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

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
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