Image of exhaustion

A photograph of nurse Elena Pagliarini, fast asleep, after completing one of her shifts at 6 a.m. was taken last week in the emergency room of the hospital of Cremona, a particularly badly affected town in Lombardy. Francesca Mangiatordi, a doctor in the same clinic, took the picture and shared it on Facebook (“I want this photo to be an invitation to help: stay at home, respect the rules, because that’s the only way we can stay together”). This is another straightforward picture of the crisis, another entry in the corona iconography, whose persuasiveness is a direct result of its immediate intelligibility and universality. The view of Pagliarini’s head and shoulders fast asleep on a work desk in full IC kit speaks volumes of the current condition of Italian hospitals. Nonetheless, the picture could actually have been taken at any other time, in any other comparable health emergency situation in the expanded present. It speaks a universal language and would be the perfect image for a “mythological” reading à la Roland Barthes. It should not be forgotten, however, that this picture, which may be considered an easy target for generalization and normalization, is surrounded and overwritten by hundreds of other hospital pictures that are currently penetrating the online forums coming from the “hotspots” of the corona crisis; as well as by numerous newspaper articles, Facebook messages and podcasts from nurses and doctors who repeatedly describe their experience of exhaustion and despair in terms such as “war” and “tsunami” (which then may trigger the sensationalist routines of the “Bild” newspaper and other tabloid media). Nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, it is advisable to listen to a podcast such as the one with lung specialist Fabiano di Marco from the University of Milan, interviewed after three weeks on duty without a break (published on March 16 by the New York Times Daily). TH

 

March 17th, 2020 — Rosa Mercedes / 02
Interface

On Friday, April 6, 2021, at 8 p.m., Akademie Schloss Solitude will host a Zoom event with former HaFI Residency fellowship holder Shirin Barghnavard about her film “Invisible” (2017). Moderated by Doreen Mende. To register, click here.

April 14th, 2021

The magazine MONOPOL currently features an interview (in German) with Shirin Barghnavard about her film “Invisible,” which she conceived and shot during her HaFI residency in 2017.

April 14th, 2021

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.”

November 7th, 2020
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