Final essays of 2022

Final essays of 2022

e-flux Notes

Banner at Aspinwall, main venue of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, December 2022.

December 23, 2022
Final essays of 2022

After the last-minute decision to move forward the opening from December 12 to December 23, the artists of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2022–23 have penned an open letter detailing the gross mismanagement, poor communication, and institutional failures afflicting this edition of the Biennale. The sudden decision to postpone the opening left many who traveled to Kochi to either see or participate in the Biennale stranded. They write: “The KMB has been a unique space for creative expression, conversation, and dissent that we have come to value over the last ten years. Equally treasured is its diverse and engaged audience. However, we want to express our concern and shock at the way the Biennale has unfolded this year.”

There’s been a deluge of anti-capitalist films recently. Pietro Bianchi savages Ruben Östlund’s much-lauded and award-winning Triangle of Sadness (2022) as being trapped in a carnivalesque logic where power relations are never broken or reimagined but merely reversed. “Östlund, who in his films has always targeted liberals and urban elites, not only shares with them the same discourse, but also in a deeper way belongs to the same register and to the same imaginary.” Alenka Zupančič, on the other hand, defends the critically panned but successful Don’t Look Up (Adam McKay, 2021) as a climate-catastrophe satire that skewers not only conspiratorial Trumpians but also enlightened liberals and the “rational” mainstream. She provocatively argues that today, knowledge (of future catastrophes) acts as a fetish for disavowing the consequences of knowledge: “I see it, I acknowledge it, and this is enough, now I can now forget about it.”

On the political problem of knowledge: Anne Bessette and Juliette Bessette address the wave of eco-activist actions in museums, providing a much-needed historical contextualization and in-depth analysis of the phenomenon. Pushing against the mediatic misunderstandings of and conservative reactions against these protests, they conclude: “The actions which we have described seem to us to be citizen appropriations of our collective heritage in favor of political and social issues whose extreme urgency cannot be overstated.”

Kateryna Iakovlenko speaks to Ukrainian photographer and anthropologist-turned-soldier Kostiantyn Polishchuk about his choice to enlist, the ethics of war photography, and the effects of new-media technology on the population’s relationship to the war.

Charles Mudede, writing about his hometown of Seattle, identifies a specific feature of gentrification: the rise of “tombstone art and architecture.” This is public art that monumentalizes vanished or vanishing communities and industries, adding value to these emptied neighborhoods and thus acting as both a memorial to and another tool of gentrification.

In a new interview conducted by Sergei Bondarenko and translated from Russian, Boris Groys argues that Russian culture is torn between two tendencies: to isolate itself (right-wing nationalism) on the one hand, and to be the leader of a wider movement (a leftist impulse) on the other. Groys further suggests that Russia’s purpose in the war against Ukraine is to separate itself definitively from the West.

Lastly, for our column “The Contemporary Clinic,” Tracy McNulty writes of a paradox: the analyst’s very desire to help and be useful can be an obstacle to the analytic process, by putting expectations on the analysand to conform to the therapeutic intention. On the contrary, what psychoanalysis aims to create is a space where speech is maximally freed from such pressures, where the “unsayable” can come to be spoken precisely as an “address to an empty locus where there is no other to respond, approve, or judge.”

Happy holidays from us at Notes!

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December 23, 2022

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