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, 02 / Rosa Mercedes
Interface

Avery F. Gordon, in an interview conducted by Katherine Hite and Daniela Jara in Memory Studies:  “Non-participation is one modality of what I call being in-difference. Being in-difference is a political consciousness and a sensuous knowledge, a standpoint and a mindset for living on better terms than we’re offered, for living as if you had the necessity and the freedom to do so, for living in the acknowledgement that, despite the overwhelming power of all the systems of domination which are trying to kill us, they never quite become us. They are, as Cedric J Robinson used to say, only one condition of our existence or being. Running away, living apart, squatting, communing, feral trading, bartering, self-managed currencies, human, debt, labour, knowledge strikes, boycott, divestment, non-policing, throwing your shoe at an occupying president: the ways of non-participation in the given order of things are many, varied and hard to summarize. And they are taken up for a variety of reasons, including the failure or irrelevance of states and the US–European post–World War II social movement model.”

July 7th, 2020, Tom

Denise Ferreira da Silva via Canadian Art: “Visuality or rather visualizability—being available via social media and accessible through electronic gadgets—seems to have become the main (if not the sole) criterion for reality, which becomes crucial for the ethical-political demands for the protection of black lives, for state accountability and for justice. If that is so, the only way is through these conditions of representation. I mean, the creative move first takes the visualizable as it is, that is, as a twice removed re/composition (at the same time a live streaming, news reporting and documenting) of the scene of violence which only tells us that it happens. It exposes the excess that is the state’s use of total violence, of law enforcement as technique of racial subjugation, while simultaneously removing the black person (the father, the sister, the friend) out of the scene of violence and its visualization. It does so by restoring the dimensions of their existence that the camera cannot capture. That is, the creative move must protect (as an ethical gesture) the black person (keeping her obscurity) in the excess that is the very visualization of the scene of total violence.”

June 28th, 2020, Tom

Ajay Singh Chaudhary on the politics of climate change, via The Baffler: “One of the most common misconceptions concerning climate change is that it produces, or even requires, a united humanity. In that tale, the crisis in the abstract is a ‘common enemy,’ and a perfectly universal subject is finally possible in coming to ‘experience’ ourselves ‘as a geological agent,’ through which a universal ‘we’ is constituted in a ‘shared sense of catastrophe.’ The story I am telling you is different. In this story, there is no universal ‘we.’ Climate change is not the apocalypse, and it does not fall on all equally, or even, in at least a few senses, on everyone at all.”

June 23rd, 2020, Tom
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