussion-based event program called Critical Voices.uk) has collaborated on many cultural and artistic manifestations and has published widely on the topic of colonial memories. and another called Methodical Inquiries at Polistar Gallery. designed by Dušan Djamonja (1967). Istanbul. in Munich.
cover image Kosmaj monument. alternative cartographies.