When the controversial Russian art collective Voina (War) painted a rudimentary outline phallus on the Liteinyi Bridge in Saint Petersburg one summer night in 2010, few could have predicted that ten months later they would be named laureates of the prestigious Innovation Prize. This article examines the historical context of protest art in Russia as well as the contemporary online response to Dick Captured by the FSB on a number of popular comments forums to argue that the work has become an open-ended, democratic performance; an internet icon that emerges from and relies on the mass, active participation of its online audience.
This article considers some of the ‘haptic’ and literally sensual procedures of postconceptual work that might suggest a new way of thinking the politics of the aesthetic today beyond the limitations – by now widely-known and well-theorized – of so-called ‘relational aesthetics’. Focusing on the work of the Mexican Yoshua Okón, in particular his recent Pulpo/Octopus (2011), the article engages a return to the site of political struggles (a return sometimes staged in highly literal ways, as we see in Okón) from a kind of naively apolitical gaze that emphasizes the ‘social’ aspect of the work and quite necessarily misses the kind of politics that the work makes possible. My wager here is that the minimal distance from politics that these works establish resolves the impasse of political thinking today by producing its return in a purely accidental (and also experimental) fashion.
Cultural movements in today's Japan are often said to give a prominent place to fun and humour, and to represent a shift towards prefigurative rather than instrumental forms of politics. The author relativizes this portrayal by focusing on how art was used in the struggle around the cardboard village in the Shinjuku underground passages in Tokyo in the mid-1990s. In particular he focuses on the artist Take Jun'ichirō who with his friends painted more than a hundred cardboard houses in the homeless encampment. He argues that the cardboard village art was immensely political, but in a sense that cannot be exhausted by conventional concepts such as instrumental or prefigurative politics. Instead, the article suggests that a concept of therapeutical activism is needed to make sense of the centrality in the cardboard art of themes such as death, monsters and uncanny births.
The 1960s witnessed the emergence of the greatest Afghan cartoonist, Abdul Rahim Nawin, during a time of fundamental change. The ratification of a new constitution in 1964 allowed unprecedented freedom of expression and paved the way for the emergence of independent newspapers and political parties. As a result Afghan society became rapidly politicized. Nawin established the newspaper Tarjomān or Interpreter, the country's first satirical newspaper. He published a great number of cartoons depicting the current political system and its success and shortcomings. This article examines Nawin's contribution to the establishment of political cartooning in Afghanistan set against the period of the Constitutional Decade and its institutions and how they operated.
This brief polemic uses the incendiary response to the Innocence of Muslims film trailer as an impetus to explore questions of production value within the creative industries more generally. Released on the internet in the summer of 2012, the video gained widespread attention when it sparked riots across the Muslim world. The author argues that the outrage in response to this incident expressed by Western media, particularly in America, was not over an actual or perceived threat of violence, but over image quality and production value. The article goes on to investigate the way concerns over production value have come to shape recent aspirational film-making and deskilled contemporary art practices.
This article presents one of the first critical historiographies of adoption films in Korean cinema from the Golden Age to New Korean Cinema. Guided by the work of Rhacel Salazar Parrenas, Benita Parry, Kyung Hyun Kim and Tobias Hübinette, the authors show how the portrayal of transnational adoption practices and of adoptees in Korean cinema is fraught with cultural antagonisms – between the adoptees' agency and their lost bloodlines, hierarchical relations and lasting bonds, ethnicity and cultural capital – and distorted by a tendency to commodify the theme as a cinematic motif. Discovering these cultural antagonisms across successive decades, this article argues that the narrative in nearly all adoption films remains passive with regard to issues of abandonment. As a result adoptees are misrepresented and the negative effects of transnational adoption practices are never fully resolved, culturally or politically. It is precisely because of this passive strategy that adoptees are conceived, dubiously and tragically, as nothing more than ‘partial citizens’ in most Korean cinema.
In different contexts of ‘crisis’, there has always been a discussion as to which mode of resistance to develop: legal, illegal or extra-legal. This article considers archival art as an alternative mode of artistic and curatorial ‘resistance’ to the challenges of today's crises that lead many people to utopian and ‘out of law’ withdrawals. It examines the particular paradigm of the work of the Greek artist Yota Ioannidou within a wider scope of contemporary archival and research-based art practices which aim to construct and articulate dispersed discourses, individuals and histories in dynamic structures of resistance. Notions of re-enactment, vicissitude, interpretation of law, performativity, parody, ‘reversibility’ and subversiveness are discussed as expanded artistic and resistance modes. The particular archives are presented as a radical form of conjunction of theory and praxis, as a ‘lawful’ (en loi) tactic of resistance and as an instituting practice. The specific (Greek) paradigm of Ioannidou's work suggests that one should consider the dynamic of aesthetic resistance within a trans- and intra-local mode, investing in the potentia of global democratic ideals.
This article takes the form of a letter, a genre prevalent among many women across cultures, and manifestly among some women in the Nüshu region. Exclusively used by women in Shangjiangxu Township, Jiangyong County, Hunan Province, China, Nüshu, women's script, is believed to have been created by women. Through generations of practice of this matriarchal script in writing letters, wedding missives, biographies and autobiographies, some women had defined positive terms for themselves in the contexts in which they lived. Addressing an elderly woman, now deceased, whom I visited three times over a span of five years, the writing covers accounts of the women's practice, interwoven with cultural discourse, mainly women's art and literary practices, and philosophy from the West. Whilst bringing forward a forgotten culture and seeking the possibility of articulating one's desires, the writing opens up a dialogue connecting women in the practice of chanting, writing and drawing, across cultures, space and time.
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