e-flux journal issue 84

e-flux journal issue 84

e-flux journal

Photo: comment_ddb.

September 7, 2017
e-flux journal issue 84

with Emily Apter, Boris Groys, Houria Bouteldja,​ Rob Goyanes, Oxana Timofeeva, Claire Fontaine, Rijin Sahakian, Francesca Hughes, and Jacob Stewart-Halevy
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Indentured to the past, we drag our inherited identities through a forest of networks bursting with mysterious intellectual fruit. We’re not sure which concepts are poisonous and which are safe. History is like a mistranslated phrasebook full of old-fashioned illustrations which everyone makes fun of on the internet. Attempts at organization feel fanciful and absurd: eclectic inventories of apocalypse-kitsch. In “A Palace of Unsaids,” Rob Goyanes considers the work of mourning under twenty-first century conditions. Does it matter if we show up to the wrong shift at the memorial-factory as long as we do our time?

Those that insist on mourning only their own ancestors are practicing what Boris Groys calls “vertical solidarity,” which sees the world as fundamentally organized by competition not between classes, but between expanded territorial kin-structures. Nothing is more vertical than patriarchy, in this respect, insofar as it is patriarchal anxiety which stand guards over whatever inheritance which is ‘passed down,’ from generation to generation. As a result, Houria Bouteldja demonstrates, indigenous women frequently find themselves trapped between colonial and peripheral patriarchies. This competition makes any “horizontal solidarity” between women difficult, because it passes over the entrenched persistence of colonial patriarchy to celebrate isolated instances of its refusal at the periphery.

Perhaps a more promising basis for horizontal solidarity might be the de-territorialized, planetary relationship to petroleum that Oxana Timofeeva theorizes in “Ultra-Black: Towards a Materialist Theory of Oil.” A layer of energy sedimented beneath our feet from the lives of creatures past gives a concrete reality to the idea that capital represents an accumulation of dead labor. The potential at work in this common relationship to oil is why the United States so aggressively mobilized the national-chauvinist brand of vertical solidarity before each of its military excursions in Iraq, as Rijin Sahakian shows in “What We Are Fighting For.” Here, too, shifts in media technology—from broadcast to cable news, from cable news to the internet—have not changed the imperialist emphasis on gender roles in the process of reproduction. From nuclear family-themed Super Bowl halftime shows to lies about killing babies, our screens have only intensified the distribution of misinformation. Francesca Hughes reaches back to the legacy of the Arab-Islamic renaissance to provide a deep epistemology of the screen as stretched, quite literally, between two figures previously responsible for representing the process of knowledge, the tower and the corridor, or passageway. Jacob Stewart-Halevy looks at a more recent century to compare how moving-picture technology has approached questions of work and labor across distinct regimes of accumulation.  

Is the image or the word more immediately horizontal? Which requires more translation? The verticality of language frequently confronts the moment when translation gives way to what Emily Apter calls “Armed Response.” How do we judge what we hear or read? And how is this process different than what we bring to bear on what we see? Why is nationalism so image-heavy, when it is language that gets all the credit for separating nations? This question takes on unique weight in an international art world that moves between territories and languages on a regular basis. Claire Fontaine collects a chorus of anonymous responses to Documenta, as a way of avoiding re-inscribing the show’s vertical lines. “The chorus’s function is to comment and highlight the key moments of a Greek tragedy, in order to help the public position itself in relation to the events represented.” Hopelessly horizontal, anonymity resists accumulation, lighting a path to the exit.



In this issue:

Emily Apter—Armed Response: Translation as Judicial Hearing
To hear “rightly” is to register acoustical rightness or trueness not only by means of forensic acoustics, or by moral criteria of right and wrong, but according to measures of rhythmic beauty (euruthmoi) and mellifluous accompaniment. “To accompany” (akoloutheî means to follow or to flow from) lies at the heart of what Plato, in the Republic, identified with the poetic. For Plato, just as matter must follow soul, so musical harmony and rhythm must follow poesis. Good rhythm in this sense accompanies, agrees with, or “goes along with” fine speaking. For Plato, making a “right” republic necessitates allowing the superior register to lead, and ensuring that its accompaniment be a good match.6 We could say that Plato gives us the “good match” theory of just translation.

Boris Groys—Trump’s America: Playing the Victim
The way from neoliberalism to neofascism becomes clear enough. And this way is very short indeed. Both neoliberalism and neofascism believe in competition—this is what distinguishes them from international socialism. Neoliberals tend to think that they will always be the winners of this competition. The losers will be always the famous Other. Liberals are ready to preach recognition of the Other, respect for the Other, etc. But it seems that they can hardly imagine a situation in which they themselves become these Others.

Houria Bouteldja—We, Indigenous Women
Must we necessarily subscribe to feminism? And why is this question, in and of itself, already an intolerable transgression? If so, does a new feminism need to be invented? For my part, I prefer to remain prudent and examine the matter more closely. We live in a complicated time, and this complexity makes our self-definition more difficult. Be that as it may, there is a need to clarify and to analyze in order to lead struggles that are adapted to our condition as nonwhite women of the East. For the purposes of our cause, I’m willing to use the concept of “decolonial feminism.” Though it does not entirely satisfy me, it’s a compromise between a certain resistance to feminism at home and throughout the Third World, and the massive, disturbing reality of the multidimensional violence that is inflicted on us, a violence that is produced by states and by neoliberalism.

Rob Goyanes—A Palace of Unsaids
The self is constituted by others; everybody is somebody’s Jew. Look to the Muslims murdered en masse in the Middle East, harassed and killed in the United States; the war against black lives carried out by cops and klans and right-wing terrorists; the classist eugenics performed on the poor by the extractive networks of capitalism; the Native victims of cultural and natural destruction via unregulated development of indigenous lands; the many displaced by the gentrification of urban space. And no matter who you are, at one point or another in your life, you are your own Jew.

Oxana Timofeeva—Ultra-Black: Towards a Materialist Theory of Oil
What we think is solid ground in fact just covers this tenacious black liquid, a subterranean cemetery of enormous animals that inhabited the Earth long before us. I even believed that the scary dinosaurs could reemerge from the swamp-like pools created by oil spills, like the Loch Ness monster protruding from the water. Dialectically, oil retained something from that organic life, the death of which was its origin. The oil of my childhood was neither living nor dead, but a living dead, an undead, or an uncanny and utterly inhuman afterlife of ancestral animals.

Claire FontaineChorus Anonymous
Clear opinions are not expressed in the art world because they earn people enemies and having enemies is a luxury, these days: in a liberal world nobody can afford them.

Rijin Sahakian—What We Are Fighting For
Trump speaks excitedly, as though he is the first person to think of bombing the shit out of Iraq. He speaks about the beauty of the burning oil fields remade in Exxon’s image. A year later, Trump’s words proved prescient. In the summer of 2016, oil fields across northern Iraq burned, with credit due not to Trump, but ISIS. Civilians in northern Iraq lived under a thick layer of toxic soot for eight months until the fires were finally put out in February 2017. Time will tell what damage, generational and in this lifetime, was caused to humans and the environment alike. Meanwhile, Trump also proposed a 10 percent increase—fifty-four billion dollars—in the US military budget, because we are going to win. What you can’t take by being a nice guy, you take by force. Beautiful women, oil fields, whatever.

Francesca Hughes—Truth is in the Tower
Like all the formal logic and universal language systems that followed, Llull’s Ars is highly reductive and compressive in its makeup, comprising a set of basic truths designed so that any process can be broken down to a series of fundamental operational steps. This mandated processing of only-one-thing-at-a-time has constrained every computer since, no matter how powerful. The spatial reduction it delivers is not simply a response to archival exigencies but also key to reactivating knowledge.

Jacob Stewart-Halevy—Freelance Productivism
The way in which those who provision, discuss, and consume coffee accrue and emanate Bourdieuian distinction is fairly intuitive to anyone who has lived through the diffusion of the Starbucks brand from Seattle-based upscale cafe in the 1990s to the interstate rest-stop parody fodder of today. But the way in which the linguistic production of lifestyle variables emerges dialectically with co-occurring visual and material cues is less easy to discern. It is not altogether clear how our expectations around speaking about comestibles align qualitatively with our tastes for them, or the images we create around them.


The print edition of e-flux journal can be found at:
De Appel arts centre / Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten Andratx: CCA Andratx Antwerp: M HKA Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst / Kunsthal Extra City Århus:Kunsthal Aarhus Athens: OMMU / State of Concept Auckland: split/fountain Austin:Arthouse at the Jones Center Baden-Baden: Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden Banff:Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre Barcelona: Arts Santa Mònica / MACBA Basel:Kunsthalle Basel / Museum für Gegenwartskunst Basel Beijing and Guangzhou: Vitamin Creative Space Beirut: 98weeks Belgrade: Cultural Center of Belgrade Bergen: Bergen Kunsthall / Rakett Berlin: b_books / Berliner Künstlerprogramm – DAAD / Bücherbogen am Savignyplatz GmbH / Books People Places / do you read me? / Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Motto / Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.) / Pro qm Belfast: Platform Arts Bern:Kunsthalle Bern / Lehrerzimmer Bialystok: Arsenal Gallery Bielefeld: Bielefelder Kunstverein Biella: UNIDEE - University of Ideas, Cittadellarte - Fondazione Pistoletto Onlus Birmingham: Eastside Projects / Ikon Gallery Bologna: MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna Bregenz: Kunsthaus Bregenz Bristol: Arnolfini Brussels: WIELS Contemporary Art Centre Bucharest: National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest (MNAC) / Pavilion Unicredit Cairo: Beirut / Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) / Townhouse Gallery Calgary: The New Gallery Cambridge: Wysing Arts Center Castello:Espai d´art contemporani de Castelló (EACC) Chicago: Graham Foundation / Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts / The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago Cologne: Kölnischer Kunstverein Copenhagen: Overgaden Derry: CCA Derry~Londonderry Dijon: Les Ateliers Vortex Dublin: Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane / Project Arts Centre Dusseldorf: Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen Eindhoven: Van Abbemuseum Frankfurt: Städelschule / Portikus Gdansk: Łaźnia Centre For Contemporary Art Geneva: Centre de la photographie Ghent: S.M.A.K. Glasgow: CCA Centre for Contemporary Arts / Glasgow Sculpture Studios Graz: Grazer Kunstverein / IZK Institute for Contemporary Art, TU Graz / Kunsthaus Graz / Künstlerhaus KM– / para_SITE Gallery / Grijon: LABoral Centre for Art and Creative Industries Groningen: University of Groningen Hamburg: Kunstverein in Hamburg Helsinki: Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Hobart: CAST Gallery / INFLIGHT Hong Kong: Asia Art Archive Iași: theartstudent at the University of Fine Arts, Iași Innsbruck: Galerie im Taxispalais Istanbul: BAS / DEPO / Galeri Zilberman / SALT Johannesburg: Center for Historical Reenactments Kansas City: La Cucaracha Press Klagenfurt: Kunstraum Lakeside Kristiansand: SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum Kyiv: Visual Culture Research Center Leeds: Pavilion Lisbon: Maumaus, Escola de Artes Visuais / Oporto / Kunsthalle Lissabon Ljubljana: Moderna galerija Llandudno: MOSTYN London: Architectural Association—Bedford Press / Calvert 22 / Chisenhale Gallery / Gasworks / ICA / Serpentine Gallery / The Showroom / Visiting Arts Los Angeles: REDCAT Loughborough: Radar, Loughborough University Luxembourg: Casino Luxembourg Madrid: Brumaria / CA2M / PENSART Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Academie Marfa: Ballroom Marfa Melbourne: Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) / World Food Books Merrylands: Cerdon College Mexico City: Librería Casa Bosques / Proyectos Monclova Milan: Fondazione Nicola Trussardi / HangarBicocca Milton Keynes: MK Gallery Minneapolis: Walker Art Center Monaco: Nouveau Musée National de Monaco Moncton: Fixed Cog Hero (a bicycle courier company) Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) Moscow: Garage Center for Contemporary Culture Munich: Haus der Kunst / Museum Villa Stuck / Walther Koenig Bookshop New Delhi: Sarai CSDS New York: e-flux / Independent Curators International (ICI) / Printed Matter, Inc / McNally Jackson Nottingham: Nottingham Contemporary North Little Rock: Good Weather Gallery Omaha: Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts Oslo: Kunstnernes hus Oxford: Modern Art Oxford Padona: Fondazione March Per L’Arte Contemporanea Paris: castillo/corrales – Section 7 Books / Centre Pompidou / Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers Philadelphia: Bodega Pori: Pori Art Museum Portland: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) / Publication Studio Porto: Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves Prague: DOX Centre for Contemporary Art Prishtina: Stacion – Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina Providence: AS220 Reykjavik: Reykjavik Art Museum Riga: kim? Rio de Janeiro: Capacete / A Gentil Carioca Rome: MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma / Opera Rebis Rotterdam: Piet Zwart Institute / Witte de With | Center for Contemporary Art Saint-Nazaire: Le Grand Cafe, centre d’art contemporain Salzburg: Salzburger Kunstverein San Antonio: Artpace San Sebastián: Centro Internacional Cultura Contemporanea São Paulo: KUNSTHALLE São Paulo / Master in Visual Arts, Faculdade Santa Marcelina Sarajevo: Sarajevo Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA) Seoul: The Books / The Book Society Sherbrooke: Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop’s University Singapore: The Ngee Ann Kongsi Library Skopje: Press to Exit Project Space Sofia: ICA-Sofia / Sofia Art Gallery / SWIMMING POOL St Erme Outre et Ramecourt: Performing Arts Forum St Louis: White Flag Projects Stockholm: Bonniers Konsthall / Iaspis / Index - The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation / Konstfack, University College of Art, Craft and Design / Konsthall C / Tensta konsthall Stuttgart: Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart Tallinn: Kumu Art Museum of Estonia The Hague: Stroom Den Haag Toronto: Art Metropole / Mercer Union / The Power Plant Torun: Centre of Contemporary Art Znaki Czasu in Torun (CoCA) Toowoomba: Raygun Contemporary Art Projects Trieste: Trieste Contemporanea Trondheim: NTNU University Library Umeå: Bildmuseet, Umeå University Utrecht: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst / Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory Vaduz: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein Valencia: IVAM–Biblioteca Valletta: Malta Contemporary Art Foundation Vancouver: Artspeak / Fillip—Motto / Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, University of British Columbia / READ Books, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art and Design Venice: The Biennale Library-ASAC Vienna: Kunsthalle Wien / Salon für Kunstbuch—21er Haus Vigo: MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo Vilnius: Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) Vitoria-Gasteiz: Centro Cultural Montehermoso Kulturunea Visby: BAC – Baltic Art Center Warsaw: Zachęta National Gallery of Art Wiesbaden: Nassauischer Kunstverein (NKV) Yerevan: Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art (NPAK) Zagreb: Galerija Miroslav Kraljevic / Gallery Nova / DeLVe | Institute for Duration, Location and Variables Zurich: Postgraduate Program in Curating, Zürich University of the Arts / Shedhalle / White Space

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