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Issue #90
“Trade Markings”
With: Vivian Ziherl, Richard Bell, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Rachel O’Reilly, Ho Rui An, Angela Mitropoulos, David Kim, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, and Demian DinéYazhi’
In opening the book The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty (2015), Aileen Moreton-Robinson leads with an epigraph: “The problem with white people is they think and believe that they own everything.” 1 In terms of a critique of the seven-centuries-long rollout and contestation of European dispossessive power, this citation is the alpha and the omega. It is incredibly hard to add anything that isn’t captured within its succinct analysis. Nevertheless, this special...
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10 Essays April 2018

Aboriginal Art has become a product of the times. A commodity. The result of a concerted and sustained marketing strategy, albeit, one that has been loose and uncoordinated. There is no Aboriginal Art Industry. There is, however, an industry that caters for Aboriginal Art. The key players in that industry are not Aboriginal. They are mostly white people whose areas of expertise are in the fields of Anthropology and “Western Art.” It will be shown here how key issues interrelate to produce the phenomenon called Aboriginal Art, and how those issues conspire to condemn it to non-Aboriginal control. Like some voracious ancient God, Western Art devours all offerings at will. Sometimes the digestion will be slow and painful.

 

 

Bodies That Matter on the Beach
Aileen Moreton-Robinson

In the nineteenth century, surf bathing was performed exclusively by white males, but it was not a predominant part of beach culture because the Police Act 1838 restricted swimming to the early hours of the morning and preferably on nonpopular beaches. The public display of the white male body was perceived to offend moral sensibilities current at the time. It was not until the early twentieth century that surf bathing became a part of modern beach culture, due in part to the shifting codes of Victorian morality and increased control of the sea and the surf.

In the spring of 2016, We Are Here, a group of people who had been refused official stay in the Netherlands but could neither return to their countries of departure nor go anywhere else, squatted Tripolis 200, one of the three buildings of the complex, for roughly three weeks. Ironically, until two years earlier, this part of the complex had been occupied as the municipal office of South Amsterdam through which (accepted) citizens passed to register, get married, and pick up official documents.

During normotic peaks of approval phases of settler-colony mining booms, “artist impressions” of mega-mine proposals are photoshopped up at unprecedented rates and scales. Weaponized images of dignified-looking but no longer collectively-bargaining laborers, exaggerated job figures, fetishized New Machines, and particularly pernicious laminations of corporate-sponsored settler household reproduction placehold new industry forms of extraction. The perversions of prospective accounting given for “environmental assets”—for example, soil and water—force a rereading of finance through colonial legacies that limit the imagination of mattering. Between the slave ship and the container ship, the story of Australia’s particular mercantile-era contribution to the arsenal of global capital, in making the concept of land fully fungible, generates extra-aesthetic analytics by being retold.

Put bluntly, the point is to interpret and act on the world, but never to change it. The contemporary turn towards the “innovative state” thus cannot be taken plainly as some counter-hegemonic project to prove the state’s ability to achieve the social optimization that neoliberals expect from the free market. Instead, in testing, experimenting, and reinventing itself, the state too often displaces existing functions of social redistribution through its new role of reengineering a defunct system requiring no more than an upgrade.

The Serpentine Dance hinted at an exoticism, but was often read as sublimation in the chemical sense: a phase transition between a solid body and a gaseous apparition, without quite passing through a liquid state. If the Serpentine Dance emerged in the turbulence of transatlantic crossings and the ports of empire, its characterization as a rapid circuit from a fixed body to air would treat liquescence as an inclination or step toward the figural, a referential tendency toward the affirmation of ideal forms rather than delight in afformation.

Can the artwork itself boycott the institution? Can the work be taken seriously? Does it need me, the artist, to speak on its behalf, or can it speak in a very clear way itself—in the most didactic way possible? There’s this moment when they tell you not to do didactic works, and then you say, maybe it has to be as didactic as possible to question this kind of politics. It comes from the circumstances: the growth of the art market at some point, and my becoming connected to some aspects of this art market. What kind of contract should there be? Should there be a contract at all? Should you play with this contract to produce something with which you can speak to the art market?

Two imaginaries of space have played a crucial role in the emergence of liberalism and its diasporic imperial and colonial forms, and have grounded its disavowal of its own ongoing violence. On the one hand is the horizon and on the other is the frontier. These two spatial imaginaries have provided the conditions in which liberalism—in both its emergent form and its contemporary late form—has dodged accusations that its truth is best understood from a long history and ongoing set of violent extractions, abandonments, and erasures of other forms of existence, and have enabled liberalism to deny what it must eventually accept as its own violence.

An Infected Sunset (Excerpt)
Demian DinéYazhi’

I imagine I am one of my ancestors overlooking Tséyi´ watching all the corn fields ablaze and then someone hits the fastforward button and then I’m suddenly standing on the washington side of the columbia river gorge watching a forest fire light up the sky in the black womb of nite

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