Observations from my balcony (Journal of Visual Culture & HaFI, 33)

This is the thirty-third instalment of a collaborative effort by the Journal of Visual Culture and the Harun Farocki Institut, initiated by the COVID-19 crisis. The call sent to JVC’s editorial board, and a wide selection of previous contributors and members of its extended communities, described the task as follows: „There is a lot of spontaneous, ad hoc opinion-making and premature commentary around, as to be expected. However, the ethics and politics of artistic and theoretical practice to be pursued in this situation should oblige us to stay cautious and to intervene with care in the discussion. As one of JVC’s editors, Brooke Belisle, explains: ‚We are not looking for sensationalism, but rather, moments of reflection that: make connections between what’s happening now and the larger intellectual contexts that our readership shares; offer small ways to be reflective and to draw on tools we have and things we know instead of just feeling numb and overwhelmed; help serve as intellectual community for one another while we are isolated; support the work of being thoughtful and trying to find/make meaning…which is always a collective endeavour, even if we are forced to be apart.'“ TH


Quarantine from my balcony

My name is Edinson Arroyo. I am a documentary photographer dedicated to the exploration of rural territories in search of people, places and stories. However, after the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in Colombia, I had to seclude myself in my house in Medellin. There began an entirely new routine: washing my hands constantly; listening to the news hoping to find orientation but also encouraging messages; disinfecting the domestic space tirelessly; sitting down to contemplate the same landscape everyday. Home is perceived, in this context, not as the safe place, but as a paradoxical prison that keeps us safe, while a great uncertainty about the future looms over our heads.

In spite of this situation, and with the desire of keeping with the work I usually carry out, I decided to delve in a deep observation of my everyday surroundings. It is remarkable how much we can discover in our immediate spaces when our attention has not been captured by the constant haste of our responsibilities.

I never thought of working on a photo series from my balcony and to dedicate myself to the detailed observations of that place I called my home all along. In a way, it is a reflection on speed, about the need to stop to find new details in the places we thought we knew well. From my house I can see my neighbors and realize they are struggling during the quarantine; I know they can’t carry out their daily life, their friendly gatherings, their game nights. Also from my balcony, I need to shout to my other neighbor to say hi and tell her everything will be alright. My photography wants to show my neighbors and their mood as I perceive them.

This photo series aims to put forward those feelings of reflection, loneliness, unrest and, at the same time, hope, which today brings us together under the same purpose: to survive.




04.07.2020 — Rosa Mercedes / 02

Am Freitag, den 6. April 2021, um 20 Uhr veranstaltet die Akademie Schloss Solitude eine Zoom-Veranstaltung mit der ehemaligen HaFI-Residency Stipendiatin Shirin Barghnavard über ihren Film „Invisible“ (2017). Moderiert von Doreen Mende. Zur Registrierung hier.


In der Zeitschrift MONOPOL gibt es aktuell ein Interview mit Shirin Barghnavard über ihren Film „Invisible“, den sie 2017 während ihrer HaFI-Residency konzipiert und gedreht hat.


auf Hyperallergic über die Umweltbelastung durch Kryptowährungen aus Anlass jüngster Auktionen von NFT (non-fungible token)-Kunst: „This is not the first time the art world has come under scrutiny for being on the wrong side of the climate conversation. Artists and activists have protested everything from the carbon footprint of physical art fairs to the fossil fuel money funding major museums. But some say the energy consumption of cryptocurrencies is particularly egregious, and research shows it’s relatively easily quantifiable. A study by Cambridge University, for instance, estimates that bitcoin uses more electricity per year than the entire nation of Argentina. (Ethereum mining consumes a quarter to half of what Bitcoin mining does, but one transaction uses more power than an average US household in a day, according to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.)“


Nicholas Mirzoeff on “Artificial vision, white space and racial surveillance capitalism”: “Based as it is on ‘epidermalization’ (the assertion of absolute difference based on relative differences in skin color), AI’s racial surveillance deploys an all-too-familiar racialized way of seeing operating at plan-etary scale. It is the plantation future we are now living in. All such operations take place in and via the new imagined white space of technology known as the cloud. In reality, a very material arrangement of servers and cables, the cloud is both an engine of high-return low-employment capitalism and one of the prime drivers of carbon emissions.”


Sara Ahmed on the performativity of disgust (from The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2004): “To name something as disgusting is to transfer the stickiness of the word ‘disgust’ to an object, which henceforth becomes generated as the very thing that is spoken. The relationship between the stickiness of the sign and the stickiness of the object is crucial to the performativity of disgust as well as the apparent resistance of disgust reactions to ‘newness’ in terms of the generation of different kinds of objects. The object that is generated as a disgusting (bad) object through the speech act comes to stick. It becomes sticky and acquires a fetish quality, which then engenders its own effects.”

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