Pause. Fervour. Reflections on a Pandemic – Journal of Visual Culture/HaFI reader out and ready for download!

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to download the book!

Initiated by the COVID-19 crisis, Pause. Fervour. Reflections on a Pandemic is a collaborative effort by the Harun Farocki Institut, Journal of Visual Culture, and all the project’s contributors.

At the beginning of the first wave, an invitation/call for participation was sent out to artists, designers, editors, collaborations and collectives, activists, educators, curators, filmmakers, administrators, culture workers, and scholars of Anthropology, Architecture, Critical Legal Theory, Art History, Museology, Critical Race Theory, Design and Urban Studies, Environmental Studies, Philosophy, and Visual Cultures.

The call was sent to Journal of Visual Culture’s Editorial Board, and a wide selection of previous contributors and members of its extended communities, describing the task as follows:

‘The SARS-Cov-2 crisis is, will be, and will have been so many things – a disastrous event of unknown scale, an individual and collective tragedy, a historical turning point, a huge biopolitical experiment, and so much more.

At the same time, attempts to act responsibly, caringly, solidarily in the face of this global catastrophe are overwhelming. The planetary dimension of the crisis seems to put everything into question, likewise affecting the knowledge production, visual practice, critical theory, political organizing, scholarly enterprises, research communities to which we are committed (and which are experiencing existential and epistemological shockwave after shockwave on a daily basis).

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 put it in our informal conversations: ‘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; to 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.’

As we were forced to be apart, joining forces in this collective endeavour made this a project in mutual aid.

The 48 contributions were published online in the Harun Farocki Institut’s journal Rosa Mercedes 02. The first appeared on 30th March 2020 and the 48th appeared on 1st March 2021. Each was submitted, edited, designed, and posted within 24 hours, giving a real-time sense of the current crisis as it unfolds, and our reflections on it. In this publication these same 48 contributions are arranged into four thematic sections on: the pandemical logic of very late capitalism; lockdown life; biopolitics and governmentality; and new ways of caring.

Equal part powerful and moving, angry and heartbreaking, righteous and desperate, hopeless and demanding of a better future, together this polyphony posits if not an actual antidote then certainly abundant curative reflections to the disease and ways we might navigate this ongoing crisis.

Contributors: Danah Abdulla; Elisa Adami; Alexandra Délano Alonso; Edinson Arroyo; Arts Catalyst with Gary Zhexi Zhang and Valeria Graziano, Marcell Mars, and Tomislav Medak (Pirate Care); Oreet Ashery; Nika Autor; Daniel A. Barber Jordan Baseman; Dave Beech; Sara Blaylock; Katarzyna Bojarska; Kimberly Juanita Brown; Eray Çayli; Teresa Cisneros; Tom Corby; David Dibosa; Death Class; Ruth Ewan; Alessandra Ferrini; Janine Francois; Lina Hakim; Juliet Jacques; Helene Kazan; Dean Kenning; Margareta Kern; Lana Lin and H. Lan Thao Lam; Yve Lomax; Laura U. Marks; Shannon Mattern; Jordan McKenzie; Joel McKim; Vladimir Milandinović and Stephenie Young; Philip Miller and Marcos Martins; Hana Noorali and Lynton Talbot; Bahar Noorizadeh; The Partisan Social Club; Andreas Philippouloulos-Mihalopoulos; Pil and Galia Kollektiv; Plastique Fantastique; Amit S. Rai; John Paul Ricco; Vanessa Schwartz; Jelena Stojković; Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead; Atej Tutta and Valeria Cozzarini; Isobel Wohl; and Andrea Luka Zimmerman.

Pause. Fervour. Reflections on a Pandemic is co-published by the Harun Farocki Institut and Journal of Visual Culture, designed by Simon Pavič, and edited by Manca Bajec, Tom Holert, and Marquard Smith, 245 pages, self-published (by JVC and HaFI), ISBN 978-1-5272-9544-5

Download the book here.

15.06.2021 — Rosa Mercedes / 02

A word on „post-truth“ by postcolonial and photography scholar Zahid R. Chauhary (from his 2020 essay „The Politics of Exposure: Truth after Post-Facts“):So perhaps it is not simply that truth acts (such as whistleblowing) expose what we already know, but that the place of knowledge in an atmosphere of fetishistic disavowal lends such disavowal a libidinal frisson. In cynical reasoning, truth actually matters a great deal because acting in spite of it is what endows the action with its distinctive fetishistic pleasure.“


Lauren Berlant, the brilliant theorist of „cruel optimism“ and related issues, died of a rare form of cancer on June 28. The following, devastatingly optimistic quote is from a 2016 essay on the commons as „infrastructures for troubling times,“ part of a book that they worked on with the typically double-edged title On the Inconvenience of Other People: „What remains for our pedagogy of unlearning is to build affective infrastructures that admit the work of desire as the work of an aspirational ambivalence. What remains is the potential we have to common infrastructures that absorb the blows of our aggressive need for the world to accommodate us and our resistance to adaptation and that, at the same time, hold out the prospect of a world worth attaching to that’s something other than an old hope’s bitter echo. A failed episode is not evidence that the project was in error. By definition, the common forms of life are always going through a phase, as infrastructures will.“


Some basics from the Strike MoMA site: „Campaigns, actions, and letters chip away at the regime’s facade from the outside. Inside, every time workers organize, defy the boss, care for a coworker, disrespect secrecy, or enact other forms of subversion, cracks are created in the core. Cracking and chipping, chipping and cracking. As the walls that artificially separate the museum from the world collapse, we reorient away from the institution and come together to make plans. Let us strike in all the ways possible to exit from the terms of the museum so we can set our own.“


via Hyperallergic on the environmental impact of blockchain referring to recent NFT (non-fungible token) art sales: „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.”

mehrweniger Kurznews