Gouache illustration from Portents of Death and Destruction, 1910. Historical Medical Museum, Wellcome Collection. Image: CC BY 4.0.

Issue #118
With: Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Jonas Staal, ruangrupa, Nikos Papastergiadis, Marcello Tarì, Matt Peterson, Pelin Tan, Patrick Rosal, Alaina Claire Feldman, Luis Camnitzer, Coco Fusco
“But these, dear Indians, dear Hindus, are your leaders and your holy men. They are your mirrors and your death wish. Take a good look at them. Because they are not looking out for you.” These scathing words by Shuddhabrata Sengupta, from a piece published recently in India and reprinted in this issue of e-flux journal, condemn the country’s leaders for their role in fostering the conditions that led to the catastrophic number of coronavirus deaths the country is now suffering. It is…
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10 Essays May 2021

Good Hindus, emboldened by Karma and the theory of reincarnation, get more than one chance at the game of life. Death may be inevitable, but for the Holinesses, such as the eminence of the Juna Akhada, it is not irreversible. You may die today, but the Karmic debt you incur by voting for Narendra Modi will certainly bring you back tomorrow. So why not, if you want it stronger, dip a little longer in the Kumbh cauldron? You live, you die, you live, you pass on an infection, you kill some more, you die, you live, you die, and so on.

Decades of capitalist propaganda has reduced the notion of collectivization to Stalinist terror. This flattening of the term dismisses the breadth of forms that collectivization can take: from nationalizing communal resources and production, to other-than-human redistribution efforts to establish comradely ecologies. It is therefore essential to explore the collectivized imaginaries and practices—collectivizations, in the plural—that make egalitarian forms of life imaginable and actionable.

Living Lumbung: The Shared Spaces of Art and Life
ruangrupa and Nikos Papastergiadis in Conversation

We are drawing on ideas that bring people together in conversation rather than force them into authoritative processes. Conversations meander, and decisions spring forth. We reduce individual control and ownership. We share power and authority, as well as respecting silence and absence. Ideas emerge organically without clear intellectual ownership. It is a collage: thousands of pieces of ideas come together. Bad ideas are polished up with a little collective imagination.

It seems as if the desire to cancel out the experience of communism over the last decades may have proceeded, step by step, with the desire to cancel out the experience of love. Just as communism has been replaced by an infinite, inconclusive negotiation over rights, so too love has become a contractual affair, an engagement to barter about as if it were any other aspect of existence. Love no longer even has any experience of the end: one is fired, perhaps with an SMS, and if it’s worth the trouble you can put it on your CV.

Joana Hadjithomas films from her plane landing in İzmir to show a clear aerial image of its urban spaces and its seashore, a reflection of the imaginary cartography of the place shown to her as a child. The camera often returns to the sea and waves that connect Etel’s living room to Joana’s first visit to the city. The gaze panning the horizon and the seashore reflects the catastrophe that prompted their estrangement from the place. ISMYRNA often depicts the landscape of İzmir as well as several old and current maps. As film subjects, the mountains, the sea, the seashore, and even the urbanization of İzmir seem like such innocent bystanders.

I’d gotten good enough at listening to the dead that I could call them in. Not like they’d come every time I called, but time to time they’d come. And that’s how I’d heard stories from men and women who lived in other times and places. Ancestors. Not long ago. Some of them in California, during the twenties and thirties.

What is it about these specific sounds and the discourse around them that was able to capture the imagination of so many people and produce such emotional responses and judicial consequences for the environment? While whale vocalizations seem like an obvious and prevalent sonic rendering of nature, the narrative around the Songs of the Humpback Whale record is much more complex than a quick summary can describe. The album had wide-ranging effects far beyond marine biology or burgeoning environmental movements—for instance, making conceptual connections between explorations of the ocean and the cosmos, and creating a now-common way of accessing animal life through certain listening practices.

Antonio died on March 29, 2021, apparently from heart failure, the primary organ he used to generate his works. He died prematurely at the age of seventy. He has been one of the few irreplaceable characters in the art of the South American continent, and luckily, his work will remain and compensate for his leaving us.

Foreign interest in Cuba remains dominated by the myth of a revolutionary utopia. That vision of Cuba, however dear it may be to progressive idealists, has caused great harm by confusing the idea of the revolution with the reality of Cubans’ experience. It’s time for foreigners to let it go and remember that Black lives matter in Cuba, too.


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