Re-Relations (Journal of Visual Culture & HaFI, 12)
This is the twelfth 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
By Andrea Luka Zimmerman
Some bought so much food, so others could not.
Will I have enough to eat? I’d rather not eat at all than just a little. My mother used to make spam with tinned mushrooms and rice, when she could. The smell of my dog’s food sometimes entices me. I was accustomed to source nourishment in unexpected places, way into my 30s. I knew where to look for it, and I was not alone. On the day before lock-down, my friend told me about the schoolgirl he just saw scoffing cold pizza into her mouth at Lidl, and how, wanting to protect her, he blocked the sightline of the security guard who was slowly turning towards them. But he, instead, said, “don’t worry, she comes here often, I am watching, so no one disturbs her”. This is care. This is knowing, by those who know.
As a society, in a way unlike any other, the question is out in the open: what does it mean to consider the lives of others?
The iron fence, once absorbed, in time, will make the core stronger than wood alone.
Andrea Luka Zimmerman: I am an artist and filmmaker. My work is concerned with marginalisation, social justice and a search for radicalised re-relations, between people, place, ecology. I am a Reader at Central Saint Martins. www.fugitiveimages.org.uk
May 4th, 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