We’ve been preparing for this our whole lives (Journal of Visual Culture & HaFI, 9)

This is the ninth 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



We’ve been preparing for this our whole lives


by Oreet Ashery


🤞Existing daily with the conscious presence of death that measures liveness and life under    oppression


🤞Knowing that belonging is everything, particularly when out of reach and in pieces


🤞Playing equal parts in democratic support groups and international networks

that serve our recovery daily and exist for decades


🤞Living in a constant state of productive grief


🤞Practising gratitude within and outside the remits of privilege


🤞Dealing always with hypochondria, general anxiety, trauma, neglectful death, chronic illness underlaying fear, and by always I mean for generations, summoning ancestral ghosts


🤞Sharing affinities and solidarity with service workers for as long as we can remember, we don’t survive without them, and celebrities are nothing but a good distraction from co-dependency


🤞Loving friends and chosen families actively, according to myth we chose our biological family too


🤞Acknowledging that how we die is how we live only more so, and owing that lineage to Palestinian solidarity movements and Black Lives Matter and queer deaths


🤞Sickening by extraction capitalism in the body


🤞Sustaining stillness for parts of the action


🤞Endorsing solitude


🤞Making work about withdrawal out of necessity, soft resistance


🤞Recovering tools with Complex PTSD


🤞Researching Crip theories, politicised self-care and survivance (survival + resistance), written by younger. Refining our politics to a tooth while remaining open to change our minds


🤞Taking things for granted was never an option, that’s for normal


We, survivors, were born for this crisis


Written during lockdown, London, March 2020


April 30th, 2020, 02 / Rosa Mercedes

Jodi Dean on work in neofeudal times, via Los Angeles Review of Books: “When work is imagined — and some on the left think that we should adopt a ‘postwork imaginary’ — it looks like either romantic risk-free farming or tech-work, ‘immaterial labor.’ By now, the exposés on the drudgery of call center work, not to mention the trauma-inducing labor of monitoring sites like Facebook for disturbing, illicit content, have made the inadequacy of the idea of ‘immaterial labor’ undeniable. It should be similarly apparent that the postwork imaginary likewise erases the production and maintenance of infrastructure, the wide array of labor necessary for social reproduction, and the underlying state structure.”

May 23rd, 2020, Tom

Naomi Klein on the “Screen New Deal” (via The Intercept): “Calling [Bill] Gates a ‘visionary,’ [New York governor Andrew] Cuomo said the pandemic has created ‘a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?’ he asked, apparently rhetorically. It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the ‘Screen New Deal.’ Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.”

May 11th, 2020, Tom

Andrea Bagnato on Red Zones, isolation, metaphors, blame, risk and coexistence (at e-flux architecture): “[…] the current manifestation of confinement is better thought of not so much as epidemic control, but as a form of risk displacement: a minority of workers is made to keep the economy going so that a majority of the population can stay at home. And the reverse is true as well: millions of people have to put up with extended confinement so that the risk posed by industrial workers doesn’t grow out of control. In the necropolitical calculations of the State, the physical health of workers and the mental health of everyone else are both a price worth paying.”

May 5th, 2020, Tom
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