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Counter-Memorial Aesthetics: Refugee Histories and the Politics of Contemporary Art
 9781474252744, 9781474252737, 9781474252775, 9781474252751

Table of contents :
Cover page
Halftitle page
Series page
Title page
Copyright page
Dedication
CONTENTS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PREFACE
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
PROLOGUE – REFUGEE FLOWS AND NETWORKED EVENTS
Introduction
Scope
Overview
CHAPTER ONE Counter-Memorial Aesthetics
States of emergency
Counter-memory, excess and heterogeneity
The politics of montage, the politics of aesthetics
The aesthetics of exile, migration and diaspora
Counter-memorial aesthetics . . .
CHAPTER TWO Arte de Conducta and The Manipulation of Memory Tania Bruguera’s Biopolitical Ambitions in Postwar Cuba
1989: Postwar
Los ’80s and arte de conducta
1959: Mendieta
1993: Exile media
1994: The Cuban balseros crisis and bare life in America
CHAPTER THREE Aftermath Photography, Temporal Loops and the Sublime of Biopolitics
Anachronism
Perpetual aftermath: history at a standstill
Aftermath photography
Aftereff ectiveness: the contemporary sublime
Abstraction and the returns of the contemporary sublime
Perpetual aftermath: Australia as a camp
Repetition and difference: radical anachronism
After Heysen: the commodity fetish
Temporal loops
CHAPTER FOUR The Nexus of Self and History
The nexus of self and history
Entropic-photopainting
The epistemology of search
CHAPTER FIVE History Painting, Fiction and Paranoia
History painting and heterogeneity
The publicness of history painting
The aesthetics of resistance: or fictionalization
Paranoia
After Géricault
CHAPTER SIX Counter-Memorial Aesthetics in an Era of Contemporaneity
Counter-memorial aesthetics and contemporaneity
What is contemporaneity?
How to be present with the many times of contemporaneity?
How does counter-memorial aesthetics allow one to be critically present with the many times of contemporaneity?
Ten Thousand Waves
Hoarder montage
Ambivalence
Living with excess
Afterword Living with Aftermath
NOTES
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

Citation preview

CounterMemorial Aesthetics

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RADICAL AESTHETICS – RADICAL ART Series editors: Jane Tormey and Gillian Whiteley (Loughborough University, UK) Promoting debate, confronting conventions and formulating alternative ways of thinking, Jane Tormey and Gillian Whiteley explore what radical aesthetics might mean in the twenty-first century. This new books series, Radical Aesthetics – Radical Art (RaRa), reconsiders the relationship between how art is practised and how art is theorized. Striving to liberate theories of aesthetics from visual traditions, this series of single-authored titles expands the parameters of art and aesthetics in a creative and meaningful way. Encompassing the multisensory, collaborative, participatory and transitory practices that have developed since the mid-1990s, Radical Aesthetics – Radical Art is an innovative and revolutionary take on the intersection between theory and practice. Published and forthcoming in the series: The Aesthetics of Duration: Time in Contemporary Art, Paul O’Neill and Mick Wilson Civic Aesthetics: Militarism, Israeli Art and Visual Culture, Noa Roei Eco-Aesthetics: Art, Literature and Architecture in a Period of Climate Change, Malcolm Miles Indigenous Aesthetics: Art, Activism and Autonomy, Dylan Miner Practical Aesthetics: Events, Affects and Art after 9/11, Jill Bennett For further information or enquiries please contact RaRa series editors: Jane Tormey: [email protected] Gillian Whiteley: [email protected]

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RADICAL AESTHETICS – RADICAL ART

CounterMemorial Aesthetics Refugee Histories and the Politics of Contemporary Art VERÓNICA TELLO Bloomsbury Academic An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

LON DON • OX F O R D • N E W YO R K • N E W D E L H I • SY DN EY

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Bloomsbury Academic An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square London WC 1B 3DP UK

1385 Broadway New York NY 10018 USA

www.bloomsbury.com BLOOMSBURY and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published 2016 © Verónica Tello, 2016 Verónica Tello has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. No responsibility for loss caused to any individual or organization acting on or refraining from action as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by Bloomsbury or the author. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN :

HB : PB : ePDF : ePub:

978-1-4742-5274-4 978-1-4742-5273-7 978-1-4742-5275-1 978-1-4742-5276-8

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Tello, Verâonica, author. Title: Counter-memorial aesthetics : refugees, contemporary art, and the politics of memory / by Verâonica Tello. Description: New York : Bloomsbury, 2016. | Series: Radical aesthetics, radical art | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016016214 (print) | LCCN 2016030801 (ebook) | ISBN 9781474252744 (hardback) | ISBN 9781474252737 (pbk.) | ISBN 9781474252751 (epdf) | ISBN 9781474252768 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Aesthetics, Modern—20th century. | Aesthetics, Modern—21st century. | Memory—Miscellanea. | Refugees—Miscellanea. Classification: LCC BH201 .T45 2016 (print) | LCC BH201 (ebook) | DDC 701/.03—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016016214 Series: Radical Aesthetics – Radical Art Typeset by RefineCatch Limited, Bungay, Suffolk

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In memory of my abuelita, Raquel Adriana Maldonado, a person of undying resilience, humour and generosity.

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CONTENTS

List of Illustrations ix Preface xiii Acknowledgements xiv Prologue: Refugee Flows and Networked Events xvii Introduction 1

1 Counter-Memorial Aesthetics

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2 Arte de Conducta and The Manipulation of Memory: Tania Bruguera’s Biopolitical Ambitions in Postwar Cuba 37 3 Aftermath Photography, Temporal Loops and the Sublime of Biopolitics: Rosemary Laing’s to walk on a sea of salt 71 4 The Nexus of Self and History: Lyndell Brown and Charles Green’s Atlas 101 5 History Painting, Fiction and Paranoia: Dierk Schmidt’s SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics 125

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CONTENTS

6 Counter-Memorial Aesthetics in an Era of Contemporaneity: Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves, Hito Steyerl’s November and other Engagements with Too Much Time 155 Afterword: Living with Aftermath 181 Notes 185 Select Bibliography 225 Index 247

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 1.1

Chris Burden, Sketch for The Other Vietnam Memorial, 1991. 17 1.2 Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, Mahnmal gegen Faschismus (Monument against Fascism), 1986. 19 1.3 Hans Haacke, Und Ihr habt doch gesiegt (And You Were Victorious After All), 1988. 22 1.4 Black Audio Film Collective, Handsworth Songs, 1986. 24 2.1 Willy Castellanos, La Partida (from the series Exodus), 1994. 38 2.2 Ángel Delgado, La Esperanza es lo Único que se Está Perdiendo (Hope Is the Only Thing that We Are Losing), 1990. 44 2.3 Ana Mendieta, Esculturas Rupestres (Guanaroca & Iyaré), 1981. 48 2.4 Tania Bruguera, Homenaje a Ana Mendieta (Tribute to Ana Mendieta), 1986–96. 50 2.5 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra I (Memory of the Postwar I), 1993. 56 2.6 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra I (Memory of the Postwar I), 1993. 57 2.7 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra I (Memory of the Postwar I), 1993. 59 2.8 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra II (Memory of the Postwar II), 1994. 61 2.9 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra II (Memory of the Postwar II), 1994. 62 2.10 Tania Bruguera, Tabla de Salvacion (Table of Salvation), 1994. 66 3.1 Rosemary Laing, welcome to Australia, 2004. 72

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3.2

3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8

3.9

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Top image: Rosemary Laing, and you can even pay later, 2004. Bottom image: Rosemary Laing, to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. 73 Top image: Rosemary Laing, after Heysen, 2004. Bottom image: Hans Heysen, Summer, 1909. 75 Top image: Rosemary Laing, opposite Cazneaux, 2004. Bottom image: Harold Cazneaux, Spirit of Endurance, 1937. 76 Rosemary Laing, 5.10am 15 December 2004, 2004. 77 Install view: Rosemary Laing, to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. 86 Install view: Rosemary Laing, to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. 92 Top images (left to right): Poster, airline advertising, ‘Fly to Australia by constellation BOAC & QEA’, Qantas Menu c. 1970 with a reproduction of Hans Heysen’s Red Gum, 1926. Bottom image: Screen shot of Google image search for ‘Hans Heysen’, 2013. 94 From left to right (clockwise): All captions from the National Archives of Australia: Immigration – Migrant arrivals in Australia – Australia’s 100 000th Dutch Migrant, 27 yearold Mrs Adriana Zevenbergen, at Port Melbourne, with her husband, Cornelis and sons Cornelis, 5 and Addo, 1. They were aboard the JOHAN VAN OLDENBARNEVELD, on November 5th 1958. Before the ship arrived, representatives of Australia’s press, radio, television and newsreels met Mrs Zevenbergen in Port Philip Bay. On the following day, the Zevenbergen’s travelled 45 miles to Geelong, VIC , where Mr Zevenbergen will work with Shell Refining Ltd. Mr Downer (right) presenting the Netherlands Ambassador, his Excellency, Dr A J H Lovink with an Australian painting by Hans Heysen. The painting was a present for the Netherlands Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, Mr J G Suurhoff. November 1958. National Archives of Australia: A12111, 1/1958/4/84. Immigration – Promotional Activities – Hamburg Office opened by Ambassador – The Australian Ambassador to Germany, Mr FJ Blakeney (right), discusses the original Hans Heysen painting with Senator Schmiedermann, a Minister of the Hamburg Senate. The painting was specially flown over from South Australia House, London, from the opening of

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

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the Australian Migration Office in Hamburg – 1963. National Archives of Australia: A12111, 1/1963/34/22. Immigration – Migrants in the arts and entertainment in Australia – Sir Hans Heysen, famous German artist – 1972. National Archives of Australia: A12111, 1/1972/6/52. 96 3.10 Install view: Rosemary Laing, to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. 98 4.1 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green (left to right, clockwise) The Waves, 2003. Journey to the End of the Night, 2003. History Painting, 2003.Transformer, 2005. 103 4.2 Aby Warburg, Mnemosyne Atlas (panel 55), 1929. 108 4.3 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Sanctuary, 2001. JeanLuc Godard, Histoire(s) du Cinéma (still), 1989–99. 112 4.4 Photographic sources from Australian broadsheets of the 2001 ‘children overboard affair’ (top image) and the 2007 arrest of Mohammed Haneef (bottom image); used by the artists for various atlas pages. 115 4.5 Thomas Hirschhorn, Crystal of Resistance, 2011. 119 4.6 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green (left to right, clockwise). Spiral Jetty From Lake, October 2004, 2006. Boatload of Despair, 2006. Dawn, Marine Base, 29 Palms, October 2004, 2006. Ground Zero, June 2002, 2006. Highway 89, Utah, October 2004, 2006. To act, 2006. 121 4.7 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, The Dark Wood, 2011. 122 5.1 Install view: Dierk Schmidt, SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–5. 127 5.2 Dierk Schmidt, Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene, Dedicated to the 353 Drowned Asylum Seekers That Died in the Indian Ocean on the Morning of October 19, 2001, 2001–2. 132 5.3 Dierk Schmidt, Das Malprogramm auf Messe 2ok, 1995. 136 5.4 Dierk Schmidt, Untitled (Louvre), 2001–2. From the series SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–5. 138 5.5 Top image: Install view: Dierk Schmidt, SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–5. Bottom image: Install view: Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa, 1819 (far left) and Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830 (far right) at the Louvre. 141

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5.6 5.7

5.8 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Dierk Schmidt, Freedom, 2001–2. 143 Top image: Dierk Schmidt, Ruddock Overboard (A Fantasy) (I), 2002. Bottom image: Dierk Schmidt, Which Salon is the Right One? (A Fantasy) (II ), 2002. 145 Dierk Schmidt, ‘Operation Relex’ . . . Acting without Perpetrators (I), 2003. 151 Isaac Julien, Ten Thousand Waves, 2010. 164 Isaac Julien, Ten Thousand Waves, 2010. 165 Isaac Julien, Ten Thousand Waves, 2010. 166 Dinh Q. Lê, Erasure (installation view and detail), 2011. 172 Silvia Kolbowski, After Hiroshima Mon Amour, 2008. 175 Hito Steyerl, November, 2004. 176

PREFACE

The RaRa series explores what aesthetics might mean in the twenty-first century, by integrating practice and theory, and firmly embedding discussion of artworks in the social. Verónica Tello’s Counter-Memorial Aesthetics contributes a focused analysis of contemporary art practices influenced by the impact of globalization and, more specifically, by the movement of refugees across oceans and seas. The book’s discussion of collective memory and its contribution to twenty-first century understandings of the relationship between contemporary art and the politics of memory provide a new context for radicality and the inter-section of art, aesthetics and politics. Tello argues that the reverberations of the global phenomena of migration and its associated media imagery have engendered a new way of thinking in art – counter-memorial aesthetics. Building on historic debates in the fields of memory studies and contemporary art, the book provides a contemporary take on the movement of refugees with the inclusion of art projects that directly concern this issue. Indeed, the migration of people fleeing war, famine or oppressive political regimes has reached crisis level across and beyond Europe, and Tello’s study addresses the nature of contemporary art’s engagement with related debates. In particular, the book argues that this key development in contemporary art is characterized by a mode of montage that sees artists conjoining cultural documents from a variety of sources at both a historical and geographic level. In doing so, it provides an innovative analysis of a range of memory-making systems central to contemporary art: the atlas, the archive, history painting, cinematic historiography and the aftermath photograph. Counter-Memorial Aesthetics provides a series of important case studies for researchers and students in the field of contemporary art history, particularly those concerned with experimental methods of memorialization and historiography, the politics of memory, globalization, and the nexus of aesthetics and politics. It will also appeal to cultural theorists working in the areas of memory studies, contemporary history, migration studies and the emerging interdisciplinary field of refugee studies. RaRa series editors Jane Tormey Gillian Whiteley xiii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This book is the product of many years and there are innumerable people that have made it possible. Kate MacNeill, Uroš Cˇ voro, Louise Sheedy, Diana Smith, Chrisoula Lionis and Jennifer Biddle offered insightful comments on various parts of the manuscript and their collegiality has been critical in spurring me on. I would especially like to thank Anthony White, Terry Smith and Eric Rosenberg for their generous and rigorous critiques on the book, the sum of which certainly improved it. Nikos Papastergiadis and the other (anonymous) peer-reviewers of the book proposal offered some excellent ideas for revisions of the manuscript’s overall argument and structure. Gill Whiteley and Jane Tormey, the editors of the Bloomsbury Radical Aesthetics – Radical Art series, have shown a sustained commitment to the text for which I am grateful. Frankie Mace, my editor at Bloomsbury, has expertly navigated the realization of this book. Elena Knox and Anna McMahon provided timely and much needed support in preparing the manuscript for publication. Parts of the book have been published elsewhere: an excerpt of Chapter 3 appeared in Third Text and earlier, modified drafts of Chapter 5 appeared in Tijdschrift Kunstlicht and Contemporaneity. I thank the editors and peer-reviewers of these journals for their feedback and commitment. I completed this book during the start of a postdoctoral position at the National Institute for Experimental Arts, UNSW Art & Design. I would like to thank Jill Bennett, Jennifer Biddle and Anna Munster for their mentorship and collegiality – as well as Marie Sierra and Ross Harley for their support. UNSW, the University of Melbourne, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Bundanon Trust have awarded me crucial grants to finish the manuscript. The artists who are the subject of this book, especially Dierk Schmidt, Rosemary Laing, Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, have been extremely xiv

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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generous and always responsive to my requests. My friend Alex Lauschke provided invaluable assistance in the translation of German texts on the work of Dierk Schmidt; moreover, Alex and my friend Sophie Matthiesson gave this author much welcomed accommodation and company while undertaking research in Berlin and London. Final thanks go to my family, especially my mother Patricia Moreno, my brother David Tello and his partner Kelly, my uncle Alejandro Moreno (Cacho), the Gallo-White clan and the Patersons. Lucille, I thank you for the adventures of our life together of which this book is one part.

[. . .] there is a very simple way in which time works as an impossibility: the very simple separation between the present and the past. A formula like ‘times have changed’ for instance, seems quite innocuous. But it is easy to turn it into a statement of impossibility. ‘Times have changed’ does not simply mean that some things have disappeared. It means that they have become impossible. They don’t belong any more to what the new times make possible. So the empirical idea of time as a succession of moments has been substituted by an idea of time as a set of possibilities. ‘Times have changed’ means: this is no more possible. And that which a state of things readily declares impossible is, quite simply, the possibility to change the state of things. That impossibility thus works as an interdiction: there are things you can no more do, ideas in which you can no more believe, futures that you can no more imagine. ‘You cannot’ clearly means: you must not. JACQUES RANCIÈRE, 20111

1 Jacques Rancière, ‘In What Time Do We Live’, (paper presented at The State of Things, Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Venice, 1 June 2011), http:// www.oca.no/programme/audiovisual/the-state-of-things-jacques-ranci-re [accessed 15/09/2011].

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PROLOGUE – REFUGEE FLOWS AND NETWORKED EVENTS On the morning of 21 August 2001, 433 anxious Afghani and Iraqi refugees, crammed into a small, ramshackle ferry, spied in the distance a sea vessel. They had been stranded for days. As David Marr and Marian Wilkinson reported, numerous planes had flown over them, and a boat had sailed past, offering no respite.1 The refugees had given up hope of being rescued. They assumed the approaching vessel was another boat like theirs, filled with desperate refugees trying to get to Australia. But they were mistaken. The Tampa, a Norwegian cargo ship captained by Arne Rinnan who had experience and memories of rescuing Vietnamese boatpeople in the 1970s, stopped to give assistance.2 Rinnan and his crew carried the refugees to their desired destination, the offshore Australian territory of Christmas Island, but they were met by a hostile Government. As the Tampa arrived on the shores of the Australian territory of Christmas Island – just three months prior to the 2001 federal election – public opinion polls showed Australians becoming increasingly uncomfortable with ‘unauthorized’ ‘boatpeople’ and refugee arrivals, even when such arrivals were very small in number (a situation that is mirrored in countries such as Canada and various parts of Europe).3 The Australian Government – then led by John Howard – seized the opportunity to exploit widespread xenophobia and public fear of refugees, and refused to allow those on the Tampa to disembark. The Government sent troops from Australia’s Special Air Service’s Counter-Terrorist Squadron to monitor the displaced bodies on the Tampa while it drafted new policies and laws – namely the Pacific Solution – to prevent the refugees from seeking sanctuary in Australia. It committed the Navy to intercept and turn xvii

xviii PROLOGUE – REFUGEE FLOWS AND NETWORKED EVENTS

back boats occupied by refugees headed to Australia. It redrew the world map: it annexed numerous small Australian islands from the country’s migration zone (including Christmas Island). It shed its responsibilities to the UN 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention by instituting offshore processing facilities in Nauru and Papua New Guinea: out of sight, unauthorized refugee arrivals would be (and still are) detained for extended periods of time, in many cases without recourse to resettlement in Australia.4 The slogan, ‘We will decide who comes to Australia and the circumstances in which they come’ was plastered across marketing posters, flyers and advertisements for the Howard Government’s 2001 campaign for election (which they would go on to win). The arrival of the Tampa – amidst the unfolding of the events of September 11 – is a watershed moment in Australia’s recent history. It marks the rise of the systemic exploitation of refugee experiences for political advantage by the country’s politicians; sustained and intense demonization of refugees in the media; and open racism within the public sphere. While Australia may sometimes be relegated to the conceptual positioning of the ‘end of the Earth’, it is a world leader in the design of border protection policies – these policies have been called the most ‘parsimonious . . . in the western world’.5 The ‘success’ of these policies – and their capacity to subject unauthorized refugee arrivals to a totalizing and impenetrable system of exclusion6 – has meant that they have been at the centre of discussions in the inner circles of democratic parliaments, influencing the United Kingdom’s New Vision proposal for offshore processing and Italy’s ‘Mediterranean Solution’.7 In the end, Australia is only one example of the many ‘states of exception’ where the extrajudicial exclusion and detainment of the ‘other’ has become the normal technique of governmentality for maintaining sovereignty.8 As both singular spaces and spaces of interconnectivity, these states of exception – Christmas Island, Guantanamo Bay and Lampedusa, to name a few – have indelibly shaped the subjectivity of the refugee and the citizen in the first decades of the twenty-first century, and in turn the production of contemporary art. There are numerous and varied examples of artists’ attempts to contest and engage with the vilification of refugees from the work of Mike Parr, Chantal Akerman and Ursula Biemann, to that of the collective boatpeople.org.9 This book limits itself to analysis of those artists

PROLOGUE – REFUGEE FLOWS AND NETWORKED EVENTS

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who represent a particular paradigm in contemporary art, named herein as counter-memorial aesthetics. This art is characterized by its treatment of vanishing voices and images bound to refugee experiences as heterogeneous: this means that they are, first, in excess of homogenous national bodies and narratives and, second, part of the myriad flows and networked events that structure a globalized world. This dual meaning of heterogeneity is central to counter-memorial aesthetics.

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Introduction

Consider an atlas – a visual memory map – that juxtaposes various painted facsimiles of newspaper clippings of refugee histories such as the Tampa affair (discussed in Prologue) amongst film stills of Brigitte Bardot (from Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mépris of 1963), NASA photographs, landscape paintings of Nepal and Australia . . . Or an image-cycle, in the form of experimental ‘history paintings’, of the maritime disaster SIEV-X which saw 353 refugees (including 146 children) drown in the Indian Ocean – so fragmented and heterogeneous that it also manages to include schematic signifiers to a 1990s Nike television advertisement featuring the Brazilian football team, Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa (1818– 19) and Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830). Or, in a less heterogeneous but still expansive fashion, an installation that intertwines signifiers from the Morecambe Bay drowning of 21 Chinese nationals with images of Red Guards at Tiananmen Square, stills from the 1934 iconic Chinese film The Goddess and footage of Pudong, Shanghai’s economic centre. Such artworks, and many others examined in this book, reveal that a consistent method for engaging, documenting and archiving signifiers of refugee histories has emerged in contemporary art practice (spanning photography, performance, video, installation and painting). An aesthetic of rootlessness dominates these works, which montages signifiers from disparate times and places, in order to do away with the teleology of modernist master-narratives and chart a sense of time that may offer some alternative pathways to what the world picture may look like. Anyone familiar with theories 1

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COUNTER-MEMORIAL AESTHETICS

of experimental montage or with the film essay and its penchant for non-linear narrative (as played out, for example, in Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma of 1989–99), or anyone familiar with postcolonial and diaspora theory where the aesthetics of scatter and disjunction are central to opening up a non-homogenous concept of subjectivity, will immediately recognize that aesthetic heterogeneity is not new to visual art practice or theory, nor is it new in attempts to deal with historical or cultural diversity in the postwar era. But what may be new, or at the very least emergent, is a kind of impulse that desires to memorialize or, more precisely, countermemorialize experiences of refugeedom in an intensely chaotic, dizzying fashion so as to almost – if not completely – eviscerate any conception of counter-memory as being a clear-cut dialectic of the victors and the vanquished (which is the usual interpretation of Foucault’s theory of counter-memory, structured by binaristic tensions).1 While artists’ attempts to trace the appearance (and in many instances the disappearance) of refugee histories in the social imaginary can be seen as a gesture of political struggle reflective of the most conventional definitions of counter-memory – a battle between us and them, ‘us’ being the hospitable benevolent people and ‘them’ the xenophobic public – on close inspection this is not what is occurring in the artworks examined in this book. In a period of globalization, it seems, counter-memory appears radically porous: it’s not so much that it forgoes boundaries, borders or dialectical tensions, but rather that it suggests that any struggle for historical consciousness might play out, if it can play out at all, through an embeddedness in and willingness to work through the profound heterogeneity of a world wherein the source of power and conflict is constantly shifting, mutating and reappearing in the most unexpected of forms.2 I do not suggest that there is some kind of implicit radicality to heterogeneity. Rather, it is the intent of this book to analyse why such profound heterogeneity has become central to an aesthetic of counter-memorialization of refugeedom; an aesthetic which when compared to even the most radical examples of diasporic aesthetics (and film essays) such as the Black Audio Film Collective’s Handsworth Songs (1986) is radically kaleidoscopic (Chapter 1). Does the ceaseless montaging of heterogeneous geographical and temporal registers simply offer an aesthetic mirror of the temporal and spatial effects of globalization (proximity, connectivity

INTRODUCTION

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and fragmentation)? Does such montaging practice generate a homology, or a radical critique, of memory and presence in globalization?

Scope To address such questions, this book limits itself to the study of works which represent the forms of counter-memorial aesthetics described above, wherein the documentation of singular events pertaining to refugee experience (the Tampa, SIEV-X, Morecambe Bay and so on) are embedded in complex image-networks. This not only allows for an analysis of an emergent impulse of countermemorial aesthetics in contemporary art as characterized above; it also opens up an opportunity to explore what the political urgency of this impulse may be. *

*

*

By the time I began this project in 2008, based in Melbourne and Sydney, it became clear that memories of the abovementioned refugee histories had already faded and at times become distorted. When I gave lectures or delivered workshops to undergraduate students in 2013 and 2015, most had never heard of the Tampa. When I presented my work at conferences in 2009, audiences confused the events of SIEV-X with those of the ‘children overboard affair’.3 In a similar state of confusion, a 2003 media release promoting an exhibition of the work of Lyndell Brown and Charles Green (Chapter 4) claimed that one of their reproductions of an image of the Tampa was of ‘the deck of SIEV-X’. This error is particularly striking since there are, in fact, no images of SIEV-X: a matter that bears an important limitation on remembering this event (Chapter 5). Paradoxically, the same media release argued that Brown and Green work with ‘clearly legible images that recall exact events’, which, as I argue in this book, is far from the truth. It is normal for memories to diminish, to become muddled and fractured. As the influential scholar Pierre Nora argues, memory is ‘vulnerable’, ‘fragile’, ‘subject to the dialectic of remembrance and forgetting’, and therefore often prohibits recalling the exactitudes of the past.4 Thus, when in Brown and Green’s atlas images of refugee experiences become unrecognizable or confused it may indeed be due

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COUNTER-MEMORIAL AESTHETICS

to the natural process of memory: details fall through the cracks of consciousness. Yet, there is another element at play that encourages the erosion of these memories, beyond normal processes whereby memories flicker and die. Writing as a citizen (who emigrated from Chile to Australia in 1987 with my mother and brother) and as someone interested in understanding how collective memory and senses of belonging are shaped, it seems to me that while there are always some exceptions, countries in both the global North and global South struggle to engage with their histories of refugeedom because these histories create a challenge to homogenous notions of the national body: how this body is egalitarian and just, and indeed even adaptable to change. The bodies that threaten this image and homogeneity, and strength in collectivity, need to be expunged, exiled and imprisoned: they are unAustralian, unAmerican, unBritish, or anti-Cuban. The artists examined in this book – who are all citizens, though Dinh Q Lé, examined in Chapter 6, was a refugee during the 1970s following the Vietnam War and others such as Tania Bruguera and Isaac Julien are part of the Cuban and Caribbean diasporas, respectively – attempt to imagine what a heterogeneous body may look like with and without sovereign borders – perhaps most importantly by casting connections, dialectics or disjunctions between a range of divergent bodies, objects and signifiers that pull the world together and apart. This act is not so much geared toward what scholars such as Marsha Meskimmon and Nikos Papastergiadis have identified as a cosmopolitan tendency in contemporary art practice that generates cross-cultural dialogue and a sense of relationality, hospitality and responsibility toward the other.5 Neither is it solely focused on seeking to understand the critical role that contemporary art may play in resisting the inequities imposed on refugees by the devastating flows of global capital, post-9/11 sovereignty and the rise of telecommunications and transport technologies which intensify such divisions and differences (as is the task of T.J. Demos).6 This book engages with the writings of such authors and inter-related concepts such as cosmopolitanism but when it does so it is to analyse the kinds of pressures and challenges that globalization – refugee flows, the flows of xenophobia, geo-economic division and networked interconnectivity – place on the construction of social memory. It is very much focused on concepts of time in an era of globalization and, more specifically, on the chaotic spatio-temporal concatenations that

INTRODUCTION

5

tend to characterize counter-memorial aesthetics. For this reason, the scope of the book moves beyond discourses of globalization and into those of contemporaneity which, as demonstrated in Chapter 1, is a form of being ‘with time’ in a period of temporal and spatial ‘disjunctive unity’.7

Overview To begin to analyse the politics of counter-memorial aesthetics, and its attempts to grapple with diminishing histories of refugee experiences, Chapter 1 examines notions of contemporaneity as theorized by scholars such as Terry Smith alongside theories of globalization, memory, experimental historiography, the refugee, bare life and biopolitics. This provides a critical background for counter-memorial aesthetics before considering the existing literature on concepts of the counter-monument and countermemory. Importantly, this includes engaging Kobena Mercer’s development of Foucauldian counter-memory in relation to the mid-1980s experimental video historiographies of the Black Audio Film Collective. As Mercer shows, the Collective’s video historiographies of Britain’s migrant communities are characterized by an aesthetic heterogeneity that brings to the fore strong links between counter-memory, montage, and a kind of migratory aesthetic – the aesthetic of diaspora – that shares some association with the aesthetics of refugee experiences analysed in this book. While this book does not seek to conflate theories of diaspora or migration with those of asylum seeker or refugee experience – indeed, Chapter 1 distinguishes refugees and asylum seekers from other migrants – Mercer’s work, as does the work of the Collective, represents critical precedents not only for this book’s analysis of counter-memorial aesthetics, but (as I show in Chapter 1) also for an emergent field of study. This is a field dedicated to theorizing the aesthetics of migration, exile, diaspora and refugeedom: examples can be found in the writings of Nikos Papastergiadis, Mieke Bal, Jill Bennett and T.J. Demos. Counter-memorial aesthetics is certainly a part of, and also seeks to expand, this emerging field.8 In seeking to further understand what the politics of such an aesthetics may be, Chapter 1 then moves to a critical analysis of recent discourses on aesthetics from the fields of art history, philosophy and critical

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theory (drawing on Papastergiadis, James Elkins and Jacques Rancière, amongst others). By critically engaging this broad range of concepts, the chapter aims to provide, not so much an overarching, ‘readymade’ framework for analysing counter-memorial aesthetics, as a productive foundation upon which to build further understanding of the contemporary artworks examined in the book as a whole (it is recommended that this chapter is read before proceeding to other chapters). With the exception of the final chapter, each chapter focuses on works by a single artist or collaboration. By doing so, I am able to provide in-depth analysis of distinct practices and the distinct memory-making systems they engage and produce. Practices include performance (Tania Bruguera, Chapter 2), aftermath photography (Rosemary Laing, Chapter 3), the atlas (Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Chapter 4) and ‘history painting’ (Dierk Schmidt, Chapter 5). Chapter 6 focuses on video installation and examines the practices of a range of artists (Isaac Julien, Dinh Q. Lê, Angela Melitopoulos, Hito Steyerl and Silvia Kolbowski). It seems that video installation is a highly fertile ground for counter-memorial aesthetics; this is not surprising, because the moving image is the medium for montage par excellence. Chapter 2 presents the first of six case studies theorizing countermemorial aesthetics. It focuses on a series of inter-related works by Tania Bruguera – Homenaje a Ana Mendieta (Tribute to Ana Mendieta, 1985–96), La Memoria de la Postguerra (Postwar Memory, 1993–7) and Art in America (The Dream) (1997) – which transmit into Cuba the ghosted bodies and voices of the island nation’s exiles, now scattered across the US and Latin America, to chronicle the aftermath and proximity of both the 1959 Cuban Revolution and the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall. Building on the work of Stephanie Schwartz, Gerardo Mosquera, Luis Camnitzer and Rachel Weiss, amongst others, the chapter considers how Bruguera utilizes performance and the inter-related art form of arte de conducta or ‘behaviour art’ as a catalyst for counter-memorial aesthetics. It focuses on the ‘politico-timing specific’ contexts (Bruguera’s term) out of which the works emerged and their capacity to engage the politics of memory, intervene in Cuban public discourse and critically reflect on experiences and conceptions of biopolitics both within Cuba and under US immigration policies (the US being where most Cuban exiles have fled).

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7

In Chapter 3 I analyse Rosemary Laing’s photographic series to walk on a sea of salt (2004) and its juxtaposition of the iconic, mythologized Australian landscapes of Lake Eyre and the Flinders Ranges, bound to Australia’s settler narrative, with images of the desolate and defunct Woomera detention centre. I attend to common readings of this work as a continuation of the artist’s longstanding interest in landscape, place and identity, while revealing how the work is also deeply influenced by the artist’s profound, if understated and under-examined, interest in cinema and time. I focus on the fact that Laing’s images are characterized by an aesthetic of belatedness and discuss how such an aesthetic/temporality informs and is informed by the emerging documentary genre of ‘aftermath photography’.9 Through Walter Benjamin’s writings on photography and time and Gene Ray’s writings on trauma, I also examine the temporalities of stillness, return and repetition that structure to walk on a sea of salt. Here, recent refugee histories appear as part of an anti-teleological (heterochronous) constellation, and the chapter considers the extent to which, and how, Laing’s imagery can map and recalibrate the borders of Australian history. Chapter  4 examines Brown and Green’s atlas (1998–) and its inclusion of signifiers of Australian refugee histories – riots at the Woomera detention centre, the Tampa incident – amongst images of nineteenth-century Japanese studio portraits, astronauts in space, Yves Klein’s performances, Godard’s films, Ground Zero, portraits of Walter Benjamin, self-portraits, and much more. Tracing the logic of this seemingly bizarre method of counter-memorialization, where image-fragments of refugee histories are deeply displaced and schematic at best, I reveal that the politics of Brown and Green’s atlas, which spans photography and painting, cannot be understood without first turning to theories of the atlas, as advanced by the practices of Aby Warburg, Gerhard Richter and Jean-Luc Godard. Only upon consideration of these practices is it possible to see why Brown and Green develop an atlas and method of counter-memorialization through the arbitrary arrangement of image-fragments and why they mobilize a contingent engagement with the past (subjecting diminishing refugee histories to further entropy and decay). Their method privileges a form of mnemonic entropy and precarity which paradoxically reveals a potentially robust method of counter-memorialization. Following on from Brown and Green’s atlas, Chapter 5 examines another type of mnemonic object, also comprised of heterogeneous

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image referents drawn from disparate places and times: ‘history painting’.10 Engaging with the writings of a variety of critics and theorists such as Jacques Rancière and Hal Foster, the chapter analyses Dierk Schmidt’s experiments with the outmoded genre in his 21-part image-cycle SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics (2001–5). Here, the artist juxtaposes images of the events surrounding the sinking of SIEV-X with art-historical icons such as The Raft of the Medusa (1818–19) and contemporary mass media and news media fragments. Following the influence of works such as Richter’s October 18, 1977 (1988), in Schmidt’s image-cycle, history painting manifests not as a monolithic or synthetic image, but as a series of fragments that present an expanded sense of time and place. I show that, deeply influenced by Théodore Géricault’s antagonisms in the nineteenth-century Salon and Peter Weiss’ novel The Aesthetics of Resistance (1975–81), Schmidt’s history painting appears as part of a heterogeneous field, in proximity to and affected by a range of social, cultural and political spaces. He produces a fluid, mobile form of history painting that is both self-effacing and effaces any concept of homogenizing historiography or painterly realism. Chapter 6 focuses on how counter-memorial aesthetics resonates with a range of recent video installations committed to recording diminishing and traumatic refugee histories: Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves (2010), Dinh Q Lé’s Erasure (2011) and Angela Melitopoulos’ Corridor X (2007) are notable examples. But is counter-memorial aesthetics exclusively tied to the visualization of experiences of exile? Or is it relevant to other practices, such as Hito Steyerl’s November (2004) or Silvia Kolbowski’s After Hiroshima Mon Amour (2008), which are also characterized by aesthetic heterogeneity, and the embodiment of multiple temporal registers, but do not engage with histories or themes of refugeedom? To what extent can counter-memorial aesthetics be seen as a global artistic impulse relevant to the documentation of the multiple antinomies of contemporaneity?

CHAPTER ONE

Counter-Memorial Aesthetics States of emergency As emergencies unfold in such sites as the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, Morecambe Bay or the Florida Straits, one after the other, they inevitably come to affect the production of contemporary art. Contemporaneity institutes the experience of con tempus – the state of being both in and with time, that is, with and in the unfolding of contemporary history.1 The works of such artists as Tania Bruguera, Rosemary Laing, Dierk Schmidt and Isaac Julien attempt to engage and recalibrate contemporary life, its events, and its unfolding histories. Each of these artists, and others examined in this book, is invested in producing mnemonic objects: the memory atlas, the history painting, the installation, the video document or the largescale, monumental photograph. They do so in an attempt to critically address the limits and possibilities of recording refugee histories for posterity. But most importantly, these artists test their capacity to visualize and memorialize histories of displacement in a manner that is reflective of contemporaneity’s heterogeneity. While always rooted in local and particular histories, the images of history held and produced by the artists examined herein also appear as part of a broader, heterochronous and expansive network of global history. Their tracing and recuperation of repressed and forgotten refugee histories is invariably structured through the dialectics of the local and the global, the past and present. In Lyndell 9

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Brown and Charles Green’s collaborative work, for example, images of the Tampa affair are connected to remnants of contiguous and distant histories and icons: images of the Earth, war-torn Manila, Brigitte Bardot, Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, Walter Benjamin, colonized Japanese subjects. The gesture of making refugee histories manifest is mediated by a desire to expand the temporal, spatial and affective relations of these events beyond the limits of topicality or nationally oriented historical discourses. The artists examined in this book produce works that mirror and institute the heterogeneity of contemporaneity. As a term that is ultimately connected to the notion of contemporaneity, ‘heterogeneity’ invokes the constellation of events and histories, and the socio-economic and political systems, which constitute the world today. It is a form of ‘world picturing’ which seeks to rupture the homogeny of Euro-American imperialism, and to propel the polysemy of the global.2 It maintains cultural differentiation in the face of globalization’s hegemonic forces, disallowing what was once a periphery to emerge as a new monolith. But contemporaneity is heterogeneous in another way too. Heterogeneity is by definition excess, that which falls outside of social systems; it is ‘what a system cannot assimilate but must reject as excremental’.3 If during modernity, this excess or ‘dehumanized social waste’4 was most often signified by the proletariat (as argued by Rosalind Krauss for example) in contemporaneity, a period characterized by the inequities of globalization, such ‘excess’ has increasingly come to be signified by the figure of the refugee. The ‘authentic’ refugee is usually cast as a figure fleeing persecution or war, a definition standardized by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR ). However, given that the interpretation of the legal status of a refugee forwarded by the UNCHR is creatively misread by sovereign states according to geopolitical and electoral priorities, the definition of ‘refugee’ offered in this book is an expanded one.5 Following the political scientist Matthew Gibney, I include those fleeing economic and natural disaster, abject poverty and destitution, and those who because of its inadequacy or incapacity are without the care of their State.6 The latter group are often referred to as ‘economic migrants’, cast as ‘bogus’ refugees and refused and castigated for having ambition for a better life. But I refer to them here as refugees since their claims for extreme precarity are not inauthentic. At times I also use the term asylum seeker not

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so much to mark a subject’s legal status before being designated a refugee (since this status is often not granted) as much as connote an ongoing state of seeking asylum or a new home by means other than the law (this definition is particularly relevant to Chapter 6). Given the low numbers of asylum applications accepted in the global North, many of those fleeing political, economic and natural catastrophes never make a claim for asylum, preferring to remain in the shadows of immigration bureaucracy where they can work within dark economies (under deeply exploitative conditions) and avoid deportation. The reality that such people face is undoubtedly shaped by the ominous and penalizing conditions of a biopolitical system which seeks to trim the ‘excess’ of the national body – or at least to make it powerless and invisible. Biopolitics offers a means to manage the structure of the national body and, as Michel Foucault argues, it is not new but rather begins with the eighteenth-century Nation-State’s segregation of individuals according to race, creating clear distinctions, ‘caesuras’ and ‘fragments’ between races and within ‘the continuum of the human race of races’.7 The subsequent logic of the discourse of biopolitics and its fragmentation of races is the hierarchical differentiation of races. As Foucault argues: The fact that the other dies does not mean simply that I live in the sense that his death guarantees my safety; the death of the other, the death of the bad race, of the inferior race (or the degenerate, or the abnormal) is something that will make life in general healthier; healthier and purer.8 Thus, racism results in the justification of the killing, of the ‘making die’ and ‘letting die’ of inferior races (species) or races that impose a threat to the health and purity of ‘our’ race. Addressing genocide in its various manifestations from colonialism to the Holocaust, biopolitics, Foucault argues, is inherent to modernity. Giorgio Agamben argues, further, that it proceeds into the complex terrain of contemporaneity. It does so through the re-emergence of the concentration camp as a consistent paradigm at the end of the twentieth century. Since the State seems only to be able to define itself through exclusions, or the inclusion of ‘bare life’ (the human stripped of the right to live), the camp has become the nomos of modernity and contemporaneity.9

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As this book shows, the figure of bare life has come to occupy the imagination, aesthetics and discourse of contemporary art.10 Its emergence parallels the ever-unfolding news of forced migration and maritime disasters, and the proliferation of detention centres and ghettos or what Okwui Enwezor terms ‘phantom scenes’ – nodes of the state of exception – where the shadowy refugee and suspected terrorist reside.11 But of course, awareness of the figure of bare life is also bound to the technologically mobilized apparitions of past and present catastrophes – the Holocaust, Apartheid, the Vietnam War, Rwanda – which occupy media screens. Thus, the distinct emergence of particular modes of art production such as recording, re-enacting and memorializing historical catastrophes are inherently intertwined with the manifestation of a ‘trauma culture’ in the last decades of the twentieth century. A significant development of this trauma culture has been the rise of what Andreas Huyssen terms the ‘memory boom’. Huyssen argues that since the end of the twentieth century we have seen ‘the emergence of memory as a key cultural and political concern in Western societies, a turning toward the past that stands in stark contrast to the privileging of the future so characteristic of earlier decades of twentieth century history’.12 As part of this memory boom, an increasing engagement with theories of counter-memory and the counter-monument has emerged. In the aftermath of Apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of postcolonialism and the entropy of colonialism, Foucault’s notion of counter-memory (developed in 1971) has come to be deployed as means by which to frame the construction of histories for the disenfranchised – as seen in analyses of works by Doris Salcedo, Yinka Shonibare, Chris Burden, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Black Audio Film Collective and many more.13 As Joan Gibbons argues, for example, Doris Salcedo’s Attrabiliarios (1992–3), an abstract work that takes the form of the ‘trace’ – presenting the shoes of the desaparecidos – is a form of countermemory to the extent that it resists the repression of this history in dominant discourse. The work ‘brings notice to the disappeared or deceased’ and is an ‘act of resistance’ which debunks ‘institutionalized’ or ‘hegemonic’ memory, argues Gibbons.14 Indeed, for most critics, counter-memory is similarly characterized as: ‘the recovering and reconfiguring of social and political histories’ of ‘those who have been socially oppressed’;15 the production of ‘alternative histories’;16 and the ‘contestation between the administrators of

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“official narratives” and the makers of “counter-memory” ’.17 In a way these notions are not incorrect, and to various degrees accurately reflect Foucault’s (at times) combative writings on the urgency and politics of counter-memory.18 However, within the many discourses bound to counter-memory that have emerged after Foucault there is a decidedly limiting rhetoric, which tends to essentialize and oversimplify the conflict between ‘marginalized voices’ and ‘homogenous nodes of power’, and to reduce the politics of counter-memory to a divisive contestation between ‘us and them’. If this strategy was once effective, it is unconvincing in the global, and that is to say heterogeneous, terrain of contemporaneity. As Nikos Papastergiadis argues, the demise of political oppositions between ‘Western capitalism and Soviet socialism’ post-1989 and the ongoing ‘decline of US geo-political hegemony’ has meant that, today, political struggle ‘cannot be grasped in terms of two rival discourses in conflict over supremacy’.19 The binaristic rhetoric of the ‘clash of civilizations’ is lamentable in an era which, marked by postcolonialism, mobility, migration, refugeedom and intense myriad cultural exchanges, demands new modes of human interrelationships that engage with the heterogeneous global sphere. ‘This profound challenge’, argues Papastergiadis, ‘requires us to acknowledge that both political forces and cultural identities are caught in turbulent patterns of interconnection and displacement’. The ‘deterritorialization of cultures and people demands new theories of flow and resistance’, argues Papastergiadis.20 In recent years the necessity to determine a new language for thinking the expanded field of history and the politics of human inter-relations has been made clear by many scholars. Beyond Papastergiadis, Peter Osborne, Terry Smith, Jill Bennett, Mieke Bal and David McNeill have attempted to articulate the way in which a global, historical consciousness may manifest. They tend to deploy terms such as ‘global interconnections’, ‘assemblages and networks’, ‘disjunctive unity’, or ‘globalization of memory’ for thinking, engaging and seeing contemporaneity’s ‘expanded field’ of history.21 Moreover, Huyssen, Osborne, Smith and Bal, along with the curator Nicolas Bourriaud, have made clear that heterochrony – ‘time contrived, manipulated, and offered in different, multi-layered ways’ – is central to the aesthetics of global memory.22 The present never appears as a remote island distanced from the past, and the

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local is never bound to a particular border. Indeed, in articulating the effects of contemporaneity and globalism on contemporary art and life, such scholars and curators prioritize the aesthetics of heterochronia and transnational resonances, the ‘aesthetics of entanglement’, juxtapositions and ligatures.23 In this light, I contend that if contemporaneity is marked by an unparalleled, heightened and expanded sense of space and time (expanded, that is, from Euro-American centrism and teleological renderings of history), then this would surely affect not only artists’ conception of history, but also the production and aesthetics of counter-memory. Indeed for the artists examined in this book, the act of producing counter-memories is deeply affected by their experience of contemporaneity. Unlike earlier precedents, they depart from visualizing counter-memory as primarily located within particular national boundaries. They think of history vis-à-vis the depth of differential time. This is not necessarily or only the time of a nation in relation to its foundations or colonial governance, but rather the time of other incongruous bodies, histories and territories. This formulation, I must stress, is distinct from the most common articulations and expressions of counter-memory, which often see it as a means to contest ways to imagine the nation or re-imagine national identity and place.24 This is the case even when Foucault’s theory of counter-memory, while certainly developed through a desire to contest particular strands of French popular memory, was contingent on modes of disidentification from normative national identity. In Foucault’s words, ‘[t]he purpose of history, guided by genealogy, is not to discover the roots of our identity, but to commit itself to its dissipation. . . . It does not seek to define our unique threshold of emergence, the homeland to which metaphysicians promise a return; it seeks to make visible all of those discontinuities that come across us’.25 As this book will show in chapters two to six, the countermemorial aesthetics developed by the artists examined herein are often addressing national histories and identity. However, in being structured through entanglements, ligatures and juxtapositions, and thus working through the heterogeneity and heterochronia of contemporaneity, this book’s examination of particular artists demonstrates that in contemporaneity, counter-memory simultaneously manifests as a global, post-identity aesthetic. In order for this argument to be properly unpacked, the following

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section reframes and re-articulates the notion of counter-memory, beginning with a short excursus into its genealogy.

Counter-memory, excess and heterogeneity With varying degrees of consistency, the modern era has seen artists engage with the subjects of cataclysms and emergencies: the disenfranchisement of French citizens and soldiers out at sea near West Africa in Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa (1818–19); the anonymous victims of war in Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (1937); the Indigenous Australians and incarcerated aliens during the Second World War in Yosl Bergner’s Aborigines in Fitzroy (1941) and Ghetto Wall (1943). In each of these cases, artists have attempted to record explicit and insidious modes of barbarism at the moments that these memories threaten to disappear. Driven by the possible displacement or repression of memories by the State and other governing bodies, these artists’ concerns lie with the politics of memory and the production of counter-memory. From Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa to Bergner’s history paintings, it is clear that a concept bound to the heterogeneous production of histories that are in excess of State narratives takes form throughout the history of modern art. Yet it was not until 1971 that the notion of counter-memory was properly developed via Foucault’s seminal essay ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History’.26 In the nineteenth century the definition and comprehension of the terms ‘history’ and ‘monument’ were guided by positivist thinking and sought to promote rigid and State-oriented conceptions of the past, but (after Nietzsche) Foucault sought not only to review, but also to refract these concepts.27 He did so by seeking to allow repressed archives, documents, images (catalysts of memory and the sum of discourse, which structures the boundaries of language) to ‘shine brightly’28 alongside those which correlated with power: ‘History . . . should become a differential knowledge [connaissance] of energies and failings, heights and denigrations, poisons and antidotes’. Differential knowledge is what allows history and counter-memory to perform its critical work: to critique the notion of the singular monument born of a single origin. Indeed, the ‘true

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historical sense confirms our existence among countless lost events, without a landmark or a point of reference’, argued Foucault.29 It splinters the monolithic into heterogeneity. Although Foucault developed the concept of counter-memory in the early 1970s, it was not until the late 1990s that it was more fully appropriated by contemporary art discourse for the analysis of artworks that served to counteract exclusive and homogenous notions of history. We may think, for example, of Chris Burden’s The Other Vietnam Memorial (1991) (Fig. 1.1). Conceptualized as an antithesis to Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982), which commemorates the dead and missing US Armed Forces members from the Vietnam War, The Other Vietnam Memorial memorializes the three million South Vietnamese killed during the same war.30 To create the work, Burden etched three million South Vietnamese names sourced from four Vietnamese telephone books onto a structure that approximates a giant Rolodex: a desktop card index and repository for names and addresses on a rotating spindle. Most of those killed are unknown, and Burden’s compilation of names is a fabrication: mixed and matched first names and surnames to signify ersatz identities as a means of paradoxically recognizing those who have been ignored by History while pointing to the impossibility of commemoration under the given circumstances. Juxtaposed with Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Burden’s work generates a critical and dynamic vision of that which has been. Counter-memory fissures the singular and the homogenous, allowing for the excess of the heterogeneous so that it may become a site of disagreement. To certain degrees, the same can be said of the countermonument. *

*

*

James Young’s notion of the counter-monument has deeply shaped discourses of contemporary art and memory. Young’s notion, which is broadly geared toward negating the monolithic and pacifying tendencies of monuments, needs to be both associated with and differentiated from Foucault’s theory of counter-memory.31 Foucault, as Young argues, adopts a ‘hypermediated version’ of history that sees ‘every record of history’, ‘even the archive’, as a representation of history (mediated by and bound to nodes of power). Young opts for more traditional modes of historical inquiry (the ‘combined study of both what happened and how it passed’).32

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FIGURE 1.1 Chris Burden, Sketch for The Other Vietnam Memorial, 1991. © Chris Burden. Courtesy of the Chris Burden studio and Gagosian Gallery.

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Yet like Foucault’s theory of counter-memory, Young’s notion is also grounded on a reading of Nietzsche’s Use and Abuse of History for Life, and thus transmits the rhetoric of negation and antagonism toward homogenous and essentialist renderings of identity and history which are so central to Foucault’s discourse.33 A nineteenth-century Nietzsche pronounced, ‘Away with the monuments!’, critiquing claims that monuments can preserve the past intact and calling for a fluid memory of the past, open to change, fragmentation and even disappearance; Young argues that this desire re-emerges in the commemorative practices of postwar neo-avant-garde artists. Young tells us, for example, that Horst Hoheisel opts for manifesting ‘negative forms’, a term which denotes the artist’s refusal to construct a monument for the remembrance of victims of the Holocaust and insistence on creating absences, as seen in his proposal (never realized) to blast the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Simply put, counter-monuments are characterized by Young as ‘brazen, painfully self-conscious memorial spaces conceived to challenge the very premises of their being’.34 This is why they often appear as voids, or ‘negative forms’, and it is also why in the discourse and practice of counter-monuments one encounters the avant-gardist and neo-avant-gardist tones, not only of negation, but also of antagonism. Counter-monuments critique the ‘public and governmental hunger for traditional, self-aggrandizing monuments’ and the eagerness ‘to assign singular meaning to complicated events and people’, argues Young. The counter-monument, then, is defined through a critique, on the one hand, of monolithic conceptions of the monument and, on the other, of the erosion of memory through the mass commodification of memorials. The counter-monument engages the challenge of negating monolithic modes of remembrance and instituting relatively nuanced and democratic methods of remembrance in a particular way. In his analysis of Monument Against Fascism, War and Violence and for Peace and Human Rights (1986) (Fig. 1.2), Young argues that its makers, Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, did not want to build ‘an enormous pedestal with something on it presuming to tell people what they ought to think’. They sought, rather, to critique the notion of memorials as monolithic entities signifying ‘shared national values and ideals’, and to instantiate a memorial as the ‘site of cultural conflict’.35 In turn, Monument Against Fascism was conceived as a participatory

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FIGURE 1.2 Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz, Mahnmal gegen Faschismus (Monument against Fascism), 1986. Harburg – Hamburg. 12 m × 1 m × 1 m. Column of galvanized steel with a lead coating. © Jochen Gerz, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2015. Image Courtesy: Gerz studio. Photographer credit: Kulturbehörde, Hamburg and Hannes Schröder.

counter-monument. It took the shape of a 12 metre galvanized steel square column with lead coating, situated in a central place in Harburg, a borough of Hamburg. Hundreds of people visited it, writing their names and their thoughts on it. Some etched swastikas on the counter-monument. Others scribbled their names or banal phrases (‘I ♥ every girl’). To ensure that the counter-monument would remain subject to the public’s ongoing participation, each time that its exterior became covered in signatures and inscriptions it was lowered into the ground, where it would remain, allowing the counter-monument to proffer a fresh template for the public. This process recurred until the monument totally vanished (the counter-monument was completely lowered into the ground on 10 November 1993). As Young observes, when Monument Against Fascism disappeared, its absence meant that its memory, and what it referred to, was located only in the minds of those who had participated. In effect, Young contends, the counter-monument revolted against one of the problematic functions of monuments: to relieve the public of the burden of remembering.36 Crucially, in restoring the burden of remembrance to the subject, the counter-monument instantiates not just memory, but also counter-memory. Counter-memory, as Young defines it, is a process of remembrance that occurs in the space ‘between the memorial and the viewer, between the viewer and his or

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her own memory . . . in the viewer’s mind, heart, and conscience’.37 For Young, no doubt, counter-memory is an experience of ethical subjectivization. It is the shouldering of the burden of remembrance and the empathic, and perhaps sentimental, relation to the other. In thinking so, Young’s discourse presents a problem. On the one hand, by producing a subjective mode of engaging the past and countering the eagerness ‘to assign singular meaning to complicated events and people’, Young’s inter-related concepts of the counter-monument and counter-memory negate the problematic pacifying affect of traditional monuments and thus, like Foucault’s notion of counter-memory, crucially splinter homogeneity into heterogeneity. On the other hand, in framing the experience of counter-memory through such sentimentalist terms – countermemory takes place in the ‘viewer’s mind, heart and conscience’ – and arguing that the subsequent transference of the ‘burden of remembrance’ from the monument to the viewer results in a utopic, monument-free landscape, Young effectively reduces the politics and potential antagonism of counter-memory into naïve humanism.38 As Young argues: Once the monument moves its viewers to memory, it also becomes unnecessary and so may disappear. As a result, [Jochen] Gerz suggests, ‘We will one day reach the point where antiFascist memorials will no longer be necessary, when vigilance will be kept alive by the invisible pictures of remembrance.’ ‘Invisible pictures’ in this case, would correspond to our internalized images of the memorial itself, now locked into the mind’s eye as a source of perpetual memory. All that remains, then, is the memory of the monument, an after-image projected onto the landscape by the rememberer. The best memorial … may be no monument at all but only the memory of an absent monument.39 In thinking that viewers will be affected by the monument so as to ‘keep watch’ for possible danger, Young, and Jochen Gerz, are effectively refusing to acknowledge the enmity (symbolized by the swastika, for example) and the range of responses and effects that arise in the space of counter-monuments. Young trades disagreement and difference for consensus. Moreover, the necessity to maintain struggle (inherent to Foucault’s counter-memory), which is made

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clear through the ongoing biopolitical violence in contemporary life, is repressed by Young in order to support a naïve humanist desire. If the artwork or the counter-monument is to claim itself as a sign of humanism, or the humanity of humankind, it must do so with regard to the discrete categories of the human. That is, ‘the tasteless and uncultivated, the enemies of art, the barbarians, the criminals, and even – to use three categories that emerged from the Nuremberg trials to designate the perpetrators of imprescriptible crimes – those guilty of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity’.40 In contrast to this, Young tends to conceal the diverse and highly antagonistic phenomena inherent to the human, not readily subsumable under any one – highly idealistic – conception of this term. A critical notion of humanism would be founded on the dialectics of equality and inequality, the recognition of the heterogeneous community, and its excess, rather than on consensus. Counter-memory is more than a humanist form of compassion, more than a vain wish for a utopia without monuments – it is a site of relentless struggle, which doesn’t result in a dialectical revolution between the repressed and the oppressors. Politics, as Foucault argues, is always relational and relative: it requires constant negotiation.41 It demands the insistent voicing and appearance of excess that always threatens to disappear. It is for this reason that counter-memory, in a Foucauldian sense, often appears as the convergence of heterogeneous things, which do not combine neatly, and fragment and rupture. These might be the living matter of humans, incongruous ideas, or different accounts of the past. It is not so much that this heterogeneity isn’t present in counter-monuments, it’s just that it isn’t present in Young’s discourse. The kind of heterogeneity that is capable of being present in counter-monuments (though it is absent in Young’s discourse) is also found in Hans Haacke’s Und Ihr habt doch gesiegt (And You Were Victorious After All, 1988), commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Nazis’ entrance into the Austrian city of Grasz.42 Haacke reconstructed a temporary monument that had originally been erected by the Nazis in a major strip of the city in 1938 for a rally. The streets were branded with their red, black and white pallets, icons and slogans (Und Ihr habt doch gesiegt) for the troops and the crowd. The single formal distinction between the 1938 monument and Haacke’s work was an inscription at the base which

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read ‘the vanquished of Styria: 300 gypsies killed, 2,500 Jews killed, 8,000 political prisoners killed or died in detention, 9,000 civilians killed in the war, 12,000 missing, 27,900 soldiers killed’.43 Und Ihr habt doch gesiegt elicited strong and varying reactions from the local community. School children on field trips ventured out to the counter-monument to contemplate the past; the anti-Semitic journal Neu Kronen Zeitung protested its construction; and a collaboration between a neo-Nazi and ‘a well known sixty seven year old Nazi’ eventuated in the work being firebombed (Fig. 1.3).44 Rather than assume that this antagonism can be wished away, it reflects the undying spirit of fascism. As Sergiusz Michalski argues, ‘[i]f the public monument is to retain a place in the repertoire of new signs and symbols it must recall old dangers and thus prefigure future ones’.45 The counter-monument is not a means of burying the past, but rather a process of prefiguring the thickness of history and brutality, and of counting disagreement as part of the process of remembrance, rather than trying to cover over it. This, to put it

FIGURE 1.3 Hans Haacke, Und Ihr habt doch gesiegt (And You Were Victorious After All), 1988. Photo: Angelika Gradwohl. Courtesy: Generali Foundation.

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bluntly, is a Foucauldian formulation of counter-memory rather than the type developed by Young. *

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The destabilizing and productive energy of counter-memory is not restricted to the sculptural matter of counter-monuments. It is also made possible by montage – which in its broadest sense is defined by its capacity to conjoin disjunction. The use of montage in the production of counter-memory finds its precedents not only in films such as The Camisards (1972) or The Courage of the People (1971), which in 1974 in an interview with Cahiers Foucault discussed as cultural modes of counter-memory, but also in a number of video-based works from the 1980s and 1990s which numerous critics have identified with Foucauldian counter-memory.46 These works include Julien’s Territories (1984); the Black Audio Film Collective’s Signs of Empire (1983) and Handsworth Songs (1986); Woody Vasulka’s Art of Memory (1987); Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma (1989–99); Janice Tanaka’s Memories from the Department of Amnesia (1990); Keith Piper’s A Ship Called Jesus (1991); and Rea Tajiri’s History and Memory (1991). All of these works, as critics argue, produced a form of counter-memory, antagonizing institutionalized and hegemonic modes of history, often through fragmented, non-linear and subjectively driven conceptions of history and time.47 However, it is Kobena Mercer’s incisive scholarship on the Black Audio Film Collective that provides the most important insight into the politics and aesthetics of counter-memory, especially as it pertains to the strategies of juxtaposition and montage, the convergence of heterogeneous items, the manifestation of implausible meetings and the aesthetics of disagreement.48 See for example Mercer’s analysis of the Collective’s Handsworth Songs (Fig. 1.4), a film which emerged out of a wave of social unrest and violence sparked by racial tensions and high unemployment in Handsworth (Birmingham) and London during September and October 1985. In attempting to come to terms with the event, observes Mercer, the film engages family albums, colonial archives, and the archives of the mass media – in particular, reports covering the riots as well as oral histories and poems pertaining to Britain’s diaspora. Through non-linear montage, Handsworth Songs interweaves disparate archival materials to construct ‘a space of critical reverie’49 which, argues Mercer,

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FIGURE 1.4 Black Audio Film Collective, Handsworth Songs, 1986. Single channel film, 16 mm film transferred to video, colour, sound, 59 minutes. © Black Audio Film Collective / John Akomfrah. Courtesy: Smoking Dogs Films.

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‘counteracts the active ideological forgetting of England’s colonial past in media discourses on Handsworth [which fuelled racial tensions] in order to articulate an alternative, archaeological account of the contemporary crisis of race and nation’.50 If the riots at Handsworth were portrayed as emerging out of a vacuum, the Collective’s film offers a sense of ‘historical depth’ to make plain the dialectics of oppression and emancipation, and race, at the centre of the nation’s history and social body. Through its excavation and reclamation of ‘a creole community of black struggle in Britain, itself always repressed, erased and made invisible in the popular memory of dominant film and media discourse’, the film effectively generates, argues Mercer, a form of counter-memory.51 In wanting to make plain that counter-memory produces a mode of politics that moves beyond the schismatic formula of ‘us and them’, Mercer points to the film’s incantation of disparate voices from Britain’s diaspora. Interwoven through affective imagery, text and sound, such voices, argues Mercer, produce an aesthetic of dialogism. They develop (after Mikhail Bakhtin) a means to rupture the monologism of both English identity and essentialist readings of Black community. ‘Critical dialogism has the potential to overturn the binaristic relations of hegemonic boundary maintenance by multiplying critical dialogues within particular communities and between the various constituencies that make up the “imagined community” of the nation’.52 Counter-memory, argues Mercer, is produced in Handsworth Songs through heterogeneity, the production of a multiplicity of voices and ‘chains or association’ rather than through ‘divisive binary oppositions’.53 At the centre of this strategy is the convergence of incongruous materials via montage.

The politics of montage, the politics of aesthetics In art discourse, the term ‘montage’ derives from the German montieren, meaning to assemble or fit, and bearing an association to the notions of the ‘mechanical’ and the ‘proletarian’ following the Berlin Dadaists. But the term ‘montage’ also bears a strong association with the tactile experience of assembling material

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elements – perhaps the appropriation of materials drawn from the mass media and other ephemera, or the synthesis of celluloid. This definition of montage is not quite applicable to the works examined in this book. For while their makers present signs and references to a range of cultural icons and historical archives, and while some do work with film, most work with performance, serial photography, painted trompe l’oeil of photomontage, or the immateriality of digital video, and as such a far more expanded notion of montage is required than that which exists in art historical discourse. Such an expanded concept of montage is found in the writings of Jacques Rancière. As Rancière argues in The Politics of Aesthetics (2004), since the end of the nineteenth century – or what he calls the start of the aesthetic regime – culture and society have been characterized by a series of border-crossings, which he imagines taking place through something akin to montage: the convergence of incompatible things. Stéphane Mallarmé composes the ‘shape of a world without hierarchy where functions slide into another’.54 Gustave Courbet represents the figure of the worker on canvas to disrupt the notion of art as a reflection of sovereign power. John Heartfield converges disparate photographic reproductions to antagonize imperialist discourses. Marcel Duchamp smuggles the readymade into the gallery in an immanent gesture aimed at the destruction of art. Igor Stravinsky mixes ‘classical chords and modern dissonances, jazz and primitive rhythms’ to disrupt musical traditions and regimes.55 Jean-Luc Godard converges disparate reproduced images – Giotto’s Mary Magdalene, Elizabeth Taylor in George Stevens’ Under the Sun, and archival images of Ravensbrück, a Nazi concentration camp – to produce an antiteleological image of twentieth-century history.56 Krzysztof Wodiczko projects images of the homeless onto official American monuments to question ‘the duplicity of public space.57 For Rancière, it is possible to conceive of all these gestures as forms of montage, since in the aesthetic regime montage is not limited to printed material or film because ‘everything is material for art’ and not just ‘materiality’.58 The convergence and juxtaposition of disparate musical chords and styles or the placement of a mass-produced object in the museum is, then, no different to the suturing of disparate news media and magazines. At particular historical periods, they have each constituted the convergence of ‘incompatible things’ – to effectively ‘redistribute the sensible’ (that is, to alter what is possible to see, say and do in

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a given social sphere).59 Montage disrupts and blurs oppositions and borders. The strategy of montage, which Rancière sees as a ‘little machine’, manufactures the collision of heterogeneous and incongruous materials and is bound up with constructing disagreements about where things belong. The works examined in this book produce an effect of montage in the way that Rancière means it: they converge ‘incompatible things’ to challenge the strictures of what it is possible to see, say and do at a given moment in time in a particular social space. They smuggle, for example, repressed images or voices associated with refugees or their experiences, out of amnesiac vacuums and the shadows of homogenous national narratives in attempts to recalibrate – or to show the potential recalibration – that art can make possible for the structure of the social body and social memory. If art’s transformative potential remains on the level of the imagination then this is also a political gesture, and a gesture that is quite common in the politics of aesthetics. *

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In his texts The Politics of Aesthetics (2004) and the ‘Paradoxes of Political Art’ (2010), Rancière articulates aesthetics (aisthˉesis) that manifests sensory and felt experiences but that also delimits a particular space and time and the kinds of experiences available therein.60 In other words, aesthetics bears a connection to the concept of the distribution of the sensible, and institutes politics. This is because politics, Rancière argues, ‘revolves around what is seen and what can be said’.61 Aesthetics recomposes sensory and perceptual landscapes. The nexus of aesthetics and politics, argues Rancière, needs to be distinguished from ‘the perverse commandeering of politics by a will to art’ via the aestheticization of politics (as seen for example in the films of Leni Riefenstahl).62 Aesthetics, argues Rancière, becomes involved in politics – that is, involved in propelling otherwise unavailable affects which alter what it is possible to see, say and do – ‘without having to use the terms of a message as a vehicle’.63 ‘As a matter of fact’, Rancière continues, ‘political art cannot work in the simple form of a meaningful spectacle that would lead to an “awareness” of the state of the world’. Rather, ‘political art would ensure, at one and the same time, the production of a double effect: the readability of a political signification and a

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sensible or perceptual shock caused, conversely, by the uncanny, by that which resists signification’.64 Political art, in other words, necessarily hinges on its capacity to leave room for ambiguity, play and open-endedness while at the same time producing an image, space or affect that is distinguished from and/or in excess of the continuum of everyday life. This subsequently disturbs and/or recalibrates the distribution of the sensible. Aesthetics may institute a space that resists, for example, the rhetoric of politicians with regard to the arrival of ‘boatpeople’, but an art form is only properly political in Rancière’s terms if it disrupts the conventional expectations of political art and leaves room for ‘free play’,65 that is ‘the suspension of oppositions between sensation and meaning, form and matter, activity and passivity’.66 Indeed, Rancière argues, aesthetics allows us to experience a move from one given world to another in which capacities and incapacities, forms of tolerance and intolerance are differently defined. What comes to pass is a process of dissociation: a rupture in the relationship between sense and sense, between what is seen and what is thought, and between what is thought and what is felt. What comes to pass is a rupture in the specific condition that allows us to stay in ‘our’ assigned places in a given state of things.67 Aesthetics, in other words, has the capacity to mobilize: through processes of sensory affect and free play, it has the capacity to will a shift in subjectivity and intersubjectivity, a sense of movement from one place to another, from one time to another where events that were seemingly impossible become possible. This capacity is largely contingent on rupturing spheres of autonomy which maintain the separation of things, spheres that police mobility so as to maintain what is considered lawful and ‘normal’ (homogeny). Aesthetics, then, or the politics of aesthetics to be more precise, depends on the rupture of autonomy and production of heteronomy, of being open to worldly and external forces and influences. Rancière says: ‘Autonomy is not one of my words. My words tend to indicate a movement out of a situation. . . . I prefer terms such as: dis-identification, dissensus and emancipation. My ground words don’t relate to the idea of an autos, but refer to the idea of a move – from a situation, from a place, from an identity, from an autos’.68

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Desire to move out of a situation produces a displacement, disorientation or rupture – the existence of things in places and times where they shouldn’t be, subjectivity in a mode it shouldn’t be – this, I argue, is a mode of aesthetics that rests on all sorts of border-crossings. The ‘little machine’ of montage can of course produce such border-crossings, though it is by no means limited to this function. But I focus on montage because the politics of displacement and heterogeneity are central to the artworks I have chosen to examine and their engagements with the spectacles and traumatic histories of refugee experiences. *

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The kinds of displacement that Rancière discusses above – I return to his phrase, ‘a movement out of a situation’ – resonate with the movements of refugees fleeing the consequence of the geo-economic inequity of globalization, ideological tensions in intolerant regimes, and natural disasters advanced by capital and climate change (and so on). Such movements may not necessarily end with ‘emancipation’ (Rancière’s term) as polities in both the global North and South fail in ‘desubjectivization’, which in the simplest terms connotes a form of empathy with the ‘other’ and associated political struggles even if these struggles do not pertain to ‘you’ (the concept of desubjectivization is discussed in more detail below). But these refugee flows do lead to an aesthetic that attempts to grapple with these border-crossings through a strategy that is itself committed to exploring the politics of ‘movement’ – and more precisely the ‘movement out of a situation’ where refugees’ experiences and histories fall into the depths of an amnesiac vacuum. The stakes here are not simply about retrieving the past – which is always a difficult challenge – but also about constructing a future since the desire to counter-memorialize – or more broadly memorialize and historicize – is always future-driven. As Foucault argues, ‘memory is actually a very important factor in struggle (really, in fact, struggles develop in a kind of conscious moving forward of history); if one controls people’s memory, one controls their dynamism’.69 If the spectacles and histories of refugee experiences fall into a vacuum, this paradoxically occurs at the same time as such spectacles and histories are transmitted endlessly via the global news media. As such tragedies flow through the news media, there is talk by politicians about the tragedies of people-smuggling, the

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lives lost at sea as refugees attempt to travel great distances on decrepit boats, and the challenges of humane detainment due to riots, suicide and abuse. But these traumas are never really registered by most people, the flow of disaster continues, and the past doesn’t come back to haunt (trauma is by definition a return).70 It is in this sense that the spectacles and histories of refugees fall into amnesia. Attention is soon distracted. Another headline, another opinion poll. What remains are the ruins of history, continually accumulating with every newsfeed. ‘Today’, argues Boris Groys, ‘we are stuck in the present as it reproduces itself without leading to any future’.71 How to move out of this situation and grapple with the possibilities of constructing a counter-memory wherein the endless accumulation of images doesn’t produce an amnesiac affect?72 The amnesiac affect is propelled not only by the forces of spectacle but also certainly by the tools of governmentality that exclude the figure of the refugee in every way other than its inclusion as bare life.

The aesthetics of exile, migration and diaspora The desire to witness the traumatic experiences that refugees are subjected to, and to move away from a situation of amnesia, xenophobia or apathy has led to a subfield of aesthetics. This aesthetic, as James Elkins and Harper Montgomery argue in their book Beyond the Aesthetic and Anti-Aesthetic (2013), is as yet ‘undefined’ but nonetheless advanced by a ‘growing literature [that] studies the aesthetics of migration, exile, and diaspora’.73 For Elkins and Montgomery: The literature here includes Patricia Pisters’s work on ‘nomadic aesthetics,’ Mieke Bal’s essay on ‘migratory aesthetics,’ and T.J. Demos’s essay on the ‘aesthetics of exile’ for the Tate Triennial in 2009. This literature draws on Deleuze and many other authors to help define the expressive, and often optimistic, content of migratory experience, both in the art world and beyond it. In some measure the literature is continuous with relational aesthetics, but it also has the potential to become a separate field.

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Elkins and Montgomery are wrong to draw a connection between this field and relational aesthetics since most of the scholars they name focus almost exclusively on film and video art; and while they are correct to say that in some degree the work of Deleuze – and, I imagine, theories of nomadology – may influence this writing (most prevalent in Pisters), what actually draws this field together is a critical engagement with montage as a strategy for thinking through the disorientation and fragmentation of migration, exile and diaspora. It is also worth mentioning that Rancière deeply influences many authors in this field, examples being T.J. Demos, Nikos Papastergiadis and Jill Bennett. While the field’s inception can be traced back to the work of theorists such as Mercer writing on Black diaspora aesthetics in the 1980s (following Stuart Hall), or the work of Irit Rogoff in Terra Infirma (2000), it is in the writings of Demos, Papastergiadis, Bennett, Mieke Bal and Angela Melitopoulos that a clear genealogy of the nexus of montage and the aesthetics of exile and migration can be drawn out. Starting with Demos: as he shows in his 2007 book The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp, the genealogy for the nexus of montage and an aesthetics of exile lies in the practices of Zurich and New York Dada, which manufactured ‘decontextualized readymades, disjunctive montage, visual and textual fragmentation . . . and disorientating spaces’ expressing ‘the experiential terms of geopolitical dislocation’.74 The theoretical foundation for Demos’ articulation of the aesthetics of exile in Dada is the writings of Walter Benjamin. As Demos argues, ‘[e]xile entered into Benjamin’s writings’ in various ways, but perhaps none so profoundly as through his mediation on montage and allegory, which Benjamin ‘considered at length’ to negotiate his own ‘displacement’.75 Benjamin sought to counteract dominant modes of nationalism, and the debilitating idea of progress as historical norm.76 What was required was the ‘uprooting of history’ in relation to the present, to counter the idea that fascism was the ineluctable result of historical progression.77 An aesthetic of fragmentation and dislocation from particular and fixed notions of national identity was thus needed. The development of this aesthetic was aided by the concept of the dialectical image that elicited a constellation of diverse temporalities into coexistence (as opposed to homogenous, teleological time). With the idea of the dialectical image in mind,

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Benjamin began a memory project while in exile, recording ‘his own homesick memories as dislocated montage, arrayed within a cycle of continual particularization.’78 The fragmentary, dialectical and self-reflexive nature by which Benjamin engaged his memories (as seen in A Berlin Chronicle, c. 1932) while in exile allowed him to make plain the contingency and reconstruction of any memory project. Memory, in other words, provided a catalyst for Benjamin to grapple with his displacement while also allowing him to eschew any sense of romanticization or essentialization of the past and his identity. ‘The aesthetics of modernist exile, then, offered the means both to satisfy homesickness by shoring up identity through a memorial project, and to challenge fascist historicism by resisting its essentialism through a homeless aesthetic’, argues Demos. Indeed, Benjamin’s ‘transitory identity’ was responsive to Modernism’s ‘logic of deracination’, forming a crucial precedent for understandings of the aesthetics of exile in pre- and post-war art.79 While not all the scholars working in the field of the aesthetics of migration, exile and diaspora (to use Elkins and Montgomery’s terms) are indebted to Benjamin, they all tend to argue that strategies of montage – or associated processes of hybridization, juxtaposition, intertwining and so on – are central to a critical engagement with displacement.80 This is evident, for example, in Jill Bennett’s analysis of Indigenous Australian artist Gordon Bennett’s Notes to Basquit: 911 (2001), a history painting that forges a heterogeneous field of transcultural encounters – from the US , the Middle East and Australia – in the aftermath of 9/11 (for Jill Bennett this results in an ‘empathic vision’ capable of negotiating cultural difference).81 It is also evident in Papastergiadis’s analysis of the works of Isaac Julien and William Kentridge, which produce an aesthetic hybridity that Papastergiadis claims ‘can be thematized through the early modernist techniques of juxtaposition, collage and bricolage’ – that holds together ‘opposing views’ pertaining to colonial and postcolonial narratives in Britain and South Africa in order to manifest ‘an energy field of different forces’.82 It is further evident in Demos’s recent analyses of contemporary artists such as Mona Hatoum, Hito Steyerl and Ursula Biemann, whose essay films use montage to conjure the proximity and disjunctions of distinct, sometimes conflicting but always overlapping narratives of globalization.

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For Demos in particular the focus is often on analysing something akin to what Osborne terms the ‘global constellation of spaces, of places, non places and flows’ in contemporaneity and which are made visible in contemporary art.83 If space is the key concern here, time and memory are more emphatically engaged in the works of Bal and Melitopoulos. For Bal and Melitopoulos, whose distinct writings echo each other in myriad ways, there is some kind of implicit connection between the fragmentary nature of memory and that of non-linear, filmic montage. Both produce a disorientation of place and time, which for these theorists makes way for a poetic encounter with experiences of migration, diaspora and exile, experiences that are also defined by disorientation.84 The purpose of this over-identification with disorientation in the work of all the theorists I have named is the same. They are drawn to artists who create aesthetic experiences of instability, incongruity and disorientation to propel a particular form of empathy (following Benjamin’s critique of national identity): one that is not hinged on a process of identification (based on nationality, for example) but rather on desubjectivization – the construction of the self in relation to the other.85 Such a mode of desubjectivization is not a naïve form of empathy, as proposed by Young, but rather something closer to Bennett’s suggestion of an empathy based on the negation of essentialist notions of identity hinged on ethnicity, nationality or family roots.86 Such a notion is central to the aesthetics of postidentity, allowing one to imagine ‘forms of sociability that remain open to foreignness, mobility and flux’, which are founded on the process of ‘infinite becoming rather than static existence’ and disrupt the divide between citizen, refugee, migrant.87 Via strategies of montage, such aesthetics can move viewers into a ground of incongruous and dizzying worldviews, eliciting urgent forms of sociability that move beyond schismatic divides and which allow for empathic – transitory – connections. In light of the current state of geopolitics and the rise of border-politics, instituting such a postidentity aesthetic becomes imperative. The above is a reading of the field of migratory, diasporic and exilic aesthetics that is very much determined by processes of globalization (and a constellation of spaces determined by geopolitical and geo-economic proximity and division). It privileges the ‘move out of a situation’ of apathy or xenophobic relations based on postidentity empathy; and this move is knowingly always in relation to

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processes of globalization which often propel inequitable and/or unwanted interconnections and dependence.

Counter-memorial aesthetics . . . Counter-memorial aesthetics proceeds out of discourses on the aesthetics of migration, diaspora and exile in the field of contemporary art. But it is specifically invested in understanding how art can contest the erasure of refugee experiences from collective memory and understand their place in historical consciousness. It is committed in making a ‘move out of a situation’ where particular modes of memorymaking solidify boundaries of exclusion. There might be something about montage and its production of heterogeneity that is capable of ‘dissembling’ not only the boundaries of the nation but also the current trajectory of history.88 History being how we make sense of time; an accumulation of archives, documents and recorded memories that are assembled to construct a particular experience of yesterday, today and, eventually, the future. To the extent that it is dynamic and seeks to play a part in the construction of the future, counter-memorialization also forges history. The act of memorialization or counter-memorialization is not simply constitutive of ‘memory’, the fragile matter of recollection, it is the act of producing books, documentaries, films, literature and artworks that bring to the fore narratives that otherwise fall through the gaps of consciousness. This process shapes social memory (how and what is recollected), and is closely tied to history since it determines the ways in which communities and subjects imagine themselves vis-à-vis the past and, crucially, the future. If today the concept of the nation (the ‘imagined community’) is undergoing enormous transformation as a consequence of globalization, the ways that memories, events and historical records are presented and thought about will influence conceptions of subjectivity and intersubjectivity and, in turn, the development of history. This look toward the future is not teleology, or an expectation of progress or utopia. It is, rather, an attempt to mediate expectation via the endless accumulation of crises. What might it mean to stay with such crises – the Tampa, Morecambe Bay, the Cuban balseros crisis – to witness their accumulation and to rummage through the complex spatio-temporal networks and flows

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of which they are a part, including political struggles, indifference and political pressure? How might this practice signal a productive shift away from thinking of counter-memory solely as a mode of political struggle and as a contestation of ‘us and them’, and toward something more heterogeneous, a field of disjunctive subjectivities and events? To begin to answer such questions, the following chapter focuses on the work of Tania Bruguera and the way it counter-memorializes the disintegration of the Cuban national body following waves of exile in the aftermath of the 1959 Revolution and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.

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CHAPTER TWO

Arte de Conducta and The Manipulation of Memory Tania Bruguera’s Biopolitical Ambitions in Postwar Cuba

1989: Postwar When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 the repercussions were global. In Germany, and eventually the former Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union, restrictive border policies were relaxed and global capitalist mechanisms were put into place. Foreign companies, mainly from the UK and the US , began to aggressively invest. For many, the advent of free-moving capital and people cast socialism and communism, which had for the most part operated through totalitarian regimes, as relics of the twentieth century. But in Cuba, this historical event, which is so often celebrated as a spectacle of freedom and progress, was experienced through the country’s worst-ever economic recession. With the collapse of the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991, Cuba lost 87 per cent of its international trade and $6 billon in aid per year.1 In an attempt to further weaken the nation’s economy and Castro’s leadership, the US intensified its embargos by passing the 1992 Torricelli Act (otherwise known as the Cuba Democracy Act), disallowing any 37

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FIGURE 2.1 Willy Castellanos, La Partida (from the series Exodus), 1994. Willy Castellanos, 1994.

trade between the US and Cuba, including private aid, tourism to the island, and the prohibition of Cuban exiles from transferring funds to their families back home. This propelled Cuba to enter what is known as the Special Period in Time of Peace (or Special Period): a mode of governance that was originally developed by Castro’s regime for managing the aftermath of what it perceived to be an imminent US invasion, but was in effect implemented in the aftermath of the Cold War. For Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, the Special Period was emblematic of the materiality and atmosphere of a post-conflict zone. Or, what she articulates as postguerra (postwar). A rapid decline in living standards, including shortages of food and power, characterized Cuban society following 1989 alongside a rise in siege mentality and relentless if not paranoid calls to come together and support the nation. Such calls were not new. They had been repeatedly made in the name of the Revolution since Castro took power in 1959. The

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Revolution had been fought – and the US -sponsored dictator Battista toppled – under the premise of patriotism and the necessity of independence from colonial power. But what constitutes a nation in the aftermath of revolution or war when, as a result of poverty, recession and ideological conflict, so many of its people flee to other lands? Since the 1959 Cuban Revolution over 1 million Cuban refugees have left, most of them to the US .2 Their exodus has taken place via three main waves: tens of thousands escaping in rafts and airlifts immediately following the Revolution (1959–62), the 1980 economic recession (in what is known as the Mariel boatlift) and during the height of the Special Period (1993–4, in what is referred to as the balseros crisis, Fig. 2.1). The Cuban Government has allowed its people to flee but not without also ridiculing them and rejecting them from the national body. They have been labelled gusanos (worms, c. 1959), ‘scum, criminals, lumpen, parasites’ (c. 1980) and ‘anti-Cuban’ (c. 1994).3 The State has systematically erased the legacies of those that decided to abandon the Revolution from the country’s history. This is a significant feat considering that a large proportion of the country’s intellectuals and authors – those that often write history – left after the Revolution.4 Bruguera made it her task to think through the repercussions of postguerra, especially mass exile, on conceptions of the national body, including what constitutes collective memory, through the inter-related series Homenaje a Ana Mendieta (Tribute to Ana Mendieta, 1985–96) and La Memoria de la Postguerra (Postwar Memory, 1993–97). Using diverse strategies (such as re-enactment and clandestine publishing) her works test the limits of Cuba’s heterogeneity: its capacity for allowing the inclusion of exiled bodies and histories. Postguerra does so, for example, by circulating clandestine broadsheets with articles and images authored by exiles and radicals on the island, while Homenaje does so by transmitting the performances of the exiled artist Ana Mendieta into Cuba via re-enactment. As Gerardo Mosquera and Luis Camnitzer argue, Postguerra stands as one of the only documents that witness the devastating conditions of the Special Period outside tightly controlled official media circuits.5 Meanwhile Homenaje is an attempt at ensuring the sustained place of Mendieta in Cuban cultural memory at a moment when such histories were systematically repressed. It would seem fairly clear, then, how and

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why Bruguera’s series may be thought as examples of countermemorial aesthetics. She attempts to play havoc, for example, with the Cuban Government’s highly managed historical discourses, animating memories of exiledom and histories of counterrevolutionaries – charting constellations of disjunctive subjectivities – who together utter the various narratives of postwar life, whether it begins post-1959 or post-1989. But in Bruguera’s case, the manifestation of counter-memorial aesthetics depends not only on harnessing disparate narratives (difference and excess) but also on the conditions of transnationalism. That is, conjoining Cuban experiences and narratives from inside and outside the island, the politics and operations of which are less clear. Critics argue that such works as Bruguera’s Postguerra, which are defined by their transnational dynamic, are characterized by the economic conditions that arose during the Special Period, in particular the development of globalization within Cuba.6 Cuba’s capacity to make up the financial downfall it had experienced after 1989 was contingent on the development of a suite of economic and cultural policies that saw the nation forge new connections with Europe, Latin America and Asia and introduce a two-currency system entailing the US dollar and the Cuban peso. The new economic paradigm also gave rise to cultural policies that allowed artists special privileges to travel and attract funds through the sale of their work. The Havana Biennial (inaugurated in 1984) played a key role in this endeavour.7 Conceived in the mid-1980s as a platform for representing and uniting the ‘Third World’, especially members and sympathizers of the Soviet Bloc, by 1994 the Biennial had become a key catalyst for introducing artists of Bruguera’s generation to the international art market and stage more broadly.8 Bruguera presented Postguerra at the 1994 edition of the Biennial, and by 1995 she had begun to travel overseas to undertake residencies in New York and London.9 In 1998 she was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (based in New York), and the following year she enrolled in an MFA in Performance Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (later joining the Faculty as Assistant Professor in 2004). No doubt Bruguera’s artistic trajectory and, perhaps more to the point, career-development, are a product of Cuba’s post-1989 economic policies. But to what extent do these policies influence her engagement with Cuban refugees in such works as Postguerra and Homenaje?

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For some critics, Bruguera’s practice, which emerged and developed during the Special Period, is a symptom of a broader move toward self-initiated communication with Cuba’s exiles as made available through the country’s new trade agreements and global economic endeavours.10 There is evidence that in some ways, Bruguera’s attempts to engage Cuba’s exiles runs parallel to and mirrors the country’s international relations politics. In April 1994, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina invited 220 Cubans living abroad in 25 countries to talks in Cuba over 3 days.11 The talks focused on the necessity to improve relationships between the Cuban Government and Cuban exiles, and resulted in the relaxation of most travel restrictions to the island.12 Yet Bruguera’s clandestine newspapers of 1993 and 1994, which were disseminated and/or produced just a few months before and after the conference, were censored.13 This situation highlights the paradox at the centre of the Cuban regime: this is a desire to open up Cuba’s borders for economic trade while being reluctant to properly register and engage with histories of refugeedom that manifest without the regime’s sanction. Bruguera’s series may have emerged at the moment that Cuba became implicated in advanced processes of globalization following 1989, but they are firmly focused on the complexity of border politics, and the control of what histories of refugeedom are permitted to circulate in the island. As such, it is not so easy to suggest, as some critics do, that Bruguera’s work is a symptom of the intensification of globalization and relaxed travel policies after 1989.14 In fact, her work complicates narratives that tend to suggest that after 1989 Cuba entered into a new phase. As Bruguera argues, Cuba is not ‘post socialist’.15 It is still living through the repercussions of the Revolution and the end of the Soviet Union.16 This is not a historical moment marked by euphoric liberation, but one of profound poverty and a life of decrepit infrastructure and limited social, cultural and economic resources. It is postguerra. Bruguera’s art seeks to work through what it means to live in the aftermath of the Cold War, and the war against the ideology of counter-revolutionaries and exiles. Caught ‘in between histories’,17 the undocumented pasts and otherwise repressed traumas of Cuban exiles intersect with and even irritate the Special Period’s emerging narratives of globalization (and empty rhetoric of democracy). Tending to the paradox of the opening and closing of

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economic, geographical and cultural borders at the end of the Cold War, Bruguera’s series represent an attempt to not only rewrite the ghosted past but to generate new cosmopolitan futures that test and expand the limits of the national body’s capacity to incorporate exiles. It is this strategy, located at a critical juncture between free and censored bodies – now, then and in the future – that Bruguera’s model of counter-memorial aesthetics can be found. In order to understand Bruguera’s attempts to produce countermemorial aesthetics within Cuba, first a particular concept central to her practice needs to be introduced. Bruguera developed the idea of arte de conducta (behaviour art) during the late 1980s and 1990s to try to forge new biopolitical dynamics and power relations in the island nation. This strategy, while central to Bruguera’s attempts to reinsert the exile within the Cuban landscape, was itself contingent on remembering a particular group of artist-exiles, los ’80s.

Los ’80s and arte de conducta Los ’80s emerged out of the bleakness of the Quinquenio Gris (Five Grey Years), a period of intense censorship and restrictive policies designed to align art and the State between 1971 and 1976 (though for many the censorship continued until the end of the 1970s).18 Heavily influenced by Stalinist policies and Soviet bureaucrats, particularly perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness), this period would end in the early 1980s. In the Cuban context, the concept of perestroika was interpreted as the Campaign to Rectify Errors and Correct Negative Tendencies, aiming to cut through bureaucratic corruption and reinvigorate the spirit of the Revolution.19 Artists were encouraged to participate in the rectification process. And in turn, they took seriously the Revolutionary call for ‘critical participation’, advancing a model of art that could play a role shaping the State and its institutions.20 This gave way to the rise of a distinct generation of artists, known as los ’80s. They believed that their art was both a catalyst for freedom of expression and the development of an independent nation in the name of the Revolution.21 The first phase of los ’80s, loosely connected through the exhibition that launched their careers, Volumen 1 (1981), focused on formalist experiments mainly via abstract art, doing away with the previous decade’s dedication to Stalinist aesthetics, and seeking

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to produce a Cuban art form reflective of its independent identity.22 While one of the members of this group of artists, Juan Francisco Padilla Elso, was Bruguera’s mentor, the first wave of los ’80s did not bear much of an influence on Bruguera other than instilling ideas about the intimate nexus of art and life.23 Instead, Bruguera’s practice, as I perceive it, shares a deep affinity with a younger group of artists from los ’80s who started to organize themselves in the mid-1980s mainly through collaborations and collectives. They are known for producing antagonistic and humorous happenings, performances and installations. For example, in 1987, Arte Calle/ Grupo Provisional gate-crashed a meeting of the UNEAC (Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, National Union of Artists and Writers of Cuba) wearing gasmasks and holding placards critical of Cuban art; the masks were meant to prevent their contamination within the context of the nation’s representative body for culture. The following year another collective, the ABTV team, exhibited a large drawing of Che Guevara in a Havana gallery. The drawing was too large to be hung on any of its walls, and so it was placed on the floor. The show attracted a large crowd that witnessed a man, dressed in a police officer’s uniform, walking over the drawing, followed by three dancers in skimpy clothing performing improvised choreography using the portrait of Che as their platform (some of the crowd turned on the performers and began assaulting them). This level of satire was performed and made possible under the guise of relaxed censorship (following glasnost) in Cuba, and clearly indicates the desire of los ’80s to loosen the Government’s stranglehold on the collective imagination, as advanced by State propaganda, all the while trying to show that art could act as a catalyst for the formation of civic space. However, by April 1989 the cultural climate shifted. Mikhail Gorbachev visited Cuba, just months before the end of the Soviet Union, to signal the end of the Soviet Union’s special economic relationship with Cuba (the latter was largely dependent on the former’s aid and concessions for its survival). By August that year, the Cuban State was in a highly precarious economic and political position (losing billions of dollars in aid). And at this fragile moment, it sought to obtain more control over cultural discourse as a means to maintain a sense of unity and determine the future. In turn, greater powers were given to the Communist Party’s director of ideology, Carlos Aldana, who would monitor and censor art

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FIGURE 2.2 Ángel Delgado, La Esperanza es lo Único que se Está Perdiendo (Hope Is the Only Thing that We Are Losing), 1990. Unauthorized performance at the exhibition El objecto Esculturado (The Sculptured Object), Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, Havana. Photo: Adalberto Roque.

production, signalling the termination of what had up until that point been an unprecedented degree of autonomy in the arts.24 As the State began to fiercely censor los ’80s, it was simultaneously encouraging this generation of artists to leave Cuba in circumstances under which ‘normal’ citizens were prevented from doing so.25 By the early 1990s almost all of los ’80s had left: and the visual arts became almost non-existent on the island. Some believe that the decade of los ’80s symbolically ends with a performance by Ángel Delgado in 1990 (Fig. 2.2), which saw the artist defecate on a copy of Granma, the country’s official newspaper and communication channel of the Cuban Communist Party, after which Delgado was imprisoned for a period of six months, charged with ‘public scandal’.26 *

*

*

Bruguera’s practice needs to be seen in relation to that of los ’80s, particularly of those artists that emerged and worked from the mid

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to late 1980s such as, for example, Delgado and the ABTV team. As such, her work arises at a historical juncture that witnesses the vanishing points of this generation and the emergence of a new one during the Special Period. As Camnitzer and Mosquera argue, in the shadows of widespread cultural censorship, artists of the 1990s began to turn away from the antagonistic practices that characterized los ’80s and toward the market. For Mosquera, with almost all of los ’80s exiled, Bruguera stands as the only artist of her generation who has systematically pursued a political practice – a practice, moreover, that continues the work of los ’80s in the face of censorship and the hollowing out of any civic space in Cuba.27 Indelibly marked by memories of los ’80s, Bruguera would go on to create durational performances (which often span numerous years) that addressed the ‘politico-timing’ specificity of her context (the Special Period). Crucially, she would proceed through a particular concept of performance art that seemed to be based on an analysis of los ’80s’ most effective methods for intervening in the national body (and associated processes of collective memory). She termed this arte de conducta. Roughly translating as behaviour art, arte de conducta is a method for finding new ways of being together, of generating or relocating bonds and solidarities (with exiles and those on the island, for example), and of ‘moving away’ from a situation of homogeneity where a sense of disjunction or a capacity for there being disjunctive subjectivities is not possible. Arte de conducta engages with the abstract forms that shape subjectivity – power, language and memory – and relies for sustenance on collectivist strategies such as rumour (to disseminate information) or remembrance (to recall repressed and traumatic pasts).28 It is usually catalysed by what Bruguera terms a ‘structure to live’: a newspaper, a school, for example, through which biopolitical dynamics can unfurl and new histories can be forged over a sustained period of time.29 In every way, the development of arte de conducta as the core concept of Bruguera’s work is contingent on a profound engagement with los ’80s and their ambitions to reshape civic space and social discourse, and is simultaneously driven by the desire to sustain and expand their legacy in spite of their alienation and exile (including the systematic erasure of their art histories). But if the method of arte de conducta, which underpins Bruguera’s work, is informed by exiled histories and practices, so is the content of her work. One

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particular exiled artist is the subject of Homenaje, which requires a return to the Revolution’s ‘year 0’: 1959.30

1959: Mendieta Tens of thousands of Cubans fled following the inauguration of Castro’s regime in 1959. Some were political dissidents, including those that participated in the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. Many were motivated by economic disaster ensuing from the instalment of the US ’ Containment Policy in the early 1960s. And they were all welcomed by the US , which held an ‘open door’ policy for Cuban refugees during the Cold War in an attempt to discredit Castro and drain the nation of its human resources. Some of these refugees were children. In 1960 the CIA launched Operation Pedro Pan in collaboration with the US State Department and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami. The Operation saw over 14,000 children removed from Cuba over a period of two years with the consent of their parents, many of whom were counterrevolutionaries and feared prosecution and/or were concerned about their children’s indoctrination via the nation’s new education system.31 The children of the saccharinely named Operation Pedro Pan were resettled with relatives where possible, but most were placed in refugee camps throughout Miami and then eventually in foster homes and orphanages operated by religious organizations and the Cuban Refugee Program. The latter situation applied to the artist Ana Mendieta who, along with her sister Raquelin, was sent to the US by her father, a political dissident imprisoned by Castro for 18 years, and her mother, who fled to the US in 1966 to join her daughters (the father joined the family upon his release, dying soon after). Like many Cuban refugees, Mendieta and her family left with the idea of repatriating once Castro’s Government had been dismantled. Mendieta died in the US in 1985 at the age of thirty-six.32 Many critics have observed that Mendieta’s practice is marked by her relentless ‘metaphorical quest for homeland’.33 Her series Silueta (Silhouette, 1973–80), for example, sees the artist adapting her drawings and sculptures to create correlative marks on the landscape using her body. This interdisciplinary practice, culminating in what she refers to as earth-body artworks, traces the artist’s persistent dialogue on notions of subjectivity and belonging following her

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experience of exile.34 It projects an aesthetic of aftermath and absence, the disappearance of a subject and, simultaneously, the subject’s permanent return to the earth via the image of the grave that the silhouettes so emphatically insist upon. Mendieta eventually returned to Cuba at least twice between 1980 and 1981 before her sudden death four years later.35 Her visits were enabled by the Carter Administration’s temporary relaxation of travel bans to Cuba as part of a broader project aimed at improving relations with the Cuban Government and lifting the embargo. Sponsored by New York-based cultural organizations wanting to engage in cultural diplomacy with the island nation, Mendieta visited the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA ) – where Bruguera would later study and teach – and met with key members of los ’80s including Bruguera’s mentor Elso, introducing them to books on conceptual art and Cuban history that were otherwise unavailable.36 Most significantly, Mendieta produced a series of works entitled Esculturas Rupestres (Rupestrian Sculptures) (1981, Fig. 2.3) in Las Escaleras de Jaruco, a group of naturally formed limestone caves outside Havana. The sculptures manifest as silhouettes of goddess figures drawn from the Taíno and Ciboney cultures indigenous to Cuba. Mendieta’s intervention at Jaruco reflected her longstanding investigation of Cuban ancestral connections and cultural hybridity as a result of migration and colonization on the island.37 The sculptures, signifiers of different modes of biopolitical displacement, were to stand as monuments of the perpetual dialectic of exile and desired repatriation she embodied. They were eventually destroyed as a consequence of the Cuban Government’s neglect of exile culture despite the fact that, as Mosquera argues, they should have been a ‘national monument’.38 However unfortunate, this result stays true to the conceptual premise of permanent displacement at the core of Mendieta’s work. Mendieta’s brief return was remarkable not only for introducing the aesthetics of Cuban exiledom to the island, but also for opening up an inter-cultural exchange between the US and Cuba in spite of the blockade (and before 1989).39 Critics have remarked that it disrupted the Cuban State’s attempts to erase the stories and legacy of exiles from its history through the strict control of information and discourse.40 But although Mendieta’s work had enabled such a disruption, it could not last very long, given the ephemerality of Mendieta’s works – at least, not without some help. By the end of the 1980s most of the artists that had met with Mendieta had left

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FIGURE 2.3 Ana Mendieta, Esculturas Rupestres (Guanaroca & Iyaré), 1981. Gelatin Silver Print, 18.4 × 24.4 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee, 1998 98.5238. © Ana Mendieta.

Cuba, prompting the question: could Mendieta’s memory endure on the island, and if so, how?41 *

*

*

Bruguera began her project Homenaje a Ana during the mid-1980s, a few months after Mendieta’s death. Given the timing, Bruguera and critics often discuss it as a symbolic gesture through which to bring the deceased artist back to Cuba.42 In Mosquera’s words, Bruguera’s re-enactments become the artist’s ‘final silhouette, walking the streets of Old Havana’.43 But the effect of Bruguera’s work bears deeper implications for experimental Cuban historiographies and the process of writing with ghosts.44 In fact, Bruguera’s connection to Mendieta was not personal but guided by an interest in seeking the possibilities of intervening in collective memory. As Bruguera relays,

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I didn’t connect with Ana’s art at a formal level, nor was I influenced by any one particular piece of her work . . . I was looking at her from a cultural perspective, not an artistic one, so I was far more interested in the impact she had on Cuban art than [in] the specifics of her poetics . . . I decided to become what I then called a cultural archaeologist.45 This desire led Bruguera to stage Mendieta’s first ‘retrospective’ in Havana in 1992 in a show entitled Ana Mendieta/Tania Bruguera, which contained no actual works by Mendieta but a series of reenactments of Mendieta’s work by Bruguera (re-enactment, simply put, is a process by which the past is restaged for the present). As Roselee Goldberg argues, Bruguera’s Homenaje project – of which Ana Mendieta/Tania Bruguera is a part – represents the first instance where performance (by way of re-enactment) is used as a historiographical method for writing performance history.46 Working from a catalogue of a 1987 New Museum retrospective of the artist, Bruguera restaged many of Mendieta’s works. In her reenactment of Nile Born (originally of 1974), for example, Bruguera used her body (as Mendieta once had) as the basis for a sculpture made of wood and sand, creating an abstract (and, as Mendieta saw it, ‘universal’) symbol of the female figure while simultaneously referencing Cuba’s African heritage through the work’s title. In her re-enactment of Body Tracks (originally of 1982), she immersed her hands in a concoction of red tempera and animal blood, the latter referencing African mythologies of female sexuality, before proceeding to repeatedly slide her hands down a piece of paper in a kind of hypnotized state (Fig.  2.4). There were many more reenactments of Mendieta’s work by Bruguera for the Homenaje project, many of which invoked the tropes of cultural hybridity, female essentialism, and a desire to connect the body to the earth and universe. But while tropes such as cultural hybridity or the earth bear a relation to the task of locating a means to remember the exiled Mendieta within Cuba, ultimately the symbolism of Mendieta’s work is not of such particular interest to this chapter as is the potentiality of re-enactment for enabling a recuperation of Mendieta’s position in Cuba’s cultural and historical memory. This positionality spans not only the exile of los ’80s, which must be seen as a key impetus for Bruguera’s work, but also the systematic erasure of gusanos, parasites and ‘anti-Cubans’.

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FIGURE 2.4 Tania Bruguera, Homenaje a Ana Mendieta (Tribute to Ana Mendieta), 1986–96. Performance for solo show, Tania Brugera/Ana Mendieta, January 1992, Centro de Desarrollo de las Artes Visuales, Havana, Cuba. Photo: © Gonzalo Vidal Alvarado.

Can Bruguera’s re-enactments be seen as a form of ‘cultural archaeology’ akin to counter-memorial aesthetics? – that is, as a desire to offer an aesthetic of popular struggle, which is discounted by the Revolution as historical or material, while at the same time offering a means to think beyond the exclusionary boundaries of the nation? As a process of displacement, or cultural archaeology, Bruguera’s re-enactments can be read as a disruption to the ways in which the Cuban State writes its history of exiles (‘scum’); it places a glitch in this system and reanimates Mendieta’s project (in the wrong time and in the wrong place) while opening up the island’s embodiment of heterogeneity: hopefully and eventually ‘moving out of a situation’ of selective amnesia. Re-enactment intentionally disorients perceptions of time/place as a means to trigger remembrance for otherwise censored histories. Re-enactment is, then, a strategy of survival. But the survival of the past is contingent on the capacity of those who witness the re-enactment (and register

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the associated affects of disorientation) to carry the burden of remembrance. In Bruguera’s work, counter-memory tends to be ephemeral and contingent on participation, or arte de conducta. Bruguera did not want there to be documentation of Homenaje for future remembrance: she destroyed all the photographs and remains of the performances of Homenaje in her possession. Documentation of the work survives nonetheless in the photography of others, but the gesture of attempting to destroy this documentation reveals that Homenaje was designed to elicit an embodied, affective mode of remembrance akin to arte de conducta.47 Underpinned by a desire to generate a collective of disjunctive subjectivities, arte de conducta attempts to bring about a shift in existing discourses on Cuban exiles through an affective reorganizing of the social body vis-à-vis what it is possible to remember and what is possible to be thought as history and subjectivity. Through re-enactment, Bruguera’s body and, in turn, the bodies of those who participate in her arte de conducta, become vehicles for designing new histories and art histories within Cuba – in other words, new futures. The gesture of re-enactment becomes a catalyst for collective recall: one body becomes many (allowing for bonds and solidarities but not essentialism or homogeny). It relies on an infectious mode of remembrance, or the capacity to unite over what the State considers to be heterogeneous (excess). The introduction of Mendieta’s oeuvre via Bruguera bore tangible outcomes including art history Honours theses written by students at the ISA . Bruguera cites this result as a key reason for ending the Homenaje project, since it signalled the transmission of the care of historiography and remembrance onto a new generation made urgent by the departure of los ’80s.48 But the future orientation of Homenaje also has a relatively more abstract outcome too. It shapes conceptions of Cuban cosmopolitanism in the aftermath of mass exile. As a result of mass exile, contemporary Cuba has not experienced cosmopolitanism in the same way as have other nations. Certainly, the nation has been shaped by waves of migration through Spanish colonization. This includes a slave trade that brought to Cuba tens of thousands of Chinese during the nineteenth century, and hundreds of thousands of Africans during the sixteenth, late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.49 In spite of the horrific conditions of this

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economic endeavour – and the schizophrenic oscillation between ‘separatist racism and racial intermixing’ that has historically structured biopolitical relations in Cuba – cultural hybridity and particularly Afro-Cuban culture have been widely seen as an integral part of Cuban identity during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.50 However, the integration of longstanding cultural ties that have existed in Cuba for hundreds of years, in a country where a large percentage of the population is mestizo (mixed race), is quite distinct to the development of a cosmopolitanism that welcomes – within the context of contemporary Cuba – the paradoxically positioned exile as stranger: the nation’s former citizen. In the context of the 1959 Revolution and its continuing affects, welcoming the exile would comprise bringing to bear a mode of cosmopolitism that, after Ulrich Beck, pluralizes borders and manifests ‘a legitimation crisis, of the national morality of exclusion: on which principles are the internal hierarchies of unities or states based?’51 If the principles of exclusion in contemporary Cuba are subject to the biopolitical structures that the Government insists on – detaining and eliciting the exile of counter-revolutionaries and nonbelievers – then the labour of constructing a cosmopolitan future is contingent on doing away with a ‘nation based memory of the past’. The antithesis to this constructed future, argues Beck, is a ‘shared collective future’ that is generated by adopting the strategy of imagination. To this end, the imagination, rather than being perceived as something that mediates the interior (the mind) and the exterior (the world), is fundamental to perceptual capacities and processes of becoming; it is an affective force underpinning inter-relations between humans, objects and discourses, through which subjects develop meaning and an anticipation of what is to come.52 The imagination is critical to understanding the futurist orientation of cosmopolitanism, influencing perceptions and actions toward the exile, the stranger. The politics and significance of Bruguera’s Homenaje reside precisely in its orientation toward a cosmopolitan future. It orients itself so by facilitating a mode of affective co-remembrance of the stranger and by imagining her return. Here, participating in remembering the spectres of the past and biopolitical exclusion is tied to imagining a path toward the looming horizon line of cosmopolitanism. The cosmopolitan future is hinged on recognizing the contemporary crisis of cosmopolitanism. Thus, it is not a chronological continuity of what has been (in this sense it is different

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to how the horizon line has been conceived in modernist theory). Rather, it expects a rupture of such a historical continuum. But what kind of rupture is possible in the post-1989 Cuban context from which Bruguera’s work emerges? As some critics argue, ruptures are no longer possible following 1989 and the loss of the horizons of ‘communism’ and ‘revolution’.53 Yet, post-1989, Bruguera’s art maintains something of a utopic commitment to paradigm shifts: though, one may ask, to what end? After 1989, any new order in Cuba will doubtless be informed by the horizon of ‘capital’, which is the sole surviving horizon line of modernity. But with capital, supposedly, comes the simultaneous paradigm shift of democratization and openness to what the national body can tolerate. Cuba’s claims to democratization and openness are, however, deeply hollow. Bruguera’s 2014 arrest in Havana after attempting to facilitate free speech in one of the city’s public squares through the project Yo Tambien Exijo, and her subsequent charges for disrupting public order and inciting counter-revolutionary behaviour, are only a couple of examples. Processes such as arte de conducta which, as represented by Yo Tambien Exijo and Homenaje, facilitate shifts in the perceptual and biopolitical order – in a word, disagreement – are absolutely necessary for the future-oriented possibility of a heterogeneous national body. Bruguera recognizes that the fates of actual democracy and cosmopolitism are tied together. The realisation of actual democracy and cosmopolitanism, or ‘democratic cosmopolitanism’, where forms of disagreement, the capacity to ‘internalize the other’, the capacity to coexist in ‘rival ways of life in the individual experience’ is at the centre not only of Homenaje (and Yo Tambien Exijo) but another work by Bruguera, Postguerra, initiated in the depths of the Special Period.54 The full significance of Postguerra, being its capacity to initiate disagreement and chart a sense of being in and with a constellation of disjunctive subjectivities in and outside the island and across different generations of exiles and those who stayed, can only really be understood by first considering the media ecologies of Cuba.

1993: Exile media The Revolution was won and fought through the media: the radio stations and newspapers set up by Che Guevara played a pivotal

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role in communicating the Revolution’s advances. Guevara’s broadsheet, Revolucion, would be renamed Granma after 1959, and become the Communist Party’s official communication channel. Given the weight that the Revolution placed on its propaganda machines, and the value of projecting and maintaining certain mythologies and discourses, as well as maintaining coherence over its broader structures, it is no surprise that by the early 1960s the Cuban Government had moved to nationalize and centralize all Cuban media outlets (and all commercial business).55 In effect, this led to a very real limitation on what Foucault terms parrhesia – the right to speak freely and have a say in the fashioning of the social body. For if parrhesia is given only to the ‘few’ who have the right to govern and who have access to power, then what is considered to be ‘good’ for the State and healthy for the social body is spoken only by the few. And so, the logic goes, what is good for the State is what is good for the few. This institutes divisions of equity of power, and divisions between those that have a claim on the structure of the State and those that do not.56 Cuba’s (centralized) propaganda machine bears a totalizing effect on subjectivity. As Stephanie Schwartz argues, the media makes everyone part of the nation’s body: ‘It takes you with it.’57 The immersive affect of the Cuban media is catalysed through the State’s policing of information, which in effect shapes historical consciousness and concepts of the present and future, augmenting or diminishing agency.58 It is for this and no other reason, the capacity to manage the energy of Cuba’s social body, that the Government has placed such an enormous strain on parrhesia. Even as (at the time of writing) the US is lifting its embargo on Cuba (through the Cuba Trade Act of 2015), the island nation is still considered to be one of the world’s most highly censored places (the arrest of Bruguera in 2014 is just one example).59 If at various points in time, such as after 1989, Cuba’s Government has appeared to bear some ‘democratic’ values regarding its media, this has been more than anything a performance to attract foreign money (through aid and trade), since at the same time local journalists have been experiencing intensified crackdowns on any news items that are perceived to be anti-Government.60 For the purposes of this chapter, it’s worth highlighting that media censorship in Cuba has also been fine-tuned to eliminate the transmission of exile news and histories, especially those broadcast

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by exiles living in Florida via Radio Marti (set up in 1985 and funded by the Republication Party and Reagan Administration) and TV Marti (set up in the early 1990s). Even if their signals reach the island in sporadic fashion despite the Cuban Government (in collaboration with the Chinese Government) jamming their transmission, it is believed that the population largely ignores these programmes since they are perceived as little more than US -sponsored counter-revolutionary propaganda – and viewers risk penalties.61 But nonetheless, the Marti programmes reveal the extent to which it is a challenge to intervene in Cuba’s media ecology, whether because of self-imposed censorship or censorship by other means. This gives some context to the significance of Bruguera’s newspapers, which like Radio Marti and TV Marti made their appearance around the early 1990s. But unlike the generously funded Marti programmes, the very possibility of Bruguera’s newspapers was mediated by the severe material limitations of the Special Period, including the profound paper and fuel shortages which led to major cuts in the circulation of official newspapers and magazines – including Granma – and presumably rendered unofficial publications impossible. Bruguera rightly maintains that Postguerra was the only independent newspaper operating at that time.62 Postguerra is significant not only because it manifested concurrently with the State’s dwindling capacity to distribute its voice through its official communication channel (by 1994 Granma had halved its publication quota as the State began to use the immaterial medium of radio more and more),63 but also because it appropriated the very aesthetics of this official communication channel – a tool of the Revolution – as a means to rewrite history and reshape social relations.64 Acting as the newspaper’s editor, Bruguera shaped the first edition of Postguerra so that the usual rubrics found in Granma – Agriculture, Health, Culture, Events, News Articles and Correspondence – would also be found in her paper (Fig. 2.5). But the usual mythologies of Cuban independence and its ongoing Revolution were replaced in Postguerra with stories of struggle: agriculture in the underdeveloped world, the negative impacts on sexual and psychological health after the Revolution, the censorship of cross-cultural exchange in spite of increasing tourism (foreign affairs), and an advice column on how to ‘make do’ during the postwar period and its accompanying poverty and disenchantment. Postguerra carved out a ‘space to think’, as one of its drawings (by Jación Zen, Fig. 2.6) suggests, and

FIGURE 2.5 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra I (Memory of the Postwar I), 1993. Creation of a newspaper edited by Bruguera in collaboration with Cuban artists living inside and outside of the nation. 13.4ʺ × 8.4ʺ. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Tania Bruguera.

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FIGURE 2.6 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra I (Memory of the Postwar I), 1993. Creation of a newspaper edited by Bruguera in collaboration with Cuban artists living inside and outside of the nation. 13.4ʺ × 8.4ʺ. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Tania Bruguera.

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also a place for Cubans to construct otherwise elusive social bonds during the Special Period. Indeed, in Bruguera’s editorial for the first edition, titled Ni todo, ni todos; la voz (Not everything, not everyone; the voice, Fig. 2.5), she repeats this sentiment and calls on Cubans to bond over their disenchantment and will, and on the capacity for art to harness a space to live with ‘inconmensurables utopias’, the utopias of the Revolution for those that wished for a better life in exile, and for those who remained on the island and felt the depravity of the Special Period. In this incommensurability, Postguerra created a space to construct a dialogism, dialogical cosmopolitanism even, which allowed for disparate ways of being to coexist, a field of disjunctive subjectivities scattered across the island and across various continents where exiles would attempt to generate a field of uncharted histories and forge a different sense of what it means to be a social body. While the topics discussed in the first edition were many, the general themes were bound to the fragmentation of the social body: being conscious of the loss brought on by the aftermath of war while seeking to make sense of this loss, and perhaps charting a new future which nonetheless largely involves exile. A drawing by Kcho (within Fig. 2.6) shows a palm tree metamorphosing into an oar, juxtaposed with a document from the Swiss Embassy and the American Interest Section refusing the artist’s visa application; the drawing signals that the only remaining option is to flee in a makeshift raft, an option that was taken up by many at the time in similar situations.65 Continuing the theme of exile and the impossibility of the situation, an advertisement by the Eighties SA collective offers readers fake passports and documents to assist them with their emigration; a ‘psychiatric exam’ by Sandra Ceballos concludes that the diagnosis of the mental health of artists during the Special Period is not positive, suggesting exile as the cure.66 Reflecting on the trajectory from which such voices were coming, in that this expression of dissent and desperation had a history, the end matter of the first volume of Postguerra (Fig. 2.7) lists the names and locations of more than 100 Cuban artist-exiles – of los ’80s – who had had fled between 1990 and 1993, historicizing and acknowledging a fact that was otherwise ignored in Cuban official discourse. Indeed, it is worth noting that the whole enterprise of Postguerra, according to Bruguera, was driven by a desire to witness and work against the disappearance of this generation.

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FIGURE 2.7 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra I (Memory of the Postwar I), 1993. Creation of a newspaper edited by Bruguera in collaboration with Cuban artists living inside and outside of the nation. 13.4ʺ × 8.4ʺ. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Tania Bruguera.

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I discovered that the legacy of the artists who had left now belonged exclusively to the realm of memory and oral history. There were few tangible signs of what they had done . . . I thought I could assume the post of the artist as witness who would leave a record of the social upheavals of the era . . .67 The second edition was exclusively dedicated to the theme of exile and to historicizing this condition, drawing on perspectives from inside and outside the island. It used the postal service as a means to communicate with exiles living, for example, in Mexico and the US . To this extent it’s possible to cast Postguerra as a form of mail art, enmeshed in a transnational flow in a supposed postCold War period where circulation is relatively free. But the real aim of Bruguera’s work was to reveal the limitations of such global flows, and the ways in which geopolitics both trigger and repress particular flows and associated historical narratives. Thus, it is no surprise to encounter, amongst many other texts and images in the second edition of Postguerra, articles such as El Post-Exilo Y La Post-Guerra (Fig. 2.8) which document a constellation of both wellknown and muted histories of Cuban exile; a poetry section with contributions in English, offering highly personal accounts of exiledom in the US ; and a haunting photograph of two balseros (rafters, or boatpeople) waving and smiling at a camera (Fig. 2.9). In recalling and layering the struggles of exiles and those that remained on the island, Postguerra locates ways of coexisting in spite of the borders that maintain the homogeny of the nation and the separation of bodies as a consequence of geopolitics.68 Ghosted histories which relentlessly haunt contemporary subjectivity – earlier moments of the Revolution and waves of exile – return to reshape bonds and solidarities (ephemeral, permanent). If these newfound connections between a field of disjunctive subjectivities (bonded over a desire to narrate multifarious narratives rather than ideological cohesion) could lead to a cosmopolitanism capable of sustaining and inviting the presence of the exile in Cuba and a new sense of the social body, then its sustenance would surely be hinged on more than the bonds and solidarities felt between the artists and authors involved in producing Postguerra, and would need to extend to the many other subjects on the island: the readers. For if Bruguera’s practice really finds its drive through its desire to generate arte de conducta, to provide new structures to live, and to

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FIGURE 2.8 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra II, (Memory of the Postwar II), 1994. Creation of a newspaper edited by Bruguera in collaboration with Cuban artists living inside and outside of the nation. 12.2ʺ × 8ʺ. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Tania Bruguera.

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FIGURE 2.9 Tania Bruguera, Memoria de la Postguerra II (Memory of the Postwar II), 1994. Creation of a newspaper edited by Bruguera in collaboration with Cuban artists living inside and outside of the nation. 12.2ʺ × 8ʺ. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Tania Bruguera.

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reshape the social body including how it imagines its past and future, this would occur by engaging the reader: but how should she do so if Postguerra was censored and its transmission muted? The Cuban Government censored both editions of Postguerra. The first edition was censored in November 1993 and the second in June 1994. With the first edition, Bruguera was given a warning and told to stop distributing the paper. With the second edition, the newspapers were confiscated and destroyed. Officially the Arts Council’s protestations (specifically the more extreme measures it took to suspend circulation of the second edition) arose out of the illegal use of State resources. One of Bruguera’s collaborators with access to Granma’s printers, which were used for the publication of Postguerra, was fired from the agency. Another was imprisoned for a period of six months. As editor of the paper, Bruguera was summoned by the leader of the Arts Council and reprimanded for her ‘invalid use of state resources, [and] the illegal distribution of subversive propaganda’.69 Unofficially, the censorship was triggered, Bruguera argues, because the Arts Council was alarmed by the second (to a lesser extent than the first) edition’s effective gathering of artists who up until that point had not been united or active following the crackdown on los ’80s.70 The inclusion of exiles was particularly controversial, since many of them had not made contact with Cubans on the island since their departure, and certainly had not had a public platform upon which to communicate their concerns.71 The appearance of ghosted exiles via Postguerra and the State’s opposition to Bruguera’s project invoked the wars of los ’80s. And, as had been the case in the 1980s, State censorship revealed both the limits and potentiality of art as a catalyst for democracy on the island. With the materiality of the newspaper threatened, Postguerra’s dissemination was contingent on creative, informal distribution strategies that were fundamentally enabled by participation, arte de conducta. Some critics argue that the first edition was able to circulate in spite of censorship because copies survived and were circulated by readers; others claim that it was because participants photocopied the first edition and circulated it independently (an ambitious feat considering the paper shortage).72 The release of the second edition was scheduled to coincide with the opening of the 1994 Havana Biennial. Some accounts claim that it was confiscated by the State before it could be disseminated; others

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claim that it managed to be distributed nonetheless and even more effectively than the first edition, perhaps through photocopies as the first edition had.73 Others relay that, because of the second edition’s censorship and the first edition’s continued clandestine circulation, it was the first edition that was distributed during the Havana Biennial. In any case, censorship led to participation via informal distribution. But clearly, given the different and at times contradictory accounts regarding the circulation of Postguerra, its circulation was contingent on another informal distribution strategy: rumour. Rumour transmits the history of Postguerra in spite of censorship. As an immaterial, informal distributing strategy common in totalitarian regimes the rumour is defined by its exteriority to official media channels and discourses. It spreads because of a desire for knowledge as well as heightened paranoia.74 Its circulation is contingent on its credibility: the more credible the rumour, the longer it circulates. And it circulates through repetition: one person passes the information on to another, and so on. It spreads, then, through an affective engagement not only with information and knowledge but also with intersubjectivity. The rumour enables a form of collectivity through participation, which may lead to the kinds of biopolitical recalibrations – new knowledge, memories, inter-relations – that are central to arte de conducta.75 In Bruguera’s words, ‘historical rumour’ is ‘an effective defence mechanism against the amnesia [of the] numerous and frequent re-editing[s] of Cuba’s history’.76 But it also offers a means to contribute to this process of re-editing, surely, since Postguerra quite clearly represents a model of counter-memory wherein, to borrow Foucault’s words, ‘those who are barred from writing, from producing their books themselves, from drawing up their own historical accounts . . . nevertheless do have a way of recording history, or remembering it, of keeping it fresh and of using it’.77 This model is clearly driven by the materiality of the newspaper but perhaps sustained by the ephemerality of the rumour. Through participation, Postguerra attempts to circumvent the monologism of Cuba: its internal control of borders, who has a say in the transmission of history, and when and how the exile (if at all) can be incorporated in the national imaginary. It shows that while the Cuban State may centralize the media, shaping a particular version of the national body, it is possible to instate some difference, some disagreement, therein. Through processes of democratic

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cosmopolitanism, Postguerra projects a collective rejoinder to the totalizing spectacle of the Cuban news media. It charts a distinct version of history, one that literally includes the voice of the many, to project heterogeneous accounts of the present condition. This is a field of disjunctive subjectivities, their tremors affectively reverberating with a multitude of experiences of postwar life. The heterogeneity that the newspapers make possible is also an affect of the transnational underpinnings of Bruguera’s project, as a form of mail art, as a sign of the biopolitical struggle that can suspend political and geographical borders. But this transnationalism is not a symptom of a supposed opening up of borders between Cuba and other nations. The censorship of the newspaper due to its attempts to render the national body more heterogeneous and more cosmopolitan by invitation of the exile, is testament to the fact that, in spite of the censorship, the newspaper registers an aspect of the Cuban national psyche that is otherwise without a voice. And if the censorship of this voice, or field of voices, leads to the burden of remembrance being dependent on rumour – an ephemeral form – or clandestine publishing and distribution, then it is again arte de conducta that can sustain and build resilience in the nation’s biopolitical restructuring.

1994: The Cuban balseros crisis and bare life in America Throughout the Postguerra newspapers there are some, though few, references to the balseros, the rafters, who had begun to leave in significant numbers in late 1993 (as noted above, this includes Kcho’s drawing of the palm tree metamorphosing into an oar, and the photograph of the smiling balseros, Figs 2.6 and 2.9). But the main exodus of balseros would not take place until a few months after the attempted dissemination of the second edition of Postguerra and a month after the 1994 Havana Biennial, where the newspaper was meant to be disseminated and where Bruguera ended up showing a series of performance and installations under the rubric of Postguerra, but with distinct affects. More than the newspapers, these performances and installations do focus on the plight of balseros, particularly the hundreds if not

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thousands that had drowned on their way to the Florida Straits (it is estimated that one in four drowned; the numbers are not known). Because they are all similar in effect, description of one of these works will suffice: Table of Salvation (1994, Fig. 2.10), in Bruguera’s words, is ‘a monument to those [balseros] who have died trying to get to the other side’,78 and is comprised of a row of slabs of black marble that rest across a wall. Measuring 1.65m in length, the average height of a person in Cuba, the slabs are punctuated by a series of timbers sculpted in the shape of a hull’s frame. The latter are conjoined to the marble by white cotton, which acts as a symbol of suspension or salvation. The repetition of the skeletal hulls and marble plans is intended to reflect ‘an unpredictable finitude’, the repeated and unknown number of deaths experienced during the exodus of Cuban balseros.79 Such a work is doubtless moving, but it operates in a kind of profound melancholia that reflects a paralysis

FIGURE 2.10 Tania Bruguera. Tabla de Salvacion (Table of Salvation), 1994. Installation of marble, wood, cotton. Courtesy of the artist.

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of agency in the artist, more than a critique of the conditions that led to the mass exodus of balseros (malnourishment, sustained poverty, economic recession, ideological conflict). Bruguera often looks back toward such works and claims that the censorship imposed on her and the newspaper and the imprisonment of her friend and collaborator following the second edition led her to make overly symbolic work which fails to generate the affective dimensions of arte de conducta.80 Tellingly, unlike the newspapers, Bruguera’s performances and installations at the Biennial were not censored. This is the same with the Cuban artist Kcho, who presented a work at the Biennial comprised of found materials such as old shoes and broken vessels sculpted to resemble numerous small boats and arranged to point in the direction of Miami, ‘alluding to the bricolage of Cuban boat-people: the manual building of rafts and the cultural survival of the diaspora’.81 I raise these works not to focus on their aesthetics but rather on the discourse of the Havana Biennial in which they were included at a moment of the supposed end of the Cold War, and at a moment when the geopolitics of the US and Cuba started to shape a completely different conception and attitude toward each other and the Cuban exile. It would seem that during the 1994 Havana Biennial the Cuban state only feared those projects that allowed exiles a platform to express themselves and chart a constellation of heterogeneous histories like the broadsheets, rather than those works that invoked signifiers of exile and associated tragedies in relatively more abstract form (this may also explain tolerance of Homenaje). To put it another way, the censors seemed to tolerate images of and symbolic gestures toward the exile, but not the voice of the exile, which seemed to be perceived as dissensus. This is further evidenced by the censorship of another work invoking the voice of Cuban exiles. The Mexican photographer Lourdes Grobet was invited to exhibit work on the migrant workers of Tijuana, and had decided to include documentation of the experiences of Cuban exiles living in Mexico. These were exhibited alongside video interviews relaying the reasons why Cuban exiles left the island. As Camnitzer argues, ‘[t]he statements were strong for Cuban sensitivities’, and clearly infringed on the amount to which the Cuban State would sanction the incorporation of the Cuban diaspora back into the nation’s psyche and body. This is the case even in a context wherein the State was organizing talks with exiles, and on an international platform.

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Paradoxically, all the works, censored or not and including Bruguera’s newspaper, were intended to be shown in the exhibition the Other Shore, a node in the Biennial that focused on celebrating the cultural input of migrants and cultural diversity in various parts of the Third World. On the surface this curatorial theme may have seemed to continue the legacy of the inaugural 1984 Havana Biennial, curated by Mosquera, which harnessed diverse cultural energies and ecologies from the Third World as a means to celebrate what Terry Smith has termed the productively messy ‘meeting of cultures’.82 But Bruguera’s work, particularly the newspapers, and the work of her contemporary Grobet, demonstrated the farce of this task and of Cuba’s cosmopolitan crisis in 1994. The biennial did not represent cosmopolitanism, but rather, in the postguerra era, it had to facilitate and embody processes of globalization. This would mean using art to attract tourist dollars and for cultural diplomacy. By internalizing globalization, Cuba paradoxically produced a ‘pluralisation of borders’ (Beck’s term), including borders of intolerance to manage ‘cosmopolitanism’ and the flows of information: records, countermemories that documented popular struggles of the national body’s ‘excess’ spanning from 1959 to the Special Period. But the cosmopolitan crisis would extend in new ways to the US at the very same moment. In August 1994, a month after the Havana Biennial closed and thus after the making of Bruguera’s memorial Table of Salvation and the other works shown at the Biennial and part of the Postguerra series, the balseros crisis intensified in quite a radical way. Thousands attended riots at Havana’s seaside wall of the Malecón. The riots eventuated in 30,305 Cuban refugees fleeing to the US via the Florida Straits using small boats and makeshift rafts (like the balseros before them, many died at sea): an event which had been in the making for some time.83 The balseros who didn’t perish found themselves intercepted by the US Coast Guard in an unprecedented move and taken to Guantanamo Bay. Most of them would face indefinite detention without recourse to seeking asylum in the US and then either be returned to Cuba or taken to a third nation. Many committed suicide or died while attempting to escape. The elderly, their carers and unsupervised children were granted asylum in the US on humanitarian grounds. Up until this point, the US had maintained an open door policy for Cubans since the 1959 Revolution, accepting over a million of the island’s refugees without question.84 In fact, it had done so even

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while it maintained far stricter immigration policies toward refugees from Caribbean nations such as Haiti, El Salvador and Nicaragua. These refugees came from right-wing totalitarian regimes that were supposedly pro-US (and often financially supported by it too) and were rejected and repatriated, likely to face execution.85 In a very clear way, then, the US ’s new immigration policies toward Cubans were reflective of the kind that had long been imposed onto refugees from non-communist regimes. The shift was driven by the rise of a new political climate, that is, the postwar climate after the fall of the Berlin Wall. If with the end of the Cold War globalization surged, it also brought with it what Beck terms ‘globophobia’: the rise of racial and ethnic tensions as a result of increasing proximity.86 This manifested in the US through a desire for greater sovereignty and the upholding of a mythologized unity in the face of a seeming invasion of other bodies. Consequently, as the Berlin Wall fell, an anti-immigration movement in the West coast of America emerged in the early 1990s, focusing on a supposed influx of Latin Americans, including Cubans, Mexicans and Haitians who were deemed to be in excess of the nation and a danger to its prosperity. Tapping into this atmosphere of globophobia, Bill Clinton won the 1992 Presidential Election by critiquing George Bush’s immigration policies and introducing new anti-Cuban refugee policies in August of 1994, just as in California the Republicans put forward a bill, Proposition 187, which called for the disbandment of all publicly funded welfare for undocumented migrants, including health care and all levels of education. The effects of these shifts in policy and attitude signal an intensified displacement of the Cuban refugee and in particular the displacement and utter disenfranchisement of the balseros who left following the riots at the Malecón in 1994. This new condition for the Cuban refugee would not be reflected in Bruguera’s practice until three years after these events, when she travelled to the US (for the first time) to complete a residency at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was here, as Johannes Birrenger observes, that Bruguera registered the extent to which ‘the balseros were treated as parasites that need to be fished out of the water and shipped back’.87 Their disenfranchisement is nothing if not a product of postwar, postguerra politics that saw a shift from the care of the Cuban refugee to its subjection to bare life under the new configurations of geopolitics. Bruguera produced an immersive installation in response, titled Art

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in America (The Dream). Audiences had to hand over their identification in order to enter the installation, a dark ‘cell-like space’ where they encountered tarot card readers, prophesying the future, and were subjected to a series of interrogations based on the US citizenship test (performed by women acting as Immigration and Naturalization Service Officers). This is a work that speaks to the failure of the US ’s hospitality toward the refugee and migrant (Cuban or otherwise) in the midst of globophobia, and also to the impending doom that would ensue in the coming years. As the constellation of Art in America and Bruguera’s earlier works reveals, the postwar, postguerra condition extends beyond the borders of Cuba and beyond the temporal constraints of the immediate aftermath of 1989. This is not a situation of being ‘post socialist’ or postwar. Given that today the tools of governmentality used by the US to produce the conditions of bare life in Guantanamo Bay for Cuban refugees are clearly not singular gestures, but find their many repetitions and counterparts after 9/11, including for suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib but also for refugees at the Woomera detention centre in Australia (which is the subject of the next chapter), the question arises of whether or not we are still living under and witnessing postwar, postguerra conditions as articulated by Bruguera’s art. And if so, what other structures or strategies are available to resist and construct countermemories in order to determine our dynamism?

CHAPTER THREE

Aftermath Photography, Temporal Loops and the Sublime of Biopolitics Rosemary Laing’s to walk on a sea of salt

Anachronism Rosemary Laing’s photographic series to walk on a sea of salt emerged in the aftermath of the Tampa and 9/11, and the parallel, global rise of detention centres for the incarceration of refugees and suspected terrorists (which at times were, and still are, seen as synonymous terms). In this era, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib became household names around the world, but in Australia, another detention centre came to occupy the nation’s imagination. Located in the South Australian desert, the Woomera detention centre opened in 1999 to imprison undocumented refugees who arrived on the nation’s shores by boat. It immediately became mired in problems of overpopulation, mismanagement and inmate heat exhaustion. However, it was not until after the Tampa affair and 9/11, and during the intensified focus on refugees and borderprotection in Australia and elsewhere, that the Woomera detention 71

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FIGURE 3.1 Rosemary Laing, welcome to Australia, 2004. From the series to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. C type photograph, 110 × 224 cm. Collection of the University of Queensland Art Museum, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, Monash University Museum of Art and Bendigo Art Gallery. © Rosemary Laing, courtesy Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.

centre became a constant news source for the media. Riots, the detainment of children, hunger strikes, lip sewing, suicide and attempted suicide were constantly reported. The centre was eventually closed down in 2003 by the Australian Government following public pressure and criticism from the United Nations Human Rights Commission. However, this by no means represented the end of human rights violations or the incarceration of refugees in Australia’s detention centres or its offshore processing sites. The trauma and violence of this place (and places like it) has left an indelible (if not also repressed) mark on the Australian psyche. The traumatic affects of the Woomera detention centre came to shape Laing’s to walk on a sea of salt. In the series’ most discussed photograph, welcome to Australia (Fig. 3.1), Laing represents the detention centre as a ‘violent wedge’1 seeking to make plain its functionality as a ‘threshold between inside and outside, between belonging and marginalisation’.2 In another photograph, and you can even pay later (Fig. 3.2), a similar aesthetic effect is perpetuated: the detention centre’s fencing, which sprawls across the horizon line, signals an endless field of exclusion while the title of the work refers to the Australian Government’s proposal to force refugees to

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pay for the cost of their internment once issued asylum or a temporary protection visa. Yet, as much as Laing’s photographs create a space to grasp the brutality of Australia’s refugee detention system, crucially, she seeks to contextualize the manifestation of this place (and places like it) within complex, seemingly dissonant historical narratives of nationhood.

FIGURE 3.2 Top image: Rosemary Laing, and you can even pay later, 2004. C type photograph, 85 × 140 cm. Collection of the University of Queensland Art Museum. Bottom image: Rosemary Laing, to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. C type photograph, 110 × 226.7 cm. Both images from the series to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. © Rosemary Laing, courtesy Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.

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While the early years of the twenty-first century saw the materialization of border protection policies and refugee detention centres in Australia, they also saw the simultaneous invocation of nineteenth-century anachronistic mythologies. In contrast to the ‘bogus’ refugee who is nothing more than a welfare-seeking parasite, the Australian Government harnessed the stories of the Aussie Battler to celebrate the working-class figure that has always persevered in the face of financial hardship.3 It popularized the concept, inaugurated in the late nineteenth century, of a ‘white Australia’, to redefine the limits of the national body in a period of globalization.4 It repeatedly invoked the narrative of ‘Gallipoli’ (and the associated memorial, ANZAC Day) to advance the fantasy that the Australian nation (federated in 1901) had been defined by its participation and sacrifice in the First World War.5 Such mythologies were gathered to re-mobilize old, dusty settler narratives structured by colonialist desires of ‘building’ a nation in an attempt to manage a perceived crisis of refugee flows and also benefit from it at the polls. Twenty-first-century Australia converges with its settler-image to become a nation of hard-working citizens who belong to ‘the greatest country in the world’ – and who are profoundly different in character from ‘unAustralian’, ‘queue jumping’ ‘boatpeople’.6 Laing frames the events surrounding the Woomera detention centre amidst the anachronism that marks the historical period in question. She brings into collision disparate image-histories making plain that contemporaneity (our present historical period) is shaped by a heightened consciousness of multifarious, overlapping temporalities. Images of Woomera (Figs 3.1, 3.2 and 3.5) are juxtaposed with four other large-scale photographs, which portray the iconic landscapes of Lake Eyre and the Flinders Ranges bound to Australia’s settler history. In chalks on Eyre and to walk on a sea of salt (Fig. 3.2) Laing references the nineteenth-century settler concept of the sublime. They are images of an infinitely expanding desert (connoting the concept of terra nullius, unoccupied land) and the colonialist desire to render it infinitely inhabitable through the efforts of the celebrated explorer Charles Sturt and his gruelling mission to locate an inland sea (to no avail). After Heysen and opposite Cazneauz (Figs 3.3 and 3.4) reflect on the construction of the ‘heroic’ gum tree by Australian artists such as Heysen (in Summer of 1909, Fig. 3.3) and Cazneaux (Spirit of Endurance, 1941, Fig 3.4), suggesting the dwindling relevance of

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FIGURE 3.3 Top image: Rosemary Laing, after Heysen, 2004. C type photograph, 110 × 252 cm. Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. From the series to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. © Rosemary Laing, courtesy Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne. Bottom image: Hans Heysen, Summer, 1909. Pencil, watercolour on ivory wove paper, 56.5 × 78.4 cm. Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Photo: AGNSW. © C Heysen. these images through Laing’s skeletal trees and bleached-out, fading appropriations. At the same time, if such imagery invokes the multiplicity of iconic moments in Australia’s history, the images of the Woomera detention centre also suggest a desire to capture

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FIGURE 3.4 Top image: Rosemary Laing, opposite Cazneaux, 2004. C type photograph, 85 × 164 cm. From the series to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. © Rosemary Laing, courtesy Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne. Bottom image: Harold Cazneaux, Spirit of Endurance, 1937. Gelatin silver photograph, 28.1 × 33.1 cm. Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Gift of the Cazneaux family 1975. Photo: AGNSW.

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FIGURE 3.5 Rosemary Laing, 5.10am 15 December 2004, 2004. C type photograph, 85 × 169.5 cm. Collection of the University of Queensland Art Museum. From the series to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. © Rosemary Laing, courtesy Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne. ‘distillations of time’ in more recent history. These time capsules appear time and again throughout the series, in fairly similar compositions, and their titles also suggest a concern with marking time: 5.10am 15 December 2004 (Fig. 3.5) and 8.40pm daze past.7 I dwell on the importance of time (and anachronism) in Laing’s practice because for the most part it is place, and more particularly the nexus of place and identity, that has dominated readings of this work. Abigail Solomon-Godeau argues that place ‘is Laing’s overarching preoccupation [and] refers to an actual geographical location as well as one’s relation to it. It also includes one’s identity, one’s place in a place’.8 Extending this logic to to walk on a sea of salt, other critics have consistently read the series by juxtaposing a colonialist reading of landscape, as inscribed by the mythologies of Sturt and Heysen, and a postcolonialist one as propelled by Laing’s work (and her harsh treatment of this imagery). As one critic argues: The artist has reinterpreted Australian masterpieces by the photographer Harold Cazneaux and the painter Hans Heysen, but against these iconic statements of national pride she places a scene of national disgrace, the Woomera detention centre. . . . One of [her works] is sarcastically called welcome to Australia.

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Alas, the horrible camp is captured with more chromatic richness than the landscape, which looks overexposed, almost a travesty of Heysen’s devotion to the pastoral richness of the outback.9 Laing’s stark images of the Woomera detention centre and her bleached out images of Australian icons are read as rubbing against the grain of settler narratives, offering a depressing antithesis to their overloaded symbolism. Perhaps this could be read as a critical strategy. Another astute critic comments: ‘Whenever contemporary events force us to question the naïve affection with which we tend our cultural symbols, we hastily repolish the tarnished icons and place them back into the cultural vault.’10 Thus, there is something at stake in juxtaposing cherished cultural icons with traumatic, unruly histories (which won’t give in). This friction could easily be thought as a mode of counter-memory that attempts to contest the dominance of the victors over the vanquished, or, following the logic of critics, a mode of counter-memory that uses images of Woomera as a means to problematize a ‘nostalgic’ viewing of the Australian landscape (as arcadia, or utopia).11 I argue that Laing’s politics and her production of countermemorial aesthetics are more productively read as a disruption of teleological time: that is, that in the series to walk the present appears as a series of inter-locking temporal regimes (belatedness, stillness, repetition) which fold back into each other, like a looping video. This works to suggest not the loss of an arcadia or a difference between now and then, but rather the continuity of biopolitical violence and aftermath here and elsewhere.

Perpetual aftermath: history at a standstill As early as 1940, Walter Benjamin had perceived perpetual aftermath as the true condition of modernity. History appears to him not as a ‘chain of events’ but rather, as ‘one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage’.12 This pile of debris is what ‘we call progress’.13 It drives the ‘necessary’ measures of biopolitical exclusion and the state of emergency (in fascist Germany

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during the 1930s and 1940s, for example) to ensure the health, future and fecundity of the nation (propelling Benjamin to live, and eventually die, in exile). Biopolitical violence and exclusion, implied Benjamin, constitute both the continuation of aftermath and the normalization of a future based on tradition and telos: the ‘ “state of emergency” in which we live is not the exception but the rule’.14 For Benjamin, what was needed was a system of history that would discredit the notion of progress and insist on the concept of permanent aftermath – that is, one which would not only pay heed to the continual presence of the state of exception and the camp in modern and contemporary society, but also ensure that the erased and faded traces of these histories which were eliminated by proponents of tradition would be maintained for posterity. Through such an approach to history, the traces of past catastrophes come into contact with present ones to make plain not only their interconnectedness but also the continuation of aftermath. This concept of history as perpetual aftermath necessitated a critique of Marx’s idea of dialectics, which assumed that the confluence of two opposing forces – the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, for example – would come into collision to create a new order, a revolution. Stepping away from a concept of dialectics that assumes historical progress, Benjamin argued that a more productive reading of dialectics registers that opposing forces more often than not fail to come to any resolution, or to gain any type of momentum that may be read as ‘progress’. Such (negative) dialectics reveal the continual tension of opposing forces. He named his concept of the negative dialectics of history ‘the dialectical image’. Articulating the function of this concept, Benjamin argues: It’s not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present cast its light on what is past; rather, the dialectical image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation. In other words, image is dialectics at a standstill.15 The arrest or suspension of time that characterizes the concept of dialectics at a standstill works, Benjamin argues, to ‘rub’ the notion of history as telos ‘against the grain’.16 In his critique of history

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as progress, Benjamin also leaves room for the incessant return of the vanquished, revealing that traces of their histories are always still here.

Aftermath photography A remarkable aesthetics of stillness pervades Laing’s photographs of the Woomera detention centre. By the time she arrived at the site of the centre, a year had passed since its closure. She arrived too late to capture the ‘decisive moment’: the riots outside the centre between police and activists, refugees pressed up against the fence, one jumping onto the fence’s barbed wire as an act of protest.17 But she arrived in time to capture the trace of the event as evident in her still, desolate landscapes. What drives the negation of a descriptive representation of the event, to dwell on the absence of evidence, in contemporary photography such as Laing’s? In part, such imagery is born out of the belief that the photographic record and the archive do not catalyse an authentic and reliable experience of history – a unique access point to the past.18 Through the increasing awareness of the fallibility of the documentary image and the image’s susceptibility to manipulation – which only intensifies in the digital era – artists now approach the documentary photograph with great scepticism.19 Since the mid-1990s, contemporary artists have increasingly retired traditional documentary practices – unwilling to advance an aesthetic that is inherently bound to the notion of constructing a descriptive or detailed archive of that which has been, and instead aiming to capture the missed moment. Today, many artists insist on the affective power of abstract, seemingly vacant, images as opposed to traditional documentary images. At this historical juncture, the documentary image increasingly manifests as tranquil, and seemingly banal. Since the early 2000s, this aesthetic has increasingly come to be theorized in contemporary art discourse as ‘late’, ‘afterthe-fact’ or, as I prefer it, aftermath photography. The inter-related aesthetics of stillness and belatedness that characterize Laing’s images firmly place the artist’s work within the genre of aftermath photography. This genre is characterized by large-scale printing and the use of medium and large-format

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cameras that lend themselves to producing the aesthetics of the film still – large, glossy and highly detailed images that appear extrapolated from a larger diegesis. Far removed from traditional modes of photojournalism and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s ‘decisive moment’, aftermath photography is structured through the photographer’s belated arrival at the scene of action.20 Subsequently, as in Laing’s images, the aesthetics of aftermath photography is characterized by peopleless, often epic, landscapes; scenes of ruin and debris; architectural remains; or, in David Campany’s words, ‘the trace of the trace of the event’.21 This is a photographic genre that finds its precedents in Roger Fenton’s desolate images of the Crimean War from the midnineteenth century, such as Valley of the Shadow of Death, or in Alain Resnais’ 1955 film Night and Fog, which records the remains of Nazi concentration camps. However the genre did not properly emerge as a consistent paradigm of contemporary art (or documentary) until fairly recently.22 As Campany argues, aftermath photography arises at a moment when the photograph is widely considered to be secondary to video and television in matters of witnessing.23 This sense of redundancy has intensified with the advent of mobile video cameras on mobile phones and the increasing presence of amateur footage in the news cycle (think of the news media images of 9/11). Campany argues that, leaving the task of transmitting the decisive moment to video, today’s ‘photographers often prefer to wait until an event is over. They are as likely to attend to the aftermath because photography is, in relative terms, at the aftermath of culture’.24 Somewhat paradoxically seeking to distance the aesthetics of still photography from those of the moving image, Campany argues that the still image is increasingly ‘thought of as being more memorable than those that move’.25 The mnemonic value of stillness – seen as an antidote to the fleeting gaze we lend to the constant cycle of images disseminated in the news media – can only locate its value in relation to the moving image. With the invention of the moving image and all the technological innovations associated with this phenomena came the idea of stillness. Moving images endow the still with a mnemonic value which is unique to it. Stillness and the assumed correlative privilege of the still photograph have much to do with the perception of the aftermath image as a catalyst for sustained memory.

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This value can be seen in the way in which many aftermath photographers perceive their photographs to be circumventing the amnesia and the fetishization of human suffering by the news media, since they know that their images will not be subsumed within the news cycle.26 Indeed, many aftermath photographers are former photojournalists who have opted to show their work in museums.27 In the museum, the large-scale image of aftermath often reads as something closer to a ‘monument’ than a ‘moment’.28 (It is worth noting that Laing’s image welcome to Australia, and to a lesser extent other images in the series, are widely collected in Australian and international museums.)29 However, claims to possessing a commemorative function, or a capacity to be used for the work of ‘mourning’ cannot, of course, be so easily attained. Beyond the obvious conflation between assuming that the photograph can inherently memorialize and that the museum has an inherent capacity to maintain memory, there are other issues at play with respect to aftermath photography. For many critics, the often banal, desolate aesthetics of aftermath imagery creates too large a distance between the viewer and the atrocities it traces.30 Abstracting the event, and keeping the ‘horror’ at bay, these images appear to some critics ‘dangerously unreal, strangely theatrical, detached, inhuman’.31 Their ‘coolness’ (antithetical to the zealousness of humanist documentary photography) renders the events they purport to trace ‘ungraspable’.32 As such these critics question whether, if the aftermath image has been catalysed to instigate mourning, ‘mourning by association becomes an aestheticized response’.33 ‘There is a sense in which the late photograph, in all its silence, can easily flatter the ideological paralysis of those who gaze at it without the social or political will to make sense of its circumstance.’34 In other words, the aftermath photograph falls prey to the very same problems of reification it has attempted to circumvent through avoiding the fleetingness and spectacle of video or the decisive moment: it institutes, critics argue, ‘a world beyond our own comprehension, [and so] it is a reified as much as rarefied response’.35 Consequently, the experience and aesthetics of aftermath photography are akin, some critics argue, to the sublime. That is, they are experiences that are incomprehensible, being beyond acknowledgement and assimilation. ‘There is something about the scale and resolution of most [aftermath] photography that trades on the sublime’, argues Julian Stallabrass.36 This is a sublime of pictorial

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data – allowed by medium and large-format cameras on which high quality large-scale printing is contingent.37 But the aftermath photograph also presents a mathematical sublime – which refers to the notion of ungraspable magnitude – and a dynamic sublime – which refers to the notion of ungraspable force. In aftermath photography, the mathematical sublime appears via ‘epic’ landscapes (enabled by panoramic imagery). The dynamic sublime manifests via the representation of blown up or destroyed buildings. While the sublime has the potential to present a threat to the subject both physically and on the level of the imagination (impeding ‘our rational descriptions of the world and our powers over it’),38 critics argue that in aftermath photography the viewer is so far distanced from the horror of the event (seeing, for example, the architectural remains but not the bodies) that the threat is virtual rather than actual, and thus the viewer experiences pleasure rather than pain. It is the pleasure symptomatic of the sublime that derives from encountering grand horror while remaining safe from its clutches. The terms that critics use to describe the aesthetics of aftermath photography are essentially correct: these landscapes are abstract, vacant and sublime. But the understanding of these aesthetic affects, at least vis-à-vis the series to walk on a sea of salt, needs to be radically reconfigured.

Aftereffectiveness: the contemporary sublime Since the eighteenth century, the sublime has suggested a complex mix of terror and awe as encountered in raw nature (epic, mountainous landscapes, for example), but this concept has undergone profound revisions in the twentieth century. In the eighteenth century, Immanuel Kant argued that the imagination’s incapacity to cope with the threat of Nature was compensated by reason’s faith in human destiny (thus offering some pleasure), but this is no longer possible. In the aftermath of ongoing biopolitical violence and the continual appearance of nodes of the state of exception, ‘the ruined destiny of human reason and its moral law can offer no compensatory pleasure’, as Gene Ray argues.39 The contemporary sublime is instead closer to a process of trauma, tearing and violation. It challenges ‘the limits of

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conventionalized, assimilable experience and [marks] the vulnerability of the psychic organization’ upon its encounter with ‘disrupting penetrations from the outside’.40 The contemporary sublime, and its force of violence, casts a threat to the ‘imaginary integrity of subjectivity’, which is difficult to overcome.41 The contemporary sublime is thus a traumatic sublime. When reason is confronted by its limits, when the event is too overwhelming for thought, leaving the figure speechless, immobile, suspended, it produces an effect where we are unable to think the event and thus in many ways we miss it. Years, decades, and generations pass before its affects are encountered again. ‘Overpowered [and] lacking the means to confront and interpret the hit as experience’, Ray argues, the traumatic sublime reveals that it is governed by a particular temporal regime, that of aftereffectiveness (Nachträglichkeit).42 ‘The missed traumatic moment can only be reconstructed in retrospect.’43 And it is in this reconstruction, which always happens belatedly, that the fetishized and disavowed reality of that which has been may be encountered. The deferred, traumatic sublime often returns to us, for secondary witnessing, via the traces of the past: the clothes in Christian Boltanski’s installation Personnes (2010), for example, evoke without invoking the sublime historical referent of Auschwitz. Such traces, and negative images of absence, have the power to strike, disturb and astonish us long after the event.

Abstraction and the returns of the contemporary sublime Dwelling on welcome to Australia, Anthony Gardner has critiqued the way in which this image ‘abstracts’ the events that took place at Woomera, as if it misses the opportunity to capture and invoke these events (in fact, echoing aftermath critics, he argues that Laing fetishizes history and creates a ‘spectacle’ of the detention centre).44 However, abstraction, or the negation of representation and information, does not necessarily equate with a distanced, inadequate – reified or rarefied – engagement with history. And it does not lead to an experience that is incomprehensible, or beyond acknowledgement and assimilation. Rather, abstraction, as Briony Fer contends, is ‘a

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type of art which does not allow us to interpret it with reference to what is depicted’.45 It requires the viewer to engage with it in a manner that does not take into account a representation of that which is signified. This is not to say that abstract art ‘refuses signification’.46 Rather, it implies that, as Mark Godfrey argues, ‘the lack of a depicted image tends to heighten our awareness of materials, of composition (or anti-composition) structures, of the process of looking itself’.47 Abstraction is a strategy for reconstructing the past that bears in mind the contingency of memory and any attempt to invoke it. If the aftermath photograph captures a figureless landscape and focuses on architectural remains, for example, it seeks to evoke a different way of looking to that in which we normally approach the quintessential documentary image. In turn, if an image such as Laing’s focuses on the architectural symmetry of the detention centre, then this is, to follow John Roberts’s analysis of aftermath photography, ‘an attempt to reawaken a certain attentiveness – common in a lot of postdocumentary practice – in . . . the lost or diminished spectator of photography’.48 The still, vacant image requires a mode of spectatorship that attends to the formalism of the photograph as well as to its repressed significations. Via its excessive pictorial detail (a sublime of data), composition and scale, Laing’s welcome to Australia heightens the viewer’s awareness of the detention centre’s brutalizing affects (its dynamic sublime). She composes the image so that the detention centre, crowned by vortices of razor wire, occupies the image’s horizon line and appears, in her words, as ‘a violent wedge’.49 The tip of this wedge is situated at the centre of the image, confronting the spectator, and Laing hangs the image (which measures 110 by 224 centimetres) so that the viewer’s body and gaze hits its sharp centre (Fig. 3.6).50 Via welcome to Australia, Laing hoped to ‘show the functionality’ of the Woomera detention centre’s architecture so that the viewer may embody, in her words, ‘a traumatic ownership of subjectivity’.51 This includes the centre’s penal aesthetics, a dynamic sublime of ungraspable force, maintained by its grid of palisade fencing and reams of razor wire.52 As Joseph Pugliese argues, the fence, electrified by 9000 volts, ‘dispenses object lessons on the power of the nation state, its punitive rule of law and its life negating power’.53 As a potent symbol of biopolitical punishment, razor wire has the ‘capacity to repel any living thing [and it] produces a kind of shock when it is used to enclose people, shaking their certitude that they

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FIGURE 3.6 Install view: Rosemary Laing, to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. In Think with the Senses, Feel with the Mind: Art in the Present Tense, 52nd Venice Biennale, Arsenale, 10 June–21 November 2007. Photo: Rosemary Laing. are human’.54 Laing’s image produces an encounter with the impenetrability and brutality of Australia’s detention centres. And it does so in spite of the isolation of these places. Woomera, even after its closure, was extremely difficult to access since it is situated within the military site of the Woomera Prohibited Area. Places like this continue to manifest (increasingly offshore) and as they remain difficult/impossible to access for almost everyone other than those subjected to the penal architecture of Australia’s refugee detention centres, images such as welcome to Australia offer one means to encounter (however mediated) the aesthetic forces of such (mostly invisible) places.55 If the composition of welcome to Australia elicits an encounter with the Woomera detention centre’s traumatic, brutalizing affects – a dynamic sublime – then it also prompts the viewer’s confrontation with something akin to the mathematical sublime. This occurs through the seemingly infinite grid of palisade fencing and razor wire in the image, which expands beyond the frame (via its twopoint perspective). The grid, as Rosalind Krauss argues, is defined by its perpetual expansion.

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Logically speaking the grid extends, in all directions, to infinity. Any boundaries imposed upon it by a given painting or sculpture [or photograph] can only be seen – according to this logic – as arbitrary. By virtue of the grid, the given work of art is presented as a mere fragment, a tiny piece arbitrarily cropped from an infinitely larger fabric. Thus the grid operates from the work of art outward, compelling our acknowledgement of a world beyond the frame.56 Krauss argues that the grid is always boundless, perpetual, and subject to repetition. When it manifests in three-dimensional form, as it does in architecture, its aesthetics of ‘flattened, geometrical’ order imposes itself exponentially on the subjects it attempts to contain.57 Its extension is guaranteed by the grid’s capacity to interconnect sites as diverse as Woomera, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Lampedusa (through the repetition of the architecture of the camps in all these and similar places). And as the grid extends outside the frame (via Laing’s ‘wedge’) and into infinity, it reveals that its mathematical sublime is not only spatial. It is also temporal, reaching back to a vast network of camps, including back to the eighteenth century, when Australia itself became a camp.58

Perpetual aftermath: Australia as a camp As Pugliese argues, ‘the immigration prison and its razor wire grid must be situated within the genealogy of their colonial predecessors: the colonial stockade and the Indigenous mission and reserve’.59 Upon its subjection to British colonization in the eighteenth century, Australia became a camp.60 The country was imagined as a ‘gulag continent’ for Britain’s criminal class. It would sever and displace these subjects from the motherland through ‘an apartheid of sea and unfathomable distance’, ensuring Britain’s health and freedom from infection from the ‘virulent’ Other.61 But in preparation for the creation of this excision and mass prison, another camp had to be implemented for the Australian native population. In 1860, Indigenous Australians, displaced and

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terrorized by British colonization and reduced in population from an estimated 1.5 million to approximately 60,000 in a matter of decades, were described by The Board for Protection of Aborigines as ‘landless and homeless refugee[s]’.62 The displacement and subjection of Indigenous Australians to the logic of biopolitics – in order to distance the subject that threatens the health and progress of the nation – found its continuation in the manifestation of alien internment camps during the First and Second World Wars. During the First World War, over 6,000 European migrants were interned in Liverpool and Holsworthy, and during the Second World War more than fifty detention centres for ‘enemy aliens’ – Germans and Japanese – arose around Australia. The exclusion of the human body which has ‘no claim on the nation’ and which must therefore be exempt from the law (and subject to the state of exception) is also the governing logic for the manifestation of refugee detention centres in Australia during the 1990s and 2000s.63 Upon the ‘unauthorized’ arrival of boatpeople in the early 1990s, a dialectic of border panic and border security came to affect the Australian psyche, and prompted the emergence of numerous onshore and offshore detention centres. The Woomera detention centre was one of the first and certainly the most well known of the refugee camps that emerged in contemporary Australia.64 Seeking to extrapolate the conditions of ‘bare life’ – being stripped of the right to live – and the detention centres’ dependence upon a xenophobic state, artists such as Juan Davila and Mike Parr, and academics Suvendrini Perera and Nikos Papastergiadis, summoned the spectres of some of the darkest moments of the twentieth century by publicly naming the Woomera detention centre a ‘concentration camp’.65 That a camp existed in Australia seemed for many an ‘impossible’ notion.66 A common response to the events that transpired at Woomera was disbelief: how could a place like it have manifested in Australia?67 But the camp and the associated processes of biopolitical violence had always existed. As Walter Benjamin argues, ‘[t]he current amazement that the things we are experiencing are “still” possible in the twentieth [and twenty-first] century is not philosophical’.68 It is, rather, a misconception of history as progress. Tradition and telos normalize a future where the ‘ “state of emergency” in which we live is not the exception but the rule’.

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Repetition and difference: radical anachronism In photographs such as to walk on a sea of salt (Fig. 3.2), Laing invokes settler mythologies of terra nullius and the violent erasure of Australia’s Indigenous people. She does so in a manner that is not dissimilar to her images of the Woomera detention centre: abstraction is again a dominant aesthetic tool in the photograph to walk on a sea of salt. Laing images the vast, salt encrusted landscape of Lake Eyre as a blank monochrome: it beckons the materialist historian to awaken lost events from their slumber. The overwhelmingly bright light of this image simulates a flash of lightning, an aesthetic of overexposure that appears to render any information void. But if as Benjamin argues ‘knowledge comes only in flashes’,69 meaning that history is fleeting, slipping away from the shutter and disappearing again, then knowledge is not absent but rather just not necessarily always physically or visually present.70 Laing’s work suggests that in order to engage the fetishized past the viewer’s vision needs to be supplemented, namely, through the imagination and a physical engagement with the landscape. Such a non-visual or at least not-wholly-visual engagement with Laing’s images begins by tracing Laing’s own physical engagement with and exploration of the landscapes of Lake Eyre after explorers such as Charles Sturt (and thus in relation to associated settler mythologies). It is through such a process that the historical traces of these landscapes can better manifest in the present. *

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For the past decade or so, Laing’s work has consistently reflected a process of exploration. For each of her projects, she undertakes a ‘reconnaissance’ (her term) in order to familiarize herself with the landscapes which form the subjects of her work.71 As Webb observes, ‘[t]hese journeys constitute a significant if unseen aspect of her practice’,72 since they allow Laing an embodied physical, intimate engagement with place by which she is able to effectively conjure a completely different reading of Australia’s conception of landscape and all the mythologies and memories it entails. Laing’s journeys are always mediated by her archival and historical research into these areas, and thus mediated by cultural memory (for the creation of to walk on a sea of salt, for example, she read Sturt’s diaries).73

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There is a name for the parallel engagement with cultural memory and an embodied experience of place (which characterizes Laing’s reconnaissance). This is re-enactment. Re-enactment is structured through an engagement with the cultural archive – relics, anachronisms, mythologies – and a corresponding anxiety to reconnect and re-activate the past in embodied form.74 As Amelia Jones argues, reenactment, which since the beginning of the twenty-first century has become increasingly common in contemporary art practice, emerges out of artists’ ‘fascination’ with retrieving past events that are fast vanishing.75 Re-enactment is a means to engage with mediated memory (such as mythologies) via lived experience. But it acknowledges (the paradox) that any memory is contingent and never quite authentic (mediated by distance, time, doubt); in Jones’ words: ‘The re-enactment both testifies to our desire to know the past in order to secure ourselves in the present and the paradox of that knowledge always taking place through repetition.’76 Re-enactment activates remembrance but is not the same as repeating the past.77 It is, as Sven Lütticken argues, ‘an act of radical anachronism’78 which circumvents mere repetition or ‘the reproduction of archetype and of originals’ and aims instead for the production of difference. It aims to turn the act of repetition (a trope of trauma) into a political gesture: to disperse time and see history as a process of perpetual becoming always hinged on an engagement with speculative notions of what has been, what is, and what will be (for a related reading of re-enactment see Chapter 2).79 Re-enactment, which is essentially a mode of performance, may at first seem like an unusual label to attach to Laing’s work, which is ultimately a photographic practice. However, Laing does incorporate performance in many of her works, as seen through the airborne and bloody bride of bulletproofglass (2002) or the volatile figures of a dozen useless actions for grieving blondes (2009). Most importantly, however, Laing sees her journeys of reconnaissance as ‘performative gestures’ which lead to physical and photographic ‘interventions’ in the landscape, or more accurately perceptions of landscape as seen, for example, in groundspeed (2004).80 In this light, Laing’s work and journeys of reconnaissance reflect processes of re-enactment to the extent that she engages with cultural memory (via Sturt’s mythology and iconic landscapes, for example) in an embodied, physical engagement with the land in order to create difference through repetition. Laing’s engagement with the physical landscape, after Sturt, is a performative gesture which is ultimately

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unseen but embodied via her photography, and which is part of a process of bringing to the fore that which is otherwise invisible in the mythologized landscape of Lake Eyre in the present. As noted above, Benjamin argues that the image of history is always disappearing, so we cannot assume that the true image of history will appear through sight. Benjamin, Eduardo Cadava observes, ‘asks us to turn away from a historicism that presumes the truth of history to be present at all times’.81 ‘History is a disappearing trace’; it is a vanishing point and ‘the axiomatics of a materialist historiography demand not only the mobilization of historical signification but an interruption of the optical imperative governing both political and historical understanding’.82 If this process is not necessarily bound to sight, to what is visible, the appearance of the past is contingent, at least in part, on the relations between the body and memory (hence the import’s physical presence on the landscape).83 After Proust, Benjamin wrote about the body as a site of inscription and recording: ‘Limbs’, he states, ‘are one of [Proust’s] favourite representations’ of memory, ‘and he [Proust] frequently speaks of images deposited in limbs – images that suddenly break into memory without any command from consciousness when a thigh, an arm, or a shoulder blade happens to assume a position in bed that they had at some time earlier’.84 Benjamin concludes: ‘The memoire involontaire des membre is one of Proust’s favourite subjects.’85 The constellation of the past and the present emerges, then, through the body and its repeated movement. In Laing’s case, the nexus of memory and the body is dependent on her coming to Lake Eyre after Sturt, which invokes, for the artist, an affective engagement with history: probing the unconscious of settler subjectivity and the still largely unassimilated histories of expropriation, genocide, displacement and enslavement.86 Laing attempts to conjure such histories for the viewer through her compositional choices. The infinitely expanding horizon line cuts through the middle of the monochrome (echoing welcome), and is hung so that (again) the viewer’s gaze hits the centre of the image (Fig. 3.7).87 As a signifier of the future and in Sturt’s case a signifier of the sublime of terra nullius, the horizon line is not being repeated here to show Sturt’s perspective and the failed dreams of this explorer upon encountering the salt lake (rather than an inland sea) but to show the intersection between the horizon lines of the Woomera and Lake Eyre images, revealing the infinite proliferation

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FIGURE 3.7 Install view: Rosemary Laing, to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. In The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, 23 March–5 June 2005. Photo: Rosemary Laing.

of Australia’s contemporary and colonial penal systems.88 In Laing’s images, the past does not read differently in the present (through a postcolonial lens which critiques the colonialist mythology of Sturt, for example), but rather the past comes to collide with the present to show that we live in perpetual aftermath.89 To this extent, unlike other critics I do not read the blankness of these landscapes as projecting a ‘harsh’, ‘repellent’ light which signifies the desert’s capacity to quell the colonialist desire to find an inland sea at the centre of Australia, or as repeating myths about the difficulties of Australia’s harsh climate.90 Rather, I argue that Sturt’s sublime vista of the infinitely expanding desert (mediated by the concept of terra nullius and the hopes and pleasures of colonization) was never intimidated by the forces of nature; it was always headed toward a violent notion of tradition and progress hinged on the camp, which through the ‘anti-natural’ grid can appear anywhere and impose itself on anything at any time.91

After Heysen: the commodity fetish Critics of Laing’s art consistently read it through a particular kind of postcolonial lens that essentializes the narratives contained in these images. This is also the case with an image such as after Heysen, which references Hans Heysen’s landscape paintings of the

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Flinders Ranges. Critics argue, for example that while Heysen’s art embodies the ideals of a ‘young nation’ and projects pastoral landscapes as ‘innocent and pure’ (advancing the concept of terra nullius), Laing’s postcolonial approach recalibrates perceptions of these landscapes through harsh, bleak imagery which assumes that the aesthetics of the pastoral landscape are nothing if not corrupt, naturalizing the expulsion of the Indigenous figure from the land.92 But beyond this important, if not also constantly repeated analysis, the harsh, burning light of after Heysen also stimulates a different process of reading – a different history that is fetishized in Heysen’s art, and in current Australian art historical discourse. *

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As a commodity fetish, W.J.T. Mitchell argues (after Marx), landscape is a ‘social hieroglyph’, that is, ‘an emblem of the social relations it conceals’.93 As a painting on the wall, as a postcard, or as a screen saver, the commodity fetish of landscape conceals its construction as a sign of nationalism – naturalizing the relations between self and nature, place and national identity. For Laing this relationship is something to be not only consumed but also probed by the artist-historian (and materialist historian). Laing presents after Heysen as an overexposed cultural relic, seeking to beckon the historian’s gaze and interrogate the outmoded commodity fetish of which this image is an appropriation. Throughout the twentieth century, Heysen’s work came to be the subject of particular fetishistic practices of the citizen. The citizen consumer purchases prints for the domestic wall. Ian Burn argues that these prints were never ‘mere decoration’ as ‘the pictures had to mean something special; to be more than just art’.94 This specialness was assured by the symbolism carried by Heysen’s work: the heroic gum tree, the uniqueness of the Australian sunlight and the splendour of the pastoral landscape – attributes reflected in the nation’s people. But of course, the accessibility of this ‘specialness’ was contingent on the infinite reproducibility of Heysen’s art in newspapers, magazines, posters, stamps, Christmas cards and Qantas menus (Fig. 3.8). As a commodity object, the popularity of landscape is contingent on its mechanical reproduction.95 The infinite reproducibility of the artwork that emerges with the rise of photography and that unhinges the artwork from its site of ritual – the museum – transposes its aura of authenticity to an infinite and unpredictable ‘exhibition-value’:

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FIGURE 3.8 Top images (left to right): Poster, airline advertising, ‘Fly to Australia by constellation BOAC & QEA’, colour lithograph/paper, designed by Stanley Herbert for British Overseas Airways Corporation, England. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, 93/300/2. Photo: Marinco Kojdanovski. Qantas Menu c. 1970 with a reproduction of Hans Heysen’s Red Gum, 1926. Image courtesy Qantas Heritage Collection. Bottom image: Screen shot of Google image search for ‘Hans Heysen’, 2013. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.

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middle-class interior decoration, souvenir, advertising, and kitsch, postmodern appropriation (and so on). The persistence of industry connects the original art object with its infinite repetition and, reproduced and serialized, the art historical object produces a symbiosis between citizen and consumer.96 Today, of course, the mass dissemination of art reproductions extends to the internet where endless reproductions of Heysen’s trees can be found. Type into Google’s image-search engine ‘Heysen’s tree’ or ‘Hans Heysen’, and you will find thousands of amateur and touristic photographic snapshots or replica drawings of Heysen’s landscapes (Fig. 3.8). As Mitchell observes, ‘[i]n its double role as commodity and potent cultural symbol, landscape is the object of fetishistic practices involving limitless repetition of identical photographs taken on identical spots by tourists with interchangeable emotions’.97 The immense popularity and fetishization of Heysen’s art for the purposes of constructing national identity and its appeal to the citizen is well known. Less well known is the fetishization of Heysen’s art by the Australian Government through its ‘white Australia’ Immigration Programs. Between 1950 and 1970, the Australian Immigration Department mobilized Heysen’s pastoral landscapes – seen to portray Australia as a land of opportunity – to promote a particular image of Australia to the subjects of its immigration programmes. We see the uses of Heysen’s celebrated landscapes by Australia’s Immigration programs in three black and white archival photographs (Fig. 3.9). The first photograph represents an event that occurred on 5 November 1958. Upon the arrival of the hundred thousandth Dutch migrant in Australia, a large press ceremony was held by the Australian Government to host the occasion.98 At the ceremony, an official from the Australian Government gifted the Netherlands Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health a watercolour painting by Hans Heysen. The second photograph relates to a 1963 exhibition of Heysen’s artworks at the Australian Migration Office in Hamburg. It portrays two figures standing in front of and amiably discussing one of Heysen’s landscapes. The caption for the photograph reads: Immigration – Promotional Activities – Hamburg Office opened by Ambassador – The Australian Ambassador to Germany, Mr. F.J. Blakeney (right), discusses the original Hans Heysen painting with Senator Schmiedermann, a Minister of the Hamburg Senate. The painting was especially flown over from

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South Australia House, London, for the opening of the Australian Migration Office in Hamburg.99 The third photograph is from 1971. It is a portrait of an elderly Heysen. He stares into the distance, outside the frame, away from the viewer. The caption reads, ‘Immigration – Migrants in the arts and

FIGURE 3.9 From left to right (clockwise): An Australian Government representative gifting a Han Heysen painting to the Netherlands Ambassador to Australia on the event of the arrival of Australia’s hundred-thousandth Dutch Migrant (27 year-old Mrs Adriana Zevenbergen with her husband, Cornelis and sons Cornelis, 5 and Addo, 1: November 1958). National Archives of Australia: A12111, 1/1958/4/84. The opening of the Australian Migration Office in Hamburg in 1963. National Archives of Australia: A12111, 1/1963/34/22. Promotional image of Heysen used by the Australian Government for its immigration program in Germany, c. 1972. National Archives of Australia: A12111, 1/1972/6/52. All images courtesy of the National Archives of Australia. For the full captions of these images, as they appear in the National Archives of Australia, see the List of Illustrations at the start of the book.

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entertainment in Australia – Sir Hans Heysen, famous German artist’. The portrait was used during the Government’s 1970s immigration programmes to promote successful migrant stories in Australia. These three photographs from the archives of the Immigration Department bring to the fore the fetishization of Heysen’s art vis-àvis immigration programmes, and its role in identifying a particular image of Australia that would be promoted nationally and internationally. They are, in Benjamin’s sense of the word, historical: like all cultural relics, the three black and white photographs are dialectical images in waiting. *

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It is not widely known that though Heysen was a popular and celebrated artist during the first decade of the twentieth century, he was after the outbreak of the First World War subject to a systemic programme of racism toward and shaming of Germans for the sake of ‘national security’.100 In 1915, Australia’s chief professional art bodies, such as the Australian Art Association, asked Heysen to pledge his allegiance to Australia to quell reports of his disloyalty.101 He was interrogated regarding his neutrality during the war, and whether his sympathies lay with Germany.102 The interrogation continued in 1917, when the Art Society of New South Wales asked Heysen to give a ‘formal statement of loyalty’.103 In 1921, Bernard Hall, then Director of the National Gallery in Melbourne, further advanced hostilities toward Heysen on behalf of art institutions. He attended an exhibition of Heysen’s artwork, wanting to purchase one of his still life fruit paintings for the National Gallery, yet refused to acknowledge the artist at the exhibition for ‘political reasons’.104 As Hall had stated in a broadsheet of the time: ‘For I hold with Lord Kitchener until this maimed and scarred generation had passed away no German should be allowed permanent residency or social status in this country.’105 The social exclusion of the German figure in Australia (of which Hall speaks) manifested itself in the form of overt racism and policies which saw European migrants socially ostracized and interned at detention centres around Australia.106 Over 6,000 German and European migrants – including many of Heysen’s friends and family members – were incarcerated at Holsworthy detention centre during the First World War. After the War these subjects, no matter how long they had resided in Australia, were deemed ‘alien refugees’ and repatriated.107

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After Heysen, then, is not simply a dialectical image that exposes the commodity fetish of Heysen’s work vis-à-vis colonial histories and the making of the white Australian nation via the erasure of the Indigenous figure. It comes, further, to invoke the perpetuity of aftermath in Australia and the consistency of the camp for any subject that threatens the ‘purity’ of the nation’s body (at any point in time): it constitutes not a difference between now and then, but history at a standstill.

Temporal loops As Laing’s series to walk on a sea of salt (Fig. 3.10) reveals, a radical conception of history exists outside a singular, decisive moment and proceeds through a dialectical structuring of time. It involves a notion of time that is interconnected to multiple readings of the past and present, showing how ‘that’ relates to ‘this’. It disrupts the ‘dead continuum of the present’, and seeks to think of image-fragments beyond their spatio-temporal origins or place, refusing to relegate the past to the past or any era. Needless to say, this notion of dialectical history follows the logic of montage, suturing disparate temporal fragments together to create a heterogeneous map of history. To this extent, if we accept that Laing’s work represents a mode of aftermath photography, then it also becomes clear that this photographic art form does not distance itself from the aesthetics of cinema – juxtaposition, montage – as profusely as some critics suggest (as noted above, Campany argues that the ‘still’ image of aftermath is wholly defined by its distinction from the moving image). In Laing’s

FIGURE 3.10 Install view: Rosemary Laing, to walk on a sea of salt, 2004. In The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, 23 March–5 June 2005. Photo: Rosemary Laing.

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work, for example, the aesthetics of stillness are intertwined with those of the moving image. Indeed, Laing’s (large-scale) images, critics argue, ‘often resemble film stills or moments excerpted from a larger durational narrative that continues outside the frame’.108 There is a sense of suspension or ‘deferred action’ therein which associates the still to another – unseen – ‘time/space’.109 The aftermath image can and does embody the structures of dialecticism usually ascribed to cinematic aesthetics. It signals to other times/spaces through its muteness, which is clearly a product of that which is absent. The reappearance of the vanishing points of history is dependent on thinking of these images as dialectical, which is to say that their capacity to speak is dependent on the historian and viewer-as-historian undertaking the labour of memory, and assuming that what is given is not all there is. The dialectical image, as Benjamin argues, is always ‘pregnant with tensions’110 – though sometimes these tensions need to recovered from the depths of historical amnesia. Dialectical tensions do not simply produce multiple narratives, which contest their dominance over one another with some hope of resolution – this would assume progress. As Laing’s work shows, the dialectical image thinks of time as something resembling a looping video; the time of aftermath finds its infinite repetition now, then, here, elsewhere. This is why in her series a place like the Woomera detention centre does not appear as singular or even as a signifier of a new phenomena of the Nation-State as a consequence of globalization, nor does it appear in stark contrast to the arcadia and utopias projected by settler narratives and colonial landscapes. Rather, in Laing’s work, the images of the Woomera detention centre appear as signs of systemic violence toward the ‘other’ as a consequence of historical violence from earlier eras. The time of aftermath, as it is made manifest in Laing’s work, is the only kind of time capable of projecting the multitudinous histories that inform subjectivity in and on the borders of the nation, and thus it is an engagement with time, or more precisely many times, that prompts a productive reading of concepts of belonging and place in the series to walk on a sea of salt.

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CHAPTER FOUR

The Nexus of Self and History Lyndell Brown and Charles Green’s Atlas

Like the atlases of Aby Warburg (Mnemosyne Atlas, 1924–7), Gerhard Richter (Atlas, 1967–present) and Jean-Luc Godard (Histoire(s) du Cinéma, 1989–99), Lyndell Brown and Charles Green’s atlas (1998–present) is marked by its striking heterogeneity (Fig.  4.1). The artists gather a large array of disparately sourced images, juxtaposing them in oft-unintelligible combinations. A film still of Brigitte Bardot from Godard’s Le Mépris (1963) is conjoined with a NASA photograph of an astronaut floating in space and another image from an Australian broadsheet reporting on the Tampa debacle – the latter involving a Norwegian freighter carrying hundreds of refugees to the Australian territory of Christmas Island, only to be refused entry (see Sanctuary, 2001, Fig.  4.3). This seemingly absurd orchestration of images drawn from art historical, news media, film or private archives is characteristic of Brown and Green’s work. The artists often select one image per ‘atlas page’ as a backdrop onto which to impose a scattering of smaller, disparate image-fragments (each work, constituted by a painting or digital print of a painting, represents a ‘page’ of their atlas). They work from photographic sources, laboriously translating them into trompe 101

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l’œil and/or hyperrealist facsimiles for their atlas; even if they sometimes then turn their paintings into digital prints, the basis for their work is always a painterly method that is quite labour intensive. Creating perfect copies of photographs takes time – their atlas is not as extensive as a photographic one, such as Richter’s, though it is equally, if not more, heterogeneous. Spanning almost twenty years, Brown and Green’s atlas now comprises over 100 pages (or paintings) and many more photographic referents – so in this sense it is an ambitious, albeit haphazard, record of world history. In contemporary art practice the atlas has emerged as an important methodology for tracing, documenting and accessing the past – including contested, repressed or difficult histories. Richter’s Atlas charts the chaos and trauma of the Second World War as channelled by photographic records and fragments from West Germany’s news media. Walid Raad’s project, Atlas Group (1999– 2004) attempts to forge a history – through found and fictional archives – of contemporary Lebanon at the end of the country’s Civil War. When viewed in relation to Richter’s and Raad’s atlases, Brown and Green’s project also appears to trace a range of threatened histories that struggle to be brought into the fold of collective memory and historical consciousness. This includes histories of State-supported biopolitical violence, particularly in Australia and particularly involving draconian border protection policies toward refugees. In The Waves (2004, Fig.  4.1), for example, Brown and Green paint a trompe l’œil of a newspaper clipping representing a 2001 maritime incident known as the ‘children overboard affair’, wherein the Australian Government intentionally falsified photographic documents to claim that refugees had thrown their children into the Indian Ocean in an attempt to secure passage to Australia.1 The artists juxtapose a widely circulated image related to this event with one of Felice Beato’s nineteenth-century studio photographs of Japanese figures, and a photograph of an Australian, gum-tree filled horizon. The same children overboard image reappears in a number of pages of this atlas: Journey to the End of the Night (2005, Fig.  4.1), Transformer (2005, Fig.  4.1) and An End to Suffering (2010), juxtaposed variously with images of moonscapes, Bardot, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970), and a crumpled, almost unrecognizable newspaper clipping reporting on the arrest of Mohammed Haneef, an Australian resident falsely

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FIGURE 4.1 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green (left to right, clockwise) The Waves, 2003. Oil on linen, 152 × 152 cm. Journey to the End of the Night, 2003. Oil on linen, 121 × 121 cm. History Painting, 2003. Oil on linen, 121 × 121 cm. Transformer, 2005. Oil on linen, 152 × 152 cm. Images courtesy of the artists.

accused of being a terrorist and placed in indefinite detention in 2007 under the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act. In images such as History Painting (2003, Fig.  4.1) and Galatea Point (2005), the artists reproduce a photograph of the 2002 riots at the Woomera detention centre (these riots, as discussed in Chapter 3, helped propel the closure of this site), juxtaposing the photograph with images of moonscapes and war-torn Manila following the Second World War (to name a few). The inclusion of such documents of refugee histories, even if they appear deeply displaced, gives a

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particular meaning to Brown and Green’s atlas. Or, at least, it opens up the possibility to see their practice in terms of a particular concept of challenged historiographies and memorials: counter-memory. The concept of counter-memory, as it is adopted here, is developed from Michel Foucault’s understanding of the archive: a collation of texts and statements that comprise what can and can’t be said, a system of relations between what is possible and what is impossible to be uttered.2 Counter-memory allows scratched-over and eroded documents to shine rather than dwindle in spite of the narratives that repress them. In a statement that clearly echoes such Foucauldian notions, Green claims that ‘the shape of an atlas is also an issue of who appears and who does not, and that is an issue of power, pure and simple’.3 This may very well be the case, but because Brown and Green’s atlas always places one historical fragment in relation to other seemingly unrelated fragments, events and subjects – NASA space missions, Brigitte Bardot, Felice Beato, Jean-Luc Godard and Robert Smithson, etc. – it cannot be seen to represent conventional models of counter-memory, which typically make plain the oppositionality between repressed histories and those that repress them (think, for example, of the work of Doris Salcedo or Yinka Shonibare).4 Rather, Brown and Green’s model of counter-memory confuses the relationship between narratives and icons; through montage, one story bleeds into another at the cost of deleting major themes, constructing illegible analogies, and rendering history fairly opaque.5 The logic behind the seemingly random juxtapositions and subsequent opacity of Brown and Green’s atlas has to date been theorized in two ways. Regarding the first, Nikos Papastergiadis argues that Brown and Green: have taken images from their world. A world which for them is saturated with meaning and memory. Each image is a marker of significance, a fragment in a life narrative which is exquisitely linked to other steps in that world. To the viewer, who is a stranger to the history of this life, these images have an uncertain origin.6 The private construction of the atlas reflects the artists’ private interpretations of the image sources, estranging the viewer within a field of displaced image fragments. Meanwhile, as Blair French

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argues, the opacity of Brown and Green’s atlas is further intensified by the artists’ stripping of captions from their images, thereby rendering them abstract: Photographic images are utilized against the very functions they might initially appear to bear in the work: as bedrock for memory as such; as portals to historical certainty; or as information in the passive, neutral guise that we too readily accept. . . . They build then absent the material referents of their work, leaving the ghosting afterlives of image forms.7 The remembrance of the past is founded on precarious footing, the image-fragment’s historical referent is not easily discerned or recognized, and images appear out of context and out of time. In any case, whether it is due to the private, elusive logic for the arrangement of images, or to the treatment of photography, Brown and Green’s atlas must be seen to bear elements of illegibility and opacity.8 As critics suggest, a resistance to legibility – to allowing others to see, to read, to comprehend – is central to an understanding of Brown and Green’s atlas and how it attempts to present and preserve image-histories. Brown and Green’s atlas cannot be seen as a repository for historical records. Memory and this atlas are not necessarily intertwined – a concept that resonates with projects, such as Ilya Kabakov’s Sixteen Ropes (1984) and Andrea Fraser’s Information Room (1998), that visualize the degradation and disorder that archival accumulation brings with it.9 Brown and Green’s atlas leaves us only with a mass of arbitrary fragments, a hint of the historical referent, a schematic impression of that which has been. Memory and counter-memory are under pressure – and do not assume sanctuary in Brown and Green’s atlas.10 If the atlas is not a sanctuary for counter-memory, then the remembrance of fading and contested histories (such as those pertaining to the experiences of refugees) are contingent upon – though certainly not assured by – the viewer’s ability to engage with and set in motion the atlas’s opaque image-fragments. The aesthetic of opacity and illegibility at the centre of the atlas is the artists’ means to propel and shape the viewing subject’s critical relation to history. In other words, at the centre of Brown and Green’s work – of both its structure and its aesthetics – is the necessity to embody a critical relation between ‘self and history’.11

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The concept of the nexus of ‘self and history’ can be associated with Foucault’s notion of ‘self-care’ – the self develops in relation to what can be subjectively tolerated (morality) in relation to others, with implications for what is remembered and brought to consciousness in shaping identity and intersubjectivity.12 For the purposes of my analysis of Brown and Green and their engagements with the telegenic and photographic spectacles of contemporary history and biopolitical suffering, Boris Groys offers a more productive notion: that of ‘self-design’.13 In a period of ‘total design’ (intensified spectacle) we become concerned with how the media designs us and how images shape social relations and relations to self. Groys argues: ‘the ultimate problem of design concerns not how I design the world outside, but how I design myself – or, rather, how I deal with the way in which the world designs me’.14 How the world designs me. From Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer to Guy Debord, critics have been concerned with how image spectacles shape subjectivity. How can the atlas offer a détournement, or perhaps a recalibration, of the spectacle of contemporary history? Further, how can the atlas forge a model of self-design as a kind of critique of the regulation of biopower, or the self’s relation to the ‘other’? Before proceeding to answer such questions, first a note on method: any understanding of the politics and aesthetics of Brown and Green’s atlas and how it elicits the nexus of self and history should take into account the artists’ own extremely articulate theorization of their practice. Their work is overtly intertextual, theoreticist even.15 They are continually evaluating their theories vis-à-vis those that are produced in critical theory and art theory. They represent a kind of meta-practice that is not uncommon among what Peter Osborne terms ‘postconceptual art’, but is hardly ever pursued in such an overt, sustained way.16 However, the theories that the artists posit are not necessarily always accurate reflections of what their work actually does. In this light, while this chapter engages the postconceptuality of Brown and Green’s work – its relentless questioning of what the atlas is and does – I simultaneously seek to intervene, expand and amend the artists’ theories. I go about this partly by introducing alternate perspectives on the very same concepts that they claim influence their art (particularly those concepts related to the work of Warburg, Godard and Richter). This places a productive pressure on the artists’

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theories (as manifested through their practice and texts) and brings us closer to understanding the actual relations between the self and history, and the logic by which Brown and Green elicit those relations. The investigation begins with a consideration of the correlations and distinctions between Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas and Brown and Green’s practice.

The nexus of self and history In the late 1990s, after completing fieldwork at the Warburg Institute in London, Brown and Green began to experiment with Warburg’s theory of the pathosformel (pathos formula). The pathos formula refers to the ‘condensed gestural expression of a psychic movement’ and the repetition of specific and affective – pathosladen – forms, which display common human emotions.17 Warburg argued, ‘throughout the centuries of history the same or very similar gestures or formulas were used in the visual presentation of basic human emotions’.18 He attempted to trace these formulaic, repeated gestures and expressions through his now iconic project Mnemosyne Atlas (Fig. 4.2). He pinned disparate, captionless images, sourced from his expansive archive comprising hundreds of reproductions of Old Master etchings and paintings as well as amateur snapshots, maps and newspaper clippings, onto black, cloth-covered boards. Warburg saw the reproductions that he pinned to his black cloth boards as means by which disparate images from a range of eras would be reinvigorated, reconnected, acknowledged and felt by modern audiences. Indeed, Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas intended to show that images carry with them an affective charge that is inherently bound to a sublimated but available form of collective memory.19 The past could be accessed through Warburg’s photographic reproduction because, as Benjamin Buchloh argues, Warburg had profound ‘confidence . . . in the photograph’s authenticity as empirical document’.20 Certainly, Warburg coined the term ‘dynamogram’ after Richard Semon’s book Die Mneme (1904).21 Herein, as Warburg discovered, Semon develops a notion of memory as inscription.22 Warburg mediated Semon’s notion of the mnemic ‘engram’ through his own interest in theories of empathy and the pathosformel. Semon’s text influenced Warburg to see images

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FIGURE 4.2 Aby Warburg, Mnemosyne Atlas (panel 55), 1929. © The Warburg Institute.

(photos) as an ‘archive of memory’, and Warburg’s theory of the dynamogram sees the photographic image as commemorative ‘inscription’ – an accessible archive of affective and sometimes traumatic imagery.

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Brown and Green have a profoundly cynical view of this reading of the dynamogram and argue that a more precise notion of the nexus of memory and photography can be located via Smithson’s notion of entropy.23 For Smithson, entropy signalled the irreversible effects of time and the disintegration and dissolution of material forms into wreckage.24 Photography, argue Brown and Green with a nod to Smithson, is subject to ‘decay’ and ‘the entropic pressure[s] of both natural and cultural processes’.25 The photograph is, then, not a reliable record of an event, but rather a material object, a reproduction subject to erosion. Moreover, Brown and Green contend, viewers of Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas do not see the affinities and connections between images in the way that its creator had imagined.26 Rather, they experience a profound incapacity to read and capture the author’s meaning. Indeed, scholars of Warburg’s atlas have repeatedly expressed the impenetrability of the patterns he produces; the patterns are always contingent on Warburg’s subjective, often elusive perception of the relations between image-fragments. One of Warburg’s disciples, Gertrud Bing, wrote with regard to Mnemosyne Atlas: This seems to be a vicious circle: if I have to know the mental life, etc., of whoever uses a symbol in order to interpret it, I cannot use the symbol as a key to the interpretation of that mental life. So why bother about the symbol at all?27 Bing’s frustrations are understandable, but there is a crucial productivity to Warburg’s Atlas and its failure to communicate his intentions. Mnemosyne Atlas, Brown and Green argue, ‘inadvertently disorganizes the vocational division between interpreter and creator’.28 It posits the viewer’s subjective engagement as the primary catalyst for animating the work’s contents. Thus, the Mnemosyne Atlas elicits an aesthetic affect analogous to the concept of the ‘death of the author’. The failure to make plain the author’s intentionality tends to lead the viewer to see the images within Mnemosyne Atlas as arbitrary fragments, without dialogue, in need of the viewer’s imaginative engagement. One is left then with only abstracted voices from the past, the volume and clarity of which are contingent on the viewer’s capacity to intervene in their disappearance. Such intervention is central to the critical nexus of self and history. But how, if at all, do Brown and Green elicit a similar effect in their atlas?

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The answer to this question is not as straightforward as one might imagine. *

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For one thing, Brown and Green insist on placing themselves and their voices – that is to say their subjective interpretations of their image-fragments – front and centre in their atlas. Warburg pinned too many hopes on his Atlas communicating its themes to viewers on its own and without commentary, argue Brown and Green.29 Seeking to circumvent this muteness, they turn to artists and projects that offer a means to navigate otherwise overwhelming and/or mysterious arrangements of images with captions and commentary. This research includes Smithson’s slide show Hotel Palenque (1969), wherein the artist narrates over a progression of images of a ruined Mexican hotel, treating the hotel as if it were the archaeological excavation of a lost, ancient temple; in so doing, Smithson offers a fantastical form of time-travel which superimposes a fictional history into the present and onto an actual site.30 Most especially, Brown and Green bear in mind Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma, in which images are strung together as a means to locate ‘deep connections’ – the pathos formula – between images drawn from the archives of twentieth-century visual culture. These images are accompanied by the artist’s narration: his musings on the life and death of cinema and the dystopias of modernity. Like Godard, Brown and Green seek to generate resonances between disparate images, where similarities and affinities can be located in dissimilarities, and where the survival of images can be tested. And like Godard, and to a lesser extent Smithson, they offer their viewers some captions to navigate their atlas (in the form of lists of their image-referents, for example). These captions sometimes, but only sometimes, accompany Brown and Green’s exhibitions, and appear even more rarely in their essays. Regarding the montage/atlas page Sanctuary (Fig.  4.3), for example, the vast panorama of Earth signifies, Brown and Green argue, ‘the ultimate sanctuary (our ecologically endangered Planet Earth)’; the ‘Icarus-like’ astronaut in the foreground of the painting appears to be ‘falling’, seemingly disconnected from her/his life source (or sanctuary).31 The trompe l’œil portrait of Bardot shows the actress in a film still from Le Mépris (1963) toward the end of the film on the island of Capri, when Bardot’s character Camille is at the end of her relationship with her husband Paul (played by

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Michel Picolli): ‘Her blind gaze shows the palpable, undeniable distances between people who are inevitably cut off from each other like islands without Sanctuary.’32 The final image of Sanctuary is a newspaper clipping of the refugees on board the Tampa, who were refused sanctuary by the Australian Government. Its unlikely – perplexing – inclusion is explained by the artists, through their logic of ‘arbitrary visual analogies’,33 as a search for similarity in dissimilarity and a means to draw connections between discordant figures and objects. The artists explain: With Sanctuary we had two images, and needed to find a third image to complete the matrix. It appeared before us with shocking synchronicity as the Tampa debacle unfolded in the national press. We painted a copy of the now famous . . . photograph of the Tampa deck. . . . We wanted to destabilize our own audience’s concept of sanctuary even further than it was at this sad moment, to set it spinning and adrift, like the astronaut. . . . Sanctuary is, therefore, a chain of metaphors linked into a matrix of allusions.34 Via the notion of arbitrary visual analogies, Brown and Green clearly intend to address myriad, unexpected, even perplexing relations between diverse connotations of ‘sanctuary’. That is, they want to represent the notion of sanctuary vis-à-vis earthly, ecological disasters; refugees and humanitarian catastrophes; and, however incongruously, broken-down inter-personal relationships. They seek to create a visual matrix which creates resonances and metaphors, instigates similarities through dissimilarities, and will ‘demonstrate the survival of the pathos formula from carefully chosen image to carefully chosen image’.35 However, unsurprisingly (because it is often the case with Brown and Green’s images), the analogies are not at all palpable to the lone and unguided viewer. Without the artists’ commentary, and without captions – and this is how most audiences view most of Brown and Green’s work, since their captions appear in a handful of texts and do not accompany most images – the selected images often appear, as one commentator put it, ‘mysterious’ and simply ‘arbitrary’ (much like those in Warburg’s Atlas).36 When their images are read with captions they appear highly personalized – autobiographical and dense. If one is to locate a critical position for this highly subjective

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FIGURE 4.3 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Sanctuary, 2001. Oil on linen, 121 × 121 cm. Image courtesy the artists. Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du Cinéma (still), 1989–99. © 1989/1999 Gaumont. Musée Gaumont Collection.

aesthetic then a different lens through which to read Brown and Green’s atlas is needed. I contend that this lens can be better located through a different analysis of Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma (Fig. 4.3) than the one offered above by the artists. *

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In his seminal analysis of Histoire(s), Jacque Aumont argues that one cannot comprehend Histoire(s) without discussing ‘a certain Jean-Luc Godard’, without thinking of Histoire(s) as an essay where its author could not resist uttering ‘I’.37 Through this utterance Godard puts ‘himself on show within his private world’ in Histoire(s).38 This private world is composed of cinematic fragments, art historical icons, relics and newsreels: it is Godard’s storage house. But this act of ‘putting oneself on show’ is not a reflection of the author’s private world (closer to autobiography), but rather the author’s perspective – what the author sees through his engagements with the archive. As Kaja Silverman argues, Godard ‘helps us to understand [that] a self-portrait should . . . show not the artist himself, but rather what he perceives’.39 The viewer witnesses what the artist witnesses – a subjectivity and viewpoint that is mediated through the archives of visual culture. It is in such a light that one can begin to make sense of the subjective structure of Brown and Green’s atlas and images like

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Sanctuary, and also of the atlas pages An End to Suffering and The Painters’ Family (2007) where one encounters, amongst other image-fragments, self-portraits of the artists. As for Godard, at the centre of Brown and Green’s practice is a desire to navigate and negotiate the archive for the purpose of determining their identity or notion of ‘self’. For Brown and Green, a notion of ‘self’ must be thought as being determined through collaboration – seen by the artists not as a hybrid of both their personalities but rather a ‘third authorial identity effacing the individual artists themselves’.40 This third identity is Brown and Green’s artistic identity, their means to explore particular problems that are central to their creative practice, namely the process of self-design (how the world designs me) or how the artistic self is mediated and deeply affected by the inventory of art history, visual culture and other cultural archives. (‘Art literally shapes artists’, argues Green.)41 Like Godard, these artists are not passive in this mediating process. Brown argues: ‘A person’s identity – or, equally, the contents of her memory – is something she determines rather than detects.’42 Brown and Green engage the archive, re-positioning its contents in the atlas to impart new constellations that reflect their version of history. The viewer witnesses what the artists see. S/he does not need to decode the logic for the arbitrary visual analogies – the private dimensions of the atlas are not for the viewer’s discernment, and thus the captions are not important or necessary. Instead, what the atlas proffers is a methodology for identifying with imagefragments. It represents a mode of ‘freedom’ through which to generate a critical relationship to spectacles and photographic traces of historical events. Monica Dall’asta argues that: the only remedy for the excess of history in modernity, the only way for life to affirm its energies in the historical world, lies in ‘organizing the chaos’ produced by the growing information about the past: choosing my own lineage by jumping at will across the ages, selecting what in the past specifically talks to me, or what ‘looks’ at me.43 The ‘me’ here comprises the artists and the viewer. The viewer’s interpretation of the atlas is not governed by the authors’ intention. This returns us to the lessons of the ‘death of the author’ which, Brown and Green argue, defined Warburg’s Atlas: the ‘productive

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dysfunction between the vocation of the author/audience’. Their insistence on captions is a red herring and their hope that arbitrary visual analogies (juxtaposition of Bardot, the astronaut and the Tampa refugees) could catalyse the pathosformel as attempted in Sanctuary fail in that experiment. But if viewers are to take up the idea of the nexus of self and history, and navigate the scattered image-fragments freely in Brown and Green’s atlas, they will need to take into account that they are looking at painterly records of photographic referents (or photographs of painterly records of photographic referents) which bear their own aesthetic effect distinct from photography or film (central to Warburg and Godard’s atlas’). How does the artists’ strange combination of painting and photography mediate the viewer’s relations to the historical referent and define the ‘nexus of self and history’? Why might painting be a critical medium for mediating one’s relationship to history today?

Entropic-photopainting As they are conceptual artists, it is worth asking: why do Brown and Green paint?44 Further, why do they maintain a fairly conventional form of painting – oil on canvas? It is not because of a faith that painting, even a kind of history painting, may have great effectiveness in terms of memorializing. Through their analysis of Warburg via Smithson, the artists have been extremely articulate in emphasizing the limitations of any mnemonic model for accessing the past. But they are, nonetheless, interested in capturing, and indeed fixing in time, the degradations that their materials are subjected to (see Fig. 4.4). They register moments in the entropic process for posterity. This will to memorialize is implicit in the artists’ repeated insertion of refugee imagery in their atlas pages – they continually include the same trompe l’œil images of histories and spectacles of refugees into their atlas, professedly believing the Australian public unable, or unwilling, to remember these events. In the face of such anomie, Brown argues, ‘the process of painting these contemporary images is itself a process of remembering the image, to see if anything could be re-invested or rescued’.45 One could interpret this statement as the artist hoping to re-invest the photograph with a capacity to draw our

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FIGURE 4.4 Photographic sources from Australian broadsheets of the 2001 ‘children overboard affair’ (top image) and the 2007 arrest of Mohammed Haneef (bottom image); used by the artists for various atlas pages, including The Waves, Journey to the End of the Night (Fig. 4.1), An End to Suffering and The Dark Wood (Fig. 4.7). Images courtesy of the artists.

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gaze back to scenes that have been largely forgotten. But the photographs’ effect is not so much to elicit remembrance as much as to emphasize the mutable nature of such imagery. Discussing Sanctuary, the artists state, ‘[e]ach refugee is rendered as precisely as we could manage from the newspaper source. From a distance, the fragment looks like a pointillist abstraction or even as one friend initially thought, like a painting of Red Square [in Moscow]’.46 Images elicit mis- or non-recognition of key historical events, reinscribing the entropy of historical references but nonetheless eliciting a searching gaze. This affect derives from Brown and Green’s particular model of painting or, more precisely, photopainting. *

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For Gerhard Richter, photopainting refers to the construction of a photo through the means of painting (as distinct from painting a photograph). Richter argues, ‘I’m not trying to imitate a photograph; I’m trying to make one. And if I disregard the assumption that a photograph is a piece of paper exposed to light, then, I am practicing photography by other means’.47 Richter’s ability to ‘construct’ photographs (or photopaintings) through ‘other means’ is contingent on his ability to detach his painterly practice from personal expression and to become machine-like. Richter’s automated, sterile and antiexpressionistic photopaintings bear the conviction that what viewers are looking at once also appeared before the camera: the noema.48 However, as many other scholars have made clear, Richter’s production of photopaintings such as October 18, 1977 (1988) must not be understood as simply the ‘mimicry’ of a photograph, but as the problematization of the photograph’s claim to indexicality and transparency.49 Richter’s ‘blur’ undermines the ‘focused’ gaze and ‘transparency’ of the photograph and prompts an ‘epistemology of uncertainty’.50 Photopainting plays a role in propelling viewers to be more than simply ‘convinced’ of the authenticity of historical documents – it plays a crucial role in compelling them to interrogate the surface of the image, that is, to search through the field of the noema with scepticism. Indeed, in his book Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, Michael Fried argues that Richter’s photopainting is only convincing to the extent that it simultaneously presents an aesthetic that is akin to the photograph (via its ‘technical perfection’) and makes plain its ‘artifactuality’.51 In other words, the photopaintings are

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convincing when and if they allow the viewer to become absorbed in, while maintaining a degree of critical distance from, the illusion that stands before them. This critical distance does not dispense with the viewer’s absorption in the image, for in order to be taken in the photopaintings require the viewer’s dedicated attention.52 The photopainting engages a viewer in its noema so that they may simultaneously undertake a critical investigation of the image’s surface. Brown and Green do not focus on the ‘epistemology of uncertainty’ in quite the same way as Richter does. Instead, they stress the inevitable wreckage of their photo sources. In Brown and Green’s work, the historical record is presented as a remnant, a ghost of the photographic image sources on which the paintings (or atlas pages) are based. ‘We keep these bits of newspaper and they get torn and crumpled; we like them so that bits of them disappear into obscurity’, states Brown.53 Refugee figures, for example, appear undistinguished, blurred, as silhouettes. In order for the image and such figures to appear as something more, the viewer needs to supplement and intervene in the degraded image-fragment. The image is little more than a metonymic object through which the viewer attempts to engage the referent: the lack of the image requires a degree of supplementation.54 What is in fact required is an investigation of the image’s surface in order to reconstitute the event. This insight implies that there is an inherent lack in Brown and Green’s image sources: this lack is not only the disfigured referent but, more precisely, the decay and/or lack of presence of particular histories and historical figures in public consciousness. Certainly, news of refugee experiences continues to be disseminated by the global news media long after the arrival of the Tampa in Australian waters. Ongoing arrivals of ‘boatpeople’ at Christmas Island, maritime disasters involving refugees, transfer of refugees to Nauru, detainment of children and protests against Australia’s border protection strategies shape Australian and global politics in the first decades of the twenty-first century. However, through processes of natural, political and cultural entropy, particular image-histories – of the Tampa, for example – constitute little more than distant, faint remnants of the past. Entropic-photopainting is one means by which to attempt to capture the difficulty of investing a mnemonic value in photographs. But Brown and Green’s atlas draws out in viewers a searching and critical gaze, which prompts the realization of the nexus of self and history, through other means too.

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The epistemology of search Given the vastness of Brown and Green’s atlas, and its arbitrary structure of images presented as if they were ‘strata, snapshots and excerpts from something bigger [like a database]’,55 there is a productive model for thinking Brown and Green’s fragmented aesthetic: the epistemology of search.56 As defined by David Joselit, the epistemology of search refers to the viewer’s production of knowledge by way of ‘discovering and/or constructing meaningful patterns – formats – from vast reserves of raw data’.57 Here, looking becomes an act of ‘commitment, a contract, an embarrassment, an accusation, a turn-on, and an assault, but never just a simple act of consumption’.58 Indeed, the epistemology of search ‘introduces an ethical choice about how to produce intelligible information from raw data’.59 The act of engaging and animating image-fragments – of sieving through the excess of image economies and grappling with the reification of images – affords an important understanding of the politics of art today. We are living in a period of ‘total design’ characterized by a sublime and wholly unprecedented territorialization of images. Under the conditions of late capitalism, entailing the utilization of images for political or commercial gain, strategies for the critical and active engagement of visual culture are urgently needed. Today, more than ever before, images are fetishized and/or reduced to trivial and insignificant ephemera. This is the case with art too: in the museum, the commodification of art, exhibited with explanatory signage, reduces the work to a ‘sound-bite’, enabling the viewer to move on to the next artwork without complication.60 This act of consumption results in closure. Models of art such as the atlas offer particularly crucial ways in which to compel viewers to engage critically with images. Joselit states that in such image reserves as Thomas Hirschhorn’s vast and heterogeneous installation or atlas Crystal of Resistance (2011, Fig.  4.5) and Seth Price’s equally heterogeneous computer-based artworks and installations ‘pictures combine into organic formations – rather than an intelligible discursive structure’.61 Viewers are not presented with ‘information’ but with arbitrary fragments. In these image repositories a degree of density, of unintelligibility, of perplexing strangeness is productive and is needed to propel viewers to engage, grapple with and, most crucially, testify to the images’ affects.

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FIGURE 4.5 Thomas Hirschhorn, Crystal of Resistance, 2011. Swiss Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2011. Photo: Romain Lopez. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

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The presentation of arbitrary images that refuse dialogue propels the viewer to become a witness; the epistemology of search is a form of witnessing. Viewers are not only required to testify to the images’ affects. They are also required to be present – this does not mean to be ‘in the now’, but rather (borrowing Boris Groys’ words) it refers to a particular mode of being ‘con-temporary’ – not to be ‘in’ time but rather to be ‘with’ time. Groys points out that contemporary in German is zeitgenössisch.62 As genosse means comrade, to be contemporary – zeitgenössisch – can thus be understood as being ‘a comrade of time’. To be a comrade of time can be understood as ‘collaborating with time, helping time when it has its problems, when it has difficulties’.63 Time which falls outside processes of remembrance and dwindles in natural, cultural and political entropy requires witnesses, requires comrades. To be a comrade of time is to be ‘with’ images that fall out of circulation, to be ‘with’ disintegrating image-histories, to be ‘with’ ‘unproductive’ time which will not be accommodated by – and which is in excess of – official timelines and narratives of national histories. As a mode of witnessing – articulated here as being ‘with’ troubled time – akin to the notion of the dialectical image (see Chapter 3), the epistemology of search is an important catalyst not only for engaging with arbitrary image fragments, and image banks, but also for the critical remembrance of the abstracted past. As an image repository comprised of faded, personal and obscure image-histories, Brown and Green’s atlas is a catalyst of the experience of being a ‘comrade of time’. In other ways too, Joselit’s notion of the epistemology of search resonates profoundly with Brown and Green’s atlas: the atlas is a vast reserve of ‘data’ comprising over a hundred pages. Moreover, their atlas presents an array of arbitrary fragments, which imbues their work with a complexity that refuses easy consumption. Yet to properly think of their atlas as producing an epistemology of search, it is necessary to critically analyse yet another aspect of their use of arbitrary analogies. One might consider the atlas’ images, presented in a nondiscursive format and grouped in particular atlas pages, not as distinct objects formulating particular themes expected to resonate with viewers – for example ‘sanctuary’ – but rather as film stills, fragments of a larger whole. The artists effectively advance this effect through deploying both the aesthetics of the grid and an aesthetic of accumulation. In their earlier images, such as Sanctuary,

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the artists sutured just three images, but they further developed the sense of accumulation through positioning their atlas pages in grid formation when formally exhibiting them. In their 2007 exhibition The Painters’ Family at Arc One Gallery in Melbourne, Brown and Green collated nine small paintings, each measuring 31 by 31 centimetres, spanning representations of Kabul, Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, Ground Zero, Afghanistan and the Tampa (Fig. 4.6). The grid, after all, bears both a centrifugal and centripetal effect – images flowing in and extending out of the atlas pages. In turn, the atlas page displayed in a grid becomes part of a larger, open-ended, process. ‘The grid extends, in all directions, to infinity’, argues Rosalind Krauss; in it, ‘the given work of art is presented as a mere fragment, a tiny piece arbitrarily cropped from an infinitely larger fabric’.64 Thus, singular images such as Boatload of Despair (2002, Fig. 4.6), which portray a cropped and torn newspaper clipping of the Tampa (the partial headline reads, ‘stralia told to act’), and images such as Sanctuary are part of the same fabric – fragments of

FIGURE 4.6 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green (left to right, clockwise). Spiral Jetty From Lake, October 2004, 2006. Boatload of Despair, 2006. Dawn, Marine Base, 29 Palms, October 2004, 2006. Ground Zero, June 2002, 2006. Highway 89, Utah, October 2004, 2006. To act, 2006. All images oil on linen, 31 × 31 cm. Images courtesy of the artists.

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a larger database through which viewers must sieve, engage, grapple in an epistemology of search. The epistemology of search, which depends on a vast reserve of images, is propelled by the aesthetics of accumulation – by the heterogeneity of the atlas. In recent works, such as The Dark Wood (2011) (Fig. 4.7), the artists intensify their aesthetics of accumulation through other means. Atlas pages such as The Dark Wood are still part of the grid, yet they no longer suture just a handful of images (as seen in Sanctuary) but rather more than a dozen images, creating relatively dense layers of fragments. Made after Brown and Green travelled to Iraq and Afghanistan as Australia’s official war artists (which they

FIGURE 4.7 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, The Dark Wood, 2011. Oil on digital photograph on linen, 121 × 121 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.

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describe as intensely bleak experiences), the fragments of The Dark Wood manifest not as arbitrary visual analogies but as accumulated wreckage.65 The Dark Wood – titled after Dante Alighieri’s Inferno – when Dante, trapped in the Dark Wood of Error, seeks salvation – presents images of contemporary histories: the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, military checkpoints in Pakistan, Ground Zero, a boatload of refugees arriving at Christmas Island, and the falsely accused terrorist Mohammed Haneef. These images stand in Brown and Green’s atlas alongside other incongruous fragments: Old Master paintings, Bardot, the open book, the Australian landscape. Atlas pages such as The Dark Wood make clearer that the atlas is in fact at its most effective when it appears as an open-ended image reservoir guided by the grid and the accumulation of images (propelling a ‘free’, and responsible engagement with the archive). Brown and Green’s atlas does not need to rely on ‘arbitrary visual analogies’ in order to make plain its status as a necessary and affective image repository. Through the presentation of arbitrary image fragments, the atlas propels the epistemology of search; viewers can construct their own analogies in order to find similarities in dissimilarities, to ‘travel back into history, to spring forward in time, to leap across continents’.66 Viewers may wrest veiled histories from the imagefragments that speak of the relations between themselves and colonial artefacts, colonial figures and contemporary modes of biopolitics. They may find juxtaposed the fate of Arcadia as signified by the presence of Walter Benjamin vis-à-vis an image of another arcadia, the Australian pastoral landscape, vis-à-vis the colonized Indigenous figure. Or in another scan of the atlas, they may find resonances between distinct historical events: the Tampa; a young man throwing a Molotov cocktail; Manila in the aftermath of the Second World War; rioting protesters at the Baxter detention centre; Ground Zero; the post 9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; military checkpoints in Pakistan; and NASA astronauts (which extend American imperialism to the moon). The atlas asks its viewers to map out its relation to history. This constitutes not a naïve mode of ‘liberated’ consumerism, but a critical engagement with arbitrary fragments to bear historical consciousness. As a catalyst for the nexus of self and history, the epistemology of search dwells on – and ‘helps out’ – outmoded images; it mobilizes fragments to animate fading histories. It allows histories pertaining

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to refugee experiences to collide with anachronistic and seemingly, but only seemingly, disconnected image-histories to construct meaningful patterns. It permits a subjectively determined (dialectical, heterochronous and analogical) view of history. As such, like the nexus of self and history, it posits a form of counter-memory. That is, counter-memory as an intervention into the archive for the purposes of re-formatting how the visual field disrupts what images can be thought to constitute a particular life narrative; it makes plain that the self is constructed through a private intervention in the archive. This is a strategy and mode of counter-memory that argues for ‘determining’ rather than merely ‘detecting’ our relations to history. It is a mode of being which sees us constructing and carrying our own atlases. It is a self-portrait, a differential mediation and account of history, a model of self-design.

CHAPTER FIVE

History Painting, Fiction and Paranoia Dierk Schmidt’s SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics

Departing from the Indonesian port of Bandar Lampung on 19 October 2001, a small, unseaworthy and overcrowded ferry carrying 398 Iraqi and Afghani refugees sank on its way to Australia’s offshore territory, Christmas Island. Over a period of 21 hours, many of the refugees attempted to swim or float for their lives; 353 of them drowned in the Indian Ocean; 45 survived after being rescued by Indonesian fishermen. The shipwreck occurred in Australian waters – a point initially denied by the Australian Government – and in an area heavily patrolled by the Australian Navy under the auspices of the nation’s border protection regime, Operation Relex. Many survivors reported that ‘military type vessels’ passed and failed to rescue them while in the water, yet the Australian Government claimed that the Navy did not detect the ramshackle ferry or its shipwrecked remains.1 Survivors also assert that they were forced onto the boat at gunpoint by 30 armed Indonesian police officers: during 2001 the Indonesian Government and police collaborated with the Australian Government to ‘stop the boats’ arriving at Christmas Island. As a consequence, speculation arose that the Australian Government 125

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had intentionally orchestrated the maritime tragedy in an attempt to deter refugees travelling in ‘unauthorized’ boats from coming to its shores. In the aftermath of these events, many questions remained with regard to how history would record the maritime disaster. The Australian Government consistently evaded any suggestion of their responsibility for the fate of the refugees, avoided any acknowledgement of the circumstances surrounding their deaths, and actively repressed the release of any material relating to the event including the names of the drowned refugees as requested by their families and members of the public.2 The otherwise nameless boat and unacknowledged event was eventually given a name by the activist and former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin: SIEV-X, an acronym that stands for Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X. The term ‘SIEV ’, accompanied by a tracking number, is usually designated by the Australian Government to the unauthorized vessels carrying boatpeople attempting to enter its migration zone, but because this boat was allegedly ‘undetected’, this process of bureaucracy did not occur (a tracking number was not designated to the SIEV ) and thus Kevin marked the boat with an X, signifying the vessel and events surrounding the maritime disaster as unknown entities. In these charged circumstances, in October 2001 the German, Berlin-based, artist Dierk Schmidt began work on the project, SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics (2001–5, Fig. 5.1). His work resulted in a twenty-one-part history painting that attempts to shed light on the forces that might prohibit a remembrance of SIEV-X while anticipating ways out of this situation. The history painting includes schematic portraits of Australian politicians involved in shaping the discourse around SIEV-X, such as the former Prime Minister John Howard and the former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, alongside references to SIEV-X survivor reports, newspaper reports on SIEV-X and perhaps more incongruously, references to Peter Weiss’ experimental novel The Aesthetics of Resistance (1975–81) and such art historical icons as Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830) and Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa (1819). When hung on the gallery wall, the paintings, which for the most part are supported by PVC sheets rather than canvas, appear luminescent as if they ‘were lit from behind’3 projecting a

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FIGURE 5.1 Install view: Dierk Schmidt, SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–5. In artist’s studio, c. 2005. Photo: © Dierk Schmidt/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015.

constellation of temporalities – from the nineteenth to the twentyfirst century – and spaces – such as the Salon, the museum, the parliament and the mass media. Because of the way the cycle is installed – dispersed across the gallery or museum wall – and because of its aesthetic heterogeneity, Schmidt’s history painting is productively read as an image-cycle, a concatenation of fragments which refuse to be of a singular time or space but the sum of which are necessary to gain an understanding of the politics of historicizing SIEV-X. Schmidt’s work invokes and grapples with a multitude of cultural, political and historical referents as a means to work through the limits and potentialities of his chosen historiographical method of history painting (as especially made evident by the cycle’s references to the work of Géricault and Delacroix) in the aftermath of SIEV-X. To what extent can the outmoded genre of history painting, as conceived by Schmidt, catalyse a means to remember SIEV-X?4 History painting has always had a relationship to memorializing heterogeneous histories (in excess of official, homogenous discourse,

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Chapter 1) and the experiences of the disenfranchised. As discussed in the following section, this is evident from the work of JacquesLouis David to Gerhard Richter. But the genealogy of history painting also reveals a significant shift in the way in which one may view the genre as being not only representative of the histories of the vanquished which are in excess of official narratives (and thus heterogeneous), but also structured by another form of heterogeneity: constitutive of many images, many times, many spaces – an aesthetic that is deeply reflective of Schmidt’s own fragmented history painting and which contests the conventional manifestation of history painting as a single, elucidating, climactic and monumental image of a historical event. Working with history painting in the twenty-first century requires a critical engagement with the genealogy and futures of this genre.

History painting and heterogeneity Reaching its apotheosis in the late eighteenth century and waning with the rise of modernism, history painting is an art form from a different era and a different society. From the early seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century, the genre of history painting thrived in Europe.5 Intrinsically bound to the representation of the sovereign, and proliferated through State commissions, it produced complex narrative scenes mostly drawn from Classical and Biblical tales which communicated to the public moral tales and allegories about civic virtue and State loyalty. For two centuries, history painting was an instrument of the State and closely tied to the image-politics of the sovereign. Yet on the cusp and in the aftermath of the French Revolution it would be radically altered. Breaking free from the grip of the absolutist regimes of France, Germany, Spain and Italy in which it had thrived, it began to bear a closer relationship to the production of democratic, heterogeneous, histories. As demonstrated by works such as Géricault’s Raft or Delacroix’s Liberty – as well as Jacques-Louis David’s The Oath of the Horatii (1785), Francesco Goya’s The Executions of the Third of May 1808 (1814) and Gustave Courbet’s The Stone-Breakers (1849) – the genre of history painting unhinged itself from the sovereignty of absolutist regimes and aligned itself with the oft-muted stories of the disenfranchised, the pueblo or the people.

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Such gestures constituted a seminal shift in the genre and notion of history painting, and art in general, eventually influencing the avant-garde – from Manet to the Berlin Dadaists and the Surrealists – and its proliferation of the nexus of art and life, art and politics.6 But as the annals of art history show, with the rise of the avantgarde by the mid-nineteenth century the representation of historical subjects was abandoned for more abstract configurations and other aesthetic experiments such as those found in the paintings of the Impressionists or Édouard Manet’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863). Indeed, the ‘history of painting from Manet through Synthetic Cubism and Matisse’, argues Michael Fried, ‘may be characterized in terms of the gradual withdrawal of painting from the task of representing reality – or of reality from the power of painting to represent it – in favour of an increasing preoccupation with problems intrinsic to painting itself’.7 As modernism ushered in the prohibition of representation, and a self-referential autonomous art, painters increasingly turned away from acts of commemoration.8 However, by the end of the Second World War, and in the midst of lingering catastrophes during the Cold War and Civil Rights movements, the avant-gardist programme shifted once more, and artists began to test their capacities for historical representation, in painting as well as other media.9 Grappling with complex and diverse problems bound to the ethics and limits of ‘representing’ the recent past – questioning for example the veracity and reliability of the archive – such artists, and their practices, stood in contradistinction to the modernist avant-garde and its negation of historical representation.10 In their midst, a range of neo-avant-garde artists – namely Andy Warhol and Gerhard Richter – began to experiment with the possibilities of history painting as a means to document recently passed or contemporary catastrophes. Their experiments saw the genre of history painting critically interrogated, deconstructed and transformed to address the concerns of the postwar era. In particular they adopted strategies of montage and critical approaches to the possibilities of representation in the aftermath of modernist painting and the Second World War. Both strategies, as we will see, are pertinent to understanding Schmidt’s own model of history painting. *

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In the postwar, post-Abstract Expressionist era, argues Anne Wagner, Warhol’s relentless description of himself as a ‘machine’ and

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continued negation of the ‘artist’s hand’ posed many challenges for thinking of the artist as a ‘painter’ let alone a ‘history painter’.11 But Wagner insists that works such as Warhol’s Red Race Riots (1963) are history paintings for the reason that they clearly reveal the artist’s interest in time – and by implication, in the tracing of history.12 Red Race Riots represents three sequential photographs – a montage – of the 1963 riots that ensued between police and protestors amidst the civil rights movement in Birmingham, then a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan and one of America’s most deeply segregated cities. In Warhol’s history painting one sees a police dog attacking a civil rights activist and the moments immediately before and after this event. ‘The frames he uses’, argues Wagner, ‘bear comparison to Salon painting, in full historical flight. They have singular protagonists, actions and reactions, onlookers and actors, all caught equally in the ongoing swirl of events. The sequence narrates.’13 It offers a time lapse – an image of a before and after as well as the climactic ‘significant moment’: the latter an aesthetic trope of David’s history painting and the sum an aesthetic trope of cinema. The impact of photographic technologies on the aesthetics of history painting in the postwar era is also seen in Gerhard Richter October 18, 1977 (1988). But while, like Warhol, Richter also pursues a fragmented, montage-like aesthetic, the impact of photographic technologies on his history painting October 18, 1977 appears in another form too – a critique of photography or painting’s capacity to allow the viewer access to the past (discussed in depth in Chapter 4). In Richter’s image-cycle October 18, 1977, fourteen panels based on photographs sourced from the news media and police reports attempt to represent, and counter-memorialize, the controversial events surrounding the deaths of the Baader-Meinhof group.14 The panels cover the German State’s 1972 arrest of Gudrun Ensslin, Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof, Jan-Carl Raspe and Holger Meins; and the discovery of the bodies of Baader, Ensslin and Raspe in their cells at Stammheim Prison on October 18, 1977 (Meinhof had died a year earlier in 1976). German officials declared that Meinhof, Baader, Ensslin and Raspe committed suicide but there was, and remains, widespread suspicion that the German State police murdered the prisoners.15 In October 18, 1977 Richter’s mode of representation accentuates the contingency and insufficiency of either photography (the image source) or painting (the method of representation) to allow the viewer a lucid image of a contested

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history. Every panel therein appears as a series of blurs and shadows, emphasizing the challenges of knowing the event – the series’ presentation of history is as a series of fragments further propelling the affect of confusion. *

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During the late 1980s and early 1990s Schmidt trained at the Art Academy Düsseldorf, where Richter studied during the 1960s and taught from the 1970s to the 1990s. Schmidt’s enrolment at the Academy came a year before Richter’s 1988 inaugural exhibition of October 18, 1977, and according to Schmidt the exhibition had a profound impact on him, even while he was studying in a different department.16 After October, Schmidt’s painting practice tries to sincerely reflect on critical discourses around history painting and the challenges of representing history, especially contested histories, or eliciting remembrance. For Schmidt, this results in deeply schematic and fragmented images of historical events such as SIEV-X that negate conclusive interpretations – and which like Warhol and Richter, inevitably take into account the impact of photographic technologies on historical representation and remembrance. His practice stands in contradistinction to his contemporaries such as Neo Rauch, or other members of the Leipzig School, who embrace a naïve mode of history painting that assumes the possibilities of painterly realism.17 He would probably agree with Benjamin Buchloh’s assessment of such practitioners as being blind and amnesiac to ‘the negation of historical representation in twentiethcentury painting’, or as ‘at best’ believing that it was ‘a brief interlude’ in the history of art that had to be ‘redressed – as though such artists as Mondrian and Newman had voluntarily deprived themselves of the capacity to represent the “historical”’.18 Schmidt does not brush away the burden of the history of art. Yet, attempting to do more than just dwell on the anomie or lack of photography and painting, after October, Schmidt’s practice attempts to locate something generative from the ruins of modernism and history.19 *

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In Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene, Dedicated to the 353 Drowned Asylum Seekers That Died in the Indian Ocean on the Morning of October 19, 2001 (2001–2, Fig. 5.2) – the most important work of On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics and the only one to

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FIGURE 5.2 Dierk Schmidt, Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene, Dedicated to the 353 Drowned Asylum Seekers That Died in the Indian Ocean on the Morning of October 19, 2001, 2001–2. From the series SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–5. Oil on PVC, 176 × 229.6 cm. Collection of the Städel Museum, Frankfurt. © Dierk Schmidt/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015.

directly grapple with the sinking of SIEV-X – Schmidt creates an intensely opaque, mostly black image, punctuated by sparse lines of white acrylic paint and obscured human figures. Most of these figures are silhouetted while some are only partially represented. In part, this is a reflection of the lack of photographic material available for SIEV-X – as noted above, very little was known about SIEV-X immediately after the event, not least because of Government repression of information such as the names of the drowned. But the silhouettes also reflect an increasingly common strategy deployed by artists in their engagement with subjects of systematic brutality, or more specifically the subject of bare life (Chapter 1). The aesthetics of the silhouette, as Lisa Saltzman argues, locates ‘an ethics of representation that is predicated on a

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logic of spectrality, on marking precisely that which cannot be represented, yet making it somehow legible’.20 Schmidt’s image confronts the viewer with a depth of black that emphasizes the political illegitimacy and invisibility of the vanquished refugees. To further thematize the lack of knowledge and information that characterized SIEV-X (especially in the first few months after the sinking of the boat), Schmidt chose to work with a large, black piece of plastic sheeting as the ground for Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene. Schmidt punctuated the ground with sparsely painted white lines whenever he could source witness statements and was able to compare information (sourced from the internet) in order to, for example, estimate the shape of the SIEV-X boat.21 Or, he used such information to draw outlines of Indonesian Police officers carrying machine guns forcing refugees onto SIEV-X, as mentioned in survivor statements. Or, to inscribe details with regard to the sinking of SIEV-X reported in the media: on the far top right corner of the painting, Schmidt painted the date of the sinking of SIEV-X, ‘19. Oct.01’ and the statement, ‘150 persons [sic] swam 22 hours in water, 44 [sic] survived’.22 On the bottom left of the painting, he would paint descriptions of the unseaworthy ferry, ‘had a leak, pump broke down after fuel was used up’. In addition to the use of white lines to give an image to a range of found information sources, Schmidt applied colour when he located photographic material for SIEV-X. Given that no photographs of the sinking of SIEV-X existed, the colour photographs were largely limited to video stills of the survivors that Schmidt had gathered from online BBC and CNN news footage. By all accounts, while attempting to contest the void of information that marked SIEV-X, Schmidt’s image of this event was self-reflexively incomplete and marked by absences. In his intention to refuse both a naïve mode of representation and reconstruction of an ‘illusionistic TV news image’, Schmidt also critically approaches, and destabilizes the referents of his documentary and archival sources.23 In Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene the archival materials gathered by Schmidt – including the BBC and CNN videos of survivors – materialize in the most fragmented and schematic of ways: in a manner that emphasizes and exaggerates the pixelated, low-resolution, mass distributed digital images from which the artist was working. Such an aesthetic

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reflects the current modus operandi of the digital photograph, which as Hito Steyerl argues is characterized by ‘documentary uncertainty’.24 That is, an aesthetic effect that is born out of the dissemination and transmission of knowledge by way of lowresolution images on the internet, which in turn, generate something akin to ‘abstract documentarism’.25 No doubt the current historical context – marked by the rise of digital technologies, corrupted or modified jpegs and ‘documentary uncertainty’ – influences Schmidt’s decision to paint sparsely and stress the opacity and limits of his image sources.26 While comprised of multiple photographic sources, such work goes beyond the aesthetics of the snapshot. Refusing a synthetic analysis of information, the fragmentary qualities of Schmidt’s work render the image an incomplete and open-ended surface.27 The rough brushstrokes that structure the painting expose the seams that bind these sundry citations together. Yet they stubbornly hold together an image that reveals the deficiency of knowledge of SIEV-X. As Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene demonstrates, after artists such as Warhol and Richter, Schmidt’s understanding of an experimental form of history painting takes into account the critical rigour of a fragmentary and schematic interpretation of the past. Yet it does more than just dwell on the legacies of modernist painting and its negation of history representation. Schmidt seeks to create a mode of history painting more generative than Richter’s because for Schmidt history painting is always potentially able to extend or animate the life of images and in turn participate in the shaping of discourse.

The publicness of history painting Since graduating from the Dusseldorf Academy in 1993, Schmidt has been preoccupied with investigating the possibilities of how painting can catalyse public debate (and reveal conflicting interests). In 1995 Schmidt collaborated with artists Andreas Siekmann, Alice Creischer, Michaela Odinius and the theoretician Birger Hübel to produce the now legendary counter-art fair Messe 2ok, a selffinanced and alternative project that ran alongside the major event, Art Cologne. Subtitled, ‘talking economics’ and ÖkonoMiese

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machen (the latter a playful, slippery neologism which roughly eludes to the concepts of ‘bad investments’, and ‘discussing business negatively’), Messe 2ok focused, Schmidt argues, on ‘rising forms of [corporate] sponsorship’, or ‘aggressive sponsorship’, which were emerging in Germany’s cultural sector at the time.28 This paradigm of corporate funding saw complex and at times conflicted relationships unfold between artists, curators and sponsors. The latter, argues Schmidt, ‘wanted to offer themselves as better organizers with financial skills: basically as saviours of culture’.29 The relegation of the artist to producer of fetishized art objects (for better corporate appearance) as opposed to producers of cultural spaces (for debate and dialogue) became the subject of Messe 2ok, which occupied an abandoned railway station as a means to gather artists and collectives working in political initiatives. Beyond facilitating the event, Schmidt’s contribution was a collaborative painting program, Das Malprogramm, led by the artist which produced a large-scale painting on plastic sheeting of a library and lounge area, which provided a backdrop for the dialectic of art as object and catalyst of dialogism (Fig.  5.3). Messe 2ok is an early instance in which Schmidt uses painting to critically reflect on art’s capacity to elicit debate in the face of repressive political and economic systems. Schmidt’s interest in such a model of painting continues into On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, but rather than focus on how painting may bring to the fore the reifying powers of corporate sponsorship in the arts, it focuses on how history painting can generate an image that contests the Australian Government’s (and mass media’s) stranglehold on the distribution of knowledge and affect for SIEV-X. In order to pursue such a model of history painting, in a deeply anachronistic move, Schmidt turned to Géricault’s iconic history painting The Raft of the Medusa. His interest in The Raft as a model for thinking of his construction of a history painting for SIEV-X manifested following a visit to the Louvre in September 2001, where Géricault’s iconic history painting hangs. As Schmidt explains: [Just weeks after my return from Paris] I came across an item in the weekly paper ‘Jungle World’ reporting on a boat accident that in terms of the way it was externally described bore a striking resemblance to the raft of Géricault. The dimensions of

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the boat corresponded almost exactly to those of the raft Géricault depicted, and the manner in which the people were forced onboard was also similar. It was shocking that this boat accident, despite its dimension, remained all but invisible in the media. The image that this cryptic newspaper produced described circumstances that seem[ed] to stem from the 19th century.30 As Schmidt repeatedly makes plain in such statements (published in his book SIEV-X – On A Case of Intensified Refugee Politics of 2005, produced as an accompaniment to the cycle) his interest in Géricault is based on the resonances between SIEV-X and the maritime tragedy depicted in The Raft. Géricault’s Raft portrays the aftermath of the sinking of the frigate Medusa in 1816 after it ran aground in shallow waters near the West African coast. French Government officials attempted to

FIGURE 5.3 Dierk Schmidt, Das Malprogramm auf Messe 2ok, 1995. Painting programme held as part of the Messe 2ok event held during Art Cologne led by Schmidt, Andreas Siekmann, Alice Creischer, Michaela Odinius and Birger Hübel. Courtesy Dierk Schmidt. © Dierk Schmidt/BildKunst. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015.

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save themselves by departing in the available lifeboats, briefly towing 150 French citizens on a makeshift raft before cutting the ropes. Over a period of two weeks the rafters were subjected to the violence of the sea, murder and cannibalism, before a passing Government ship rescued the sole ten survivors. While the French Government attempted to prevent news of this catastrophe reaching Paris, a frustrated Government representative leaked a survivor’s account of the disaster to the anti-Government broadsheet Journal de débats, propelling Géricault to create the Raft. Géricault’s image is composed to offer the perspective of the rafters: the rescuing ship, as a signifier of the sovereign, appears no larger than a butterfly in the distance; the painting de-emphasizes Government action and the rescue operation and instead focuses on the ‘state of emergency’ and the production of ‘bare life’ that the State created on the raft. Géricault’s image offers Schmidt a crucial precedent to think through how history painting may construct a counter-memory for a contested event and in turn, elicit debate in the public sphere (for Géricault, such a space is the Salon). But crucially, Schmidt’s interpretation of the politics and aesthetics of The Raft is heavily informed by Peter Weiss’ novel The Aesthetics of Resistance and its extended mediations on Géricault’s elicitation of a heated debate and a critique of the State regarding the events of the Medusa in the Salon: quotations from Weiss’ text sometimes accompany the cycle and numerously appear in Schmidt’s book (which also accompanies the cycle). In one such quotation from Weiss’ text, the politics of Raft is described as follows: Even though the event had occurred three years earlier, the name ‘Medusa’ was not allowed as part of the title of the picture. Entitled ‘Shipwreck Scene’, the work was placed high above the other paintings, with poor lighting. The moment depicted by the painter, in which the mast of the saving frigate appears on the horizon, was charged with such despair and such turmoil that the representatives of the Bourbon restoration rightly interpreted it as a first step of a revolt against their regime [. . . Géricault] stood unrecognised in the Salon Carré between the festively clad ladies and gents of the high society, the court, the crowd of critics. But when he heard the cries of dismay in face of the rough, unconcealed attacks against all tradition, when he saw how they

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were startled by this stark despair and heard the derogatory comments [. . .] he was filled with satisfaction and pride.31 Schmidt gives an image to Weiss’s account of the reception of The Raft at the 1819 Salon in one of the cycle’s images, Untitled (Louvre) (2001–2, Fig. 5.4). At the right of Untitled (Louvre), Schmidt has painted a gesticulating crowd – men in single- and double-breasted waistcoats and frock coats, cravats, high collar shirts, pantaloons and top hats, holding canes – debating the events of the shipwreck, while standing below the monumental and loftily hung Raft. For Weiss, The Raft, which hangs next to Liberty Leading the People in the Louvre, a juxtaposition imaged in Schmidt’s Untitled (Louvre) (Fig. 5.4), offers a way to work through two antithetical concepts of the politics of history painting.32 In Weiss’ novel, the Raft is celebrated as embodying an ‘operative aesthetic’, or an

FIGURE 5.4 Dierk Schmidt, Untitled (Louvre), 2001–2002. Oil on canvas, 54 × 73 cm. From the series SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–2005. Collection of the Städel Museum, Frankfurt. © Dierk Schmidt/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015.

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ability to offer conflicting viewpoints and intervene in public discourse, through its immanent critique of the genre of history painting via negation of the sovereign, and affirmation of the disenfranchised within the public, sanctioned space of the Salon.33 Géricault’s antagonistic image is distinct, suggests Weiss, from the ‘idealistic aesthetics’ of a painting such as Liberty Leading the People – a schematic image of this history painting (hanging next to The Raft) at the Louvre is seen to the left of Untitled (Fig. 5.4). In Liberty Leading the People Delacroix presents a crowd of insurgents marching over a barricade toward a battlefield, led by a tall, powerful female figure based on a sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory). Created in the immediate aftermath of the 28 July 1830 revolution that unseated Charles X, Liberty was intended to reflect the triumph of the people over France’s existing regime. Schmidt argues that instead, the image presents an abstract ‘ideal’ of ‘high-flying triumph’.34 The barricade appears ‘a-tectonic’: unable to provide any type of defence to the people.35 He continues, ‘the barricades are only a rostrum on which the allegory of liberty triumphs visibly from afar’.36 The picture fails to reveal a convincing relationship to struggle or offer the perspective of the disenfranchised.37 Moreover, rather than deconstructing and transforming the genre of history painting (as Géricault did by offering the perspective of the rafters) it merely replaces the ‘triumphant’ actors – a position usually occupied by the sovereign – with the subjects of revolution.38 It stages an aestheticization – and reification – of revolution and struggle. Moreover, Delacroix failed to exhibit Liberty in a manner that would instigate public debate. In spite of Delacroix’s numerous attempts to have his work exhibited at the Louvre and in Lyons following the 1830 revolution, Schmidt emphasizes that he ultimately failed in this task given the shifting nature of the political situation and the fact that (as T.J. Clark argues) by June 1831 ‘any image of the barricades and the people was unacceptable’.39 For Schmidt, Liberty and The Raft constitute the profoundly antithetical concepts of operative and idealistic aesthetics, which define his thinking of the politics of history painting and On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics.40 At the centre of Schmidt’s analyses of Géricault and Delacroix’s history paintings, and his articulation of operative and idealistic aesthetics (via Weiss) is a commitment to interrogating the genre of history painting and understanding its

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capacities to rupture public discourse and the politics of memory.41 The question for Schmidt is: in the current historical context, how can history painting intervene in the distribution of knowledge, affect and in turn, remembrance for SIEV-X?

The aesthetics of resistance: or fictionalization During October 2001, just after the sinking of SIEV-X, Schmidt began preparing for an exhibition curated by the artists Creischer and Siekmann – with whom he had collaborated with on Messe 2ok in 1995 – to be held between January and April 2002 at the Generali Foundation in Vienna. Entitled Violence is at The Margin of All Things, Siekmann and Creischer’s show explored the insidious spread of violence within society, from the doctrines of the G8 to terrorism, and the role that art, as a militant force, plays in forwarding or contesting such phenomena.42 More specifically, as Brigitte Huck observed, the exhibition asked: ‘how do artists treat the theme of militancy within their own system? What can aesthetic praxis accomplish? And how does it relate to classical understandings of the concepts of the real (politics) and (symbolic) art?’43 Strongly informed by Weiss’ The Aesthetics of Resistance, and his writings on the politics of The Raft of the Medusa Schmidt’s contribution to Violence – a triptych of paintings – raised questions about the possibilities of history painting intervening in discourses on SIEV-X (Fig. 5.5). The triptych comprises Untitled (Louvre), which images the juxtaposition of the Raft and Liberty at the Louvre as well the hang of The Raft in the 1819 Salon; Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene, which gives an image to the events leading up to the sinking of SIEV-X; and Freedom, which represents a Nike television advertisement featuring the Brazilian football team dribbling a ball past numerous security checkpoints at an international airport (Fig.  5.6). This constellation of images – of nineteenth-century history paintings in situ, television advertisements for a global corporation and a representation of an Australian maritime disaster involving refugees – would seemingly offer the unwitting exhibition visitor nothing more than a series of quizzical juxtapositions. However, through a series of quotations drawn

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FIGURE 5.5 Top image: Install view: Dierk Schmidt, SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–5. In Hostages, Galerie Ursula Walbröl, Düsseldorf, Germany, 7 March–19 April 2003. Image courtesy Galerie Ursula Walbröl. Bottom image: Install view: Théodore Géricault, The Raft of the Medusa, 1819 (far left) and Eugène Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830 (far right) at the Louvre. Photo: Verónica Tello.

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from Weiss’ The Aesthetics of Resistance, hung near the triptych and published in Schmidt’s book (which often accompanies the exhibition of On a Case), Schmidt attempts to elucidate the resonances between the fragments in his series and their relations to the concepts of both operative and idealistic aesthetics. From Weiss’ novel, the following quote was offered to exhibition viewers: The painting of Delacroix found recognition by the person calling himself the citizens’ king, because it had become the apotheosis of his path of power [. . .] Géricault’s picture, however, was a dangerous attack on established society. The huge format itself, seven by five meters, already threatened to strike dead all other works of the Salon; the subject, revealing the corruption of the civil service, the cynicism and selfishness of the government, was unbearable for the notabilities.44 Meanwhile, an instructive exhibition note (hung near the paintings at Violence) explains to the viewer: In his novel The Aesthetics of Resistance Peter Weiss examines the possibilities, if and how the art of the bourgeoisie can be used for the self-understanding and the political struggle of the working class. Using the paintings Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix and The Raft of the Medusa by Géricault, the difference between operative and idealistic aesthetics is elaborated on in an exemplary manner. Both paintings are still hanging . . . in the Louvre. Dierk Schmidt takes up this placement but updates the subject. The Nike clip, in which the Brazilian football team overcomes all security barriers of an airport is idealistic, while depicting one of the numerous accidents of overcrowded refugee boats and placing it in the salons of [the] Ministries of the Interior would be operative.45 As Schmidt’s note suggests, the triptych manifests a contemporary version of the operative and idealistic aesthetics imaged in Untitled (Louvre) and articulated in Weiss’ Aesthetics of Resistance (Fig. 5.5). In Schmidt’s triptych, Freedom (Fig.  5.6), the image of the Nike advertisement, takes up the place of Liberty: it offers a porous border, which is easily overcome not by the goddess Nike (as it appears in Delacroix’s image) but by the renowned Brazilian

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FIGURE 5.6 Dierk Schmidt, Freedom, 2001–2. Oil on PVC, 99.3 × 126 cm. From the series SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–5. Collection of the Städel Museum, Frankfurt. Photo: Städel Museum. © Dierk Schmidt/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015. footballer Ronaldo, gliding in and out of airport security checkpoints (an image that is repeated in various parts of the cycle, Fig. 5.1). The unbounded gestures of the football players signify an idealized mode of global mobility, or freedom, as marketed by the international sporting label Nike, immune to the law and uninhibited by security checkpoints. Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene, which ‘takes up’ the place of Géricault’s Raft, gives an image of the events of SIEV-X as experienced by survivors, that is, of being forced onboard a ramshackle ferry destined to sink in the Indian Ocean. As an antithesis to Freedom, it images stymied and deadly refugee flows as a consequence of global conflict, geo-economic inequity and draconian border protection regimes. The operative aesthetics of Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene, and his triptych more broadly, would be further advanced by contextualizing it not in the Salon (like The Raft) but rather the Australian Parliament.

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However, the potential placement of Schmidt’s work within the Australian Parliament is signified by nothing more than a painted brown border. Surrounding each of the triptych’s images (most obvious in Figs 5.2 and 5.6), this border references the wooden panelling of the Australian Parliament’s office walls – specifically, the offices of then Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock and then Prime Minister John Howard.46 When the triptych is exhibited, the viewer sees the gallery’s white walls, followed by the facsimiles of the walls of the Australian Parliament offices, and then the respective images of the triptych. Schmidt’s reference to the Parliamentary offices appears to suggest that the effects of operative aesthetics (that is, the possibility of history painting disrupting the continuum of homogenous, repressive discourse) are contingent on the exhibition context of his work, and its proximity to the sovereign: the offices of law and policy makers. But since it is not possible to place the paintings in the Parliament, Schmidt simply paints (in his words) this ‘fantasy’.47 The painted brown borders of Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene and Freedom which signify the impossible presence of such works in the Parliament are not the only ‘fantasy’ in the cycle; fantasy reappears in the tellingly-titled Ruddock Overboard (A Fantasy) (I) and in Which Salon is the Right One? (A Fantasy) (II) (both 2002, Fig. 5.7), which show, respectively, Minister Ruddock swimming in the Indian Ocean and Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene hanging in Ruddock’s office at the Parliament. Such fantasies can be read as a mode of fictionalizing, as a way of satisfying a desire for producing an image for a situation that has no solution but warrants one – such a strategy is a means for Schmidt to attempt to elicit operative aesthetics. *

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‘Fictionalization’, as Rancière argues, ‘does not mean telling stories . . . it means constructing another sense of reality, another set of connections between spaces and times, between words and visual forms, spoken word and written words, between a here and an elsewhere, and a now and a then’.48 It smuggles into the visual field the illegitimate and the heterogeneous to disrupt the delimitation of what it is possible to see (or the distribution of the sensible) and contest the ‘monopoly on reality’.49 In other words, fictionalization institutes its own form of border-crossings (beyond the image of Ronaldo in the airport or Nike storming the barricades)

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FIGURE 5.7 Top image: Dierk Schmidt, Ruddock Overboard (A Fantasy) (I), 2002. Oil on PVC, 23 × 30.5 cm. Bottom image: Dierk Schmidt, Which Salon is the Right One? (A Fantasy) (II), 2002. Oil on PVC, 46 × 103.5 cm. Both images: From the series SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–5. Collection of the Städel Museum, Frankfurt. © Dierk Schmidt/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015.

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that place things, images of SIEV-X, where they don’t belong: the Australian Parliament (or alternatively places Ruddock in the Indian Ocean). As such works show, the strategy of montage, which has the capacity to merge incompatible things (Schmidt’s painting and the Australian Parliament) is a critical tool for disturbing the distribution of the sensible, what is possible to see or experience, or at the very least revealing the limits of the distribution of the sensible (what is allowed where). In this light, contemporary artists such as Schmidt who work between art and other spheres (commerce, politics) and who draw a series of affective associations between disparate fragments effectively produce a means to conjure evocative and provocative fictions – or ‘fantasies’ – which allow us to imagine and speculate, which leave room for ambiguity and uncertainty, and which question and negotiate ‘reality’. The politics of Schmidt’s art rests in working with a range of image sources to quite often manifest impossible scenarios that reveal what remains elusive or a fantasy. Such fantasies, or fictions may very well reflect what Rancière perceives to be the politics of art: ‘Aesthetic art promises a political accomplishment that it cannot satisfy, and thrives on that ambiguity.’50 Fictionalizing references its potential while remaining nothing more than a means to keep the idea alive. This may be a lack, but it can be a productive lack. The politics of fictionalization, which is to say the politics of working with existing data in order to recalibrate it in such a way so as to conjure alternative or impossible scenarios (including fantasies) is made clearer by acknowledging art’s current relationship to the global news media. Art is no longer the dominant aesthetic regime as it once was in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century: the Salon is no longer a system of aesthetic dominance. As Boris Groys argues, ‘People now do not wait for an artist to represent acts of terror [or history]; they don’t wait for a new Goya or a new Picasso [or Géricault].’51 In an era where the real, or our access to knowledge and history, is predominantly transmitted and determined by the news, the politics of art and history painting rests in its ability to work with information and archives already out there and treat it in such a way so as to imagine what is not given, what remains elusive (a history painting of SIEV-X in the Parliament; Ruddock swimming in the Indian Ocean where SIEV-X sunk; or the

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disjunction between different modes of global mobility as represented by Nike and Xenophobe). *

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Yet, for some critics, Schmidt’s ‘fantasies’ are blatantly and paradoxically geared toward ‘evidencing’ the Australian Government’s involvement in the sinking of SIEV-X and the ‘image politics’ for SIEV-X. Hilde Van Gelder argues, ‘Painting here comes to fill in the absence of the photographic image at the historical event itself. Painting reconstructs something that really happened but that was not registered in any way at all by a photographic nor filmic camera.’52 Similarly, Angela Lampe argues: Dierk Schmidt is trying to find a contemporary language for a vivid disclosure of manipulated realities with the means of painting. This is preceded by arduous years of research – as in the case of the Australian refugee tragedy – until finally bit-by-bit the cover-ups and involvements of the Australian government came to light, which had made helpless people hostages of a refugee policy based on deterrence.53 In turn, for such critics, Schmidt’s history painting of SIEV-X, in particular Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene, catalyses its operative aesthetic – that is, its capacity to offer a vantage point distinct than that which is offered by political rhetoric or the mass media – by generating something akin to an exposé of the Australian Government’s misconduct. This political effect of Schmidt’s On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics is hinged, such critics argue, on Schmidt’s adaptation of Géricault’s ‘investigative’-like methods (characterized by extensive fieldwork and interviews out of the studio).54 To briefly elaborate on Géricault’s methods: to create The Raft, over a period of two years, Géricault researched every minute detail of the shipwreck, interviewing survivors, becoming involved in the anti-slavery movement associated with two of the survivors’ bookshop Jean Baptiste Henri Savigny and Alexandre Corréard, attending hospitals to study dying men and severed limbs and heads, visiting the ocean to study the waves, and commissioning a reconstruction of the raft to be built in his studio based on survivor accounts. As Schmidt observes, via his extensive fieldwork Géricault

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was working ‘outside of the so-called studio, out of the conditions of production customary at the time . . . In some respects, he almost worked in a journalistic manner.’55 In what can be seen as a kind of re-enactment of Géricault’s process for The Raft, in the immediate weeks following SIEV-X, Schmidt’s four-year project On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, aiming to produce an image-cycle about the event, began with a research methodology that comprised fieldwork, online research and exhaustive texts written by Schmidt to reflect and document on his process. Eventually Schmidt recorded the process in a summation of all its methodological parts in his book, SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Politics. As Lars Bang Larsen argues: In his publication, we see [Schmidt] as an investigative reporter doggedly browsing archives, comparing sources and pursuing witnesses and experts through interviews and text production [. . .] the people he talks to and the facts he amasses, the texts he writes, the analyses he provides and the travels he undertakes – this is the work that must be done in order to get within reach of the real.56 Certainly, in his publication Schmidt emphasizes the vigour of his research. In order to ‘come to new findings’, argues Schmidt, he initiated conversations and interviewed personnel from the Australian embassy in Germany and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC ) in Geneva.57 In the same publication he reproduced some of his archival research: a copy of the news report on SIEV-X from Jungle World through which he first learned about SIEV-X, numerous photo-sources he worked from to create his images of SIEV-X, as well as sketches of the SIEV-X boat he made based on survivor accounts. Amidst these documents, Schmidt juxtaposes preparatory sketches that Géricault had developed for his iconic history painting, a diagram of the raft that Géricault had built in his studio, the newspaper article in which Géricault had first read news of the Medusa and a reproduction of The Raft of the Medusa (Figs  4.26–4.28). Such juxtapositions – in conjunction with the alignment of quotes from Weiss’ text and Schmidt’s paintings, and claims that Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene would ‘take up’ the position of The Raft – would certainly influence critics’ perceptions that, after Géricault, Schmidt had adopted ‘investigatory’ methods to produce an exposé.

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Critics barely acknowledge that Schmidt’s attempts to contact the UNHRC and the Australian embassy produced no new information, or that he doesn’t ‘expose’ Government cover-ups, in the investigative journalist sense of the term.58 The information that is presented in Schmidt’s book and cycle is gleaned from news reports, activist web-logs and sites such as sievx.com (founded by the Marg Hutton) and reports authored by figures such as Tony Kevin or the politician John Faulkner (who led a Senate Inquiry titled A Certain Maritime Incident, which partly focused on SIEV-X). Thus Schmidt presents us with ‘known knowns’, things we know we know, or ‘known unknowns’, things we know we do not know.59 In an era where someone like Kevin or Faulkner, or like Julian Assange, is far better placed to expose government misconduct, the criticality of Schmidt’s fragmentary history painting lays not in its production of information, or investigative journalism, but in opening a means to analyse and work with existing information (editing, manipulating, cropping, montaging). It is not that we don’t have records of the events of SIEV-X: we do. Yet, what is known about SIEV-X, as disseminated by websites or reports, fails to generate much traction or be remembered with much vitality. The multiple voices of the survivors, the activists who worked tirelessly to identify the victims of SIEV-X in the face of Government repression, the multiple attempts by journalists such as David Marr and politicians such as John Faulkner who toiled to create and maintain a public record of SIEV-X in the media and in the Australian Parliament: all of this amounts to many records that are publicly available yet without an enduring mnemonic life.60 More than a triumphant, climactic or illuminating image of a contested event what we need is someone or something to work with the sum of the information available for SIEV-X and show how it might start to probe collective consciousness or become part of one’s historical consciousness on a wide-scale – SIEV-X, after all, constitutes the largest loss of life at sea in Australia’s history. While critics dwell on Schmidt’s engagement with Géricault’s methodologies and his capacity to bring to the fore marginalized-narratives in spite of Government repression, Schmidt’s history painting finds its criticality in its analysis and recalibration of the multiple information sources available for SIEV-X through strategies of not only fictionalization – conjuring up impossible but affective scenarios – but the interrelated method and aesthetic of paranoia.

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Paranoia Since the emergence of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, contemporary artists have increasingly worked with digital archives.61 They sometimes seek to fill in the gaps left behind by the news media, or they draw on the ephemera of the mass media and other annals of history to underscore forgotten moments, and return them to the present. At other times they seek to re-assemble the order of documents in a move to construct counter-memories and differential, often highly subjective conceptions of history and time. The latter model of working with archives, or constructing counter-memories, as Hal Foster argues, reveals a paranoid tendency: ‘for what is paranoia if not a practice of forced connections and bad combinations, of my own private archive, of my own notes from the underground, put on display’.62 Such artists stress ‘tendentious, even preposterous’ connections between documents, to create juxtapositions, to build ‘a matrix of citations’ so that something they imagine or believe and that would otherwise remain invisible or diminished becomes visible (and thinkable).63 In constructing new perceptions of history, they reveal the gaps between image and reality, giving way to anxiety (and paranoia).64 The paranoid tendency of archival artists is nothing if not a reflection of artists’ dissatisfaction with the state of public memory and discourse. Paranoia is a form of counter-memory which attempts to bring to the fore a concept of history which is so diminished in agency and legitimacy that its existence depends on the labour of estimations and suspicion (and likely elicits a similar spectatorial affect). It is productive to the extent that it leaves open rather than closes down the process of historiography, since paranoia is always wanting, but all the while offering an important strategy for allowing what is ‘suspicious’ and illegitimate to exist. Schmidt produces tendentious, paranoid, connections between SIEV-X documents, other seemingly unrelated documents and images fabricated via the artist’s imagination. This is seen in Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene and its montage of painterly strokes, appropriated imagery and guesswork, which effectively visualize provocative scenarios regarding the sinking of SIEV-X. For example, the implication of the Australian Government’s involvement via the presence of Ruddock on the screen of the telecommunications device of one of the two Indonesian police

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FIGURE 5.8 Dierk Schmidt, ‘Operation Relex’ . . . Acting without Perpetrators (I), 2003. Oil on PVC, 23 × 30.5 cm. From the series SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 2001–5. Collection of the Städel Museum, Frankfurt. © Dierk Schmidt/Bild-Kunst. Licensed by Viscopy, 2015.

officers forcing refugees to board SIEV-X at gunpoint. Paranoid aesthetics are also present in images such as ‘Operation Relex’ . . . Acting without Perpetrators (I) (2003, Fig.  5.8), where Schmidt crops and edits photographs sourced from the online media galleries of the Australian Government and stills from news outlets to create a composite image that situates the former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock and former Prime Minister John Howard (surrounded by anonymous figures who appear as outlines on a transparent, plastic ground) at a meeting which may or may not have happened and which tentatively implicates them in the SIEV-X disaster.65 As suggested by the painting’s title Operation Relex . . . Acting without Perpetrators, the Australian Government’s policy Operation Relex, which charged the Navy with the task of patrolling the country’s borders to ‘protect’ the nation’s sovereignty and

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turning back (or perhaps letting sink) any boats that entered without authorization, was an ‘act without perpetrators’; SIEV-X survivor statements revealed that ‘military type’ vessels drifted past them and failed to rescue them. Schmidt’s text and painting conjoins and manipulates existing sources to manifest a productively paranoid image that won’t quit haunting. Such provocative images play a crucial role in attending to survivor statements and the implication of the Australian Government’s involvement in the sinking of SIEV-X. But ultimately, such fragmentary and manipulated images do not produce an exposé. But they do reveal the extent to which the images and reports we do have may still be put to work to probe the deficiency of visualizations, evidence and memories of SIEV-X.

After Géricault The work of Dierk Schmidt, which emerges some 200 years after Géricault’s, must be seen as a vital turning point in discussions of the relevance of history painting to contemporary art. Today’s conditions of government censorship and control of information, alongside the circulation of alternative modes of information through the internet, have given rise to a particular dialectic. Whereas the mass media and governments may repress or ignore contested historical narratives, the digital era is marked by resilient curiosity and a desire to counter and intervene in dominant visual and knowledge regimes. We do so, however, through fragmented, cropped, edited and sometimes annihilated images that reveal their contingency and limitations, and that embrace their schematic aberrations. That is, to leave space for doubt, anxiety . . . . This is a mode of history painting and counter-memory that embraces the unsatisfactory, fragmentary and incomplete. Further, counter-memory, as the work of Schmidt reveals, cannot be delimited to a singular, definitive moment. Schmidt’s work marks a shift away from the singular images of history that were seen in the work of Géricault and David, and also of neo-avant-garde artists such as Richter who, while using the format of the image-cycle, ultimately limits himself to images of singular events, albeit from varying perspectives. This shift in the conception of what counts as a heterogeneous history painting and mode of counter-memory is

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almost certainly an effect of the sense that we are living with many times and with a consciousness of many spaces – the sum of which signify a range of knowledge and power regimes, spanning history painting, art history, the Salon, the museum, Parliament, corporate advertising and the global news media. In mapping unexpected and forced connections between these fields, Schmidt’s history painting offers a means by which to contest any monopoly on reality, and allows for the potentiality of paranoia and fiction to maintain an open space for a history that is still elusive. It allows for drawing unexpected connections between different forms and subjects and to trigger otherwise unlikely affects and visualizations; while also opening up a space to re-imagine which systems can augment or diminish the circulation of memories and knowledge of SIEV-X (e.g., history painting, or fictional parliaments).

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CHAPTER SIX

Counter-Memorial Aesthetics in an Era of Contemporaneity Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves, Hito Steyerl’s November and other Engagements with Too Much Time

Counter-memorial aesthetics and contemporaneity Critics such as Terry Smith, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Peter Osborne, Charles Bright and Michael Geyer – representing a range of fields including art history, literature, philosophy, postcolonial studies and anthropology – have observed the challenges of a critical engagement with contemporaneity. These challenges involve being critically present with the many, often conflicting temporalities and historical narratives following on from the many aftermaths of modernity. It is proposed here that since (as outlined in Chapter 1) 155

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counter-memorial aesthetics thrives on attending to heterogeneity (multiplicity and excess), it can contribute to understandings of how to be present in and work through ‘a sublime’ of temporalities and often conflicting, or incongruous historical narratives. This final chapter revisits the book’s theory of counter-memorial aesthetics once more to address the challenges of recall, memory and presence in contemporaneity. It turns toward a range of video artworks and video installations to further this endeavour. The works examined are Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves (2010), Dinh Q. Lê’s Erasure (2011), Angela Melitopoulos’s Corridor X (2007), Silvia Kolbowski’s Hiroshima Mon Amour (2008) and Hito Steyerl’s November (2004). Readers familiar with these works will observe that while the first three (Julien’s, Lê’s and Melitopoulos’) are usually characterized as directly grappling with the remembrance of refugee experiences,1 the latter two are not.2 Kolbowski’s and Steyerl’s focus is predominantly on the aesthetics of globalization, revolution and/or conflict, though they do engage with refugee experiences in an indirect way in that their thematics sometimes allude to conflict in Afghanistan and Turkey. Though the sum of this broad range of works cannot strictly be said to be ‘about’ the figure or memory of the refugee, or ‘about’ anything in particular, its engagements with contemporaneity are deeply centrifugal, extend to multiple zones of inquiry and certainly negate a linear narrative. With this in mind, this chapter sets out with another agenda: to analyse the extent to which countermemorial aesthetics can attend to being present with the many antinomies of contemporaneity, which include those pertaining to refugee flows. As these works show, any engagement with one antinomy of contemporaneity (refugee flows and border protection, for example) inevitably brings into the fold another and then another antinomy (neoliberalism and economic inequity, as another example). An engagement with contemporaneity’s heterogeneity necessitates a certain degree of fluidity. In the end it is the condition of migration or rootlessness – in the broadest senses of the terms – that enables a critical presence in contemporaneity.

What is contemporaneity? Contemporaneity is to be con tempus, that is, to be with time: but it is more than just a vague state of ‘presentness’. It is a temporal

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phenomenon that emerges as a consequence of aftermaths of modernity, and with a distinct concept of time carried forward from the modern period.3 Modernity imagines time, and the present, as seamlessly continuing from the past into a coherent future (telos). Things, people and even entire countries that fall outside of this continuum are left behind, ‘frozen in time’ (unable to make it, to be modern).4 This conception of time also exists today, but it is not reflective of contemporaneity; it is the remains of a modernist notion of time in the twenty-first century. It is an anachronism. Modernity’s aim was to ‘broadly force everyone forward in the same direction’, Smith argues, and this project is now ‘out of time’ and we are now living with its remains.5 The dialectics of religion, class, tradition, communism, ethnicity, and so on once hinged on the hope of resolution, of a state of homogeny in the name of progress (and then globalization), but this is no longer the case. Being ‘in’ or unfolding ‘with’ contemporaneity lends itself to an acute awareness of the profound dialectics – of religion, class, conflict, capital, race, Nation-State – that define the current global condition. In fact, the states of ‘difference’, ‘multifariousness’ and ‘incommensurability’ (Smith’s terms) define contemporaneity.6 These states are experienced not just through a politics of difference or acknowledgement of global and systematic inequality. They are also, and more affectively, experienced as living with ‘[m]ultiple yet incommensurable temporalities . . . and [correlative] conceptions of historical development [which] move in multifarious directions’.7 Through this effect of difference and tension, contemporaneity encompasses a sense of time that is deeply fractured, disorientating and expanded. In part, according to Spivak, it is due to the invention of the silicon chip, which advances our access to multiple events in simultaneity.8 Digital culture, networking and being embedded in an endless online world certainly play their part in conjuring the experience of contemporaneity.9 But contemporaneity is also advanced through the legacies of postcolonialism, through which the voices of the oppressed and subaltern proliferate. If these voices were once totally abstracted by the forces of assimilation or silenced by ethnic cleansing, with no part to play in historiography other than as the subjects of the vanquished, then, as Smith argues, they are now claiming back their time, histories and place.10 *

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Through its engagement with a range of discourses (especially postcolonization), the condition of contemporaneity must be seen as distinct to what Frederic Jameson calls postmodernity. For Jameson, postmodern temporality is marked by an accelerated and constant flow of entertainment, fashion and technological gadgets, which are ceaselessly changing and obliterate a critical relation to the past. In postmodernity, we experience a sense of perpetual presence through our constant engagement with consumer culture and the past is turned into ‘little more than a set of dusty spectacles’.11 Subjects lose their ability to think the past and future in any meaningful or coherent way, since they are saturated in spectacle, which is ceaseless and disorientating. In turn, argues Jameson, ‘it becomes difficult enough to see how the cultural productions of such a [consumer] subject could result in anything but “heaps of fragments” and in a practice of the randomly heterogeneous and fragmentary and the aleatory’.12 For Jameson, any critical engagement with the temporal conditions of postmodernity requires a method of what he terms ‘cognitive mapping’. In his words, this is a ‘construction or reconstruction of an articulated ensemble which can be retained in memory and which the individual subject can map and remap along the moments of mobile, alternative trajectories’.13 Cognitive mapping is an attempt to recalibrate the spectacle of the news and entertainment media and offers a critical intervention into the perception of the nexus of self and history (not unlike the epistemology of search discussed in Chapter 4). Jameson’s concept of cognitive mapping is helpful, but has its limits given Jameson’s assumption of saturation in consumer culture. Contemporaneity is by no means immune to the effects of postmodernity. The ambitions of global capitalism have ensured that the spectacle of entertainment, fashion and news media is pervasive, generating a feeling of being always present with the ‘now’ (and the ‘new’, and the ‘innovative’). However, global capitalism does not solely define contemporaneity: as critics such as Smith and Spivak argue, contemporaneity opens up a space for the postcolonial, for counter-globalization, for forms of resistance.14 To my mind, this means that the concept of contemporaneity is not as cynical, or indeed as Euro-American as in Jameson’s discourse. It needn’t assume the passivity of subjects under the spell of capital – including postcolonial and other migratory subjects.15 This is in large part why the concept of contemporaneity is more productive than that of postmodernity.

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How to be present with the many times of contemporaneity? How to be critically present with the many times of contemporaneity? In a way, this is an impossible and even undesirable task. To be present with the multiplicity of contemporaneity would be a sublime experience. It would be debilitating. And any attempt to capture it in its entirety is impossible. Even if it were possible, the attempt would surely miss and perhaps even override contemporaneity’s heterogeneity, for the task of capturing its multiplicity risks reducing it to a totality. An ‘encyclopaedic approach’ is not desirable since it is not possible to achieve a sense of all the world’s events by simply recording all the world’s histories, (as if this were even possible).16 Not all time can or will make it into history. But a method that allows for the heterogeneity of contemporaneity – its antinomies and connectivity – to shine is needed (including in the field of contemporary art).17 We live in border zones of difference. We live in increasing proximity. Contemporaneity necessitates a mode of historiography that can account for this. So what does a critical history of contemporaneity mean? For Spivak, it means to study the past ‘broadly’ in order to attend to the depth and breadth of spatiotemporal configurations today, drawing first on Benjamin’s concept of the dialectical image – an understanding of history comprised of a constellation of temporalities – and second on Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of nomadology: a historiography developed not from the centre or a single point of view but from the margins or outside, and constantly moving.18 For Osborne, it means to create an art that is able to attend to the complexity of transnationalism and heterochronia, that is, to bear in mind ‘[t]he coming together of different times that constitute the contemporary, and the relations between the social spaces in which these times are embedded and articulated’.19 For Smith, Geyer and Bright, it means to create a ‘world picture’ (Smith) or ‘world history’ (Geyer and Bright) that is capable of engaging with the antinomies of decolonization and globalization, and their various, shifting disjunctions and connectivities.20 If I might be permitted to essentialize: for all these theorists a critical engagement with contemporaneity is about becoming involved in ‘chains of association’, ‘networks’, ‘braids of intertwined histories’ . . .21

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Where does this approach to the study of contemporaneity come from? We may turn to Geyer and Bright’s important essay on ‘world history’ from 1995 for the clearest answer. As they argue, it must draw on the study of nomadic formations and maritime empires, on migration studies and refugee studies.22 These are histories of ‘rootlessness’. Why? Because the analyses of understandings of identity, place and belonging in these fields are best placed to do away with tired concepts of the clash of civilizations, and with binaries that assume that the horrors and troubles of the world lie elsewhere and elsewhen, or reside with ‘other’ people (this notion is also discussed in Chapter 1).23 This mode of historiography urges connectivity and hybridity; by traversing different landscapes and times it is possible to access shifting gazes of the world picture. A critical engagement with contemporaneity thus embodies an allegiance to the study of migration and nomadic forms. I suggest that this area of inquiry can be further advanced via the theory of counter-memorial aesthetics.

How does counter-memorial aesthetics allow one to be critically present with the many times of contemporaneity? Counter-memorial aesthetics allows one to be critically present with the many times of contemporaneity: for instance the anachronistic temporalities of socialist Cuba and the futurity of the nation’s (perpetual) transition into ‘globalization’ (Chapter 2); settler-colonial narratives in both postcolonial Australia and fortress Australia (Chapter 3); image-fragments pertaining to refugee histories of the Tampa, nineteenth-century Japan, contemporary Tibet, modern Europe (Godard, Benjamin) and a post-9/11 world (Chapter 4); spectres of the global news media, advertisements by global corporations and maritime tragedies of the nineteenth and twentyfirst century (Chapter 5). In every example of counter-memorial aesthetics analysed in this book, artists deploy methods that reconceptualize the event as ever expansive and protean: not delimited by a particular era, chronology, or the positivist dictum of cause-andeffect, but embodying multitudinous flights of inquiry that lead in all directions. Counter-memorial aesthetics offers a means to be with multiple temporalities for the sake of reflecting the reality of

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contemporaneity’s composition (many times in one space and many spaces in one time), and of making a case for a politics of memory that takes seriously the demands of being ‘with’ time, particularly ‘excess’ time: time that needs help to survive, time that needs its ‘comrades’.24 Its allegiance to an aesthetic of mobility and borders – which is to say that not all mobility is fluid or met with free passage – inheres in its singular engagement with refugee flows in a period of globalization. Here, identities and histories are not fixed or static. They are better thought, through the process of affective juxtapositions – montage – as processual, moving through complex and diverse networks. This thinking mobilizes a mode of desubjectivization that shifts conceptions of the self beyond the Nation-State, beyond a vantage point of a specific geography, a particular privileged position, or a particular conception of linear time (echoing Spivak). The construction of such an effect is intrinsically connected to montage. Montage can bend, fragment, stretch and contract time to reflect the processes of memory (as Bergson would argue), generating a conception of time that allows for a differential mode of history.25 Its capacity to chart a myriad of times (now, then) and places (here, elsewhere) permits not so much an aesthetic akin to migration (as Mieke Bal argues),26 for migration and its traumas can also be amnesiac and lead to detention and stagnation. But montage can allow the charting of a form of world memory, allowing one to move from a memory of a single event or site to a multi-sited world system, or to trace an event across a broad time– space continuum. It is a method for tracing connections, disjunctions, fissures, aporias, etc.: concepts and operations which characterize the heterogeneity of globalization, transnationalism and their associated effects of time–space compression. *

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As this book has made clear, montage thrives on imaging complex spatio-temporal configurations. Such a scattering of time and space as is allowed by non-linear montage – across the various mediums examined in this book, spanning performance, the newspaper, atlas, photography and ‘history painting’ – is intensified in video installations. Here, the scatter effect of montage often takes place across multiple screens, running for minutes or hours. But this quantitative measure of time does not take into account that the time of the video installation can actually span centuries: covering pre-modern, modern and contemporary periods, across different

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geographies. Videographic technologies allow this medium to extend itself infinitely, or as much as digital space allows. The pursuit of video – and its capturing of contemporaneity – is intensified by its relationship with installation. Installation is the ‘ideal format for enabling us to imagine being with time (con tempus), that is to say, with many times at the same time’, argues Smith. Video installation presents us with images, screens and texts signifying many times. It spatializes these fragments into various arrangements. None of them are linear. Sometimes the installation is haptic. We touch the surfaces of its objects as a means of engaging with the event, encouraged to be in the time of the installation. Our presence is called upon. The installation is also present, with multiple signifiers from various times and spaces.

Ten Thousand Waves Let’s move from the general to the specific. We enter Isaac Julien’s video installation Ten Thousand Waves. Nine large screens are hung from the ceiling, scattered across a massive space (a warehouse on Cockatoo Island, or the atrium of MoMA ). This hang requires the spectator to move around the space, and self-locate their viewing position. This is a constant need, since the screens do not always project images, and thus might elicit one to find a screen that does; or the screens project different images simultaneously, and this requires the spectator to make some decisions regarding what to engage with. While there is nothing particularly special about this kinetic engagement with the screen matter – there is no equation to be made here between a physically active spectator and a critically active one27 – there is something critical about the effect of immersion elicited by the installation. With its multiple screens and clever use of montage, Waves recalibrates the typical effects of immersion – being the experience of being present within a totalizing image space – via a rapid-fire scatter of multifarious times and places. It wills spectators to be present with the multiplicity and mutability of contemporaneity’s ecologies: a shuffling back and forth between one world and the next, one event and another (not in chronological order). Thus, it seeks to rupture a limiting view of the world picture, where subjectivity is static or time is linear.28

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Immersive installation offers the capacity to construct worlds, worlds within worlds, worlds made up of elements of other worlds, reconfigured in the likeness of a contemporaneity that is not solely governed by the forces of globalization.29 This contemporaneity follows the strategies of postcolonization – difference, hybridity – and creates a world image with the tensions, contradictions and paradoxes of its varied energies and ecologies within it. It confronts the challenge of living in this transitional space. *

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In Waves contemporaneity is characterized as incessant transition, an instability of time and place. As an example of aesthetic transition, Waves begins with the specificity of a historical event, only to unhinge itself into a seemingly haphazard but actually carefully constructed synopsis of world history (much like Brown and Green’s atlas, Chapter 4). Waves is conceptually founded on a memorialization of the 2004 Morecambe Bay tragedy, in which twenty-one Chinese cockle-pickers (asylum seekers and ‘illegal’ migrants from China) drowned in the north-west of England. Signifiers of this event appear at various points in the installation: sweeping deep blue oceans, drowning bodies, aerial footage taken by emergency crews as they sought out the cockle-pickers (Figs 6.1–6.3). These images are interwoven with (to name a few key markers) a concatenation of diverse sounds, image-referents relating to ancient Chinese fables, archival footage of Red Guards in Tiananmen Square and rallies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP ), Chinese films such as The Goddess (1934) and video of China’s contemporary metropolises and economic centres. Waves’ ‘kaleidoscopic’ approach to time and space has been viewed by some critics as providing a synoptic narrative of China’s emergence as a global economic force, and the consequences of this trajectory.30 But this suggests a teleology. Rather, in my view Waves charts a disorientating flow between a range of energies and ecologies of communism, global capital, labour, unauthorized migration and dark economies. This is a kind of world picture that cuts across the divisions of the global North and global South, and of the past and present, and suggests a distinct chrono-tope of how this world is made, organized and lived.31 This world, the world of Waves, doesn’t just represent ‘the’ or ‘an’ event (Morecambe Bay).32 As an immersive installation, it interpolates the viewer and situates

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FIGURE 6.1 Isaac Julien, Ten Thousand Waves, 2010. 35 mm film, transferred to High Definition, 9.2 surround sound, nine-screen film installation, duration 49 mins, 41 secs. Edition of 6. Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.

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FIGURE 6.2 Isaac Julien, Ten Thousand Waves, 2010. 35 mm film, transferred to High Definition, 9.2 surround sound, nine-screen film installation, duration 49 mins, 41 secs. Edition of 6. Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney. her in a position of being ‘in’ and ‘with’ the unfolding of a particular vision of contemporaneity. Waves’ world picture is composed of many image-fragments that evoke many tales of progress and anachronism – particularly the anachronistic condition of those that get left behind in the march toward modernity and globalization. Archival images of destitute subjects in 1930s revolutionary China are juxtaposed with their contemporary parallels, crippled figures carrying wheelbarrows and gleaning for goods in ‘modern’ China. The ghost of the nameless, desperate prostitute in the iconic 1934 film The Goddess (originally played by Ruan) is invoked through a series of re-enactments (played by Zhao Tao, Fig. 6.3). In the time-travel machine that is Julien’s Waves, the prostitute journeys from the streets of revolutionary China to the glistening high-rises of contemporary Hong Kong and Pudong where, like other parts of the country, a thriving, unregulated sex and service industry exists, fuelled by the country’s modernization and its creation of an underclass of internally displaced migrant women workers.33 Thirteenth-century fishermen are shown trekking through the rugged, mountainous

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FIGURE 6.3 Isaac Julien, Ten Thousand Waves, 2010. 35 mm film, transferred to High Definition, 9.2 surround sound, nine-screen film installation, duration 49 mins 41 secs. Edition of 6. Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.

landscapes of the Fujian province, which has long been a point of trade (including for British opium) and where today a market exists for people smugglers. (It is from Fujian that the cockle-pickers who drowned at Morecambe Bay left for the UK .) Images of China’s vast highways and corridors, which enable both legal and ‘illegal’ traffic and interconnectivity (for instance with the similarly persistently expanding European Union, which continues to build vast transport corridors to enable trade), intermingle with images of the desolate landscapes of the UK ’s Morecambe Bay where the Chinese cockle-pickers drowned. An audio track playing a poem by Wang Ping (commissioned by Julien for Ten Thousand Waves)34 plays throughout the installation. We know the tolls: twenty-three – Rockaway, NY, fifty-eight – Dover, England, eighteen – Shenzhen, twenty-five – South Korea, and many more We know the methods: walk, swim, fly, metal container, back of lorry, ship’s hold

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We know we may end up in the same boat.35 Like many Chinese asylum seekers, the cockle-pickers left for the UK seeking a ‘better life’. All we want is a life like others TV s, cars, a house bigger than our neighbours’ . . .36 But, as Waves invokes, they found themselves in precarious situations similar to the ones they hoped to leave behind: . . . Tossed on the communist road We chose capitalism through great perils . . . Now the tide is rising to our necks37 Images of drowning bodies appear alongside passport-like portraits of the cockle-pickers. But as much as Waves engulfs the viewer in violent images of the ocean and, at times, the bodies therein, through its references to the geo-economic inequities of contemporaneity, it infers that it was not the violence of the sea or the turbulent weather that caused the deaths of the cockle-pickers. Like many Chinese asylum seekers and refugees, the cockle-pickers arrived in the UK to live a life of endless precarity. Unable to return home (because of China’s travel restrictions) and unwilling to apply for asylum – only five per cent of asylum claims are accepted in the UK every year38 – many Chinese nationals prefer to work ‘illegally’, outside governmental bureaucracy. The illegal and near-invisible status of these Chinese nationals makes them vulnerable to the demands of gang-masters.39 They are subjected to abusive methods – denial of wages, unhygienic inhabitation, and sexual abuse and violence – and forced to work in areas in which they have no experience, with no safeguards and for little to no pay (most of the cockle-pickers were displaced farmers, two were fishermen). As invoked by the audio track in Waves: ‘We know how they died: starved, raped, dehydrated, drowned, suffocated, homesick, heartsick, worked to death.’40 These workers were ghosts. They were not unlike the nameless prostitute from The Goddess, destitute and ill-fated. She comes to represent the thousands of Chinese workers, particularly sex workers, who have been trafficked from China into the UK – Chinese sex workers comprise fifty per cent of all women in this industry in the UK .41

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This kind of cheap, mobile, flexible and exploitable labour trafficked by gang-masters is acceptable and in high demand in the UK , and demand only intensifies in a neoliberal environment that prioritizes deregulation and free trade.42 Global neoliberalism obliterates the refugee from place (belonging) and time (memory). *

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Waves can be said to offer a world picture – a form of countermemorial aesthetics – that charts the temporalities and ecologies which the asylum seeker and refugee attempt to or are enforced to inhabit. But to what extent does it address its own – and our – participation in the very systems of global capital and inequity? Julien states, Even in feeling pride at the success of Ten Thousand Waves, I am well aware of how closely the currents that have taken the work from city to city and from continent to continent, and that we attribute to a modern international art world, resembled the currents of globalization that displaced the cockle pickers from Fujian to northwest England.43 As Julien observes, even as world picturing visualizes the dialectics of contemporaneity, artworks such as Waves that practise this method are themselves potentially subsumed within the very systems that perpetuate global inequality. Indeed, contemporary art is in the paradoxical position of visualizing and offering a way of being ‘present’ with the multiple and conflicting narratives of contemporaneity while potentially reifying its own propagation of such systems. This has been the argument advanced by Bill Roberts, who claims that critics of contemporary art too often fail to properly critique art’s participation in the structures that advance globalization, too easily assuming its capacity for resistance.44 My response to Roberts is this: firstly, theories of contemporaneity may very well attempt to locate a position of resistance via contemporary art (Smith) or literature (Spivak) but they do not assume that such cultural operations are removed from the processes of globalization or immune to participating in propagating (or otherwise) the many antinomies of contemporaneity. Much contemporary art operates critically from ‘within’ – from a position of embeddedness, of being

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in the thick of things – rather than from a position of negation, or withdrawal. Secondly, Roberts’s critique of contemporary art’s privileged position is essentially a materialist one, concerned with art’s embeddedness in capital. But if, as David Harvey argues, capital is not a thing but social relations mediated by things,45 the question must be, what are the kinds of social relations that contemporary art – and in particular world picturing – can generate (as opposed to merely represent)? Perhaps contemporary art’s (world picturing’s) criticality can be found here, in its embeddedness and its capacity to stay in the mess of contemporaneity rather than in trying to locate a way ‘out’ of it (as suggested by Jameson’s cognitive mapping).46 *

*

*

Julien’s Waves embeds spectators in a series of intertwined ecologies of contemporaneity in which spectators are implicated as both witnesses of transition and as participants of globalization.47 We are witness, for example, to those who migrate through the underbelly of global transport infrastructures, on lorries, boats and planes without proper documentation. And we also witness other modes of mobility and freedom, enabled by the immersive video installation that offers us the opportunity to time-travel and fly through screens.48 In effect, the dialectics of mobility present in this installation generate what Marsha Meskimmon calls a ‘precarious ecology’, structured through the cohabitation of bodies and subjectivities that signify difference and inequity, which call upon the privileged to bear ‘response-ability and responsibility’ toward the other.49 For Meskimmon, inhabiting precarious ecologies ‘response-ably and responsibly’ is a form of aesthetic cosmopolitanism not limited to visualization. It is, in fact, constitutive of social relations.50 Aesthetics, as this book has repeatedly argued, is not transcendent, but material; it works through the affective energies of the imagination which shape relations between self and the world, and anticipate the world to come.51 Of course, in being material, it could be said to reaffirm the social relations of global capital. But something critical can be found in contemporary art. If we follow Meskimmon’s logic, this criticality may appear as cosmopolitanism, but only insofar as cosmopolitanism can attend to the often conflicting energies of the global South and North, and allow for a mode of being that is present with the crisis zones – precarious ecologies – of contemporaneity that ceaselessly threaten to obliterate each other.

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Works such as Waves allow for a better understanding of the precarious ecologies of contemporaneity and its intersubjective relations. This partially answers the challenge of how contemporary art may bring to bear some criticality in living with the antinomies of contemporaneity, a challenge posited by Roberts as above. As Waves shows, a critical engagement with the complexity of contemporaneity will need to take into account the way in which the many voices, times and histories of our era are lived but also the social relations of contemporaneity. Works such as Waves are very much concerned with such accounts, the significance of which has not yet been properly addressed.

Hoarder montage Waves’ aesthetic engagement with contemporaneity is advanced through its collision of heterogeneous temporal fragments and its dizzying cartography. Julien’s method of hyper-montage and use of multi-screen video installation allows the spectator to be with the multiplicity of events and antinomies that constitute our era. Events intermingle and eventually overlap and fold into each other, so that it appears that the ‘past is not yet passed’, and in fact never left us.52 The aesthetic effect of this kind of montage is accumulative, hoarder-like; perhaps it is ‘hoarder montage’. Unable to let go, it keeps gathering articles and fragments, layer upon layer. In the mess that is hoarding, things get squeezed together. This is why in Waves the nameless prostitute (from The Goddess) is pushed closer to the ghosted, trafficked Chinese sex workers living in the UK . Or why the thirteenth-century fishermen from Fujian, lost at sea, align with the asylum seekers who drowned at Morecambe Bay. Or why the ever-extending highways in China are placed in proximity to the engulfing ocean in Morecambe Bay. But even as these image-fragments collide, their distinctiveness is not entirely lost. Each article or fragment has a distinct value to the hoarder – each fragment is collected because of its essence of the future.53 The hoarder only collects things that are of value for what is to come or as signifiers for what should be remembered: the process is deeply bound to futurity as well as memory. But in the hoarder’s storage house (the screens or projections of video installations such as Waves can be thought as such), it is difficult for the visitor to apprehend the mass or even categorize it in

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any functional way (this is not ‘information management’ in the conventional sense of the term). The hoarder’s perspective of the relationships between objects is idiosyncratic and, while subjectively systematic, is not perceptible to the outsider (recalling the strategies deployed by Brown and Green for their atlas, Chapter 4). So the productivity of hoarder montage lies in revealing that an engagement with histories, even carefully selected ones in the heterogeneous space of contemporaneity, will require a willingness to be embedded in mess. Hoarder montage, as a process of collection and disorder, has strong connections to Benjamin’s critique of teleology (progress) and thinking of history as the endless accumulation of rubble, layer upon layer (see Chapter 3). This Benjaminian concept is most clearly, if not too often, expressed through Benjamin’s writings on the ‘angel of history’ who witnesses with its back turned toward the future the amassing of modernity’s rubble. Today, the rubble continues to accrue at great speed as the aftermaths of modernity and globalization continue to unfold. By now this rubble is likely to have overtaken every corner of the world. The world is a storage house; or it is a trashcan. Or, as Hito Steyerl argues, we are the trash, or should at least embrace the trash:54 this is how we are capable of being with the multiplicity of histories (excess histories) and of having some form of historical consciousness of the heterochronia that characterizes contemporaneity. In discussing the potentiality of being embedded in this mess rather than trying to map our way of it or finding some semblance of stability and order, it is worth noting the extent to which hoarder montage is used in works other than Waves that grapple with the multiplicity of times in contemporaneity. Examples of these are Dinh Q. Lê’s installation Erasure and Angela Melitopoulos’ video installation Corridor X. For Erasure (Fig. 6.4), Lê collects a number of objects. Each of these objects has a distinct mnemonic value and charge, but in his overflowing storage house (like in Waves) they also lose their specificity. A sculptural facsimile of the 2010 Christmas Island shipwrecked vessel, which carried approximately 100 Iraqi and Iranian refugees, forty-eight of whom perished, is placed near a video projection of another ship – the Endeavour – on which Captain James Cook made his first Pacific Voyage to the ‘great southern land’ to ensure that it was terra nullius. Cook’s ship burns in flames (captured for posterity on a looping video). Meanwhile, the refugees’ shipwrecked vessel sinks into the ocean. However, the ocean is covered by thousands

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FIGURE 6.4 Dinh Q. Lê, Erasure (installation view and detail), 2011. Single-channel colour video with sound (7 mins), found photographs, stone, wooden boat fragments, computer, scanner, dedicated website (erasurearchive.net). Installation view: Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, 2011. Commissioned by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. Photo: Aaron de Souza.

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of photographs – portraits, family snapshots – that Lê has collected from markets and antique stores over the years. The photographs belong to the boatpeople who fled the Vietnam War and also those people who, like Lê, fled the Khmer Rouge’s invasion of southern Vietnam. A boardwalk stretches across the installation, acting as an architectural feature that holds its various parts together. It borders the ocean and shipwrecks, and connects them to a scanner and computer which, with the help of the viewer’s participation, uploads the sea of photographs of the Vietnamese diaspora to the World Wide Web where they enter an online archive, www.erasurearchive.net – and thus become connected to everything and every time. Angela Melitopoulos’ Corridor X is a two-channel video installation that documents the artist’s road trip along the European Union’s (EU ) highway, Corridor X, which connects Germany, Greece and the Balkans. But through Melitopoulos’ camera, this road trip also allows her to time-travel. The trip begins with Melitopoulos visiting the sites where her parents and grandparents were displaced after the Turkish invasion of Greece in the interwar years. But in Corridor X, as Melitopoulos journeys along the highways of Europe, the references to her family’s refugeedom during the wars intermingle with signifiers of the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Images of displaced Serbians, for whom the war never ended, are juxtaposed with footage of displaced Turkish villagers for whom globalization, in spite of its endless sprawl, paradoxically has no room. Archival footage of the former Yugoslavia’s Highway of Brotherhood and Unity, destroyed during the Balkan Wars, is sutured with Melitopoulos’ documentary footage of the relatively new Corridor X built across many of the same routes, signalling the layers of history of this (post-1989) corridor rather than a teleology of EU expansionism (which threatens to obliterate those, such as the displaced Serbs and Turkish villagers, left behind in the charge toward neoliberalism).55

Ambivalence What does it mean to be with the multiple and multiplying temporalities and historical markers of such works? What should we make of the various interconnected, networked histories that characterize Lê’s, Melitopoulos’ and Julien’s installations? Rather than assume a way of ordering the information, or making sense of

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it, it is proposed here that there is an unlikely criticality in ‘ambivalence’ within these image worlds. Ambivalence, as Patrick Jagoda argues, allows for ‘extreme presence’ in worlds or networks which offer too much content for any one subject to apprehend or master. Rather than constructing meaning from this mass of data, ambivalence leads to uncertainty, disconnection or missing something.56 At face value, this affect might seem to negate the potential of criticality, which assumes some kind of agency or control (over the barrage of images, for example). But as Jagoda argues, the condition of ambivalence ‘need not be reduced to naïve complicity’. The problem of network totality [or immersion in a dizzying network of images] can be approached through ambivalence without yielding to apathy, cynicism, disengagement, or hopelessness. Rather, it takes the form of a deliberate intensity, patience, and willingness to forgo quick resolution or any finality at all. Ambivalence, then, is a process of slowing down and learning to inhabit a compromised environment with the discomfort, contradiction, and misalignment it entails.57 This assumes a condition of living with excess, and accepting saturation, rather than attempting to find some kind of anchoring device or stabilizing effect (as is suggested by Jameson’s cognitive mapping). But ambivalence is only critical insofar that it allows one to be with the uncertainty of the present, an unfolding of time and complexity that ensues at great speed. Ambivalence allows one to trace histories and memories as they inevitably mutate across time and space (as is the case in Waves, et al.). It forgoes the concepts of finitude or conclusion. Ambivalence eludes satisfaction. As Jagoda queries: ambivalence often yields an effect of ‘both-and’ and a ‘what else?’.58 In its openness to change, it allows for flexibility in how thought, particularly concepts of time and space, might manifest between now and then.59 This aesthetics of ambivalence and fluidity (of thought) is also generated in other works such as Silvia Kolbowski’s After Hiroshima Mon Amour and Hito Steyerl’s November. In their engagement with several of contemporaneity’s overlapping events, narratives and dialectics, these works gather and show multiple temporal fragments and, like the works analysed above, represent forms of hoarder montage. But I will (mostly) focus here on their production of ambivalent aesthetics.

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FIGURE 6.5 Silvia Kolbowski, After Hiroshima Mon Amour, 2008. Video/16 mm b+w film, sound, 22:14. © Silvia Kolbowski. Courtesy the artist. Kolbowski’s After Hiroshima Mon Amour (Fig. 6.5) offers a form of time- and space-travel between Hiroshima after the Second World War, the 2003 Iraq War and New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina (post-2005). She re-enacts Alain Resnais’s film Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), but replaces its protagonists (He and She, played by Emmanuelle Riva and Eija Okada) with a rotating roster of ten actors of different ethnicities. Its disorienting assemblage of actors destabilizes identifications with a stable subjectivity. Moreover, in After Hiroshima the protagonists often appear in the ubiquitous non-spaces of generically designed hotel rooms. Here, their conversations (based on Hiroshima’s script) about remembering and forgetting the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima depart from the specificity of the post-World War II period. This displacement is intensified as the film introduces documentary footage of the Iraq War (seen from the vantage point of American Soldiers) as well as of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The stories of Hiroshima intermingle with the stories of Iraqis and inhabitants of New Orleans. Hiroshima and Iraq were bombed by the US . New Orleans was devastated by the failure of FEMA (the US Federal Emergency Management Agency) following Hurricane Katrina. The (perpetual) aftermath of biopolitical violence that make possible the horrors of Hiroshima don’t cease; they transmute into the disaster zones of Iraq and New Orleans, and do not end there.60 Hito Steyerl’s November (Fig. 6.6) is structured around the concept of the ‘travelling image’ (resonating with Jagoda’s concept of ambivalent aesthetics in obvious ways as will become apparent).61 Amongst the many travelling images in November are repeatedly circulated images of the artist’s best friend, Andrea Wolf. In her

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FIGURE 6.6 Hito Steyerl, November, 2004. Video, 4:3, colour, sound 25: 14. © Hito Steyerl.

migration from Germany, where she was born, to Kurdistan, where she died after being shot by the Turkish military, Wolf transforms from being the protagonist of Steyerl’s first film – a loose appropriation of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) – into Sehît Ronahî, a martyr for the Kurdistan’s Workers’ Party (PKK ). Her image travels via placards paraded in protests against the oppression of Kurds in Germany, satellite transmissions into Steyerl’s lounge-room via a Kurdish news station two years after her death, and Steyerl’s own circulation of Wolf’s images in Steyerl’s video installations. This kind of ambivalent (fluid) image relentlessly continues to pursue the traces of Wolf, simultaneously representing a form of hoarder montage: unable or not wanting to let go of Wolf: it carries her throughout time and place. This is not surprising, since November is a work of mourning: Wolf’s resilient image – which appears in grainy 16 mm film and pixelated video footage – is not discarded into the forces of a flattening entropy of conflict and biopolitical brutality.62 It is circulated again and again

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via a transdisciplinary image regime spanning news media, art making and protests, which works to haunt the Turkish Government’s denial of Wolf’s execution (and more broadly of the repression of the PKK and the Kurdish movement). The location of Wolf’s grave was still unknown while Steyerl was making this film (it was discovered in 2011 in Çatak, Van). Meanwhile the Turkish Government was claiming that Wolf was still alive and that her disappearance was due to the fact that she had gone underground (into hiding). As a means to mobilize this unlikely version of Wolf’s fate, November brings into its fold footage of Bruce Lee. Wolf – a martial arts expert who trained members of the PKK – becomes Lee in Game of Death (1978) wherein he fakes his own death. This montage is interspersed with images of Lee’s actual funeral (he died as a consequence of being shot on set), and fighting scenes from Steyerl’s first film. To trace and be with Wolf’s many migrations in life and death, November embodies and maintains an ambivalent aesthetic, an aesthetic that through its fluidity is able to animate/mobilize the image and disrupt the ‘monopoly on reality’ (to borrow Rancière’s words) advanced by the Turkish State that renders void the Kurdish struggle for autonomy while denying its participation in the production of bare life.63 Through images available to the artist November finds ways to chart the gaps, glitches and tensions in a system that renders Wolf both invisible – in an unknown grave – and a resilient iconic image (as martyr and friend). Steyerl’s travelling images, then, offer a means to not only stay with the various lives of an image, in particular the lives of Wolf’s images, but also trace how images move through, affect and are affected by various political and cultural forces. In November, there is the assumption that, in an era of contemporaneity, the tensions and differences between distinct political forces, figures and ideologies cannot be clearly demarcated.64 As Steyerl narrates in her film: We are not any longer in the period of October, described by Eisenstein, when the Cossacks decide to join the Russian proletarians in Internationalist brotherhood during the Bolshevik revolution. Now, we are in the period of November. In November, the former heroes become madmen and die in extralegal executions somewhere on a dirty roadside, and hardly anyone takes a closer look.

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In November the revolutionary spirit of October 1917 becomes the condition of aftermath in November 1989.65 Rather than projecting the potentiality of (expired) dialectics of class, struggle or race with a sense of how they might offer resolution to various forms of inequity and systemic violence, November advances a collision of multiple, disjunctive historical fragments which fuse into each other, and offer no obvious reference as to where resistance may lie in the present or future.66 Rather than being paralysed by a melancholia that wishes for the revival of an anachronistic concept of revolution, it presents an aesthetic of ambivalence that stays open to the mutability of narratives and histories: in grappling with the contested history of Wolf, Steyerl’s ambivalence aesthetics offers a mode of counter-memory that operates through a persistent, committed repeated de- and re-contextualization of historical fragments which trace the diffused modalities of power and violence that shape subjectivity in contemporaneity; this does not result in some kind of all-swallowing mass/mess of time/history, however. Not giving in to the end of the possibility of resistance, through ‘travelling’ with Wolf, Steyerl’s work forges mnemonic-paths and crafts image-constellations that are capable of staying with, or keeping up with (rather than attempting to ignore) the challenges of living in a time where the source of violence and power is increasingly difficult to locate. In doing so, Steyerl offers a productive example of counter-memorial aesthetics, which while ‘taking a closer look’ at repressed ‘extralegal executions’ and bringing to the fore the complex power-structures that make such executions possible (and invisible), she casts her images as always fluid and capable of mutating in order to embody ambivalence and therefore resistance: a resistance that thrives on being confronted by the borderlessness of power, its multiplicity, heterogeneity, and excess today.67

Living with excess How to be present with the many times, too many times, excess times, of contemporaneity? We live in times where there is no universalizing force binding us together, yet we are connected to everything. There is no point in apprehending this totality, as if that were even possible. But it is from an attempt to stay with this mass, not as an indecipherable collection of wreckage, but as a collection of fragments that collide, blur and resonate, that a politics of

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heterogeneity can arise and persist. An allegiance with and acceptance of being in this mass and moving through it, of not being centred in any one place, time or node, may be the only way to keep going (as unsatisfactory or disorientating as this stratagem may be). The language of ambivalence, as discussed here, sometimes appears to border on romanticizing fluidity or the concept of being ‘groundless’, always on the move. It is not that this fluid mobility is meant to do away with the politics and precarity of being rootless. Asylum or refugeedom, for example, are founded on the need to locate stability, namely citizenship, and thus might appear distinct from a postcolonial aesthetics such as counter-memorial aesthetics, that embraces the political and creative potential of rootlessness.68 Rootlessness, here, does not forget the precarity of asylum or refugeedom, or the privilege of fluid mobility (‘freedom’ as discussed in Chapter 5). We live in ‘precarious ecologies’ marked by inequity or inequitable divisions of power and subject positions, which, as Meskimmon argues, call upon the privileged to act ‘response-ably and responsibly’ toward the other. This condition of contemporaneity requires a subject position that is not, however, based on some false sense of stability, or on a central, totalizing view of the world picture. It requires a subjectivity that is capable of shifting perspectives, flowing and working through the multiplicity and fragmentation of contemporaneity (as mobilized through empathy or, at other times, characterized by curiosity or disconnection: not everything is seen or understood here). Being rootless is to recognize that the ground beneath us, which was thought to offer stability, has disappeared and that horizon line of telos has also retreated. Binding the works examined in this chapter together is their commitment to a world picture that doesn’t assume a stable (or dominating) central subject and embraces displacement and groundlessness (read here as closely associated terms and as rootlessness). This kind of world picturing often entails engagements with diverse forms of migration (refugeedom, scatter, travelling images, and so on), and this might be because the study of contemporaneity is productively advanced by engaging discourses, such as those of forced and voluntary migration, that think broadly and are capable of mapping the complexities of global geopolitics and intersubjective relations.69 As a concept that is deeply indebted to migratory and diasporic aesthetics (Chapter 1) as well as the study of refugee histories, this book’s concept of counter-memory builds on

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the work of scholars such as Geyer and Bright, Spivak, Smith and Osborne and attempts to offer a way to grapple with the challenges of writing the history of and being present with contemporaneity. Video installations such as Ten Thousand Waves, Erasure, Corridor X, After Hiroshima Mon Amour and November enable a way of being in the world of conflicting or incongruous spatio-temporal dynamics. Relations to one event interconnect with another, and then another. It does not matter if the arrangement of fragments within these image-worlds carries a specific meaning or value for the artistas-hoarder but this meaning or form of categorization is elusive to the viewer (as in Brown and Green’s atlas, Chapter 4). These worlds thrive on the viewer’s ambivalence, their capacity to be with multiplicity, rather than arrive at a point of satisfaction or conclusion. It requires our constant negotiation of multiple and multiplying temporalities and historical markers, many of which remain elusive or missed, because this is the nature of being with too many times. Counter-memorial aesthetics, then, is not a homology of contemporaneity, but it does mirror its condition of multiplicity by underscoring that there is much at stake in being with too many times: excess. We must attend to the discards, the trash, histories left behind in the charge toward globalization, while staying with the many paradoxes and conflicts of contemporaneity, in order to do away with a positivist account of how we got here and/or a teleological account of where we are going. Counter-memorial aesthetics elicits unrelenting shifts in perspectives to embed us in a multi-polar world picture that stays open to incompleteness. It assumes that the value of constructing images and memories of the world will lie in embracing its gaps, aporia and disjunctions rather than in smoothing over difference. Living without a totalizing vision of the world or world history results in living with uncertainty. This is not to say that uncertain ways of living should be embraced, but counter-memorial aesthetics necessarily lives in a precarious, or uncertain space. It remains open to shifting perspectives and multifarious historical narratives to allow for a broad reading of what constitutes our world and what subjects are present therein.

Afterword Living with Aftermath

As I complete this book, there has been a seeming shift in attitudes and policies toward refugees. The shift, it seems, was triggered by visual culture. As one European headline put it, ‘one crisis, three photos: how europe started caring for refugees ’.1 The three photos identified by the article depict the following: a pregnant Eritrean woman, Wegasi Nebiat, being rescued from a shipwrecked vessel on the Greek island of Rhodes. A Syrian refugee, Laith Majid, disembarking a flimsy boat with his children on the shores of the Greek island of Kos. A small boy, Aylan Kurdi, from Kobané (in Rojava, northern Syria) washed up on the shores of a Turkish beach near Bodrum, laying face down on the sand. These images, taken between May and August 2015, depict the desperation of people fleeing conflict, imprisonment or seeking a better life. But their situation cannot really be justified by thinking that it is driven by ‘one crisis’. In 2015, the number of boats carrying refugees fleeing the Middle East and North Africa and arriving in Europe, mainly in Italy and Greece, has been of historic proportions. In the first half of 2015, the numbers have extended well beyond 700,000 refugees landing in Europe, with thousands more drowning on the way.2 The sheer volume of refugees fleeing by boat (but also by foot, air, rail and road) is driven by the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, the perpetual state of emergency imposed in Eritrea and crippling poverty 181

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in Kosovo and various parts of China.3 While the numbers here certainly represent a crisis, reading this crisis as singular or even unique to Europe is unhelpful. The recent events and images of refugees arriving on Greek and Turkish shores in fragile boats, or images of refugees travelling by rail to Belgium and Germany, or images of refugees being barricaded by police officers or enclosed by barbed wire fences in Macedonia are better thought of as nodes in a broader (spatio-temporal) network of multiple and multiplying refugee ‘crises’ and crises of the many antinomies of contemporaneity (race, capital, conflict, religion, borders). These crises find their counter-parts in Guantanamo Bay (Chapter 2), Woomera detention centre (Chapter 3), Morecambe Bay (Chapter 6) and many other sites. As this book argues (most empathically in Chapter 6), we are not living in a period where the complexity, duration and form of events can be comprehended by reading them in isolation. We do not live in a period where events can be delimited by a clear start or end point: geopolitical forces and the forces of globalization ensure that seemingly singular occurrences find themselves repeated across the globe and eventually start to blur and collide into each other. Interconnectivity is key here. And it is productive to read refugee crises, and images of such crises, as part of a network. Without network thinking, images that trigger moral outrage for things that have been ongoing for a very long time and across many different spaces threaten to ignore or forget less recent refugee crises, refugee crises without images or other manifestations of bare life that escape the global news media circuit. While many people were outraged at the image of the dead boy, Aylan, on the shores of a Turkish beach, nothing is said about the 146 child refugees that drowned in the Indian Ocean when SIEV-X sunk on its way to Australia, or the possibility that the sinking of this boat was if not orchestrated then at least passively permitted by the Australian Government (Chapter 5). Little is said about the thousands of other refugee lives lost over the last two decades in the Mediterranean Sea or the Indian Ocean (to name two sites of multiple maritime disasters) – and even less is said about who may carry the burden of grappling with the traumas of these events. To edit the newspaper heading cited above: ‘have Europeans or other subjects in the global North started caring for refugees?’ If we take Spivak’s notion that, ‘responsibility is . . . contamination’, then

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it is possible to see how, perhaps, the circulation of ‘viral’ images, memes, have contaminated subjects.4 The viral images may have triggered an intersubjective contamination between the spectator and the images’ subject, or a contamination between spectators revelling in public solidarity and mutual outrage. In eliciting such contamination, there is clearly something worthwhile in the politics and aesthetics of such images, for they are central to grassroots movements that have led to shifts in refugee policies in Germany, Australia and the UK . But the idea of ‘change’ or ‘progress’ is suspicious when history shows that the camps and the production of bare life will always survive (Chapters 3 and 5). The horrors signified in the ‘viral’ images mentioned above are not new. So if things are not ‘new’ (and ‘progress’ is an unreliable concept, Chapters 3 and 6) then memory, and more specifically counter-memory may offer a better way to stay with the multiple and multiplying aftermaths of contemporaneity and refugee experiences (which continue to accumulate, layer upon layer) so not as to assume their finitude (or that this has only happened once).

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NOTES

Prologue 1

This account of the refugees’ sighting of the Tampa is based on David Marr and Marian Wilkinson’s research and text: David Marr and Marian Wilkinson, Dark Victory (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2003), 1. See Chapter 1 for my definition of the term, ‘refugee’, pages 10–11.

2

Marr and Wilkinson, Dark Victory, 21.

3

Anthony Burke, Fear of Security: Australia’s Invasion Anxiety, rev. ed. (Cambridge and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 207; Matthew J. Gibney, The Ethics and Politics of Asylum (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Ishan Ashutosh and Alison Mountz, ‘The Geopolitics of Migrant Mobility: Tracing State Relations through Refugee Claims, Boats and Discourses’, Geopolitics 17, no. 2 (2012): 335–54; Mohamed Hashem, ‘A Haven No More: Canada’s Conservative Refugee Policy’, Aljazeera, 15 September 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/ features/2015/09/haven-canada-conservative-refugeepolicy-150915082517641.html [accessed 04/10/2015].

4

The New Zealand Government stepped forward to accept 132 of the Tampa refugees. The other 301 refugees were taken to Australia’s offshore processing centres located in Nauru, according to an agreement based on the latter nation accepting aid from the former.

5

David Farrier, Postcolonial Asylum: Seeking Sanctuary before the Law (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011).

6

Emma Cox, Performing Noncitizenship (London: Anthem Press, 2015).

7

Charlie Hailey, Camps: A Guide to 21st-Century Space (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2009), 260.

8

Giorgio Agamben, State of Exception (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005); Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign 185

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Power and Bare Life, Meridian series (Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, 1998). 9

This breadth of work is documented in: T.J. Demos, The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013) and Nikos Papastergiadis, Cosmopolitanism and Culture (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012).

Introduction 1

Such readings of counter-memory appear, for example, in: Joan Gibbons, ‘Revisions: The Reassembling of “History”’, in Contemporary Art and Memory: Images of Recollection and Remembrance (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009), 52–72.

2

As Giorgio Agamben argues, for example, ‘the camp – as the pure, absolute, and impassable biopolitical space (insofar as it is founded solely on the state of exception) – will appear as the hidden paradigm of the political space of modernity, whose metamorphoses and disguises we will have to learn to recognize’. Agamben, Homo Sacer, 72–3.

3

The ‘children overboard affair’ saw the Australian Government manipulate a selection of Australian Defence Force photographs to look like refugees were throwing their children overboard in a ploy to get the Navy to rescue them and gain passage into Australia; SIEV-X saw 353 refugees drown in Australian waters.

4

Pierre Nora, ‘Between Memory and History’, in Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past, ed. Pierre Nora (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 1–3.

5

Papastergiadis, Cosmopolitanism and Culture; Marsha Meskimmon, Contemporary Art and the Cosmopolitan Imagination (London and New York: Routledge, 2011). Though, it should be noted: I do consider theories of cosmopolitanism in Chapters 2 and 6 in particular, but unlike Meskimmon and Papastergiadis, this is not the focus of my analysis in this book.

6

Demos, The Migrant Image.

7

Peter Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art (London: Verso, 2013).

8

This aesthetic paradigm is touched on in: James Elkins and Harper Montgomery, eds Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 10.

NOTES

9

187

David Campany, ‘Safety in Numbness: Some Remarks on Problems of “Late Photography”’, in The Cinematic, ed. David Campany (London and Cambridge, MA : Whitechapel and MIT Press, 2007), 186.

10 Schmidt puts ‘history painting’ in inverted commas to make plain that he is not engaging with a naïve form of this outmoded genre and is aware of the contentiousness of this term in contemporary art discourse. In order to allow a concept of this term to unfold without any insinuation that the term is being used ironically rather than critically, and in order to allow this term to vouch for itself, I won’t place it in inverted commas from hereon. For Schmidt’s discussions on his concept of history painting see: Dierk Schmidt, ‘What I Am Theoretically Interested in is the Connection between Violence, Traumatization and the Loss of Speech: Conversation with Philosopher and Journalist Carolin Emcke, Berlin, September 2004’, in SIEV-X: On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, ed. Dierk Schmidt (Berlin: b_books, 2005), 45–56.

Chapter One 1

Terry Smith, What Is Contemporary Art? (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 4.

2

Smith, What Is Contemporary Art?, 5–6; also see: Terry Smith, ‘World Picturing in Contemporary Art: The Iconogeographic Turn’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art 6/7, no. 1/2 (2006): 24–46.

3

Rosalind E. Krauss, ‘ “Informe” without Conclusion’, October 78 (Autumn, 1996): 90. Krauss makes the argument that the proletariat represented ‘excess’ during modernity through her discussion of the Surrealist, Georges Bataille.

4

Ibid.

5

Chapter 2 of this book examines how geopolitics influences the category of the ‘authentic’ refugee.

6

Matthew Gibney, The Ethics and Politics of Asylum (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 7.

7

Michel Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1975–76, eds Mauro Bertani and Alessandro Fontana (Picador: New York, 2003), 255.

8

Ibid.

9

See: Agamben, Homo Sacer.

188

NOTES

10 See, for example: Okwui Enwezor, ‘Documentary/Vérité: Bio-Politics, Human Rights, and the Figure of “Truth” in Contemporary Art’, in Greenroom: Reconsidering the Documentary and Contemporary Art, eds Hito Steyerl and Maria Lind (Berlin and New York: Sternberg Press and C.C.S. Bard, 2008), 62–103. 11 I borrow this term from: Okwui Enwezor, The Unhomely: Phantom Scenes in Global Society: 2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville (Seville: Fundación Bienal Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo de Sevilla, 2006), 13–16. T.J. Demos uses the term ‘shadowy’ for the refugee. See: T.J. Demos, ‘The Ends of Exile: Toward a Coming Universality’, in The Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009, ed. Nicolas Bourriaud (London: Tate Britain, 2009), 87. 12 Andreas Huyssen, Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, 2003), 11. Also see: Andreas Huyssen, Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Amnesia (New York: Routledge, 1995); Pierre Nora, ‘Between Memory and History: Les Lieux De Mémoire’, Representations 26 (Spring, 1989), special issue: Memory and Counter-Memory: 7–24; Jill Bennett, Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma, and Contemporary Art (Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, 2005). 13 Foucault developed his notion of counter-memory in: Michel Foucault, ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History (1971)’, in Michel Foucault: Aesthetics, Method, Epistemology, ed. James D. Faubion (London: Penguin, 1998), 369–92. Also published in: Michel Foucault, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews (Oxford: Blackwell, 1977). For more recent interpretations of counter-memory, see: Joan Gibbons, ‘Revisions: The Reassembling of “History”’, in Contemporary Art and Memory: Images of Recollection and Remembrance (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009), 52–72; Maria Sturken, ‘The Politics of Video Memory: Electronic Erasures and Inscriptions’, in Resolutions: Contemporary Video Practices, eds Michael Renov and Erica Suderburg (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), 1–12; Katherine Dieckmann, ‘Godard’s Counter-Memory’, Art in America 81 (October, 1993): 65–7. 14 Gibbons, Contemporary Art and Memory, 63. 15 Ibid., 54. 16 Hal Foster, ‘An Archival Impulse’, October 110 (Fall, 2004): 3–22. 17 Gene Ray, Terror and the Sublime in Art and Critical Theory from Auschwitz to Hiroshima to September 11 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 89.

NOTES

189

18 See: Michel Foucault and Cahiers du Cinema, ‘Film and Popular Memory’, Radical Philosophy 11 (Summer, 1975): 24–9. 19 Nikos Papastergiadis, ‘Art in the Age of Siege’, Glocal Times 2 (2005), http://www.glocaltimes.k3.mah.se/viewarticle. aspx?articleID=36&issueID=4 [accessed 05/08/2008]. 20 Ibid. 21 In the order that these terms are mentioned: Jill Bennett, Empathic Vision, 124–48; David McNeill, ‘Art without Authors: Networks, Assemblages and “Flat” Ontology’, Third Text 24, no. 4 (July, 2010), 398; Nicolas Bourriaud, ‘Altermodern’, in Altermodern: Tate Triennial, 11–24; Peter Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art (London: Verso, 2013); Huyssen, Present Pasts, 13. The term ‘expanded field’ is Krauss’, but Huyssen uses it to articulate transnational modes of memory and memorialisation. See: Andreas Huyssen, ‘Memory Sites in an Expanded Field: The Memory Park in Buenos Aires’, in Present Pasts, 96. 22 Mieke Bal, ‘Heterochrony in the Act: The Migratory Politics of Time’, in Proceedings of the Second Encuentro Murcia – Amsterdam on Migratory Aesthetics, September 19–21, 2007 (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 2007), 203; Bourriaud, Altermodern, 11–24; Huyssen, Twilight Memories, 1–9. 23 McNeill, ‘Art without Authors’, 398. 24 This is the case, for example, when Joan Gibbons, while arguing that an artist like Yonki Shonibare, whose practice is mired in the aesthetics of hybridity and postcolonialism contingent on a complex dialectic of disparate localities and temporalities, produces countermemory as a means to disturb ‘British imperialism’. This is not so much incorrect as it is a limited reading of such works, which does not take into consideration the ‘expanded field of history’. See also: Gibbons, Contemporary Art and Memory, 68–71. 25 Foucault, ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History (1971)’, 386–87. 26 We may note that for Foucault, the study of history is always the study of commemorative forms; and this includes the study of archives – which Foucault defined as those statements, books, articles and laws – which constitute the sum of the parts of discourse. See: Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge (New York: Pantheon, 1972). 27 Foucault, ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History (1971)’, 369–92. 28 Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, 129, quoted in Enwezor, Archive Fever, 12. 29 Foucault, ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History (1971)’, 382.

190

NOTES

30 Young and Liza Saltzman have deemed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be an exemplary counter-monument. See: Lisa Saltzman, Making Memory Matter: Strategies of Remembrance in Contemporary Art (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2006), 7–8; and James E. Young, The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 11 and 325. But clearly the politics of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is brought into question by Burden’s countermonument. 31 While employing the term counter-memory, Young never really associates his work with Foucault’s. Foucault’s work, in fact, is only ever engaged by Young in order to distinguish the two scholar’s practices. Young actively distinguishes his discourse from Foucault’s, arguing: ‘Unlike Foucault . . . I would not displace more traditional notion of history with hypermediated versions.’ James E. Young, At Memory’s Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000), 11. 32 Young, At Memory’s Edge, 11. Young’s italics. 33 Young references Nietzsche in: Young, ‘The Counter-Monument: Memory against Itself in Germany Today’, 295; Young, The Texture of Memory, 4. 34 Young, At Memory’s Edge, 7. 35 Ibid., 119. 36 Young, At Memory’s Edge, 118. 37 Ibid., 118–19. 38 For a critique of humanist tendencies in contemporary art practice and discourse see: Thierry de Duve, ‘Art in the Face of Radical Evil’, October 125 (Summer, 2008): 3–23, and T.J. Demos, ‘Photography’s (Post)Humanist Interventions: Or, Can Photography Make the World More Liveable?’, in 4th Fotofestival: Mannheim Ludwigshafen Heidelberg, eds Katerina Gregos and Solvej Helweg Ovesen (Mannheim, Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg: 4th Fotofestival, 2011), 191–8. 39 Young, The Texture of Memory, 32. 40 Thierry de Duve, ‘Art in the Face of Radical Evil’, October 125 (Summer, 2008), 19. 41 See: Foucault, ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History (1971)’, 369–92. 42 Sergiusz Michalski, Public Monuments: Art in Political Bondage 1870–1997 (London: Reaktion Books, 1998), 207.

NOTES

191

43 Hans Haacke, ‘Und Ihr habt doch gesiegt’, October 48 (Spring, 1988): 83. 44 Ibid., 85. 45 Sergiusz Michalski, Public Monuments, 207. 46 Foucault and Cahiers du Cinema, ‘Film and Popular Memory’. 47 See: Sturken, ‘The Politics of Video Memory: Electronic Erasures and Inscriptions’, 1–12; Dieckmann, ‘Godard’s Counter-Memory’, 65–7; Gibbons, ‘Revisions: The Reassembling of “History”’, 52–72. 48 See: Kobena Mercer, ‘Diaspora Culture and the Dialogic Imagination: The Aesthetics of Black Independent Film in Britain’, in Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies (New York: Routledge, 1994), 53–68. Here, Mercer also analyses Isaac Julien’s Territories (1984). However, I only focus on Handsworth Songs because it effectively demonstrates Mercer’s broad argument (which also applies to Territories). 49 Mercer, ‘Diaspora Culture and the Dialogic Imagination’, 59. 50 Ibid., 60. 51 Ibid., 61. 52 Ibid., 65. Mercer’s italics. 53 Ibid. 54 Rancière quoted in Toni Ross, ‘Departures from Postmodern Doctrine in Jacques Rancière’s Account of the Politics of Artistic Modernity’, in special issue Rancière: Politics, Art & Sense, Transformations 19 (2011), http://www.transformationsjournal.org/ journal/issue_19/article_06.shtml [accessed 10/07/2011]. Ross and Papastergiadis acknowledge the centrality of montage to Rancière’s theory of aesthetics. See: Nikos Papastergiadis, Cosmopolitanism and Culture (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012), 97; Toni Ross, ‘Image, Montage’, in Jacques Rancière: Key Concepts, ed. Jean-Phillipe Deranty (Stocksfield: Acumen Publishing, 2010), 151–68. 55 Jacques Rancière, ‘The Aesthetic Revolution and Its Outcomes’, New Left Review 14 (March–April, 2002), np. 56 See: Jacques Rancière, ‘Sentence, Image, History’, in The Future of the Image (London and New York: Verso, 2007), 33–68. 57 Jacques Rancière, ‘The Paradoxes of Political Art’, in Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (London and New York: Continuum, 2010), 147.

192

NOTES

58 Jacques Rancière and Peter Hallward, ‘Politics and Aesthetics: An Interview’, Angelaki 8, no. 2 (August, 2003): 205. 59 Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible (London and New York: Continuum, 2004), 12–19. 60 Rancière continues: ‘it is a delimitation of spaces and times, of the visible and invisible of speech and noise, that simultaneously determines the place and the stakes of politics as a form of experience’. Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, 13. 61 Ibid. 62 Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, 13. For an overview of related debates on the topic of the aestheticization of politics see: Martin Jay, ‘ “The Aesthetic Ideology” as Ideology; or, What Does It Mean to Aestheticize Politics?’, Cultural Critique 21 (Spring, 1992): 41–61. 63 Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, 63. 64 Ibid. 65 See: Rancière, ‘The Aesthetic Revolution and Its Outcomes’, np. 66 Beth Hinderliter, William Kaizen, Vered Maimon, Jaleh Mansoor and Seth McCormick, Communities of Sense: Rethinking Aesthetics and Politics (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009), 6. 67 Jacques Rancière, ‘The Paradoxes of Political Art’, in Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (London and New York: Continuum, 2010), 143. 68 Nikos Papastergiadis and Charles Esche, ‘Assemblies in Art and Politics: An Interview with Jacques Rancière’, Theory, Culture and Society 31, no. 7–8 (2014): 27–41. 69 Foucault and Cahiers du Cinema, ‘Film and Popular Memory’. 70 Gene Ray, Terror and the Sublime in Art and Critical Theory: From Auschwitz to Hiroshima to September 11 (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). 71 Boris Groys, ‘Comrades of Time’, in Going Public (Berlin and New York: Sternberg Press, 2010). 72 I am here invoking Jameson’s discourse of postmodernization and cultural amnesia, which I discuss in more detail in Chapter 6. Frederic Jameson, ‘The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’, New Left Review 1, no. 146 (1984): 53–92. 73 James Elkins and Harper Montgomery, Beyond the Aesthetic and the Anti-Aesthetic (Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania, 2013), 10. Elkins and Montgomery’s italics.

NOTES

193

74 Demos, The Migrant Image, 5–10. 75 T.J. Demos, The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2007), 40. 76 Ibid., 40–41. 77 Ibid., 41. 78 Ibid., 41. 79 Ibid., 43. Demos continues, ‘a threat that Malraux redressed by an eventual return to a form of national identity’. 80 Demos provides a fairly useful distinction between these terms. For him exile denotes the experience of banishment, or of the refugee fleeing persecution, while the diaspora is collective scatter, and the migrant is voluntary movement, which is also perhaps nomadic. Demos, The Migrant Image, xv and 3. Demos’s strategy is to expand the concept of the ‘migrant’ to include both forced and voluntary mobility; in contrast, I seek to expand the concept of the refugee as noted above, with different aesthetic and political implications. 81 Bennett, Empathic Vision, 139. 82 Hybridization, argues Papastergiadis, comprises three ‘levels’. The first level refers to the ‘visible effects of difference within identity as a consequence of the incorporation of foreign elements’. The second level refers to ‘cultural differences which are either naturalized or neutralized within the body of the host culture’. And the third level is ‘linked to aesthetics processes’ akin to montage. See: Papastergiadis, Cosmopolitanism and Culture, 9–10. Counter-memorial aesthetics invokes all three of these levels. 83 Demos does not engage with Osborne but I invoke Osborne here to make plain Demos’s focus and to differentiate it from a focus on contemporaneity in any systematic way. The Osborne quote is from: Anywhere or Not at All, 135. 84 See, for example: Bal, ‘Heterochrony in the Act’, 1–28; Angela Melitopoulos, ‘Timescape: The Logic of the Sentence’, transversal – eipcp multilingual web journal (January, 2007), http://eipcp.net/ transversal/0107/melitopoulos/en [accessed 02/09/2015]. 85 Jacques Rancière, ‘Politics, Identification, and Subjectivization’, October 61 (Summer, 1992): 58–64. 86 Bennett, Empathic Vision, 127–40. 87 Demos, The Migrant Image, 18. 88 Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All, 201.

194

NOTES

Chapter Two 1

Aviva Chomsky, Barry Carr and Pamela Maria Smorkaloff, The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003).

2

They represent approximately 10 to 12 per cent of the Cuban population. Felix Roberto Masud-Piloto, From Welcomed Exiles to Illegal Immigrants: Cuban Migration to the U.S., 1959–1995 (Lanham, MD : Rowman & Littlefield, 1996), 1–18.

3

Ibid.

4

Maria Cristina Garcâia, Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959–1994 (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1996).

5

Luis Camnitzer, ‘Book Review: Memoria De La Postguerra’, Art Nexus 15 (Jan–March, 1995): 29–30; Gerardo Mosquera, ‘Cuba in Tania Bruguera’s Work: The Body is the Social Body’, in Tania Bruguera: On the Political Imaginary, eds Helaine Posner, Gerardo Mosquera and Carrie Lambert-Beatty (New York: Charta, 2009), 30–35.

6

Sujatha Fernandes, ‘Postwar Reconstructions: Cuban Public Art and the Making of Transnational Communities’ (paper presented at the Meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2004).

7

Rachel Weiss (et al.), Making Art Global (Part 1): The Third Havana Biennial 1989 (London: Afterall Books, 2011).

8

Ibid.

9

With the exception of one exhibition of her work in the 1993 International Drawing Biennial in England and another at the 2nd International Poster Biennial in Mexico City, Bruguera had not exhibited outside of Cuba consistently until 1995. See CV Bruguera, http://www.taniabruguera.com/info_cv.html [accessed 05/09/2015].

10 Sujatha Fernandes, ‘Postwar Reconstructions’; Sujatha Fernandes, Cuba Represent!: Cuban Arts, State Power, and the Making of New Revolutionary Cultures (Durham, NC : Duke University Press, 2006). 11 Masud-Piloto, From Welcomed Exiles to Illegal Immigrants. 12 Ibid. 13 First edition published in November 1993; second in June 1994. 14 Fernandes, ‘Postwar Reconstructions’, 13: ‘Transnational flows make available possibilities for subaltern political action as they may

NOTES

195

facilitate novel kinds of collaborations and correspondences between local actors and nation-states in a changing global order.’ 15 Tania Bruguera, ‘From the Perspective of a Brainwashed Pioneer’, in Former West: Russian Avant-Garde Revisited (Netherlands: BAK , 2010), http://www.formerwest.org/ResearchSeminars/ RussianAvantgardeRevisited/Video/FromThePerspectiveOfABrainWashedPioneer [accessed 19/06/2015]. 16 Stephanie Schwartz, ‘Tania Bruguera: Between Histories’, Oxford Art Journal 35, no. 2 (2012): 215–32. 17 Ibid, 225. Another analysis of the state of being ‘in between histories’ in a post-socialist context is found in: Uroš Cˇvoro, ‘Transitional Archives: Art “in between” Historical Memories in Former Yugoslavia’, Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies 29, no. 5 (2015), DOI : 10.1080/10304312.2015.1073689. 18 Rachel Weiss, To and from Utopia in the New Cuban Art (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), xiii. 19 Fernandes, ‘Postwar Reconstructions’, 2. 20 Weiss, To and from Utopia in the New Cuban Art, xiii. 21 Ibid. 22 Luis Camnitzer, New Art of Cuba (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003). 23 Elso’s influence on Bruguera’s practice came to the fore by blurring art and life rather than the aesthetics of Volumen 1. Bruguera states regarding Elso, ‘What inspired me from the 80s were not specific works, it was more the atmosphere of debate, the creative energy, the different way of looking at society, the exchange of ideas, the emergency, the carefree nature, the defying gestures, the sensation of community, the social movement, the – confident – illusion that art could change reality.’ See Agar Ledo, ‘Huellas íntimas: entrevista con Tania Bruguera’, Lápiz: Revista Internacional de Arte XXIII , no. 207 (2004): 48–63. 24 Rachel Weiss, ‘A Certain Place and a Certain Time: The Third Biennial de La Habana and the Origins of the Global Exhibition’, in Making Art Global (Part 1): The Third Havana Biennial 1989, 55–6. 25 Gerardo Mosquera, ‘The Third Biennial de la Habana in its Global and Local Contexts’, in Making Art Global (Part 1): The Third Havana Biennial 1989, 78. 26 While the works of many of los 80s had been scandalous and to various degrees censored, the artists responsible had maintained their teaching positions at the country’s art school, the ISA , thus signalling

196

NOTES

the Ministry of Culture’s attempts to not return to the period of Quinquenio Gris. This tolerance was largely seen to dissipate when Ángel Delgado was arrested and imprisoned for a period of six months, charged with ‘public scandal’ over a performance. 27 Gerardo Mosquera, ‘Cuba in Tania Bruguera’s Work: The Body is the Social Body’, 30–35. 28 This concept is partly influenced by Bruguera’s work in Cuban juvenile detention centres, or Escualas de Conducta (Behaviour Schools). See Bruguera in Tom Finkelpearl, What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2013), 179–203. 29 Francesca di Nardo, ‘Arte de Conducta’, Janus 1, no. 22 (January 2007): 78–83. 30 Schwartz, ‘Tania Bruguera: Between Histories’, 219. 31 Flora M. González Mandri, ‘Operation Pedro Pan: A Tale of Trauma and Remembrance’, Latino Studies 6, no. 3 (2008): 252–68. 32 For an overview on the extended debates on the cause of Mendieta’s death, including Carl Andre’s involvement, see: Sean O’Hagan, ‘Ana Mendieta: Death of an Artist Foretold in Blood’, Guardian, 22 September 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/ sep/22/ana-mendieta-artist-work-foretold-death [accessed 13/09/2015]. 33 Olga Viso, ‘Rituals of Rebirth’, in Unseen Mendieta: The Unpublished Works of Ana Mendieta (New York: Prestel Publishing, 2008), 109. 34 ‘I believe this to be a direct result of my having been torn away from my homeland during my adolescence.’ Mendieta quoted in Viso, ‘Rituals of Rebirth’, 109. 35 Olga Viso, Ana Mendieta: Earth Body (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2004), 38–9. Schwartz argues she made a trip seven times, but does cite her source. See Schwartz, ‘Tania Bruguera: Between Histories’, 217. 36 Tamar Rosenblum, ‘From “Special Period” Aesthetics to Global Relevance in Cuban Art: Tania Bruguera, Carlos Garaicoa, Los Carpinteros’, (PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 2013), 80. 37 One of these books, Monte (1954), was Lydia Cabrera’s seminal anthropological study of Afro-Cuban religions developed on the island by the Yoruba people and Congolese following Cuba’s slave trade from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.

NOTES

197

38 Gerardo Mosquera, ‘Reanimating Ana Mendieta’, Poliéster 4, no. 11 (1995): 52–5. 39 Gerardo Mosquera, ‘Tania Bruguera/Ana Mendieta’, in Tania Bruguera/Ana Mendieta, vol. 2 (Havana: CDAV, 1992). 40 Bruguera states: ‘at the time those who had left the country were erased from history by the authorities, including cultural authorities’. Tania Bruguera, ‘Gerlad Matt in Conversation with Tania Bruguera’, in Portraits: Kunsthalle Wein Project Space, eds Gerald Matt and Silvia Hölle (Vienna: Treitlsstraße Kunsthalle Wein, 2006), 61–2. 41 At the same time as Mendieta returned, the Mariel Boat lift occurred, which resulted in 125,000 exiles landing in Miami in 1980. See Masud-Piloto, From Welcomed Exiles to Illegal Immigrants. 42 Roselee Goldberg and Tania Bruguera, ‘Interview I: Regarding Ana’, in La Biennale Di Venezia, ed. Prince Claus (Chicago: Lowitz and Son, 2005), 8–12. 43 Mosquera, ‘Reanimating Ana Mendieta’. Bruguera repeats this sentiment in Goldberg and Bruguera, ‘Interview I: Regarding Ana’. 44 It was a means to ‘recover her presence in the collective imagination’. Mosquera, ibid. 45 Bruguera, ‘Gerlad Matt in Conversation with Tania Bruguera’. 46 Goldberg and Bruguera, ‘Interview I: Regarding Ana’. 47 Bruguera destroyed all of her documentation, but has recuperated some of the documentation of Homenaje through the photographs of audiences and critics, etc. See Schwartz, ‘Tania Bruguera: Between Histories’. 48 Regarding Homenaje, Bruguera decided to complete the project when two art history students from the University of Havana approached her to advise her that they were writing theses on Ana Mendieta’s place in Cuban art. Ibid. 49 Camnitzer, New Art of Cuba, 35. 50 Ibid. The Cuban Government doesn’t especially endorse Afro-Cuban culture but it is widely seen as an integral part of society and to be central to the formation of an independent Cuban identity. 51 Ulrich Beck, ‘The Cosmopolitan Society and Its Enemies’, Theory, Culture & Society 19, no. 1–2 (2002): 17–44. 52 Kathryn Yusoff and Jennifer Gabrys, ‘Climate Change and the Imagination’, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate 2, no. 4 (2011): 516–34. 53 Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All, 208.

198

NOTES

54 Beck, ‘The Cosmopolitan Society and Its Enemies’, 18. 55 Jorge Ruiz Miyares, ‘A Look at Media in Cuba’, Peace Review 11, no. 1 (1999): 77–82. 56 Michel Foucault, The Courage of Truth: The Government of Self and Others II: Lectures at the Collège De France 1983–1984 (Basingstoke, Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 44. 57 Schwartz, ‘Tania Bruguera: Between Histories’. 58 Ibid. 59 Juan O. Tamayo, ‘Thick Files and a Long Memory’, Nieman Reports (Summer, 2014): 14–17. 60 Ibid. 61 Ivan Rodriguez, ‘La Cara Oculta: The Role of the Media in Cuba: Is It Education, Entertainment or a Weapon of a Revolution?’ (PhD diss., State University of New York, 2007). 62 Fernandes, Cuba Represent!, 141. 63 Bruguera argues: ‘At the time there wasn’t a single magazine because there was no money.’ Ibid. The Cuban printing industry depended entirely on the Soviet Union for its resources and when these materials dwindled after 1989 they were keenly managed by the State. By 1994, along with other official newspapers, Granma had halved its publication quota compared to that which it had been in 1989 (prior to the Special Period). Ruiz Miyares, ‘A Look at Media in Cuba’, 77–82. 64 Schwartz, ‘Tania Bruguera: Between Histories’, 225. 65 Rosenblum, ‘From “Special Period” Aesthetics to Global Relevance in Cuban Art: Tania Bruguera, Carlos Garaicoa, Los Carpinteros’, 140. 66 Schwartz, ‘Tania Bruguera: Between Histories’, 222; Weiss, To and from Utopia in the New Cuban Art. 67 Tania Bruguera, ‘Postwar Memories’, in By Heart/De MemoriaCuban Women’s Journeys in and out of Exile, ed. Marina de los Angeles Torres (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003), 169–89. 68 The contemporary as a ‘living, existing, or occurring together in time’. Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All, 15. 69 Fadrage Tudela in Fernandes, Cuba Represent!, 140–1. 70 Tania Bruguera, ‘Memoria de la Postguerra II’, http://www. taniabruguera.com/cms/564–1-Memoria+de+la+Postguerra+II.htm [accessed 02/10/2015].

NOTES

199

71 Fernandes, Cuba Represent!, 140–1. 72 For varying accounts see: Weiss, To and from Utopia in the New Cuban Art, 232; ‘Appendix of Political Imagination’, in Tania Bruguera: On the Political Imaginary, 128–9; Fernandes, Cuba Represent!, 140–1; Camnitzer, ‘Book Review: Memoria De La Postguerra’, 30. 73 For the various accounts see: ibid. 74 T.P. Johnston, Being Soviet: Identity, Rumour, and Everyday Life under Stalin 1939–1953, Oxford Historical Monographs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). 75 As Bruguera argues, ‘Rumour is precisely the documentation of these works. They are pieces that are remembered, not seen, remembered as any other event is in life of the people who participated in it.’ Bruguera in Roselee Goldberg and Tania Bruguera, ‘Being Cuban: Interview II ’, in La Biennale Di Venezia, ed. Prince Claus (Chicago: Lowitz and Son, 2005), 11–21. 76 Tania Bruguera, ‘When Behaviour Becomes Form’, Parachute Contemporary Art La Habana 125 (January 2007): 62–70. 77 Foucault and Cahiers du Cinema, ‘Film and Popular Memory’, 25. 78 Tania Bruguera, ‘Postwar Memories’, 169–89. 79 Ibid. 80 Bruguera discusses this in relation to the Burden of Guilt, but given the similar nature of this and the abovementioned works for the Biennial, it is clear that ‘fear’ influenced many of her performance works after this period. ‘I felt I had compromised and at the same time I was worried about how one continues to make work under such circumstances. Submission as a way of surviving. “Do I bend toward their demands, or do I do my own work?” ’, Goldberg and Bruguera, ‘Being Cuban: Interview II’. 81 Luis Camnitzer, ‘Review: The Fifth Biennial of Cuba’, Third Text 8, no. 28–29 (1994): 147–54. 82 Smith, What Is Contemporary Art?, 156. 83 Garcâia, Havana USA, ix. 84 Masud-Piloto, From Welcomed Exiles to Illegal Immigrants, 1. 85 Ibid. 86 Beck, ‘The Cosmopolitan Society and its Enemies’, 38. 87 Johannes Birringer, ‘Art in America (the Dream)’, Performance Research 3, no. 1 (1998): 26.

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Chapter Three 1

This is Laing’s description of the Woomera detention centre which critics have repeatedly used in their analysis of Laing’s images: see for example: Vivenne Webb, ‘Exploring Place’, in The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing (Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2005), 17; Tanya Peterson, ‘Hallucinations’, in Handle With Care – CONTEMPORARY VISUAL ART PROJECTS 2008: to walk on a sea of salt (Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia: Australian Biennial of Australian Art, 2008), np; Wayne Tunnicliffe, ‘You Cannot Get Past the Fence’, in Think with the Senses: Feel with the Mind: Art in the Present Tense, ed. Robert Storr (New York: Rizzoli International, 2007), 54.

2

Peterson, ‘Hallucinations’, np.

3

Think for example of the phrase ‘Howard’s Battlers’ adopted for John Howard’s Federal election campaign c. 1996. The term ‘battler’ in an Australian context is first seen in Henry Lawson’s While Billy Boils (1896): ‘I sat on him pretty hard for his pretensions, and paid him out for all the patronage he’d worked off on me . . . and told him never to pretend to me again that he was a battler.’ See: Australian National Dictionary, http://australiannationaldictionary.com.au [accessed 10/10/2012]. Also see: Noriko Sekiya, ‘Aussie “battler” as a Cultural Keyword in Australian English’, Griffith Working Papers in Pragmatics and Intercultural Communication 1, no. 1 (2008): 21–32.

4

For more information on this policy and its influence on modern and contemporary Australia see: James Jupp, From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration, 2nd ed. (Port Melbourne, VIC : Cambridge University Press, 2007).

5

See: Robert Mann, ‘A Turkish Tale: Gallipoli and the Armenian Genocide’, The Monthly 20 (February, 2007), http://www. themonthly.com.au/issue/2007/february/1327543545/robert-manne/ turkish-tale-gallipoli-and-armenian-genocide [accessed 14/05/2009].

6

Regarding the influence of the settler discourse in contemporary Australia see: Lorenzo Verancini, ‘Historylessness: Australia as a Settler Colonial Collective’, Postcolonial Studies 10, no. 3 (2007): 271–85.

7

The latter is almost identical to welcome to Australia and you would not be able to discern the differences in a black and white image, so it is not printed here.

8

Abigail Solomon-Godeau, ‘The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing’, in The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing (Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2005), 43.

NOTES

9

201

Robert Nelson, ‘Dubious Contrasts’, The Age, 8 May 2005. For similar readings see: Peterson, ‘Hallucinations’, np; Webb, ‘Exploring Place’.

10 Laura Harding, ‘21 Beach Cells’, Landscape Architecture Australia 117 (February, 2008): 63–5. 11 See: Webb, ‘Exploring Place’; Peterson, ‘Hallucinations’, np. 12 Walter Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (London: Pimlico, 1999), 249. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid., 248. 15 Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, ed. Rolf Tiedemann (Cambridge, MA and London: Belkaap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999), 462 [Konvolut N3, 1]. 16 Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, 248. 17 This occurred over Easter in 2002. 18 Sven Spieker, The Big Archive: Art from Bureaucracy (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2008), 131–72. 19 See: Hito Steyerl, ‘Documentary Uncertainty’, A Prior 15 (2007), http://www.aprior.org/articles/28m [accessed 15/01/2008]; Hito Steyerl and Maria Lind, eds, Greenroom: Reconsidering the Documentary and Contemporary Art (Berlin and New York: Sternberg Press and CCS Bard, 2008). 20 See: John Roberts, ‘Photography after the Photograph: Event, Archive and the Non-Symbolic’, Oxford Art Journal 32, no. 2 (2009): 281–98. 21 David Campany, ‘Safety in Numbness: Some Remarks on Problems of “Late Photography” (2003)’, in The Cinematic, ed. David Campany (London and Cambridge, MA : Whitechapel and MIT Press, 2007), 185–6. 22 The first in-depth analysis is found in: Ulrich Baer, Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2002). 23 Campany, ‘Safety in Numbness’, 185–6. 24 David Campany, Photography and Cinema (London: Reaktion, 2008), 44. 25 Campany, ‘Safety in Numbness’, 189. 26 This is discussed in John Roberts, ‘Photography after the Photograph: Event, Archive and the Non-Symbolic’, Oxford Art Journal 32, no. 2 (2009): 281–98.

202

NOTES

27 This is discussed in Roberts, ‘Photography after the Photograph’, 281–98. 28 Campany, Photography and Cinema, 44. 29 This is also evident, for example, in the commemorative function of Paul Seawright’s images of Afghanistan and Iraq, commissioned and collected by the Imperial War Museum. 30 See: Campany, ‘Safety in Numbness’, 192–3; Sarah James, ‘Making an Ugly World Beautiful, Morality and Aesthetics in the Aftermath’, in Memory of Fire: The War of Images and Images of War, ed. Julian Stallabrass (Brighton: Photoworks, 2008), 12–15. 31 James, ‘Making an Ugly World Beautiful’, 15. 32 Ibid. 33 Campany, ‘Safety in Numbness’, 192. 34 Ibid. 35 Ibid., 193. Similarly, James argues: ‘In courting the sublime, it does not ever “press too close” to the real human face of war.’ James, ‘Making an Ugly World Beautiful’, 14. 36 Julian Stallabrass, ‘Rohan Jayasekera and Julian Stallabrass in Conversation About the Sublime Image of Destruction’, http://www. scribd.com/doc/34876318/Rohan-Jayasekera-Questions-and-Answers [accessed 25/05/2011]. 37 Ibid. 38 Stallabrass, ‘Rohan Jayasekera and Julian Stallabrass in Conversation.’ 39 Under the sublime, distance, argues Ray, is not ‘sustainable’ because the sublime hit – akin to trauma – ruptures the borders between art and life. The binaries of the ‘real/simulacra’, ‘inside/outside’ and ‘art/ life’ are undone. Gene Ray, Terror and the Sublime in Art and Critical Theory: From Auschwitz to Hiroshima to September 11 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), 11. Also see: Gene Ray, ‘Hits: From Trauma and the Sublime to Radical Critique’, Third Text 23, no. 2 (2009): 135–49. 40 The term ‘aftereffectiveness’ is borrowed from: Ray, Terror and the Sublime in Art and Critical Theory, 1. 41 Ibid. 42 Ibid. 43 Ibid. 44 Anthony Gardner, ‘Un-Australian and Proud’, un Magazine 6 (Summer, 2005): 36–7. The full quote is: ‘Being “Un-Australian” or

NOTES

203

“political” may be a strategic style, incorporating political “edginess” within lush artworks so that their prices increase at the same rate as the impression of political profundity (on the parts of both artist and collector). Dare I cite here Rosemary Laing’s Welcome to Australia [sic] (2004), a Gursky-style abstraction of the Woomera detention centre so lightweight that it wouldn’t topple a gallery wall let alone government ideology?’ 45 Fer quoted in Mark Godfrey, Abstraction and the Holocaust (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007), 4. 46 Godfrey, Abstraction and the Holocaust, 4. 47 Ibid. 48 Roberts, ‘Photography after the Photograph’, 291. 49 Laing, interview. 50 Ibid. 51 Ibid. 52 Joseph Pugliese, ‘The Tutelary Architecture of Immigration Detention Prisons and the Spectacle of “Necessary Suffering” ’, Architectural Theory Review 13, no. 2 (2008): 206–21. 53 Ibid. 54 Olivier Razac, Barbed Wire: A Political History (New York: The New Press, 2002), 85; quoted in Pugliese, ‘The Tutelary Architecture of Immigration Detention Prisons and the Spectacle of “Necessary Suffering”’, 209. 55 Laing, interview. 56 Rosalind E. Krauss, ‘Grids’, in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 1985), 18–19. 57 This expands Pugliese’s readings of Krauss via welcome in ‘The Tutelary Architecture of Immigration Detention Prisons and the Spectacle of “Necessary Suffering” ’, 214–15. 58 The camp, as Agamben has argued, appears wherever the distinction between the citizen and the other prevails, wherever the state of exception is instilled and humans are simultaneously subjected to the Nation-State’s rule and exempted from elementary human rights (it is a consistent paradigm of the West). Agamben, ‘What Is a Camp’, 43–4. 59 Joseph Pugliese, ‘The Tutelary Architecture of Immigration Detention Prisons and the Spectacle of “Necessary Suffering” ’, Architectural Theory Review 13, no. 2 (2008): 215.

204

NOTES

60 For a reading of Australia as a camp see: Suvendrini Perera, ‘What Is a Camp . . .?’, Borderlands 1, no. 1 (2002), http://www. borderlandsejournal.adelaide.edu.au/vol1no1_2002/perera_camp. html [accessed 10/04/2008]. 61 Anthony Burke, Fear of Security: Australia’s Invasion Anxiety (Port Melbourne, VIC : Cambridge University Press, 2008), 18. 62 Perera, ‘What Is a Camp . . .?’; Burke, Fear of Security, 27. 63 Lesley Instone, ‘Walking Towards Woomera: Touring the Boundaries of “UnAustralian Geographies”’, Cultural Geographies 17 (2010): 363. 64 Ibid. 65 Juan Davila, ‘Woomera’, Artlink 23, no. 1 (2003): 19; Perera, ‘What Is a Camp . . .?’; Adam Geczy, ‘Mike Parr: Close the Concentration Camps’, Artlink 23, no. 1 (2003): 43–6. 66 On the notion of ‘impossible’ histories in Australia see: Verancini, ‘Historylessness: Australia as a Settler Colonial Collective’, 271–85. 67 Ibid. 68 Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, 249. Benjamin’s italics. 69 Benjamin, Arcades Project, 455 [Konvolut N1.1]. 70 Benjamin, Arcades Project, 455 [Konvolut N1.1]. 71 Laing, interview. 72 Webb, ‘Exploring Place’, 6. 73 Laing, interview. 74 See: Inke Arns, ‘History Will Repeat Itself’, in History Will Repeat Itself: Strategies of Reenactment in Contemporary (Media) Art and Performance, ed. Inke Arns (Berlin: KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 2007), 36–63. 75 Amelia Jones, ‘The Artist Is Present: Artistic Re-Enactments and the Impossibility of Presence’, TDR: The Drama Review 55, no. 1 (Spring, 2011): 16–45. A similar argument is put forward in: Charles Green and Anthony Gardner, ‘The Second Self: A Hostage of Cultural Memory’, A Prior 16 (March, 2008): 229–48. 76 Ibid. Jones’ italics. 77 Ibid. Jones’ italics. 78 Sven Lütticken, ‘An Arena in Which to Reenact’, in Life, Once More: Forms of Reenactment in Contemporary Art, ed. Sven Lütticken (Rotterdam: Witte de With, Centre for Contemporary Art, 2005), 43, 45.

NOTES

205

79 This is the condition of repetition in Benjamin’s lexicon. See: Eduardo Cadava, Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), 31. 80 Webb, ‘Exploring Place’, 6–12. 81 Cadava, Words of Light, 72. 82 Ibid. 83 Ibid., 76–8. 84 Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism (London: New Left Books, 1973), 115; quoted in Cadava, Words of Light, 77–8. 85 Cadava, Words of Light, 78. 86 For Solomon-Godeau’s argument regarding Laing’s oeuvre see: Solomon-Godeau, ‘The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing’, 42. 87 Laing, interview. 88 Peterson argues that in the photograph to walk on a sea of salt Laing frames the image from the perspective of Sturt, the explorer, looking out into the ever-expanding horizon. The image, through its presentation of the harsh, blinding light of the desert and the infinitely expanding salt grains, which made parts of central Australia uninhabitable and inhospitable to colonization, brings to the fore Sturt’s conception of this place as marking the point where, in his words, ‘the ordinary course of nature had been arrested’, thus quelling colonialist desires. Peterson, ‘Hallucinations’, np. 89 Indeed, Solomon-Godeau argues, the photographs created signal a ‘symbolic linkage, the unbounded landscape of the Australian imaginary, grimly paralleling the bounded space of incarceration’. Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Rosemary Laing (Dawes Point, NSW and New York: Piper Press and Prestel, 2012), 10. 90 See: Solomon-Godeau, ‘The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing’; Peterson, ‘Hallucinations’; Webb, ‘Exploring Place’. 91 See Pugliese on Krauss in ‘The Tutelary Architecture of Immigration Detention Prisons and the Spectacle of “Necessary Suffering” ’, 214–15. 92 Peterson, ‘Hallucinations’, np; Webb, ‘Exploring Place’, 15; Solomon-Godeau, ‘The Unquiet Landscapes of Rosemary Laing’, 36–47. 93 W.J.T Mitchell, ‘Imperial Landscape’, in Landscape and Power, ed. W. J. T Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 15.

206

NOTES

94 Ian Burn, ‘Acknowledgements’, in National Life and Landscapes: Australian Painting (Sydney: Bay Books, 1990), np. 95 ‘The emergence of an art publishing industry was important both to widening the audience for Australian art and popularising the achievements of its artists.’ Burn, National Life and Landscapes, 25. 96 As Walter Benjamin argued, in the age of mechanical reproducibility the artwork is no longer constrained to ritual – to the practices of the value of a work of art in a particular location (the location of a temple, for example) – but rather to the ‘exhibition value’ of a work as a mass disseminated object: ‘by the absolute emphasis on its exhibition value the work of art becomes a creation with entirely new functions, among which the function we are conscious of, the artistic function, later may be recognised as incidental’. Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt (London: Pimlico, 1999), 219. Laing argues that the connotations of her images are easily readable by way of the Australian viewer’s ‘genetic literacy’ for such images (Laing, interview). In turn, she clearly depends on our knowledge of the images she references, and on our knowing their connotations, by way perhaps of our encounters with such images in grandparents’ lounge rooms, as was the case for Burns, or in thrift-stores (or op-shops) where we may also stumble upon such outdated art reproductions. 97 Mitchell, ‘Imperial Landscape’, 5. 98 The migrants were: 27-year-old Adriana Zevenbergen, her husband Cornelis, and her sons Cornelis, 5 and Addo, 1. Trove: National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/161332467?q=100 %2C000th+dutch+migrant&c=picture&versionId=175873651 [accessed 10/11/2010]. 99 Trove: National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ version/176013168 [accessed 10/11/2010]. 100 While in 1914 Heysen had been perceived as ‘the model citizen’, by 1916 he had become the ‘enemy within’. See: Anne Elias, ‘ “Art Has No Country”: Hans Heysen and the Consequences of the First World War’, History Australia 6, no. 1 (2009): 4.6. 101 Ibid., 4.2–4.3. 102 Ibid., 4.2. 103 Ibid., 4.5. 104 Ibid., 4.3.

NOTES

207

105 Hall quoted in Elias, ‘ “Art Has No Country” ’. 106 Heysen himself was not imprisoned since from 1899 he had been a citizen of Australia. But some of Heysen’s family and friends were interned in prisoner of war camps in New South Wales; Heysen kept in contact with them and supplied art materials to deter the anxiety and boredom of imprisonment. Elias, ‘“Art Has No Country” ’, 4.6. 107 Instone, ‘Walking Towards Woomera’, 363. 108 See, for example: Webb, ‘Exploring Place’, 6–7. 109 French, ‘Brownwork Airport NASA’. 110 Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, 254.

Chapter Four 1

David Marr, ‘Truth Overboard – the Story that Won’t Go Away’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 February 2006, http://www.smh.com.au/ news/national/truth-overboard--the-story-that-wont-goaway/2006/02/27/1141020023654.html [accessed 08/11/2012].

2

Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge and The Discourse on Language (New York: Pantheon Books, 1972).

3

Charles Green, ‘The Atlas Effect: Constraint, Freedom and the Circulation of Images’, in Conflict, Migration and Convergence: The Proceedings of the 32nd International Congress of the History of Art, ed. Jaynie Anderson (Carlton, VIC : Melbourne University Publishing, 2009), 945.

4

Also see: Joan Gibbons, Contemporary Art and Memory: Images of Recollection and Remembrance (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009). See: Lyndell Brown, ‘Mnemosyne: Memory and Forgetting in Art’ (PhD diss., University of New South Wales, 2004). Critics have often dwelt on the indecipherability of Brown and Green’s atlas and the effect this has on our capacities for engaging history. This is the case with those critics who applaud Brown and Green’s work, as well as with those who condemn it. One critic, dismissing the atlas, argues: ‘Because you can’t see the rapport between the fragments you feel teased by an unwinnable endgame. The point could either be that there is a link between the images or there isn’t. You don’t know and you’re mystified.’ Yet another critic, applauding the artists’ work and its capacity to mobilize intrigue, argues that we may experience momentary flashes of understanding,

5

208

NOTES

but these lucid moments are ‘phantom-like’, vanishing and soon returning us to our curious and difficult search for meaning in these picture puzzles. See: Robert Nelson, ‘Getting Lost in the Archive’, The Age, 14 September 2005, 18; Janette Hoorn, ‘The Desiring Phantom’, Art and Australia 35, no. 3 (1998): 374–81. 6

Nikos Papastergiadis, ‘Trompe L’oeil: Under the Signs of Everything’, in Towards a Theory of Everything (Sydney: Australian Centre for Photography, 1999), np. Papastergiadis adds to the above: ‘As we have not shared their journey the trail of association that we seek will have to be originated from our own position. The work on the wall will elicit fascination and curiosity but the structures of meaning are not transparent to the viewer.’

7

Blair French, Tranquility: From Darkness to Light: Farrell and Parkin/Brown and Green (Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2005), np.

8

Also see: Nelson, ‘Getting Lost in the Archive’, 18.

9

Sven Spieker, The Big Archive: Art from Bureaucracy (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2008), xiii.

10 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, ‘Robert Smithson’s Ghost in 1920s Hamburg: Reading Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas as a Non Site’, Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation 18, no. 2 (2002a): 179. 11 Lyndell Brown, Arcadia (Clayton: Monash University Faculty of Art and Design Gallery, 2003), np. 12 Michel Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1981–82 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005 [1981–2]). 13 Boris Groys, Going Public (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010). 14 Ibid., 41. 15 This in part because they are both trained art historians. Charles Green is Professor of Contemporary Art History at the University of Melbourne, and obtained his PhD in Art History from the same university in 1999. Lyndell Brown obtained her PhD from the School of Art History and Theory, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in 2004. 16 The concept of postconceptualism is developed, for example, in Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All. 17 Francisco Prado-Vilar, ‘Tragedy’s Forgotten Beauty: The Medieval Return of Orestes in Life’, in Death and Representation: Some New

NOTES

209

Work on Roman Sarcophagi, eds Jas Elsner and Janet Huskinson (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010), 83–119. 18 Quoted in Prado-Vilar, ‘Tragedy’s Forgotten Beauty’, 90. 19 Charles Green, ‘The Memory Effect: Anachronism, Time and Motion’, Third Text 22, no. 6 (2008): 688. 20 Benjamin Buchloh, ‘Gerhard Richter’s Atlas: The Anomic Archive’, October 88 (1999): 131. 21 Matthew Rampley, The Remembrance of Things Past: On Aby M. Warburg and Walter Benjamin (Gratia, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2000). 22 Ibid., 88. 23 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, ‘Robert Smithson’s Ghost in 1920s Hamburg: Reading Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas as a Non Site’, Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation 18, no. 2 (2002a): 179. 24 Robert Smithson, ‘A Tour of the New Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey (1967)’, in Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, ed. Jack D. Flam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996 [1967]), 68–75. In his well-known articulation of entropy, Smithson stated: ‘I should now like to prove the irreversibility of eternity by using a jejune experiment for proving entropy. Picture in your mind’s eye the sand box divided in half with black sand on one side and white sand on the other. We take a child and have him run hundreds of times clockwise in the box until the sand gets mixed and begins to turn gray; after that we have him run anti-clockwise, but the result will not be a restoration of the original division but a greater degree of grayness and an increase of entropy.’ 25 Brown and Green, ‘Robert Smithson’s Ghost in 1920s Hamburg’, 172–3. 26 Ibid. For a similar viewpoint see: Maria Gainza, ‘Atlas’, Artforum 49, no. 8 (2011): 234. 27 Bing (c. 1929) quoted in Brown and Green, ‘Robert Smithson’s Ghost in 1920s Hamburg’, 168–9. 28 Ibid., 169. 29 Ibid. 30 Lyndell Brown, ‘Mnemosyne: Memory and Forgetting in Art’, 46. 31 Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, ‘Self-Portrait: Sanctuary’, Art and Australia 40, no. 2 (2002b): 249. 32 Ibid.

210

NOTES

33 Developed after: Barbara Stafford, Visual Analogy: Consciousness as the Art of Connecting (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 1999). 34 Brown and Green, ‘Self Portrait’, 249. 35 Ibid. 36 Nelson, ‘Getting Lost in the Archive’, 18. 37 Quoted in Michael Temple and James S. Williams, eds, The Cinema Alone: Essays on the Work of Jean-Luc Godard, 1985–2000 (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2000), 25. 38 Ibid., 24–5. 39 Kaja Silverman, ‘The Author as Receiver’, October 96 (2000): 17. 40 Charles Green, The Third Hand: Collaboration in Art from Conceptualism to Postmodernism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001). 41 Ibid., 199. 42 Lyndell Brown, Arcadia (Clayton: Monash University Faculty of Art and Design Gallery, 2003). 43 Monica Dall’asta, ‘The (Im)possible History’, in For Ever Godard, eds Michael Temple, James S. Williams and Michael Witt (London: Black Dog, 2007), 361. 44 For another answer to the broader question of why conceptual or postconceptual artists paint, see: Jan Verwoert, ‘Why are Conceptual Artists Painting Again? Because they Think it’s a Good Idea’, Afterall 12 (2005), http://www.afterall.org/journal/issue.12/why.are. conceptual.artists.painting.again.because [accessed 02/01/2015]. 45 Lyndell Brown interview by author, Melbourne, 27 June 2009. Audio and transcript on file with author. 46 Brown and Green, ‘Self-Portrait’, 249. 47 Quoted in Diarmuid Costello, ‘After Medium-Specificity Chez Fried: Jeff Wall as a Painter, Gerhard Richter as a Photographer’, in Photography Theory, ed. James Elkins (New York: Routledge, 2007), 81. 48 Ibid., 75–91. 49 See: Frances Guerin, ‘The Grey Space Between: Gerhard Richter’s 18 Oktober 1977’, in The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture, eds Frances Guerin and Roger Hallas (London and New York: Wallflower Press, 2007), 113–28. 50 Ibid. 51 Michael Fried, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 42–3.

NOTES

211

52 Ibid., 43. 53 Brown, interview. 54 Brown, Arcadia, np. 55 Brown and Green, ‘Robert Smithson’s Ghost in 1920s Hamburg’, 173. 56 David Joselit, ‘What to Do with Pictures’, October 138 (2011): 82; David Joselit, ‘Truth or Dare: The Art of Witnessing’, Artforum 50, no. 1 (2011): 312–17. 57 Joselit, ‘What to Do with Pictures’, 82. 58 Joselit, ‘Truth or Dare’, 315. 59 Joselit, ‘What to Do with Pictures’, 82. 60 Joselit, ‘Truth or Dare’, 312–17. 61 Ibid., 315. 62 Groys, Going Public, 94. 63 Ibid. 64 Rosalind Krauss, The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 1985), 18. 65 See Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, ‘Contemporary War: A Message from Afghanistan’, 4 July 2013. Museum Victoria, http:// museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/lectures/afghanistan-pastlectures/contemporary-war/ [accessed 06/07/2015]. 66 Stafford, Visual Analogy, 11.

Chapter Five 1

See: Tony Kevin, A Certain Maritime Incident: The Sinking of SIEV-X (Melbourne: Scribe Publications, 2004), 12–33.

2

Such public requests came from, for example, the community-led SIEV-X Memorial Project http://www.sievxmemorial.com/thememorial.html [accessed 05/08/2012].

3

The description of the fragments as luminous is from: Sabine Vogel, ‘Dierk Schmidt: Galerie Ursula Walbröl’, Artforum 42, no. 2 (October, 2003): 182.

4

For an example of another art project that addresses the task of historicizing a maritime disaster involving refugees see Multiplicity’s video installation, Solid Sea 01: The Ghost Ship (2002). This project, which manifested around the same time as Schmidt’s SIEV-X work,

212

NOTES

also engages with non-linear, exploratory modes of historiography (via the moving image). It is not analysed here, in part, because there is much to be learned from Schmidt’s work and his engagements with the genre of history painting – the focus on history painting is key to this chapter’s analysis. In another part, I don’t analyse Solid Sea because it was not possible for this author to access more than just very short excerpts of the work or to make contact with Multiplicity to access the work (my emails went unanswered). For an analysis of Solid Sea see: Steffen Köhn, ‘Organising Complexities: The Potential of Multi-screen Video Installation for Ethnographic Practice and Representation’, Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies 27, no. 5: 553–68. 5

As Peter Seddon and David Green argue, history painting began to evolve in the fifteenth century in the post-Renaissance period, but did not properly mature until the seventeenth century, reaching its apotheosis in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in revolutionary France. See: David Green and Peter Seddon, ‘Introduction: Art, Historiographical Practice and the Ends of History’, in History Painting Reassessed: The Representation of History in Contemporary Art, eds David Green and Peter Seddon (New York: Manchester University Press, 2000), 6.

6

See: Eisenman, ‘The Rhetoric of Realism: Courbet and the Origins of the Avant-Garde’, 236.

7

Michael Fried, ‘Three American Painters (1965)’, in Modern Art and Modernism: A Critical Anthology, eds. Francis Frascina, Charles Harrison and Deirdre Paul (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), 115. Originally published in Michael Fried, Three American Painters: Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Frank Stella (Cambridge, MA : Fogg Art Museum, 1965).

8

See: Benjamin Buchloh, ‘A Note on Gerhard Richter’s October 18, 1977’, October 48 (Spring, 1989): 88–109; Benjamin Buchloh, ‘Gerhard Richter: Painting after the Subject of History’ (PhD diss., City University of New York, 1994), 105–16; Green and Seddon, ‘Introduction’, 1–17.

9

For an overview of the return of historical representation in neoavant-garde and contemporary art see: Mark Godfrey, ‘The Artist as Historian’, October 120 (Spring, 2007): 140–72.

10 See: Hal Foster, The Return of the Real: The Avant-Garde at the End of the Century (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996). 11 See: Anne Wagner, ‘Warhol Paints History, or Race in America’, in ‘Race and Representations: Affirmative Action’, special issue, Representations 55 (Summer, 1996): 100–101.

NOTES

213

If standard interpretations of Pop Art saw its emergence as a means to eradicate abstraction and in turn, address the present and dwell on the amnesiac affect of the commodity fetish, recent interpretations of the art movement, and in particular Warhol’s work, have sought to stress its relationship to memory and historical representation. See: Godfrey, ‘The Artist as Historian’, 141; Hal Foster, ‘Death in America’, October 96 (Winter, 1996): 37–59. Further, for related analyses of Warhol’s interest in collecting and archiving see: Jonathan Flatley, ‘Like: Collecting and Collectivity’, October 132 (Spring, 2010): 71–98; and John W. Smith, ed., Possession Obsession: Andy Warhol and Collecting (Pittsburgh: The Andy Warhol Museum, 2002). 12 Wagner, ‘Warhol Paints History, or Race in America’, 110. The Race Riot images are part of Warhol’s Death in America series (c. 1963). 13 Ibid., 109. 14 Otherwise known as the Red Army Faction (RAF ), the BaaderMeinhof group was a German left-wing terrorist group that committed a series of crimes, including kidnappings and murder, throughout the 1970s. 15 Robert Storr, Gerhard Richter: October 18, 1977 (New York and London: Museum of Modern Art and Thames & Hudson, 2000), 27–39; Frances Guerin, ‘The Grey Space Between: Gerhard Richter’s 18. Oktober 1977’, in The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture, eds Frances Guerin and Roger Hallas (London and New York: Wallflower Press, 2007), 113–28. 16 Dierk Schmidt, interview by author, Berlin, 20 July 2009, audio and transcript on file with author. 17 Ibid. See also: Schmidt, ‘What I Am Theoretically Interested in’, in SIEV-X: On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, ed. Dierk Schmidt (Berlin: b_books, 2005), 45; Clemens Krümmel, ‘The Raft of the Historical Image: Dierk Schmidt’s Painting against Painting’, in SIEV-X: On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 86. Schmidt’s self-reflexive and profound engagement with art history has been numerously observed. See for example: Roger Buergel, ‘Painting History Now’, in Objectif [Projects] 1999–2001, ed. Phillipe Piroette et al. (Antwerp: Objectif, 2002), np. 18 Buchloh, ‘A Note on Gerhard Richter’s October 18, 1977’, 100. 19 Hal Foster, ‘An Archival Impulse’, October 110 (Fall, 2004): 5. 20 Lisa Saltzman, Making Memory Matter: Strategies of Remembrance in Contemporary Art (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2006), 53. Similarly, for T.J. Demos, the aesthetics of the silhouette or the shadow opens up a space to emphasize ‘the

214

NOTES

parallel between political illegibility and representational erasure’ that concerns figures subjected to ‘bare life’. Demos, ‘Life Full of Holes’, Grey Room 24 (Summer, 2006): 72–87. 21 Schmidt, ‘What I Am Theoretically Interested in Is the Connection between Violence, Traumatization and the Loss of Speech’, 55. 22 The number ‘150’ references the number of subjects pushed onto the raft of the Medusa in 1816, depicted in Géricault’s painting The Raft of the Medusa. The influence of this painting and event on Schmidt’s work is detailed below. Further, there were in fact 45 SIEV-X survivors. Yet the initial media reports claimed that there were 44 survivors. Schmidt records the early media reports in Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene. 23 Schmidt, ‘What I Am Theoretically Interested in Is the Connection between Violence, Traumatization and the Loss of Speech’, 55. 24 Hito Steyerl, ‘Documentary Uncertainty’, A Prior 15 (2007), www. aprior.org/apm15_steyerl_docu.htm [accessed 15/01/2008]. For related arguments see: Hito Steyerl, ‘In Defense of the Poor Image’, e-flux journal 10 (November, 2009), http://www.e-flux.com/journal/ in-defense-of-the-poor-image [accessed 23/12/2009]. 25 Steyerl, ‘Documentary Uncertainty’, www.aprior.org/apm15_steyerl_ docu.htm [accessed 15/01/2008]. 26 But this decision is also surely reflective of Schmidt’s desire to continue Richter’s questioning of the possibilities of either painting or photography in fostering a lucid account of history. If Richter’s ‘blur’ signifies the opacity of the photographic and painted image, Schmidt’s schematic image references the failure of the digital transmission and the limitations of painting’s representational capacities. 27 Schmidt, ‘What I Am Theoretically Interested in Is the Connection between Violence, Traumatization and the Loss of Speech’, 56. 28 See: Dierk Schmidt, ‘History Image Vs. History Painting’, in Painting – the Implicit Horizon, eds Avigail Moss and Kerstin Stakemeier (Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Academie, 2012), 57–8. 29 Ibid., 58. 30 Schmidt, ‘What I Am Theoretically Interested In Is the Connection between Violence, Traumatization and the Loss of Speech’, 45. 31 Peter Weiss, Die Äestheik des Widerstands, (Frankfurt, Main: Suhrkamp, 1983), 426 and 483; quoted in Schmidt, SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, np. Weiss’ book centres around three teenage protagonists raised in working-class families amidst the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany

NOTES

215

circa 1937 and the subsequent fall of proletarian party politics: in the face of fascism, the protagonists, who meet in museums and galleries, work through the relations between art and political resistances from earlier eras as seen in a range of artworks. The translation of Weiss’ text in Schmidt’s book slightly differs from that which is found in: Peter Weiss, The Aesthetics of Resistance, vol. 1 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005). However, I have restricted myself to quoting from Schmidt’s book as only the first of three volumes of The Aesthetics of Resistance are available in English from Duke University Press, and Schmidt quotes from the first two volumes. It’s worth observing Crow’s conflicting account of why the Raft was hung high. Crow argues, The Raft’s elevated position was a result of the artist’s intervention in the exhibition organiser’s original decision to have the painting hung at viewers’ eye-level. Géricault had wanted The Raft to be hung at the upper-most level of the Salon, where grand history paintings were usually hung, allowing for its expansive and bold composition to be appreciated from a distance. Yet, as he watched his painting being lifted into position, Géricault realized his mistake. The image, and its capacity to generate an empathic affect, required a certain proximity to the viewer: a spatial relationship between the body of the viewer and the pathos-laden figures on the raft. Without this, argues Crow, the impact of the image was lost. Moreover, by the time the image was shown, the Government had punished those involved with the crime of the Medusa, reform was already under way. As Crow argues, ‘the scandal [as propagated by Savigny and Corrérad] had done its work: the captain had been disgraced, the governor and minister removed’. With this in mind, Géricault had hoped that his image, which symbolized Government reformation, would attract the State’s purchase. While to Géricault’s disappointment this never manifested, ‘contrary to legend’, argues Crow, the painting was highly ranked within the Salon’s competition and granted a medal. Crow, ‘Classicism in Crisis: Gros to Delacroix’, 70–71. 32 Schmidt, ‘What I Am Theoretically Interested In Is the Connection between Violence, Traumatization and the Loss of Speech’, 45. 33 Ibid., 46–55. 34 Ibid., 54. 35 Ibid., 55. 36 Ibid., 55. 37 Ibid., 54–5. 38 Ibid.

216

NOTES

39 Clark’s italics, see: T.J. Clark, The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France, 1848–1851 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1973), 129. 40 The juxtaposition of Liberty and The Raft would inform Schmidt’s work: when asked what prompted him to create On a Case, Schmidt responded: ‘I was prompted by a visit to the Louvre in 2001, where Géricault’s painting, The Raft of the Medusa, was hanging right next to the painting titled Liberty Guiding the People [. . .] This constellation interested me because it ignored the different aesthetical concepts that these pictures reflected in French Romanticism and the quite different responses to them.’ Schmidt, ‘What I Am Theoretically Interested in Is the Connection between Violence, Traumatization and the Loss of Speech’, 45. 41 As Weiss argues, The Raft is ‘viewed as if by a drowning person’. See: Weiss, The Aesthetics of Resistance, 303. 42 The exhibition comprised several parts – ‘inherence’, ‘militancy’, ‘the production of symbols’ and ‘universality’. Schmidt would exhibit under the theme, ‘the production of symbols’. See: Alice Creischer and Andreas Siekmann, eds, Die Gewalt Ist Der Rand Aller Dinge/ Violence Is at the Margin of All Things (Vienna and Cologne: Generali Foundation and Walther König, 2001). For a review of the exhibition see: Brigitte Huck, ‘Die Gewalt Ist Der Rand Aller Dinge: Generali Foundation’, Artforum 40, no. 9 (May, 2002): 191. 43 Huck, ‘Die Gewalt Ist Der Rand Aller Dinge: Generali Foundation’, 191. 44 Weiss, Die Ästhetik des Widerstands, 425, quoted in Schmidt, SIEV-X: On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, np. 45 Schmidt, ‘Introduction’, in SIEV-X: On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 4. 46 Schmidt, interview. 47 Regarding the placement of his work in the Australian Parliament, Schmidt argued: ‘It was clear that I would like to have it placed in Canberra in the office of Ruddock or Howard. [Since this was impossible] I decided to paint a wall where I would like to have it.’ Schmidt, interview. 48 Jacques Rancière, ‘What Makes Images Unacceptable?’ (paper presented at Pacific North West College of the Arts, Portland, Oregon, 29 February 2008). QuickTime movie file, http://homeroom. pnca.edu/inline/46842.mov [accessed 01/10/2010]. 49 Ibid. 50 Jacques Rancière, ‘The Aesthetic Revolution and Its Outcomes’, New Left Review 14 (March–April, 2002): 151.

NOTES

217

51 Boris Groys, ‘Art and Politic’, in Where Art Worlds Meet: Multiple Modernities and the Global Salon, ed. Robert Storr (Venice: Marsilio, 2005), 252. 52 Hilde Van Gelder, ‘Allan Sekula: The Documenta 12 Project (and Beyond)’, http://www.academia.edu/1059343/Allan_Sekula_The_ Documenta_12_Project_and_beyond_ [accessed 10/02/2012]. Originally published in: Hilde Van Gelder, ‘Allan Sekula: The Documenta 12 Project (and Beyond)’, A Prior 15 (Summer, 2007): 210–53. 53 Angela Lampe, ‘Dierk Schmidt: Geiseln’, Kunstforum International 175 (April–May, 2005): 273. Author’s copy translated by Alex Lauscheke. Lampe’s argument reflects a common understanding of Schmidt’s work: ‘Schmidt’s painting is a result of an investigative process [. . . the artist] focuses on a form of contemporary painting . . . [based] on research and active participation’. Städel Museum, ‘Press Release: Dierk Schmidt’s SIEV-X – on a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics or Géricault and the Question Concerning the Construction of History: April 9 – September 6, 2009, Städel Museum, Rotunda’, (Frankfurt: Städel Museum, 2009), np. 54 Van Gelder, ‘Allan Sekula: The Documenta 12 Project (and Beyond)’, http://www.academia.edu/1059343/Allan_Sekula_The_ Documenta_12_Project_and_beyond_ [accessed 10/02/2012]. 55 Ibid., 46–7. 56 Lars Bang Larsen, ‘Dierk Schmidt: Packing the Hard Potatoes’, Afterall 29 (Spring, 2012), 120. 57 Dierk Schmidt, ‘Introduction’, in SIEV-X: On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 5. Within the publication SIEV-X: On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, there are also numerous interviews with refugee activists such as Tony Kevin, Carolin Emcke and Paolo Cuttina. However, it’s crucial to observe that these interviews took place during mid-2004, almost three years after the sinking of SIEV-X and the commencement of Schmidt’s corresponding project, and a year after Schmidt’s final painting for the image-cycle. As such, these interviews were a means for Schmidt to elaborate on the project’s concept, rather than a means for the artist to ‘gather information’ for the image-cycle. 58 Dierk Schmidt, ‘One Cannot Maintain this Sort of Policy While Continuing to Be a Democracy’, in SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 12; Schmidt, ‘What I Am Theoretically Interested in’, 55; Clemens Krümmel, ‘The Raft of the Historical Image: Dierk Schmidt’s Painting against Painting’, in SIEV-X – On a Case of Intensified Refugee Politics, 83.

218

NOTES

59 For an excellent analysis of history painting in relation to the discourse of ‘known knowns’ etc. (after Donald Rumsfeld) see: Robert Bailey, ‘Unknown Knowns: Jenny Holzer’s Redaction Paintings and the History of the War on Terror’, October 142 (Fall, 2012): 144–61. 60 For a similar argument in a different context see: David Joselit, ‘Material Witness: Visual Evidence and the Case of Eric Garner’, Artforum (February, 2015), https://artforum.com/inprint/ issue=201502&id=49798 [accessed 28/10/2015]. 61 As Schmidt argues, ‘my tools are this pen and the web’. Schmidt, interview. For analyses of the paradigm of the artist as researcher that has emerged with the rise of the World Wide Web in contemporary art practice see: Hal Foster, ‘An Archival Impulse’, October 110 (Fall, 2004): 3–22; Claire Bishop, ‘Digital Divide’, Artforum 51, no. 1, (September, 2012): 434–41, also available online: http://artforum. com/inprint/id=31944 [accessed 02/10/2012]; David Joselit, ‘What to Do with Pictures’, in ‘Digital Art’, special issue, October 138 (Fall, 2011): 81–94; David Joselit, ‘Truth or Dare: The Art of Witnessing’, Artforum 50, no. 1 (September, 2011): 312–17; Nicolas Bourriaud, Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World, 2nd ed. (New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2005). 62 Foster, ‘An Archival Impulse’, 21. After Foster, I develop a closer analysis of the relationship between paranoia and counter-memory in: Verónica Tello, ‘Between Counter-memory and Paranoia: Dierk Schmidt’s Untitled, Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene and SIEV-X’, in ‘Shaping the Archive’, special issue, Tijdschrift Kunstlicht 32, no. 4 (Winter, 2011): 16–23. 63 Ibid., 21–22. 64 Hito Steyerl, ‘Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?’, in Too Much World, ed. Nick Aitkens (Berlin: Sternberg, 2015), 35–7. 65 The image is a hybrid construction of a found portrait of then Prime Minister John Howard and a 2002 press photograph of Philip Ruddock meeting Indigenous leaders in the Northern Territory (the latter group is completely omitted from Schmidt’s image).

Chapter Six 1

See: Isaac Julien, ‘Screen’, in Isaac Julien: Riot (New York: MoMA , 2014), 188–95; Zoe Butt, ‘Archiving Fear in the Struggle against Forgetfulness’, in Dinh Q. Lê: Erasure. exh. cat. (Sydney: Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, 2011), 43–8.

NOTES

219

2

Ginette Verstaete, Tracking Europe (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); Rosalind Deutsche, Hiroshima after Iraq: Three Studies in Art and War (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010); Sven Lütticken, ‘Hito Steyerl: Postcinematic Essays after the Future’, in Too Much World, ed. Nick Aitkens (Berlin: Sternberg, 2015), 45–62. On Steyerl also see: T.J. Demos, The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013), 74–89.

3

Terry Smith, What Is Contemporary Art? (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); Peter Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art (London: Verso, 2013).

4

Smith, What Is Contemporary Art?, 197; Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All, 25.

5

Smith, What Is Contemporary Art?, 198.

6

Ibid.

7

Ibid.

8

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Why Study the Past?’, Modern Language Quarterly 73, no. 1 (March 2012): 2.

9

Smith, What Is Contemporary Art?, 6.

10 Ibid., 198. 11 Frederic Jameson, Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (London: Verso, 1991), 18. 12 Ibid., 25. 13 Ibid., 51. 14 Spivak, ‘Why Study the Past?’; Smith, What Is Contemporary Art? 15 Contemporaneity may not assume passivity, but contemporary art often fails to locate artistic agency in time/space specificity. As my colleague Uroš Cˇvoro argues, ‘[h]ow else can we explain the need to qualify certain artists as “artist from” . . . it is only after they have gathered enough cultural capital in the international arena to lose that prefix that they can become part of the “contemporary”.’ For Cˇvoro, this is reflective of ‘race politics (whiteness is universal, everyone else operates through degrees of whiteness) played out in cultural/temporal terms’. This, in certain respects, is a sign of essentializing or exoticizing race in the field of contemporary art. Above quotes from email discussion between author and Cvoro. Also see: Uroš Cˇvoro, Turbo-folk Music and Cultural Representations of National Identity in Former Yugoslavia (Burlington: Ashgate, 2014). 16 Michael Geyer and Charles Bright, ‘World History in a Global Age’, American Historical Review 100, no. 4 (1995): 1042.

220

NOTES

17 To quote Geyer and Bright, pioneers in thinking a global approach to history: ‘The recovery of the multiplicity of the world’s pasts matters now more than ever, not for reasons of coverage but because, in a global age, the world’s pasts are all simultaneously present, colliding, interacting, intermixing – producing a collage of present histories that is surely not the history of a homogenous global civilization.’ Ibid., 1042. 18 Spivak, ‘Why Study the Past?’, 1–12. 19 Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All, 27. 20 Geyer and Bright, ‘World History in a Global Age’, 1034–60; Terry Smith, ‘Worlds Pictured in Contemporary Art: Planes and Connectivities’, in ‘The World and World-Making in Art’, special issue, eds Caroline Turner, Michelle Antoinette and Zara Stanhope, Humanities Research XIX , no. 2 (2013): 11–25. Available at: http:// press.anu.edu.au/apps/bookworm/view/Humanities+Research+Vol+X IX .+No.+2.+2013/10571/ch01.xhtml [accessed 05/08/2015]. 21 Terms used by Geyer and Bright, Smith and Spivak in texts cited in endnotes 18–20. 22 Geyer and Bright, ‘World History in a Global Age’, 1039. 23 Ibid., 1040–41; Terry Smith, ‘World Picturing in Contemporary Art: The Iconogeographic Turn’, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art 6/7, no. 2/1 (2006): 24–46. 24 Spivak, ‘Why Study the Past?’, 1–12; regarding the concept of time that needs its ‘comrades’, see: Boris Groys, Going Public (Berlin and New York: Sternberg Press, 2010), 24. 25 See a similar argument in Angela Melitopoulos, ‘Timescape: The Logic of the Sentence’, transversal – eipcp multilingual web journal (January, 2007). 26 Mieke Bal, ‘Heterochrony in the Act: The Migratory Politics of Time’, in Migratory Politics, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, September 19–21 2007 (Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 2007), 1–28. 27 I do not wish to pursue arguments about how a kinetic form of engagement with the multi-screen installation allows one to choose one’s own narrative, leading to an otherwise unavailable subjective position and ‘criticality’. Rancière has gone to great pains to critique the conflation between a physically and critically active spectatorship in contemporary art discourse. See: Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator (London and New York: Verso, 2009). 28 I am invoking Walter Mignolo’s and Terry Smith’s concepts of world fictions and world pictures, respectively. Mignolo in particular discusses decolonizing strategies in re-imagining the world map or

NOTES

221

picture. Walter D. Mignolo, ‘The North of the South and the West of the East: A Provocation to the Question’, Ibraaz 8 (2014), http:// www.ibraaz.org/essays/108 [accessed 08/09/2015]; Smith, ‘Worlds Pictured in Contemporary Art’. 29 This stands in contradistinction to arguments advanced by Hal Foster and Anne Wagner. For such critics, aligned with the journal October, immersion is contingent on a mode of presence with the image and image-world that erodes any capacity for critical functions or distance. See Hal Foster (in conversation with Marquard Smith), ‘Polemics, Postmodernism, Immersion, Militarized Space’, Journal of Visual Culture 3, no. 3 (2004): 320–35; Anne M. Wagner, ‘Performance, Video, and the Rhetoric of Presence’, October 91 (Winter, 2000): 59–80. Foster’s position is also critiqued in Jill Bennett, Practical Aesthetics: Events, Affects and Art after 9/11 (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2012), 58–60. 30 The term ‘kalediscopic’ for Waves is Laura Mulvey’s, in ‘Ten Thousand Waves’, in Isaac Julien: Riot, 202. For critics who read Waves as a narrative about China’s ‘emergence’ see: Joseph Livesay, ‘Wave after Wave after Wave: The Multi-Channel Immersion of Isaac Julien’s Ten Thousand Waves’, Film Quarterly 67, no. 4 (Summer, 2014): 26–32. 31 Mignolo, ‘The North of the South and the West of the East’. 32 See: Bennett, Practical Aesthetics, 43. 33 Eileen Otis, Markets and Bodies: Women, Service Work, and the Making of Inequality in China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011). 34 Wang Ping, Ten Thousand Waves: Poems (San Antonio: Wings Press, 2014). 35 Ibid., 79. 36 Ibid. 37 Ibid. 38 Julie Hyland, ‘58 Chinese Migrants Found Dead in Lorry at Dover, Britain’, World Socialist Web Site (2000), https://www.wsws.org/en/ articles/2000/06/immi-j21.html [accessed 07/09/2015]. 39 Andrew Glover, ‘Slavery “Worse” 10 Years after Morecambe Bay Tragedy’, BBC News (2014), http://www.bbc.com/news/ukengland-25914594 [accessed 02/09/2015]. 40 Wang, Ten Thousand Waves, 79. 41 David Silverstone, ‘From Triads to Snakeheads: Organised Crime and Illegal Migration within Britain’s Chinese Community’, Global Crime 12, no. 2 (May 2011): 94.

222

NOTES

42 Ibid. 43 Isaac Julien, ‘Screen’, in Isaac Julien: Riot, 198. 44 Bill Roberts, ‘Unnaming the System? Retreiving Postmodernism’s Contemporaneity’, ArtMargins 4, no. 2 (June, 2015): 3–23. 45 This is paraphrasing Julien’s interpretation of Harvey based on a workshop organized by the artists in 2012, which invited Harvey as speaker. Isaac Julien, ‘Capital’, in Isaac Julien: Riot, 219. 46 Marsha Meskimmon, ‘Making Worlds, Making Subjects: Contemporary Art and the Affective Dimension of Global Ethics’, World Art 1, no. 2 (2011): 189–96. 47 Ibid. 48 Charles Green, ‘Memory Effect’, 696. 49 Meskimmon, ‘Making Worlds, Making Subjects’, 193. 50 As Meskimmon argues, ‘[a]rt is thus not a mirror of the world (a representation of the world), but a constituent component in its perpetual re-making, a component whose materiality and affective agency are paramount’. Marsha Meskimmon, ‘The Precarious Ecologies of Cosmopolitanism’, in ‘The World and World-Making in Art’, http://press.anu.edu.au/apps/bookworm/view/Humanities+Rese arch+Vol+XIX .+No.+2.+2013/10571/ch02.xhtml [accessed 07/08/2015]. 51 Similarly, for Meskimmon, the critical power of art that engages self-consciously with precarious ecologies is its capacity to not only reflect but assist in imaging the world. The imagination is an affective process; it is also constitutive and anticipates what is to come. Ibid. 52 Chrisoula Lionis, ‘A Past Not Yet Passed: Postmemory in the Work of Mona Hatoum’, Social Text 32, no. 2 (2014): 77–93. 53 Randy O. Frost and Tamara L. Harti, ‘A Cognitive-behavioral Model of Compulsive Hoarding’, Behaviour Research and Therapy 34, no. 4 (April 1996): 341–50. 54 Hito Steyerl, ‘Digital Debris’, October 138 (Fall, 2011): 70–80. 55 For an excellent analysis of Melitopoulos’ project see: Ginette Verstaete, Tracking Europe (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 111–54. And for the artist’s insightful writing on the project see: Angela Melitopoulos, ‘Corridor-X’, B-Zone: Becoming Europe and Beyond, ed. Anselm Franke (Berlin: Kunst-Werke Berlin, 2005), 154–233. 56 Patrick Jagoda, ‘Network Ambivalence’, Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture 4, no. 1 (2015): 109–18, http://

NOTES

223

contemporaneity.pitt.edu/ojs/index.php/contemporaneity/article/ view/150 [accessed 12/10/2015]. 57 Ibid. 58 Ibid. 59 Ibid. 60 For an excellent analysis of After Hiroshima see: Rosalind Deutsche, Hiroshima after Iraq: Three Studies in Art and War (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010). 61 Steyerl’s term for November: from Hito Steyerl, ‘Travelling Images’ (paper presented at Borders, Nations, Translations: The Political Limits of Cultural Trans-Nationalism, Kunsthalle Exnergasse/WUK , Vienna, 14–15 March 2008). Abstract of paper available at: http:// translate.eipcp.net/Actions/discursive/wien2008/index_html/steyerlen#redir [accessed 08/10/2015]. 62 This builds on Sven Lütticken’s concept of entropy in Steyerl’s work. See: Sven Lütticken, ‘Hito Steyerl: Postcinematic Essays after the Future’, in Too Much World, ed. Nick Aitkens (Berlin: Sternberg, 2015), 50. 63 Monopoly on reality is Rancière’s term, which he uses to analyse the politics of ‘fictionalization’. Jacques Rancière, ‘What Makes Images Unacceptable?’ (paper presented at Pacific North West College of the Arts, Portland, Oregon, 29 February 2008). QuickTime movie file, http://homeroom.pnca.edu/inline/46842.mov [accessed 01/10/2010]. 64 This builds on Pablo Lafuente and T.J. Demos’s analyses of Steyerl’s November in: Pablo Lafuente, ‘In Praise of Populist Cinema: On Hito Steyerl’s November and Lovely Andrea’, in Too Much World, 81–92; Demos, The Migrant Image, 74–89. 65 See: Pernille Lystlund Matzen, ‘Practicing Intellectual Martial Arts or, The Wrecked Gestures of Liberation: Hito Steyerl’s November’, interventions 3, no. 3 (2014), http://interventionsjournal. net/2014/07/03/practicing-intellectual-martial-arts-or-the-wreckedgestures-of-liberation-hito-steyerls-november/ [accessed 14/09/2015]. 66 For related analyses see: Lafuente and Demos’s writings on Steyerl’s November in the texts cited above: endnotes 65–6. 67 This builds on Steyerl’s writing on living with ‘too much world’ in: Steyerl, ‘Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?’, in Too Much World, 29–40. 68 David Farrier, Postcolonial Asylum: Seeking Sanctuary before the Law, Postcolonialism across the Disciplines (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011), 4–5.

224

NOTES

69 Geyer and Bright do not use the term contemporaneity but rather ‘contemporary history’ or the ‘global age’. Their discourse precedes the introduction of the term ‘contemporaneity’ in any substantial form by critics such as Smith or Osborne. But Geyer and Bright’s characterization of the ‘global age’ is very close to and indeed an important precedent on more recent writings on ‘contemporaneity’. Geyer and Bright, ‘World History in a Global Age’; Smith, ‘Worlds Pictured in Contemporary Art’; Osborne, Anywhere or Not at All.

Afterword 1

Jan Blommaert’ ‘One Crisis: Three Photos: How Europe Started Caring for Refugees’, CTRL+ALT+DEM: Research on Alternative Democratic Life in Europe, 4 September 2015, http://alternativedemocracy-research.org/2015/09/04/ [accessed 01/10/2015].

2

BBC , ‘Migrant Crisis: Migration to Europe Explained in Graphics’, BBC News, 27 October 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/worldeurope-34131911 [accessed 9/10/2015]. This page is constantly updated so the numbers I cite may change after the time of publication.

3

Ibid.

4

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, ‘Responsibility’, Boundary 2: An International Journal of Literature and Culture 21, no. 3 (1994), 23 quoted in David Farrier, Postcolonial Asylum: Seeking Sanctuary Before the Law, 211.

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INDEX

Page numbers in italics refer to figures. aesthetics of aftermath photography 80–3, 85–7, 98 of ambivalence and fluidity 175–8 of exile, migration and diaspora 30–4 and politics 27–9 of resistance 140–9 self and history 105–7, 109, 114, 117, 123–4, 158 of silhouettes 47, 117, 132–3 The Aesthetics of Resistance (Weiss) 8, 126, 137–9, 140–9 After Hiroshima Mon Amour (Kolbowski) 8, 175–6, 180 aftereffectiveness 83–4 aftermath photography, 80–3, 85–7, 98 anachronism 71–8, 165 radical 89–92 commodity fetish 92–8 contemporary sublime 83–7 temporal loops 98–9 Agamben, Giorgio 11 (see also bare life) ambivalence 174–8, 179 And You were Victorious After All (Haacke) 21–2 archive 104 (see also atlas) Art in America (Bruguera) 69–70 arte de conducta (Bruguera) 42, 45–6, 51, 53, 60–4

atlas 101–2 as archive 104 (see also self-history nexus) Atlas (Richter), 102 Atlas Group (Raad), 102 of Brown and Green, 1, 9–10, 101–7 Histoire(s) du Cinema (Godard), 101, 110–14 Mnemosyne Atlas (Warburg), 101, 107–10, 114 bare life 11–12, 30, 88, 132, 137, 177, 182 balseros crisis and 65–70 and excess 10 Beck, Ulrich 52, 68, 69 behaviour art see arte de conducta Benjamin, Walter 31–2, 78–80, 88, 89, 91, 106, 123, 157, 169 Bennett, Jill 13, 31–2 biopolitics 11, 42, 45, 52–3 violence 20, 78–9, 83–4, 88 (see also bare life) Black Audio Film Collective: Handsworth Songs 2–3, 23–5 Bright, Charles and Geyer, Michael 155, 159–60, 180 Brown, Lyndell and Green, Charles atlas 1, 9–10, 101–7 History Painting 103 The Dark Wood 122–3 247

248

INDEX

Sanctuary 110–11, 112, 113, 114, 116, 120–2 The Waves 102, 103 Bruguera, Tania 38, 39–42 Art in America 69–70 arte de conducta 45–6, 51, 53, 60–3, 64 Homenaje a Ana Mendieta 39–40, 48–53 los ’80s 42–5 postguerra (concept) 38–9, 41, 68–9 Postguerra newspapers 55–65 Postwar Memory 39, 40 Table of Salvation 66–7, 68 Burden, Chris: The Other Vietnam Memorial 16, 17 Campany, David 81, 98 camps in Australia 77–8, 87–8, 92, 186 n2 and bare life/state of emergency 11, 79 in Cuba 46 (see also Guantanamo Bay) (see also Holsworthy and Woomera detention centres) Castellanos, Willy: La Partida 38 ‘children overboard affair’ 3, 102, 103, 115, 186 n3 Christmas Island shipwreck 171–3 colonization of Australia 87–8, 92, 205 n88 commodity fetish 92–8 contemporaneity ambivalence 174–8 artistic production of counter-memories 14 and counter-memorial aesthetics 155–6, 160–70, 179–80 definition of 156–8 and heterogeneity xix, 10 hoarder montage 170–4, 175, 177

living with excess 174, 178–80 many times of 159–70 and modernity 10–11, 155, 157 sublime Corridor X (Melitopoulos) 171, 173, 156, 180 cosmopolitanism 4, 169–70 Cuba 42, 51–3, 58, 60, 65, 68 counter-memory/counter-memorial aesthetics xix 2, 12–15, 34–5, 40, 42, 50, 78, 155–6, 160–70, 179–80 and ambivalence 178 and contemporaneity 13–15 and counter-monuments (Young) 16–21 Foucault’s notion of 2, 12–18, 21–3, 104 and heterogeneity 35, 152 and legibility 105 and montage 23, 25 and parrhesia 150 and post-identity 14, 33 and self-history nexus 124 counter-monument 16–23 Crystal of Resistance (Hirschhorn) 118, 119 Cuba balseros crisis and bare life in America (c. 1994) 65–70 exile media and censorship (1993) 53–65 post-1989 37–42 The Dark Wood (Brown and Green) 122–3 decolonization 159 Delacroix, Eugene: Liberty Leading the People 126–7, 128, 138–9, 140–2 Delago, Ángel 44–5 Demos, TJ 4, 30–3 desubjectivization 29, 33, 161 dialectical image (Benjamin) 31–2, 79–80, 97, 99, 120, 159 diaspora 2, 5, 23–5

INDEX

exile, migration and 30–4, 193 n80 Elkins, James and Montgomery, Harper 30–1 entropic-photopainting 114–17 entropy 109, 114, 116–17, 209 n24 epistemology of search 118–24, 158 Erasure (Lê) 156, 171–3 European refugee crisis c. 2015 181–3 excess and bare life 10 and heterogeneity 10–11, 15–25, 43, 51, 127–8, 156, 187 living with 174, 176–9 exile media and censorship (1993) 53–65 migration and diaspora 30–4 fictionalization 144, 146 fluidity 175, 179 Foster, Hal 150 Foucault, Michel 2, 29, 54 notion of archive 104, 189 n26 notion of biopolitics 11–12 notion of counter memory 2, 12–18, 21–3, 104 notion of parrhesia 54 notion of ‘self-care’ 106 Géricault, Théodore: The Raft of the Medusa 1, 15, 126–7, 128, 135–42, 147–8, 152, 214–15 n31 Gerz, Jochen and Shalev-Gerz, Esther: Monument Against Fascism 18–21 global news media 29–30, 117, 146, 153 global North 4, 11, 182 and global South 29, 163, 165 globalization/global capitalism 2–4, 29, 32–4, 37, 40–1, 68–9, 157–9, 160–71, 173, 182

249

‘globophobia’ 69–70 Godard, Jean-Luc: Histoire(s) du Cinéma 23, 26, 101, 110–11, 112 groundspeed (Laing) 90–1 Groys, Boris 30, 106, 120, 146 Guantanamo Bay 68, 70 Haacke, Hans: And You were Victorious After All 21–2 Handsworth Songs (Black Audio Film Collective) 12, 23–5 Haneef, Mohammed 102–3, 115, 123 heterogeneity and contemporaneity 9–10 and counter-memory/countermemorial aesthetics xix, 2, 5, 14–16 counter-monuments 20–1 excess and 15–25 and history painting 128–34 newspapers 65 Heysen, Hans 74–8, 92–8, 207 n106 Hirschhorn, Thomas: Crystal of Resistance 118, 119 Histoire(s) du Cinéma (Godard) 23, 26, 101, 110–11, 112 history painting 114, 126–8 aesthetics of resistance/ fictionalization 140–9 after Géricault 152–3 and heterogeneity 128–34 and paranoia 149–52 publicness of 134–40 History Painting (Brown and Green) 103 hoarder montage 170–4, 177 Holsworthy detention centre 97–8 Homenaje a Ana Mendieta (Bruguera) 39–40, 48–53 Hotel Palenque (Smithson) 110 Howard, John (Prime Minister) xviii, 126, 144, 151

250

INDEX

identity and disorientation 30–4 national 13–14, 31–2, 52, 77, 93, 95 installation 65–70, 161–73 Jagoda, Patrick 174 Jameson, Frederic: postmodernity 158, 169, 174 Journey to the End of the Night (Brown and Green) 102, 103, 115 Julien, Isaac: Ten Thousand Waves 156, 162–72, 180 Kolbowski, Silvia: After Hiroshima Mon Amour 8, 175–6, 180 Krauss, Rosalind 10, 86–7, 121 La Partida (Castellanos) 38 Laing, Rosemary after Heysen 74, 75, 92–8 and you can even pay later 72–3 chalks on Eyre 74 groundspeed 90–1 opposite Cazneaux 74, 76 to walk on a sea of salt (image) 73, 74, 89–92 to walk on a sea of salt (series) 71–8, 86, 98–9 welcome to Australia 72, 77, 82, 84–7, 91 Lê, Dinh Q: Erasure 4, 156, 171–3, 180 Liberty Leading the People (Delacroix) 126–7, 128, 138–9, 140–2 los ’80s (Bruguera) 42–5, 47, 49, 51, 58, 63 Melitopoulos, Angela 31, 33 Corridor X 156, 171, 173–4 memory as inscription (Warburg) 107–8 Mendieta, Ana 39–40, 46–53 Mercer, Kobena 23–5, 131

Meskimmon, Marsha 4, 169–70, 179 Messe 2ok (Schmidt collaboration) 134–5, 136, 140 Michalski, Sergius 22 Mitchell, W.J.T. 93, 95 Mnemosyne Atlas (Warburg) 101, 107–10, 114 modernity 11, 153, 157 perpetual aftermath of 78–80 montage 159–60 and aesthetics of exile, migration and diaspora 30–4 and counter-memory/countermemorial aesthetics 34, 104, 161–2 and dialectical image/history 98 expanded concept of 23–30 hoarder 170–4, 177 and politics of aesthetics 25–30, 146 and rootlessness 1–2 strategy of 144–6 Ten Thousand Waves (Julien) 160–8, 172 Monument Against Fascism (Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz) 18–21 Morecambe Bay tragedy 1, 163–8, 170, 182 Mosquera, Gerardo 6, 39, 45, 47, 48, 68 national identity 14, 31–3, 93, 95 nomadology, theory of 31, 159 November (Steyerl) 8, 156, 175–8, 180 October 18, 1977 (Richter) 116–17, 130–1 Operation Relex … Acting without Perpetrators (I) (Schmidt) 150–2 The Other Vietnam Memorial (Burden) 16, 17 Papastergiadis, Nikos 4, 13, 31–2, 88, 104

INDEX

paranoia 149–52 parrhesia (Foucault) 54 pathosformel (Warburg) 107–8, 114 people smuggling 29–30, 166–8 perpetual aftermath 78–80, 87–8, 92, 176 politics and The Aesthetics of Resistance 135–40 and aesthetics of resistance/ fictionalization 140–9 and aesthetics of self and history 107–8 and arte de conducta 45–6 and the politics of memory 15–16, 161 (see also counter-memory) and publicness 134–5 of aesthetics and montage 25–30 see also biopolitics postcolonial/postcolonialism 2, 12, 13, 32, 77, 92–3, 155, 157–8, 160, 163, 179 Postguerra (Bruguera) 39, 40, 53 55–65 newspapers, installation (Table of Salvation, Bruguera) 39, 53, 65–7 postguerra (Bruguera) 38–9, 41, 68–9 post-identity 14, 33 postmodernity 158 (see Jameson) presence 3, 156, 158, 162, 174 publicness of history painting 134–40 Pugliese, Joseph 85, 87 Raad, Walid: Atlas Group 102 racism xviii, 11, 52, 97–8 see also biopolitics radical anachronism 89–92 The Raft of the Medusa (Géricault) 1, 15, 126–7, 128, 135–42, 147–8, 152, 214–15 n31 Rancière, Jacques

251

concept of the politics of aesthetics and montage 25–31 concept of time xv conception of fictionalization 144, 146 Ray, Gene 83–4 re-enactment 50–1, 90 Red Race Riots (Warhol) 129–30 refugee histories 1–3 1993–4 balseros (rafters) crisis 39, 65–70 2001 ‘children overboard affair’ 3, 102, 103, 115, 186 n3 2001 SIEV-X maritime disaster 125–8, 131–6, 143–4, 149–52 2001 Tampa affair xvii–xviii, 1, 3, 10, 71, 101, 111, 114–17, 121–2 2003 (circa) Woomera detention centre 71–8, 80, 84–8, 92, 99, 103, 182 2004 Morecambe Bay tragedy 163–70 2010 Christmas Island shipwreck 171–3 scope of study 3–5 refugees definition of 10–11, 193 n80 from Afghanistan xvii, 125 in Australia xvii–xviii, 3–5, 71–8, 125–8, 171–3, 186 n3 from China 163, 168, 182 from Cuba 39, 46–8, 65–70 from Eritrea 181 from Iran 172–3 from Iraq xvii, 125, 172–3 from Syria 181–2 in UK 163, 166–8 in US 46–8, 67–70 from Vietnam xvii, 4, 171–3 Resnais, Alain 81, 175 Richter, Gerhard 116–17, 128–9, 134, 152 Atlas 101–102 October 18, 1977 116, 130–1

252

INDEX

Roberts, Bill 168–9 Ruddock, Phillip (Immigration Minister) 126, 144–6, 150–1 Sanctuary (Brown and Green) 110–11, 112, 113, 114, 116, 120–2 Schmidt, Dierk Messe 2ok collaboration 134–5 SIEV-X 125–8, 131–4, 135–49, 150–2 ‘self-care’, Foucault’s notion of 106 self-history nexus 101–14 entropic photopainting 114–17 epistemology of search 118–24 SIEV-X (Schmidt) 125–8, 131–4, 135–49, 150–2 Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene, 150 silhouettes, aesthetics of 47, 117, 132–3 Smith, Terry 13, 68, 155, 157–9, 162, 180 Smithson, Robert entropy 109, 114 Hotel Palenque 110 Spiral Jetty 102–3, 121 Solomon-Godeau, Abigail 77 Spivak, Gayatri 155, 157, 158–9, 161, 168, 180, 182 Stallabrass, Julian 82–3 states of emergency 9, 78–80, 88, 137, 181 (see also bare life) Steyerl, Hito 132, 134, 171 November 8, 156, 175–8 Sturt, Charles 74, 89–92 sublime aftermath photography and the 82–3, 84–7 contemporary 83–7 contemporaneity and the 159–60 settler-colonial 74, 91–2

Table of Salvation (Bruguera) 66–7, 68 Tampa affair xvii–xviii, 1, 3, 10, 71, 101, 111, 114–17, 121–2 temporal loops 98–9 Ten Thousand Waves (Julien) 162–72 to walk on a sea of salt (Laing) 71–8, 86, 98, 99 United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR ) 10, 72, 148 Vietnam War 4, 16–17, 173–4 Wagner, Anne 129–30, 221 n29 Warburg, Aby: Mnemosyne Atlas 107–11, 114 (see also pathosformel) Warhol, Andy 129, 134 Red Race Riots 129–30 Wang, Ping 164–5 The Waves (Brown and Green) 102, 103 Weiss, Peter: The Aesthetics of Resistance 126, 137–9, 140–2 witnessing 81, 84, 120 (see epistemology of search) Wolf, Andrea 176–8 Woomera detention centre 71–8, 80, 84–8, 92, 99, 103, 182 (see also Laing, Rosemary) world picturing/picture 10, 159–60, 163, 165, 168–9, 179, 180 Xenophobe – Shipwreck Scene (Schmidt) 131–4, 140, 143–4, 146–8, 150 Young, James 16–23, 33 (see also counter-monument)