In the way of being (Journal of Visual Culture & HaFI, 3)
This is the 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
in the way of being
by Teresa Cisneros
i am writing because i have no other way
to digest interactions over the last few weeks.
i have lots of questions
about what practice looks like
when my main mode of interaction is in person with people physically
not on a computer or via the post or a video.
i can see the person but i cannot feel them.
i can see their facial expressions but i cannot read them.
i can see their words but i cannot decipher them.
i can hear their voice but i cannot understand the intonations.
how and where am i supposed to read the nuances by which i understand the world
through the political
through the bodily
through the feeling
it’s like my intuition is temporarily put on hold or if it’s slightly being broken.
when you no longer use something, what becomes of it?
i can no longer tell when i upset someone or say the wrong thing.
this not physical space feels like anther form of colonising my body
my body colonised by the machine
by the separation
to dull my senses
to dull my beingness
and where does my collective feeling go when i am separated?
i guess i am grasping what this means, at this point in time, when i have to continue to labour, communicate, perform.
Teresa Cisneros, curandera/administrator, Wellcome Collection
April 18th, 2020, 02 / Rosa Mercedes
David Graeber (1961-2020) on What Would It Take (from his The Democracy Project. A History, a Crisis, a Movement, 2013, p. 193): “We have little idea what sort of organizations, or for that matter, technologies, would emerge if free people were unfettered to use their imagination to actually solve collective problems rather than to make them worse. But the primary question is: how do we even get there? What would it take to allow our political and economic systems to become a mode of collective problem solving rather than, as they are now, a mode of collective war?”
September 7th, 2020, Tom
T.J. Demos on why cultural practitioners should never surrender, via tranzit.sk: “For artists, writers, and curators, as art historians and teachers, the meaning-production of an artwork is never finished, never fully appropriated and coopted, in my view, and we should never surrender it; the battle over significance is ongoing. We see that battle rise up in relation to racist and colonial monuments these days in the US, the UK, and South Africa. While the destruction of such monuments results from and is enabling of radical politics, it’s still not enough until the larger institutions that support and maintain their existence as well as the continuation of the politics they represent are also torn down. This is urgent as well in the cultural sphere, including the arts institutions, universities, art markets, discursive sphere of magazines and journals, all in thrall to neoliberalism, where we must recognize that it’s ultimately inadequate to simply inject critical or radical content into these frameworks, which we know excel at incorporating those anti-extractivist expressions into further forms of cultural capital and wealth accumulation. What’s required is more of the building of nonprofit and community-based institutions, organizing radical political horizons and solidarity between social formations.”
August 21st, 2020, Tom
Bernard Stiegler, quoted from The Neganthropocene (trans. Daniel Ross): “Does anyone really believe that it is possible to ‘solve’ the problems of climate change, habitat destruction and cultural destruction without addressing the consumerist basis of the present macro-economic system, or vice versa, or without addressing the way in which this system depletes the psychic energy required to find the collective will, belief, hope and reason to address this planetary challenge? Can this consumerism really survive the coming wave of automation that threatens to decimate its customer base and undermine the ‘consumer confidence’ that is fundamental to its perpetual growth requirements, themselves antithetical, once again, to the problems of biospherical preservation?”
August 14th, 2020, Tom