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In/Haemo/ Form MA Aesthetics and Politics California Institute of the Arts 2014/15 Edited by Arne De Boever and Alex F. Brown


In/Haemo/Form


In/Haemo/Form MA Aesthetics and Politics

California Institute of the Arts

2014/2015


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In/Haemo/Form May 2015 Contributors: Alex F. Brown, Ani Tatintsyan, Aryana Ghazi-Hessami, Tulapop Saenjaroen, Chandra N. Pok, Rusty Van Riper, Jaclyn Nin Hunter, Çağlar Köseoğlu, Emily Donnini, Arne De Boever A publication of the MA Aesthetics and Politics program School of Critical Studies, California Institute of the Arts Copy editing by Alex F. Brown and Rusty Van Riper Copyright © 2015 The collected material and their respective authors All rights reserved. First Edition Printed in the United States of America Designed by David Chathas and Eline Mul Typeset in Plantin & Akzidenz Grotesk Next

first name last name

title of piece


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In/Form–Haemo Table of Contents

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Foreword: Bloodform (Analytics of Sanguinity)

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Aesthetics and Politics

Arne De Boever

Disenchantment, Drive and Drive

Alex F. Brown Life After

Ani Tatintsyan Blood in the Streets or the Aesthetico-Politics of Blood

Çağlar Köseoğlu Crimson

Jaclyn Nin Hunter Observations on ISIS Propaganda: The Recruitment of Women

Aryana Ghazi-Hessami

Shoot! (Videograms of a Revolution: Rebels With Movie Cameras)

Tulapop Saenjaroen

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Tablename first of Contents last name

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Mustafa is located in ethnically diverse Little India

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title of piece

Çağlar Köseoğlu

Dare to Waste Your Life!

Chandra N. Pok Pricked

Rusty Van Riper Experimental Objects

Emily Donnini


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Arne De Boever

Foreword: Bloodform (Analytics of Sanguity)

Foreword: Bloodform (Analytics of Sanguinity) Arne De Boever

In/Form , the MA Aesthetics and Politics program’s anthology of student writing, continues in 2014-2015 with its fourth volume. After Archè , Poly, and Para , the program has arrived at Haemo: “blood.” Blood, this volume

proposes, is a key term in aesthetico-political thought. Its aesthetic crosses both the realm of beauty (the color red) and that of sensing/ feeling/perceiving (those affects that seem to be felt in one’s blood, that — for example — make one’s blood boil; as well as affects produced by blood: seeing blood can make one feel weak in the knees). Both these realms appear to be already political. Not all blood is red: blue blood is a marker of nobility, and separates one class from another. The difference between red and blue is a distribution of the sensible. Blood can lay bare one’s vulnerability: the vulnerability not just of the one bleeding, but also of the one who witnesses the other’s blood. In a certain strand of contemporary political thinking, blood is associated with sovereignty. Michel Foucault notes in the fifth section of The History of Sexuality that “[t]he blood relation long remained an important element in the mechanisms of power, its manifestations, and its rituals. For a society in which the system of alliance, the political form of the sovereign, the differentiation into orders and castes, and the value of descent lines were predominant; for a society in which famine, epidemics, and violence made death imminent, blood constituted one of the fundamental values.” But that is not our situation, according Foucault. “We, on the other hand, are in a society of ‘sex’, or rather a society ‘with a sexuality’: the mechanisms of power are addressed to the body, to life, to what causes it to proliferate, to what reinforces the species, its stamina, its ability to dominate, or its capacity for being used.” Whereas blood was “a reality with a symbolic function ,” and thereby a marker of power, sexuality is not a symbol but an object and a target. We have moved, Foucault argues, “from a symbolics of blood to an analytics of sexuality.” To return blood to the foreground of aesthetico-political investigation thus means, in part, to recover sovereignty as a key term of such investigation: to pause for a moment within the shift that Foucault lays out to consider the continued importance of sovereignty within the power addressed to life.


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To pause might also mean to consider the ways in which blood, even if it is associated with sovereignty, can also take on biopolitical meaning. Spliced into the anthology’s overarching title — In/Form  — “haemo” or “blood” produces In/Haemo/Form , “In/Blood/Form.” In Dutch (Flemish), which is my mother tongue, “bloedvorm” (literally, “bloodform”) is a word used in the semantic field of sports to refer to a sportsman or –woman being in “excellent form.” And indeed, this volume shows a group of creative critical thinkers at the top of their game, to continue the sports metaphor. As is well known, the increase of red blood cell volume can contribute to someone being, quite literally, in bloodform. Here, we are not talking about “reality with symbolic function”; this is about an analytics of sanguinity that fits the biopolitical paradigm rather than the sovereign one. Blood as object and target. The increase of red blood cell volume can be produced naturally, through altitude training. It can also be accomplished artificially, through the injection of synthetic erythropoietin or EPO (a hormone that is naturally secreted by the kidneys) into the body. Part and parcel of the biopolitical paradigm — let us not pretend otherwise — the MA Aesthetics and Politics program offers a kind of altitude training that has contributed to the excellent form that all of the authors in this volume demonstrate: after spending some time on the weird heights of aesthetico-political thought (on the heights of what is sometimes called “high theory”), they’ve upped their game — drastically. But there is a catch, and one that this volume also demonstrates: above a certain altitude — specifically, above 26,000 feet — humans enter into a so-called “death zone” where they cannot survive. This death zone is a risk of high theory. The best altitude training fosters life, but not without a relation to the death zone: to the awareness of one’s precariousness and vulnerability. Such an awareness accomplishes two things: first, it makes one ultimately hold back from those altitudes that are unaccommodating to human beings (even if, of course, those altitudes should still be thought); second, and mirroring the pedagogical dialectic that can already be found in Plato’s allegory of the cave, it also converts one’s gaze to what lies below, to mobilize one’s newfound energies there towards more concrete aesthetico-political projects. Across its various interventions, In/Haemo/Form accomplishes both, thus giving new meanings to the excellent form that I have called bloodform: tentative, hesitant, careful while adventurous, daring, and determined; high, strong, rich, while low, vulnerable, and poor.

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Arne De Boever

Foreword: Bloodform (Analytics of Sanguity)

Arne De Boever teaches American Studies in the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, where he also directs the MA Aesthetics and Politics program. He is the author of States of Exception in the Contemporary Novel (2012) and Narrative Care (2013) and editor of Gilbert Simondon: Being and Technology (2012) and The Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism: Vol. 1 (2013). He edits Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy and the critical theory/philosophy section of the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is also an Advisory Editor for boundary 2.


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Alex. F Brown

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Alex. F Brown

Disenchantment, Drive and Drive

Nicholas Winding Refn’s 2011 film Drive contains a short but indelible sequence in which the relations of desire and death-drive, Eros and Thanatos, appear in perfect simultaneity and indissociability. The nameless hero (henceforth “Driver”) and the woman he loves (Irene) stand in a hallway. An elevator opens, a man stands inside. The protagonists get in and the elevator closes and begins to descend. A gun is glimpsed in the coat pocket of the stranger, revealing his purpose here as an assassin sent to kill them. The hero turns and — gingerly, for the first and only time — kisses Irene. Time is stretched to dilate the brevity of the moment. In what is very nearly a single movement or perhaps a hybrid gesture, the hero pivots from the kiss to grab the back of the hit-man’s head and smash it brutally against the elevator wall multiple times. The man goes down and Driver keeps up the assault with ruthless stomping blows to the head until the man is clearly dead, and then beyond any possible rationality continues to demolish, flatten and splatter him across the rear corner of the elevator floor. Irene backs toward the door, and then through it as the elevator arrives at the bottom level. Driver looks up from the carnage he’s left and locks gazes with Irene as the door slides shut between them forever. Tenderness and violence, crystalline clarity of desire and the blind automatism of destructive rage — this constellation has perhaps never been given as concise an articulation. What I wish to do here is examine the basic terms of this libidinal economy with a special focus on disenchantment and death-drive in the work of Bernard Stiegler. What I particularly wish to work against is the notion that Eros and Thanatos are opposed tendencies, which results in a very Manichaean portrait whereby psychical life is reduced to a kind of eternal struggle between proverbial angels and demons, or creative and destructive instincts. Eros and Thanatos are best understood, on my account, as a unitary principle with two poles. Death-drive, in contrast, has no manifestation whereby it can be read legibly as an instinctual tendency. It needs to be retained, however, as the necessary condition which supports the “life instincts.” I will make my argument with an analysis of Stigler’s theorization of political economy followed by several passes through the film Drive, which I read as an exposition of the psychoanalytic concept of death-drive. My reading ultimately depends on the interpretation that the central figure of Driver is not a character in the film. On the contrary, he is its fundamental fantasy. In short, Driver does not exist. He is what has to be there in order to grant consistency to the other elements (characters, beliefs) so that a simple situation can be elevated to a story. In other words, the Driver ex-sists in relation to the film as the figure of its narrative drive. Driver is the element which weaves together a disenchanted social mileu characterized by the blanched and

Disenchantment, Drive and Drive


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detextured desiring schema of the marketization and consumerization of everyday existence. What kind of desire is consumerist desire? We think of desire as something that requires an object which remains beyond our ability to totally realize; I can only desire an object so long as I do not actually have it, and fully obtaining the object would spell the end of desire. A consumer object, however, is made to be destroyed — whether by using it all up as with food objects or wearing it out or, now in the age of technological acceleration of all things, by simply becoming obsolete with the release of the newer version. Consumption and consumer culture, if not destructive of desire, at the very least interrupt it perpetually by increasing the pace of the search for new desired objects and oversaturating the field of object choice. What happens to desire for inherently durable objects (a human relationship, a social position, a complicated skill, etc.) when such things are faced with the competition of a marketplace which promises and truly delivers a constant supply of intrinsically disposable substitute objects? We can see three possible outcomes. Firstly, the durable objects are simply abandoned in favor of their consumable counterparts; I give up trying to cook for myself and begin eating frozen TV dinners. Secondly, the consumer mentality expands and overflows the field so that object relations in general take on the characteristics of consumption regardless of the object itself; rather than care for my companion animal for the span of its life I get caught up in the trending designer dog breeds and when I tire of my Maltipoo I abandon and replace it. Finally, the available objects, in order to remain potential objects-of-desire, adapt and transform themselves into products for marketing and consumption; I seek relationships on dating websites and become frustrated when I find that the results are never “as advertised.” Each of these scenarios has in common a deficiency in composing what Stiegler terms “consistence.” What they fail to do is weave any enduring bond between the singular objects that could be and the psychic individual they could subjectivize. Instead, they fall into a dynamic of industrialized fungibility, particular things which never singularize and therefore obsolesce at a calculable rate. The result, to the extent that I remain a consumer in my object-relations, is a general and pervasive disaffection . Stiegler connects the theme of consumerist liquidation of desire to the narrative of disenchantment in the development of capitalist industrial societies. Disenchantment follows from the processes of commodification whereby capitalism, in order to combat the tendential fall in the rate of profit, submits all things to a rationalization (which is also a reification and an instrumentalization) which allows for their measurement

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and calculation with regard to a general equivalent. This process perhaps begins with (but in any case is exemplified by) the measurement of time which allows for the alienation of labor from work by abstracting discrete countable, exchangeable units from what was previously a continuum. Stiegler analyzes this process as one of “grammatization,” the concretization which renders things calculable such that they can be subject to the industrial mode of production. Now, the problematic which emerges for desire is that calculability expunges mystery. I can only invest things with desire — that is, to engage with rather than simply possess my objects — to the extent that something remains incalculable in them. Our epoch, the “information age” in which capitalist commodification broaches previously immaterial domains, becomes “the hyper-industrial age [which] can be characterized as an extension of calculation beyond the sphere of production along with a correlative extension of industrial domains…. Thus a new form of capitalism develops… where it is not the entrepreneur-producer who makes the law, but rather marketing in its control of the temporalities of consciousnesses and bodies through the mechanization of daily life” (Symbolic Misery 47-48). Thus we arrive at an impasse or crisis of desire in the precise sense that none of the products and services offered us by the cultural-industries are capable of being constituted as objects of desire, properly speaking. What makes an object an object? The answer is certainly nothing objective. In Stiegler’s lexicon, an object is something singular, exceptional, infinite, absolute or universal — something becomes an object when it quite literally “means the world to me.” This should be taken in a precise sense. It is not so much these rare and foundational objects (a lover, a child) that make a world as it is a consistency formed by libidinal cathexes to everyday knowledge practices. Disenchantment is a corrosive loss of this savoir-vivre and savoir-faire which consist in the fabric of a world. The result tends towards the dissolution of consistent life-worlds to a state of worldless subsistence . This is a very real threat, as Stiegler has abundantly illustrated. Not only because certain people, feeling a lack of existence, go on spree killings or vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen, but because disaffected individuals “have no feeling for what is happening, and for this reason they no longer feel part of society. They inhabit a zone… which is no longer a world because aesthetically it has disengaged ” (Symbolic Misery 3). In libidinal terms, the lack of persistent attachments literally decomposes the world. The ties which knit the abundance of things into a coherent milieu are undone, never formed in the first place, or become so erratic that we can honestly say it is the world which has gone crazy. The proper mode of being in a non-world can only be a severe detachment.


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Stiegler’s ongoing critique of political economy returns to and revives these categories of psychical and libidinal principles which underlie the transformations of industrial capitalism. In the hyperindustrial era, the commodification process which reifies and concretizes objects in order to dissolve them into general equivalence extends to regions of existence far beyond the production-line and into such intimate quarters as our life of the mind. Attention, affect, taste and cognitive abilities in general are all submitted to hyperindustrial exploitation, serving as both the raw material and marketplace for the production and consumption of new services and “temporal objects.” In this schema, which he also commonly refers to as “drive-based capitalism,” the psychoanalytic conceptual vocabulary takes on a heightened importance in relation to the terms of both the materialist critique of political economy of the industrial age as well as prior renditions of libidinal economy. Capitalism migrates into territories of the psyche and the material base relations of production become, themselves, psychical relations. Leisure time activities such as video-gaming become directly productive of value as they are played (for example in the “virtual economies” of MMORPGs which lead to realworld-trading of in-game property), as do social relations in electronic forms such as Facebook. This state of affairs marks a great turning point in the global development of capitalist economics as well as a terrible challenge for critique, presuming as it does the loss of even an “ideological” outside of capitalism from which to ground a critique of capitalism. Stiegler begins with a basic model which comprises both libidinal and political aspects of economy. The following passage can be taken as representative: It is an anti-libidinal economy: only that which is singular is desirable, and in this regard exceptional. I only desire what seems exceptional to me. There is no desire for banality, but a compulsion for repetition that tends to banality: the psyche is constituted by Eros and Thanatos, two tendencies that ceaselessly compose with each other. The cultural industry and marketing strive for the development of the desire for consumption, but in reality they strengthen the death drive to provoke and exploit the compulsive phenomenon of repetition. In this way they thwart the life drive (“Suffocated Desire”).

A renewed attention must be paid to the conceptualization of the psychical categories in the aim of strengthening and clarifying Stiegler’s critique, particularly with regard to aligning it with contemporary psychoanalytic frameworks emphasizing the radical nature of the death-drive. Most significantly, Lacanian formulations of the death-drive as original cause of the subject bear a striking resemblance to Stiegler’s theorization of

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the originary default which serves as his anthropogenic myth. Whereas psychoanalytic accounts emphasize the constitutive decenterment of the subject and tend to downplay the specificities of technical apparatuses, Stiegler’s libidinal-economic account focuses rigorously on the dynamics of technicity in the development of civilization while tending to de-emphasize the notion of the subject and subject formation. Stiegler appropriates Gilbert Simondon’s framework of psychic and collective (to which he adds a third, mediating, term — technical ) individuation. In this analysis, “individual” must be taken in a very different sense than the personal individual of modern liberal thought. In Stiegler’s reformulation of Simondon, a psychic individual co-emerges with a collective through a process of transduction which simultaneously individuates a technical milieu. The essential point is that none of the three terms can be opposed to the others; they are all indispensable aspects of one and the same process. According to the dominant but overly reductive reading I am attempting to work against, desire decoupled from an object regresses to the mindless destructive compulsions of the death-drive. Sublimated libidinal energy in the form of an object-cathexis which binds it in an attachment is let loose by the loss of object and, thus set free in a movement of desublimation, explodes into a blind Thanatropic rampage. The elevator scenario which opens this essay can be seen as the very paradigm of the dynamic by which the liberation of the drives is presupposed to result in the suicidal tendency towards dissolution; “drive unbound,” precisely. But what if we look at it in another way, where Driver does not have any desire at all, because he is already situated a notch lower? He then becomes an agent of pure insistence beyond life and death, and the kissing/killing sequence simply a manifestation of the indestructibility of libidinal pulsion with regard to the precarity of the object-relations it circulates. When we look at Driver as someone or something which does not exist, the story of the film is complicated, but different elements rise to the surface which explain the excessive brutality of the film’s violence and the strangely peripheral human relationships which populate it, as well as the submerged wishes of its oneiric aesthetic. What I want to do is read Driver as a figure of death-drive itself. Take 1: Driver We never know his name, but we know he is extraordinary. “Put this kid behind the wheel and there’s nothing he can’t do.” We are given a demonstration of this in the opening sequence, a ten-minute pre-credit heist scene culminating in a spectacular “slow-speed” chase with him as the getaway driver. Police are dispatched to the scene of the robbery, a


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consumer electronics warehouse. Driver doesn’t involve himself in the crime, his business is driving. He does so with principle and an unbreakable composure. He drives, and he gets away — his two principle traits. Principle characteristics of the death-drive are already visible here. Whereas desire requires an object to sustain it, drive is a self-propelling pure circulation. In other words, drive has no ultimate aim other than itself. Like Driver, who maintains a distance from the particularities of the criminal actions he enables, drive traces a contour through which desires pass without entangling the circuit of the drive itself. Driver has no aim in these crimes except to live to drive another day. Furthermore, we never get to know who he is. The opening scene emphasizes his anonymity, and the film never really breaches it. A dingy motel room where he plots the getaway drive, a disposable cell phone that he’ll never use again, a Chevy Impala (“the most popular car in the state of California… nobody will be looking at you”) which blends inconspicuously into traffic; all these serve to obscure and disindividuate him. Strategically nameless in this instance, given that he’s committing a felony, but he goes unnamed throughout his own story. Perhaps it’s more than a great way to evade a police dragnet that he finishes his escape route by parking at the Staples Center and melting into a crowd of Clippers fans. His method matches his character. Inverting his one distinctive piece of paraphernalia, an embroidered scorpion jacket, his appearance is as indistinguishable as his title. He simply merges with the masses and goes. Drive, we could say, is a preindividual milieu which serves as the energetic driver of individuation. Driver, we learn, drives all kinds of ways. The getaway thing is just an occasional lucrative sideline. He also drives stunts for the movies. Shannon, his boss at the garage, is hoping to enter him into the stock-car racing circuit. In point of fact, it is Shannon who manages his stuntdriving and getaway-driving careers as well. Driver, himself, never reveals much of any sort of inner motivation. He appears as more of a blank slate for the inscription of others’ desires. As he repeats several times in various contexts, “I drive.” The statement has an unmistakable aura of finality. This is what he does. This is all he does. He drives — not as an occupation or a means to some other end but as an end in itself, an identity and a mode of being. The dramatic tension of the story emerges when Driver meets Irene, an apparently single mother who lives in his apartment building. Appropriately, they are brought together when Irene’s own car breaks down and Shannon offers Driver’s “services” to drive her home. Again, it is a transferential relationship with Shannon that gets things moving; Shannon expresses that Irene is desire-worthy and Driver consequently

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desires to help her. Thus we have the articulation of the Lacanian formulation of “desire of the other”: desire for an object originates not in some particular property of the object nor in a fundamental lack in the subject, but rather through a process which subjectivates the subject-object relation through an intermediary. If Driver desires anything in the course of the film, it is the “desire of desire.” Only by becoming involved in preexisting networks of libidinal ties does Driver ever seem to get motivated. But his motivations never seem to settle into a clear pattern. It would seem that he desires Irene, but this proposition is seriously challenged by the films introduction of another male lead. This most problematic aspect of Driver’s relationship with Irene is signaled by the discovery that she isn’t really a single mother. She is still together with Benicio’s father, Standard, who is in prison for an unspecified crime. Moreover, Standard is being released from prison and will be returning home to live with them. This is the moment where a typical scenario introduces a competitive rivalry, a conflict between men for the desired woman. A conflict of this type would typically be enough to drive a story: the obstacle to the fulfillment of a desire (winning the affections of the woman) sustains that desire and subsequently floats the whole dramatic action. In contrast to this expectation, Driver seems all too eager to facilitate Irene’s renunion with Standard. The film anticipates and defuses our expectation of masculine aggression through an exchange between the two men in the hallway outside of Standard’s welcome-home party. Standard confronts Driver in what we would expect to escalate into just such a conflict, but Driver shows no inclination to take it up. Standard is marking his territory, and Driver simply gives it to him. Standard: “I hear you’ve been coming around a lot — helping out. Is that right?” Driver: “Mhmm… That’s right.” There isn’t even a hint of envy or resentment in him. In fact, there is every indication that he is glad that he has helped and that he intends to keep on helping. What this should signal is more than that Driver is just a great guy; he is the enabling support that serves as the very condition of the Standard/Irene couple. Take 2: Standard/Irene/Benicio What becomes of the film if we view it from a different, less intuitive, direction and place Standard and Irene and their son Benicio at the center? The film gives several indications that this is in fact the emotional kernel of the story. Significantly, these three are the only ones in the film who pronounce the phrase “I love you,” which would suggest that the libidinal framework of film’s characters is all tied up in this family unit. In fact, some idiosyncrasies of the film are fully explained if we take only these characters to be literal people, and all the rest as a hallucinatory


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projection. What I want to suggest is that this extremely heteroclite reading is in fact the libidinal truth of the film, exhausting the film noir dramatic supplement in which it clothes itself. Irene is in a predicament because she loves Standard and her son and knows that Standard loves her and Benicio also. Standard got wrapped up in shady dealings because making a living is a hard thing to do and he made some wrong decisions, as normal human beings are notoriously prone to do. He gets sent to prison and she is left to work to support the family with menial labor and wait for Standard’s release. We don’t know the exact nature of her employment, but we can deduce that it isn’t a great source of inspiration in her life from the work uniform she wears which would indicate a minimum-wage type of scenario. She has some friends but is too busy and too exhausted and too committed to her son and absent husband to lead much of a social life. In short, Irene is stressed, undervalued and lonely. Standard is eventually released and comes home to live with them. He makes promises and intends to live by them, but reality comes knocking. He is less employable than before (the same situation as anybody with a criminal record) and furthermore, still has ties to the underworld element. It isn’t long before his own debts and personal acquaintanceships result in him recidivating and getting tied up again in no-good business. He isn’t what we would think of as a bad person, but his options are limited by what he knows and what other people expect him to do. Some of these people want him to rob a pawn shop, which he does. He gets shot. He dies. Benicio loves his mom and dad. He is a sweet kid, and benefits a lot from having a devoted mother. He doesn’t really understand why his dad is incarcerated, so he just misses him and wants him to come home. What’s really scary is the guys who know where they live, who come looking for Standard to beat him up and threaten him. Benicio has a bullet as a token from one of these goons, a promise of more scariness to come if his dad doesn’t do something. But his dad will do something, that much he knows. He just doesn’t know much about what that something is. The only understanding of it all is that it must be bad, because police are at the house again talking to his mom and this time dad isn’t coming home. This, then, is the whole story. A family which manages to subsist in the frenetic economy of Los Angeles. But subsistence is not enough. Something else, a supplement, is required for there to be a storyness to this story. Something decidedly extra has to come and give it some consistency, to tie it all together. Driver, Shannon tells Irene, “just showed up about six or seven years ago,” which is about when Benicio was born.

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He hasn’t always lived in the same building as Irene, but moved in rather recently. It would seem he appears on the scene just as Standard’s prison sentence draws to an end and their family life resumes once more. Why? A very strange scene occurs between all four characters in the dining room of Irene’s apartment. A kind of lovers’ dialogue, but with Benicio as the audience and Driver as something like a guarantor. Standard asks Benicio “Did I ever tell you how I met your mom?” and proceeds to narrate the tale. It’s a typically mundane story, the kind of anecdote that only has value to the extent that you’re emotionally tied up in the consequences. In short, it is a totally believable human moment. What is it doing in such a prominent place in this hyper-stylized cinematic spectacle of romance, action, violence and crime? Who is being humanized? The crucial bit of dialogue is this exchange, which marks the beginning of Standard and Irene, and hence the beginning of Benicio. Standard: “I am Standard Gabriel.” Irene: “Where’s the deluxe version?” The only possible resolution to these questions is that Driver himself is the “deluxe version” of Standard. Driver is interposed in this scene as the necessary “transitional object” which allows for the stabilization of libidinal ties in this family. He is “doubling for the star” in the same sense as in his role as stunt-double for the movies. He bears the heavy burdens of barreling ineluctably onward so that the desiring configurations can emerge as concrete and enduring. The whole story of the criminal schemes he finds himself involved in is a hallucinatory projection under the sway of narrative inertia, an imaginary past and future into which an otherwise disaffected present can justify itself. The Irene-StandardBenicio triad is already necessarily a quartet.


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Works Cited Drive. Dir. Nicholas Winding Refn. Sony, 2011. DVD. Stiegler, Bernard. Symbolic Misery. Cambridge: Polity, 2014. Print. — “Suffocated Desire, or How the Cultural Industry Destroys the Individual: Contribution to a Theory of Mass Consumption”. Trans. Johann Roussouw. Parrhesia 13 (2011): 52-61. Web.

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Alex F. Brown is a graduate of the Liberal Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and maintains an interest in a range of modern arts and cinemas from opera through sciencefiction. He recently published several essays in Directory of World Cinema: Scotland, including the world’s only positive review of Bonnie Prince Charlie. His current research is all about cars. He does some of his best writing with a Montblanc Carrera, but he would rather drive the Porsche.


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Ani Ta t i n t s y a n

Life Af ter

LIFE:100, an exhibition at the Brand Library and Art Center in Glendale,

Ani Tatintsyan

California, commemorates the 100 th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The goal of the exhibition is to celebrate classic, modern, and contemporary artists of Armenian descent, “re-establishing cultural identity and building creative spirit for the future.”1 I do not fully agree with this mission. Something about the “re-establishment” of cultural identity seems counterproductive to me. To “re-establish” means to establish again, implying that a cultural identity is misplaced or lost. The cultural identity of the Armenian people has been marked by the blood of their ancestors, but there’s nothing misplaced about it. The exhibition itself lays claim to this by displaying post-genocide Armenian artists from all over the world, whose work does not actively engage with the topic of the Armenian Genocide, although its trace is always present. The work and its artist become a representation of what remains after the loss, not the loss itself. As such, LIFE:100 represents not only what lives on after the losses of the Armenian Genocide, but also what lives on in accordance with it. In her afterword to Loss: The Politics of Mourning, Judith Butler writes that loss cannot be represented but all that comes after the fact is stained by its trace. 2 LIFE:100 does not exhibit attempted artistic representations of the Armenian Genocide and, in not doing so, it builds upon the remains of the loss. It exists with the presence of the past within it — its melancholic agency. 3 This is why I’m critical of the Armenian cultural identity being in need of “re-establishment.” All that comes after the loss continues to be informed by it, and all that is new always already rests upon the foundation of its past. The essays in Loss engage these ideas about the politics of melancholy and mourning; what is lost, what is changed, what remains; the “historical materialism”4 and the continuous dialogue between past and present. LIFE:100 does not mourn the dead, it celebrates the life that has been built 1. “Mission,” Life:100, http://www.life100.org/mission/ 2. In her afterword to Loss: The Politics of Mourning titled “After Loss, What Then?,” Judith Butler argues, “[There] is the loss of place and the loss of time, a loss that cannot be recovered or recuperates but that leaves its enigmatic trace” (Butler, 468) 3. Butler writes that melancholic agency is the result of a loss that is neither recoverable nor representable, “but nevertheless alive and persistent” within the present. The melancholic “does not know who it is except as the survival, the persistence of a certain unavowibility that haunts the present” (Butler, 468) 4. In the introduction to Loss, David L. Eng and David Kazanjian refer to Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” and his concept of “historical materialism”, which they define as a “creative process animating history for future significations and as well as alternate empathies” (Eng and Kazanjian, 1-2)

Life After


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despite, and even upon , the tragedies. Freud’s essay “Mourning and Melancholia” is a point of reference for many of the essays in Loss, as his distinction between what makes the melancholic person different from the mourning person affirms the book’s efforts to interpret loss as an ongoing creative process with the past.5 As opposed to mourning, melancholy’s stubborn refusal to give the “lost object” up provides no closure6, “the past remains steadfastly alive in the present.”7 In the introduction to Loss, David L. Eng and David Kazanjian write, “[We] suggest that a better understanding of melancholic attachments to loss might depathologize those attachments, making visible not only their social bases but also their creative, unpredictable, political aspects.”8 I’m interested in the means by which LIFE:100 participates in the open and ongoing relationship with the history of the Armenian people, whilst still contributing to the current struggle for political recognition of their experiences. I attempt to analyze the exhibition’s role in maintaining a ‘melancholic’ relationship to loss, that is, a relationship that has not accepted the lost object as ‘dead’, and the ways in which this relationship contributes as a political act for recognition. The exhibition is split between three categories according to the artist’s region; American, European, and Armenian. These categories already inform a certain spatial aspect crucial to the exhibition. The fact that all the artists exhibited in the show are post-genocide informs the importance of region within the exhibition. One immediately thinks of the Armenian diaspora as a key feature within the show itself; the diaspora was largely and initially formed after the genocide, and the spatial divide within the exhibition works with reference to the historical dispersing of the Armenian people after and during 1915. I found this to be one of the important ways that the exhibition works in conversation with the past. The geographic element of the show also provides context to the dichotomy of past and present, and how the history of a people reconstitutes itself in various regions. In order to further develop this theory I will look at three specific works displayed in the exhibition by artists who each represent one of the 5. David L. Eng and David Kazanjian, “Introduction: Mourning Remains,” in Loss: The Politics of Mourning (California: U of California, 2002), 3. Print 6. Sigmund Freud, James Strachey, Anna Freud, Carrie Lee Rothgeb, and Angela Richards, “Mourning and Melancholia” in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. (London: Hogarth, 1953), 243-58. Print 7. David L. Eng and David Kazanjian, “Introduction: Mourning Remains,” in Loss: The Politics of Mourning. (Berkeley: U of California, 2003), 1-6. Print 8. Ibid., 3

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aforementioned regions. The contemporaneous pieces, John Altoon’s

Untitled Sunset Series (1965), Minas Avetisyan’s First Love (1961), and Jean Jansem’s La Place D’Anticolli (1965), are all painted in oil on

canvas, but were created in different parts of the world with very different aesthetic presentations. What they have in common — and this is, perhaps, what the exhibition aims at conveying — is the historical backdrop of the genocide in which they’re working from. By bringing these pieces together within a gallery space, LIFE:100 highlights the significance of the diaspora in the instituting of cultural identity. In other words, the importance placed on the geographic separation of these artists informs the show’s desire to highlight the importance of the Armenian diaspora within the exhibition. Born in Los Angeles to immigrant Armenian parents, John Altoon was a prominent figure in the LA art scene. He began his career in the early 1950s and gained plenty of success throughout the coming decades. Trained as an illustrator and fine artist at Otis College, Altoon became famous for his figurative and Abstract-Expressionist drawings. His unique style — which combines the abstract and the figurative — earned him recognition as an important artist of his time.9 Although successful in Los Angeles for reasons of style, Altoon’s work is just as significant within Armenian culture. His work from the Untitled Sunset Series, as presented within the LIFE:100 exhibition, comments on the importance of incorporating Armenian-American artists, specifically demonstrating that a culture, even after genocide, can prosper. In this way, LIFE:100 creates a space for dialogue about the preservation, reintroduction and definition of cultural identity. By including Altoon’s work in the show, viewers understand his work in relation to both American and Armenian culture. Although his work may not include a stylistic relationship to Armenian cultural production, the fact that he, a first generation Armenian-American artist, introduced and established himself in a significant mid-twentieth century art scene is important. He positioned his work in popular American culture, and — through his popularity as an artist — reclaimed lost space, gaining recognition for his ancestors and heritage. Ultimately, Altoon’s Untitled Sunset Series becomes reconstituted as part of a dispersed Armenian identity. In Minas Avetisyan’s First Love , bold shapes and imagery are constructed by Avetisyan’s vibrant color palette. Right away, the viewer understands the scene of the painting — a couple pondering in front of their home; the man in a “thinking pose” and the woman, being subservient, looking away from the viewer’s gaze. She holds an apple and looks 9.

“John Altoon,” LACMA, http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/john-altoon


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Minas Avetisyan, First Love

John Altoon, Untitled, Sunset Series

Jean Jansem, La Place D’Anticolli


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down, asking viewers to focus on the apple she holds in her palm. Art historically, the apple symbolizes femininity, sexuality, and sin. Portraying traditional Armenian gender roles, the work also references a specific time and place in history. In the 1960s, Armenia was under Soviet rule and their attire and demeanor refers to another cultural identity, one that was submerged under communist rule. The painting works within Armenian traditions, depicting the traditional Armenian household and its dynamics between men and women. Within the gallery space, First Love portrays the political and social lifestyles of the traditional Armenian family under Soviet rule. The third painting discussed in this text, La Place D’Anticolli by Jean Jansem, portrays the Roman province of Anticoli Corrado filled with people sitting on benches or walking around. Born in Bursa, Turkey in 1920, Jansem’s family soon fled to Greece before settling in France.10 Jansem’s personal history already includes the tracings of the genocide and his work not only references Armenian artistic contributions in Europe but also represents the active ‘historical materialism’ of the genocide. This work places the audience in a specific place, and LIFE:100 reorganizes the location referenced within the work, intertwining it with another place, a lost place that is always referred to in works by people who bear its trace. Of course, the show does not exist solely in its aesthetic form. I was reminded of this as I walked up the steps of the Brand Library, part of the Glendale Public Library. I thought about the city of Glendale, California and the 60,000 Armenian-Americans living there. The show was organized, in part, by the city, and I couldn’t help but think of the constant potential for the ‘New Armenia’ William Saroyan — who also happens to be part of LIFE:100 — talks about in his short story, “The Armenian and the Armenian.”11 He writes that, even if Armenia is destroyed, the possibility of a ‘New Armenia’ is always present whenever two Armenians meet anywhere in the world.12 However, it’s not completely ‘new’, it’s founded upon the loss that lingers. In her afterword to Loss, Judith Butler writes: 10. “Jean Jansem,” Artnet, http://www.artnet.com/artists/jean-jansem/ 11. William Saroyan, Ernst Reichl, and William Saroyan, “The Armenian and the Armenian” in Inhale & Exhale (New York: Random House, 1936), N. pag. Print 12. “I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” (William Saroyan, “The Armenian and the Armenian”)

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Places are lost — destroyed, vacated, barred — but then there is some new place, and it is not the first, never can be the first. And so there is an impossibility housed at the site of this new place. What is new, newness itself, is founded upon the loss of original place, and so it is a newness that has within it a sense of belatedness, of coming after, and being thus fundamentally determined by a past that continues to inform it.13

So, if the city of Glendale is ne of the many ‘New Armenias’ formed around the world, then LIFE:100 expands beyond the walls of the gallery space. The organizational process of the exhibition is informed by something bigger that the people of the city have been, and continue to be, haunted by. Every April 24th, the Armenian people assemble and protest for political recognition of the genocide, but now I think that they assemble in alliance with other bodies,14 taking up space and asking to be seen more than just once a year. In cities occupied by the traditions, cultures, and memories of the Armenian people there are already always protests for recognition. The recognition of lost space is permanently housed within and between the Armenian people anywhere that they live together, collectively, in alliance — wanting to be seen. I immediately think of Arendt’s “space of appearance”15 and am reminded of the political action of the Armenian people going well beyond the annual march on April 24th. Working with the LIFE:100 exhibition gave me a chance to think about space. Gallery space, public space, city space. Lost space, new space, changed space. Place — including those that come after loss and those that are never the same after the fact — is foregrounded in a dialogue with history.

13. Judith Butler, “After Loss, What Then?” in Loss: The Politics of Mourning (Berkeley: U of California, 2003), 468. Print 14. See “Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street” by Judith Butler 15. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: U of Chicago, 1958). Print


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Ani Tatintsyan is a poet who draws her inspirations from people constantly telling her to “smile more”. Her current research revolves around concepts of melancholy and cognitive capitalism. She holds a BA in Political Science and English Literature from the University of Southern California. Her plans after CalArts include getting a full-time job, further hoping it pays over minimum wage.


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Aesthetics and Politics

Çaglar Köseoglu Blood in the Streets or the AestheticoPolitics of Blood

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Çağlar Köseoğlu

Blood in the Streets or the Aesthetico-Politics of Blood

When thinking about aesthetico-political matters, blood is a substance and concept that I usually prefer to ignore. Next to its risk of essentialist configurations of the political, it is one of those terms that — due to its prevalence in multifarious discourses — can be charged up to an almost metaphysical degree. Avoiding or better rejecting these risks, I would like to think about blood against the backdrop of a photograph from a recent political event: the uprising that started at Gezi Park in Istanbul. These protests were (or are) infused with an egalitarian political logic, one that differs fundamentally from the political logic normally associated with blood: that of kinship, race, and the national. What follows is not a historical or political scientific account of these protests. I rather attempt to reflect on the aesthetico-political aspects of blood in the context of street politics. This comes with its own risks, since blood as a point of entry into Gezi might put one swiftly on a sensationalist or reductive track, a blood track. However, these protests and the violence with which they have been met render the appearance of blood — its aesthetic manifestation — invariably political. In a way, appearance is, on the level of street politics, the modus operandi of blood; when the victim bleeds as a result of police violence, the blood normally contained by his or her body now spills or spurts into the open. Appearance, a fundamentally aesthetic notion as it concerns our senses, is still more than becoming visible and or audible. In Hannah Arendt’s aesthetic understanding of politics, it is the actualization, through concerted speech and action, of the political. In Jacques Rancière’s aesthetics of politics, appearance is the object of political struggle itself as well as the proper action of a political subject. In both instances, then, appearance is inherently entangled with the political and thought of in terms of action. On the level of street politics, protestors are already appearing in the above described ways, but the appearance of blood is not directly covered by them being political subjects. After all, bleeding is not easily understood as an action, for bleeding is an involuntary ‘action.’ A protestor bleeds despite the probable efforts to protect his or her body. Perhaps blood is then not a question of who appears–in this case the political subject–but what appears. During Gezi, protestors appeared and they fought over that which should (dis)appear. The extent to which they appeared and the momentum of their fight for appearance was dependent on the audible, visual and virtual reach of their appearance. But not every instance of bloodshed during Gezi resulted in the appearance of blood; that is, not every instance of bloodshed due to police violence became part of the common aisthesis. One of the first instances of the appearance of blood during Gezi that I know of was a picture of a journalist who got hit by a gas canister


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thrown by a police officer at Gezi Park on 31 May 2013. The gas canister, thrown from a distance of about 30 feet, hit the upper region of his head. On the picture we see an aiding protestor holding the victim’s wound while blood is pouring down in thick rivulets over the right side of his face. There are different photographs of the same scene, taken just moments after each other, in which his face expresses varying degrees of distress. The image is taken when he was already dispersed from the park and on his way to the nearby Taksim Hospital. This act of removal of the bleeding victim from the site of street politics is not unusual, yet it may indicate how the appearance of blood hints at the limit(s) of the political. When blood appears, a limit has been transgressed. This is first and foremost a literal, corporeal limit: a body has been acted upon by force to such an extent that it becomes porous and leaks its life-sustaining fluid. He or she who appears bleeding as a result of police violence, more often than not, has to (if possible) leave the site of street politics; hence, in a very literal sense, disappears and becomes inactive. This doesn’t mean that his or her ability to be political — to appear and act — is determinately aborted. As was the case with the journalist in question, he or she may re-appear and re-act at the site of street politics at a later point in time. In any case, the appearance of blood introduces a different temporality to the political moment. And this temporality does not only concern the bleeding protestor, but also those protesting alongside him or her. For the appearance of blood is an ominous reminder to the protestors that it is possible, or even probable, that their blood too will shed, that their skin too will become porous. This picture of the bleeding journalist was taken when Gezi Park had become the site of violent clashes between protesters and police forces for four consecutive days. At this point, peaceful protestors had been beaten with police truncheons, were kicked and thrown around, dispersed with pressurized chemical water, targeted with gas canisters and sprayed in the face with tear gas. Although these attacks lead to various kinds of serious injuries and leave different types of traces on the body, the appearance of blood is arguably the most dramatic visual sign of political contestation on the streets (even if blood does not properly indicate the severity of an injury). The aesthetic manifestation of blood might therefore lead to a reconfiguration on the site of street politics; to momentarily retreating, regrouping or to an intensified attachment to the political moment. In short, the appearance of blood might cause one to appear and act differently. But protestors might also depoliticize themselves by answering to the mimetic pull of blood, by adopting the destructive logic of blood; then the appearance of blood becomes not only a political caesura, but a transgression of the political moment.

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Blood in the Streets or the Aesthetico-Politics of Blood

However, the day after this picture went viral on the internet, an enormous group of peaceful protestors managed to chase out police forces from Gezi Park by sheer number and instituted an alternative aesthetico-political practice for 11 days. The appearance of blood on the streets renders the aestheticopolitical chiasmic. The aesthetic manifestation of blood in the context of street politics is without a doubt political, yet it also introduces temporalities and logics that might weaken or destroy the—aesthetically manifested and sustained—political moment. Or perhaps, the aesthetic manifestation of blood in the streets is a political point of no return.


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Çağlar Köseoğlu

Blood in the Streets or the Aesthetico-Politics of Blood

Çağlar Köseoğlu studied philosophy and literature in Amsterdam, Istanbul and Leiden. He came to the Aesthetics and Politics program at CalArts as a Fulbright grantee. His poems have appeared in several journals, including Samplekanon, nY and Natama; and he has performed his work in the Netherlands and in the US, most recently during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the University of Southern California. His first collection of poetry, 34, will be published as a chapbook by Stanza Press, Amsterdam in 2015.


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Jaclyn Nin Hunter Crimson

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A brothel of insects and snails captured, harvested, dried and ground to create the tired, velvety color that connotes in debauchery, in the gore of strife, war and vengeance. Crimson is rich and rests on the border between red and violet, alarmingly familiar with blood1. If crimson were to be gradated, ripped from the wheel of color, stretched and straightened, a simplified reading would follow blue, violet, crimson and red. What is it precisely, that distinguished crimson from violet?2 If said gradation were

1. In “Colors,” a reoccurring column of Cabinet magazine where specific and designated colors are addressed, Jude Stewart responded to ‘crimson.’ The term crimson descends from kermes , a term used for a variety of insects (Stewart 8). The production of red as a dye is primarily from kermes and cochineal (Goethe 315). From the dried fluids of female kermes vermilion and the defensive secretion of carminic acid from the Mexican cochineal, Stewart notes this “insectderived” color to be distressingly chummy with blood “both in hue and origin” (Stewart 8, 10). In Goethe’s Theory of Colours , a similar connection to blood is made with the “red juice found in many shell-fish” (Goethe 254). This coloring substance, which is also common in the production of royal purple and tyrian red, is found in the discharges of the carnivorous Muricidae (Murex) snails. The entire creature can be crushed and boiled, leaving a concentrated broth that has the ability to morph with exposure to light. This “red juice” changes from yellow, to green, to blue, to violet, until finally reaching a pure and bright red “which may be pushed beyond the culminating point towards scarlet” (Goethe 254-255) 2. Goethe defines color as a phenomenon of the optics that is experienced and comprehended in the marriage of polarities, “by separation and contrast, by commixture and union, by augmentation and neutralization, by communication and dissolution” (Goethe 1iv). In an attempt to study the phenomena of color and draw connections between it and philosophical ideas, Goethe identified and catalogued colors in two categories, plus and minus (276). Of the plus side is yellow, that which is “nearest the light” (306). Positive colors are quick on the senses, they “excite,” are “lively” and “aspiring” (306). These colors have a kinship with acids and are associated with action, force, warmth and proximity (276). Blue is on the minus side of color, and just as yellow is thought to accompany light, blue harbors a “principle of darkness” (310). Negative colors evoke restlessness, susceptibility and anxiety, their affinity is with alkalis and they are associated with negation, weakness, coldness and distance (310, 276). For Goethe, “every colour produces a distinct impression on the mind, and thus addresses at once the eye and feelings” (350). Color is “a language,” and like all languages, much rests in interpretation and translation (351). Counter to Goethe is Josef Albers’ Interaction of Color, where he describes the experience of color to be forever bound to its relativity which protects/blocks the physicality of color from ever being truly perceived (Albers 71). As limited as it may be by its nomenclature, every color “evokes innumerable readings” (1). What is thought to be blue or yellow in the mind of one will be different in the minds of others along with the connections, associations and reactions made via independent experiences of each and every color (3). Just as words are not read in a single letter and music is not heard in a single tone, pure color cannot be seen “unconnected and unrelated to other colors. Colors present themselves in continuous flux, constantly related to changing neighbors and changing conditions” (4-5). For Goethe, “color is at all times specific, characteristic [and]


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read in reverse, crimson is the warm river flowing into violet. Crimson is the color of the setting sun, moments before dusk. Dusk is loathsome, yet seems to be the most honest hour of the day. Blinding and disorienting, dusk bleeds sky into earth. The pretentious promises embedded in the ideologies of the horizon melt beneath a tsunami of light, eating at significant,” yet for Albers, color is the gray matter, the tensions between polarities that do not wed, but instead, give up a “preference for harmony [and] accept dissonance to be as desirable as consonance” (Goethe 276, Albers 42-43). Had it not been for Goethe’s Theory of Colours , neither Schopenhauer nor Runge would have produced the work they had on color, for Goethe was personally involved in both their explorations (Schopenhauer, sec. Preface). Schopenhauer’s On Vision and Colors assumes/demands of his readers a familiarity of not only Goethe’s (and therefore Newton’s Optics), but also Philipp Otto Runge’s Color Sphere and his corresponding essay “On the Duality of Color.” Broken up in three “classes,” Goethe lays the foundation of his physiological, physical and chemical colors (Goethe 1v). For both Goethe and Schopenhauer, physiological colors are of the highest importance, “for they originate in the eye” (Schopenhauer, sec. Introduction). Physiological colors belong to the subject, the individual, “to the eye itself” (Goethe 1). They are “too evanescent to be arrested [and in previous study] were banished into the region of phantoms” (1). Physical colors are those produced by a “material medium” which is not intrinsic to/of the color(s) being produced and may be transparent, opaque, or a variation of the two (56). Here it is not the eye alone acting in the production of color, but also that of the medium being seen. Chemical colors, being as they sound, are those farthest from physiological in that they are fixed, without transparency, and always of the objective (202-206). Schopenhauer wanted to define color — to establish a theory that explained what color is (Schopenhauer, sec. Introduction). Goethe, on the other hand and as previously stated, was less interested in definitions (which are arguably as constraining as the Newtonian theories he pushed against) and was more interested in describing how color is experienced. Broken in two parts, On Vision and On Color, Schopenhauer established first his theory of perception and then that of color. Instrumental to his theory of perception “is the transformation of subjective sensations , emanating from the objective world, into objective representations […] by the inference of the understanding” (sec. Introduction). This division of sensation from representation and the part played by understanding/ knowledge in their relations leads Schopenhauer to define color as “the qualitative divided activity of the retina” (sec. Introduction, sec. On Vision and Colors). Schopenhauer distinguishes quantitative from qualitative activity of the retina and assigns to each achromatic and chromatic properties. Therefore, color is seen qualitatively (chromatic) but its immeasurable gradations, saturations and values are seen quantitatively (achromatic) (sec. Introduction). Runge’s Color Sphere is a system devised for artists to understand the relations of color neither to the world nor the eye, but to other color. His threedimensional map is both chromatic and achromatic, made up of five parts without reliance of light: red, yellow, blue, black and white (Schopenhauer, sec. On the Duality of Color). What this sphere does with great efficacy is demonstrate the boundless flexibility of color while removing color from the physical matter to which it is thought to be attached (sec. On the Duality of Color). Although it is a tool of harmony, it walks closer to Alber’s dissonance than Schopenhauer and Goethe’s consonance

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the terrain it illuminates3. There are those whom are blessed with the privilege to chase visions of futures, and those whom know they will die before ever reaching the present. What is lost in the absence of a horizon is the ability to envision a different present and the potential of a better future4. Dusk is the space of Janus, where Apollo meets Dionysus, 3. Goethe’s Theory of Colours closely follows Aristotle’s view that color is light; “a mixture, or blend, or commingling, or superposition, or juxtaposition of black and white” (Goethe v). White and light, black and darkness could be seen as the seed that planted the tree to Goethe’s plus and minus of color. “Light and darkness, brightness and obscurity, or if a more general expression is preferred, light and its absence, are necessary to the production of colour” (1vi). Color is not merely a condition of light. Light is the power that displays color, which places it in the realm of appearances and thus the senses (275). Like the iridescence of some mollusks, with light and its speed, color appears but it also disappears into darkness (257, 282). “Color arises from the transition of brightness to darkness” (xv). From light to dark, color is both, and simultaneously a matter of “interaction” and “interdependence” replacing the habitual weight of “retrospection” with that of “introspection” (Albers 71, 52). Shadow exists because of light and therefore, color is “allied to shadow,” it amalgamates eagerly and “appears to us readily in and by means of shadow” (Goethe 31). Just as color is light, it is also and correspondingly “a degree of darkness” (31). Color, by its nature, is a duality of transparent and opaque. In the objective, that which is completely opaque, only the quality of color appears, and it does so superficially. Yet in the transparent subjective, quantity and quality appear, relinquishing the necessity of form to which color has been attached (Schopenhauer, sec. On the Duality of Color) 4. Regardless to whether it is positive or negative, color acts. Action, in its visual presentation, is a change made. When one acts, the actor sheds his/her identity by changing in “appearance and behavior” — by acting as “someone else” (Albers 72). Similarly, in the ‘deceptions’ and ‘illusions’ of simultaneous contrast and/or after-image, “colors influence and change each other forth and back. They continuously interact — in our perception” — in their visual presentation (72). Or as Goethe says, “highest of all appearances of colour arises from the junction of two contrasted extremes which have gradually prepared themselves for a union” (Goethe 314). Goethe’s ‘union’ is Albers’ ‘optical mixture.’ For this action to take place two or more colors must be seen simultaneously and in a specific ratio or quantity, the community of colors unites and forms one single new color (Albers 33). An opposite action can also take place. Instead of colors merging to make anew, two or more colors can ‘push’ and ‘pull’ against one another producing an “after-image,” or halo of each color’s opposite/complementary color (22-23). Like the action of man, color demands and develops a stage. Color makes space. The instability and plasticity of color’s actions generate boundaries giving objects visually read as “here” or “there” — placing them in space (Albers 31). Likewise, ‘middle-mixtures’ (one hue seen in three or more values) provides the appearance of volume, and the quantity of hues perceived establishes the appearance of weight (38, 43). Color only appears connected to other colors in space, as a web of constellations. Color is not dominated by time like it is by space and light. It is not restricted to a sequence of ‘before,’ ‘now’ and ‘later,’ like it is to ‘here’ and ‘there.’ This is not to say color is insensitive to time. Color “appears in uncountable shades and tints, but is additionally characterized by shape and size, by recurrence and placement,” all of which are easily effected but not restrained by time, unless of course, this time is indicative of light, like that of dusk or dawn (Albers 39-40)


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Jfirst a c l yname n Nin Hunter last name

title C r i mof s opiece n

somewhere between the sublime and the heinous, between horror and humdrum. Where red5, the color of passion, action and creative destruction crashes into blue6, the color of peace, tranquility and melancholic conservatism rises violet7, the color of decadence. Crimson is the moment just before we decay and fall away.

5. Schopenhauer identified red and its complement, green, as “colors par excellence because they illustrated in ultimate perfection the phenomenon of the bipartition of the activity of the retina” (sec. On Vision and Colors). Red and green cut the eye in perfect halves. Using Runge’s sphere of color, the complement or other half of crimson rests somewhere between phthalo and viridian green. In the eyes of Goethe, red is “the most powerful and intense of all colors” (Goethe xix). Unlike yellow or blue, red is not condemned to either the plus or minus side of color, but has a home in both (314). “Grave and magnificent,” red is the color left on the retina when burned by the brightest of light (315, 278). The effect of this colour is as peculiar as its nature. It conveys an impression of gravity and dignity, and at the same time of grace and attractiveness. The first in its dark deep state, the latter in its light attenuated tint; and thus the dignity of age and the amiability of youth may adorn itself with degrees of the same hue (314-315) 6. Goethe describes the experience of blue as “empty,” “cold,” “gloomy” and “melancholy” (Goethe 311). The vastness of oceans, open skies and distant rolling mountain tops all appear in variants of blue. Of said surfaces, all are seen at a distance, retiring from the see-er, tinting blue with the sensation of “a stimulating negation” (311). Goethe places this sensation between “excitement and repose” (311) 7. “Violet is the darkest of all colors, although it originates from two colors brighter than itself; therefore, as soon as it inclines to one side or to the other, it becomes brighter. This does not hold true for any other color” (Schopenhauer, sec. On Vision and Colors). Violet holds an intriguing place in Goethe’s eyes, for not only does it consist of the disturbance of blue, but also the enlivenment of red (Goethe 312). It is not glad but yet still spirited. In all its shades and tints, violet captures “the restless degrees of a still impatient progression” (313)

Josef Albers, Study for Homage to the Square, 1970. Oil on Masonite. Guggenheim Museum, New York.


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Works Cited Albers, Josef. Interaction of Color. New Haven: Yale University, 2013. Print. Goethe, Johann W. Theory of Colours. Trans. Charles Lock Eastlake. Cambridge: M.I.T., 1970. Print. Schopenhauer, Arthur, and Philipp O. Runge. Trans. Georg Stahl. On Vision and Colors and Color Sphere. New York: Princeton Architectural, 2010. Kindle file. Stewart, Jude. “Colors/Crimson.”

Cabinet 53 (2014): 8-10. Print.

Aesthetics and Politics

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Jaclyn Nin Hunter

Crimson

Jaclyn Nin Hunter is a visual artist. She received her BA in Art History from the Evergreen State College. Her current projects focus on graffiti and street art from a variety of social, political and historical landscapes.


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Aryana GhaziHassami

Observations on ISIS Propaganda: The Recruitment of Women

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Obser vations on ISIS Propaganda: The Recruitment of Women

On June 16th, 2011, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase — aged fifteen —  and Kadiza Sultana — aged sixteen — boarded a flight from London Heathrow to Turkey and made their way into the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS). These three young girls add to ISIS’s growing statistics: one in ten of their recruits from the United Kingdom are women. The firsthand accounts of the lives of these runaways leave us to wonder: what is life like for women in the caliphate? What drove them from their homes in London? What made them embrace this restrictive Jihadi ideology? Many existential reasons lead women to join the Islamic State, but rather than judge these decisions, engaging the particular psychologies, I focus on three main tactics that have made ISIS successful at luring young women into ISIS. Two of these tactics are gender-neutral messages, reaching both women and men, whereas the third targets women directly. The first of which is the ‘adventure’ narrative — joining ISIS is represented as an opportunity to travel across borders to reach a ‘Muslim Utopia.’ Secondly — and this is linked to the ‘humanitarian appeal’ — is the fight against urbanization, modernization and Western thought. There is the belief that the only way to be a pure Muslim is to live under Sharia rule, which is only available in ISIS (or other Islamic Republics). It almost becomes a religious obligation. It is important to consider how the growth of Islamophobia only fuels this narrative by further separating Western values from Islamic thinking and practices; this separation does not allow for the sensitivity needed to understand and co-exist — further stigmatizing Muslims living in the West. Lastly, and most interestingly, the ‘romance’ narrative, which attempts to lure women into becoming Jihadi brides. My attention is focused on the latter, and leads me to examine the all-female Al-Khanssaa Brigade of ISIS, as a body that relies heavily on identity politics for recruitment. Their audience are young women who feel oppressed as Sunni Muslims in the context of the West; they also make anonymous fatwas, calling for single women to join the fight from within the region. The key tool of propaganda, “Women of the Islamic State, A Manifesto on Women,” was published on January 23rd, 2015. Written in Arabic and initially targeted at Arabic women in Saudi Arabia, the intended audience may not have been English-speaking Muslims. Nevertheless, I find it important to examine how it attracted these three women from London — among others — because it draws on themes that directly contrast the women’s emancipation movements in the West, and 1. Quilliam Foundation, “Women of the Islamic State: A Manifesto on women by the Al-Khanssaa Brigade” Trans. Charlie Winter, 21


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blames ‘fashion shops and beauty salons’1 for dismantling a woman’s place. Focusing on the role, duty and position of women in “The Ideal Model for Muslim Women,” I attempt to better understand the position of Jihadi ideology, and it’s paradoxical persuasion of young Western Muslims. This is summarized in one short historical statement: In the last Surat al-Tahrim related from God the Almighty, in which is given examples of the two believers Asia and Mariam, two ideal women, the most celebrated were religion and chastity: “And [the example of] Mariam, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We blew into [her garments] through Our Angel, and she believed in the words of her Lord and His scriptures and was of the devoutly obedient” (Quran 66:12).2 Keeping this in mind, I jump to another section of the manifesto that discusses obedience. They write, The central thesis of this statement (the manifesto) is that woman was created to populate the Earth just as man was. But, as God wanted it to be, she was made from Adam and for Adam. Beyond this, her creator ruled that there was no responsibility greater for her than that of being a wife to her husband. [sic]3

This is one of the first places we see the role of the wife discussed, not simply the spectacle of bride-ship. Becoming a bride connotes a grand event, held in great regard especially in Middle Eastern and Asian cultures; a wife, on the other hand, is a long-term, mundane actualization of bride-ship, which is less exciting. These London girls were of Pakistani and Ethiopian decent; both of these cultures place an enormous emphasis on marriage as a means of achieving family honor. More specifically, the glamour related to bride-ship is enticing for young girls, but not necessarily in long-term, obedience-centered marriage. The Brigade further states, “The greatness of her position, the purpose of her existence is the Divine duty of motherhood… “Paradise is under the mother’s feet,” narrated by Ibn Majah, authenticated by al-Albani.”4 The manifesto continues, targeting the lifestyle in the West and explaining the role of a woman in relation to the role of a man. The binary of the sexes relies on the other’s success in each of their roles. The problem today is that women are not fulfilling their fundamental roles, the role that is consistent with their deepest nature, for an important reason, that women are not presented with a true picture of a man and, because of the rise in the number of 2. 3. 4.

Ibid., 26 Ibid., 17 Ibid., 18

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emasculated men who do not shoulder the responsibility allocated to them towards their ummah , religion or people, and not even towards their sons, who are being supported by their wives… This has forced women away from their true role and they do not realise it. Because men are serving women like themselves, men cannot distinguish themselves from them according to the two features referred to by God: “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what God has given over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth” (Quran 4:34). 5

Essentially, this is the Jihadi reasoning that affirms a woman’s role as obedient wife and home-maker. If she doesn’t fulfill her role, the whole order of society fails; if one wants a caliphate to be successful, one must follow order. In Talal Asad’s “The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam,” he refers to Ernest Geller’s work on the society of Islam, quoting, “Islam is the blueprint of a social order. It holds that a set of rules exist, eternal, divinely ordained, and independent of the will of men, which defines the proper ordering of society…”6 Although Asad is skeptical of Geller’s orientalist conceptualization of Islam, and his constant comparison to Christianity or Judaism, there is an element of truth in relation to the Jihadi reading and political philosophy of ISIS. The structure of the caliphate is heavily reliant on a very specific order and gendered positions within it. The manifesto reiterates, “The fundamental function of a woman is — it is the house with her husband and children.”7 And it continues to outline the only time women are allowed to leave the house: Women may go out to serve the community in a number of situations, the most important being: 1. Jihad (by appointment) — if the enemy is attacking her country and the men are not enough to protect it and the imams give a fatwa for it, as the blessed women of Iraq and Chechnye did with great sadness, if the men are absent even they are present. 2. The most common reason is for studying the sciences of religion. 3. Female doctors or teachers may leave, but they must keep strictly to Shariah guidelines. 8

Finally, they write, “It is always preferable for a woman to remain hidden and veiled, to maintain society from behind this veil.”9 The rules remain 6. Ibid., 17 7. Talal Asad, “The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam” (Washington: Georgetown University, 1989), 3 8. Ibid 9. Ibid


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strict in order to maintain order, but let us not forget that a woman may only fulfill her role if the man fulfills his. ISIS believes the emancipation of the West has dismantled gendered social roles. I question, then, with the clear restrictions outlined for women, how young girls would actively choose for this to be their fate. It seems unusually ironic that a piece of propaganda — designed to encourage women to join the fight while placing them in clearly restricted roles — could be seen as attractive. Propaganda aims to persuade its audience that the image it provides is best; it usually posits itself as an irrefutably ideal situation. The reality of this manifesto, however, places extreme restrictions that only allow for mobilization if: she is ordered to fight, engaged in scholarly study, and/or teaching or medicating other women. These do not seem ideal reasons to travel across the world and live a life that starkly opposes the one offered in the West. The pressing question remains: how can this seem alluring? Or are there other, less official propagandistic tactics — such as seduction through social media — that are proving more effective? The very fact that ISIS offers women a role, no matter how restrictive, provides a clear place for them. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge that they could view their choice to join, and their role once joined, as an opportunity to exercise feminine agency. I urge us to consider this possibility. In the West, feminism and being a housewife are not mutually exclusive. The mantra of ‘choice feminism’ elicits the notion that, if an individual chooses to live her life in a gendered role — that is, to be a housewife, to bear and raise children — then that is her choice. As long as this is indeed her choice, no one should judge her, or deem her any less of a feminist, if she believes in the equality of the sexes. In the case of these three girls, if it was their choice to leave semi-patriarchal London for extremely-patriarchal ISIS, we cannot judge this as an anti-feminist position. Alternatively, many argue that ‘choice feminism’ seems to be reductionist logic, rendering feminism nothing more than the right of women to make choices. Choices such as whether to shave, to wear makeup, to succumb to ‘fashion shops and beauty salons,’ are examples, as are the choice to wear the hijab and to sacrifice her life for Jihad. For example, Umm al-Baraa, a Malaysian medic who joined ISIS in February of 2014, stated, “Stethoscope around my neck and kalash on my shoulder. Martyrdom is my highest dream.”10 Could we not begin to see what ISIS is offering as a militant form of empowerment that is fiercely attractive? If this was her choice, how may other feminists th

10. “Sisters In Islam,” Facebook page. Posted 19 December 2014 (accessed 27th March 2015)

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contradict her? It is possible that ‘choice feminism’ uses the language of liberation — taken from feminist political theory — and turns it on its head to be used against women, illicitly upholding the patriarchy it sets out to undermine. This is because choice alone cannot constitute agency. There is nothing inherently feminist in the notion of making decisions, especially when there are many other factors that persuade and influence the ability to choose — influences created and directed by structures of male supremacy. Al-Khanssaa is a perplexing entity. It alludes to the empowerment of women in its very existence as a women’s brigade, yet, it lures women into a very constricted existence. It’s clearly decidedly not feminist as it defines a woman’s role as a subservient to the man’s. It seems that, although feminism may give women agency, not all things that encourage agency may be considered feminist. Egyptian-American activist, Mona Eltahawy asks, “What makes these women become the foot soldiers of patriarchy?”11 The answer may simply be romanticism. In the case of Western female recruits, there is a naïve romanticism in the search for reformist love and martyrdom or a utopian politics. The most dangerous examples are the images of women, posted by the women of ISIS on Twitter and Facebook, normalizing the brutality of war by framing it against everyday activates such as having a riding a bus, walking a child, or playing with pets. There is also a trend that glamorizes their role, with women posing next to expensive cars or weaponry. These female recruiters are also paying homage to Western foods and comforts, showing that treats like Nutella are made available by the wealth of ISIS. ISIS’s utilization of social media has been savvy in other ways too, keeping fighters on the ground in Syria in direct conversation with young Muslim women all around the world. Notably, Amira Abase was in daily conversation with a male recruiter, Amatullah.12 He claimed to be 16 year old from the UK. Their exchange started when a television reporter responded to Abase’s post on a social media account, explaining her yearning to flee the UK to join ISIS. She was responded to almost immediately with instructions about how to get to Syria and additional support: “U dont need to know arabic there’s plenty of britani bros here,” and “U can stay with me if u want. Until u get married.” Finally, he encourages with haste, “There’s sisters coming every day.” He implies that she should hurry. When the reporter asked the practical questions about what to pack, Amatullah responded, “Lingerie, loool…” These less official 11. Elizabeth Weingarten, “Why Female Extremists Perplex Us,” The Weekly Wonk, New America 12. Twitter conversation accessed from “ISIS welcomes women if they’re young and bring lingerie,” New York Post, 7th March 2015


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propagandistic tools bear little correlation to the manifesto, apart from the underlining condition of becoming a Jihadi wife. This direct seduction enables the glamour and spurs the adventure of running away for true love. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the problem of the West imposing an understanding of obedience and submission onto recruited women. All this does is further uphold a fantastical, orientalist understanding of the other.13 At the same time, recruited women from the West could also be playing into the orientalist fantasy, as they choose to embody that very other in becoming a Jihadi wife — a fantasy that can only materialize in the caliphate, further upholding an us/them dichotomy. I do not wish to pinpoint an exact conclusion about what makes women join ISIS. Instead, I would like to focus on the successes of propaganda to find a crack between Western media and ISIS rhetoric. A romantic love narrative — one that seduces women and men alike, convincing them to conduct violence or break with their current situation — is nothing new. Some Muslim women in the West are left alienated by Islamophobia and Western ideals, while some search for identity, acceptance and belonging. In order to understand why women are joining ISIS the next step may be to look inward, to the environments those women are leaving, not only the environment, ISIS, they are leaving it for.

13. Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979)

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Ar yana Ghazi-Hessami

Obser vations on ISIS Propaganda: The Recruitment of Women

Aryana Ghazi-Hessami completed her BA in Art Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins, London. Her interests fall under the umbrella of contemporary art and cultural theory, including feminism, post-colonial studies, and rhetoric. Raised in an AngloIranian household, she developed a keen interest in the status of the Middle East, international relations and the role of art in such conflicts.


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Tu l a p o p Saenjaroen

S h o o t ! ( V i d e o g r a m s o f a R e v o l u t i o n: R e b e l s W i t h M o v i e C a m e r a s)

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Tulapop Saenjaroen

Rather, one could say in this context: the camera is mightier than the machine gun. Videograms of a Revolution (1992) is an essay/documen-

tary film by Harun Farocki and Andrej Ujica — an editorial compilation of amateur and professional videos about the December 1989 overthrow of Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania. The film condenses more than 125 hours of video taken over the course of a few days1 of the revolution into a film of less than two hours. This footage ranges from people gathering and marching to occupy the square, the rebels taking over the Bucharest TV station, to ‘the end of the revolution’, where the executed bodies of Ceaușescu and his wife were publicly exhibited on TV. However, Farocki and Ujica do not construct this ‘documentary’ in a straightforward manner, merely relaying the information or interviewing witnesses about the historical/political event; instead, they interrogate this phenomena by scrutinizing how the image operates politically and how the image is empowered as proof of ‘truth’ in a time of crisis. In 1989 many unsettling events occurred in some communist states preceding the downfall of the USSR and the end of the Cold War: the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the student-led Tiananmen Square protest, to name a few. Romania was the only country in this year of unrest that overthrew its dictatorship with violence. During the 1970s in Romania, Nicolae Ceaușescu promoted a cult of personality and had his family members take key government positions to retain power and to amass huge amounts of money from government revenues. Due to mismanagement in industrial ventures and lack of sufficient resources, his government had a growing amount of foreign debt to be settled. Ceaușescu ordered the export of most of Romania’s products in order to pay off the debt, which resulted in dramatic shortages of basic necessities such as food, medicine, fuel and energy. This degraded the living standards in Romania to the point of starvation and physical hardship, contributing to the growing unrest of the populace. Meanwhile, Ceaușescu needed to turn to the Soviet Union once again as the West started to retract the commercial advantages and the financial credits from Romania, and the Stalinist economic model to which Ceaușescu adhered was no longer self-sustaining. Despite the necessity to turn back to the Soviet Union, Ceaușescu was rather antagonistic towards Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform policies — perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) — as the policies were meant to 1. The revolution lasted from December 15 th to December 25 th of 1989. However, the film focuses more on the 20 th to the 25 th of December

Shoot! (Videograms of a Revolution: Rebels With Movie Cameras)


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democratize2 the Soviet Union and compromise with the West in terms of foreign affairs, which could thus destabilize the only centralized power. In order to hold onto power, Ceaușescu opted for violent control. In the Encyclopedia Britannica article “Collapse of Communism: The Revolution of 1989,” the editors state that “By the late 1980s, Ceaușescu had transformed Romania into a police state. Institutions and organizations, even the Communist Party itself, had been eviscerated and had become mere instruments for carrying out his will. The Securitate had become the chief prop of his rule.”3 The more extreme the dictatorship became, the lower the tolerance became on the part of the populace. This led to the gathering of anti-government crowds conducting demonstrations in Timișoara. The crackdown on the protests became bloody and many unarmed civilians lost their lives. The demonstrations extended the area to the capital, Bucharest — and thus the beginning of the revolution. In Videograms of a Revolution, Farocki and Ujica use editing process and analytical voice-over to critically scrutinize signification in audiovisual works at the time of the revolution. Even though the sequences follow the course of the revolution chronologically throughout, the film is structured to be looked at in a back-and-forth and compareand-contrast manner. Sets of images collide with each other in multiple sources, perspectives, angles, technical means and agendas. They build an argument that the image is no longer a representation of ‘truth’ (or perhaps never was) but a mere imitation of ‘truth’ that could only be politically activated when it is placed within specific relations. With this dialectical approach to the materials, the reconstruction of these conjunctures makes for a critical engagement with the images produced. The film does not try to tautologically say what the image tries to say but instead tries to say the ‘trying to say’ itself, hinting at the ‘invisible’ factor of image making. The film is not only what can be seen but also what cannot be seen. The analysis of the image in the film is hence the interlacing between the filmmaking/image production and its politics, inside and outside. In the particular case of the film, while people who had access to camcorders became amateur ‘war reporters,’ the media was still a highly propagandistic tool for Ceaușescu’s reign. The war in Romania was also a war of image where fact and fiction, the real and the staged, and 2. These policies are meant as a transition to Scandinavian-type of social democracy, combining free market capitalism with communism 3. “National Communism,” Encyclopedia Britannica Online, edited by Ernest Jr. Latham, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/508461/ Romania/42881/National-communism>

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representation and presentation were clashing against each other. The film investigates the intertwined affiliations between the political power and the media where the accessibility to media tools became ‘democratized’ and people started to exercise its potential capacities. In his critical analysis of the film, “Enlargement of the Field of View,” Klaus Kreimeier asserts: An inversion of the relation between politics and media announced itself. Though the medium still followed the political event and attached itself to the political actors, political action only became possible as publicly perceived performance wherever a recording apparatus was present and a media attention guaranteed. ‘If film is possible, history is also possible,’ says the voice-over in the film.”4

Kremeier suggests that the witnesses and readings of events are meant to be analyzed and debated since media has become inverted as the precondition for political action and now only what has been recorded and publicized counts. The recording and broadcasting media then became “the catalyst, if not the catapult of political events.”5 In this regard, it is then a question of a social life that is bombarded with a mediatized sense of being, of its perception of political phenomena — that performing, documenting, confirming and distribution of what is ‘real’ occurs in fragmented narratives. Farocki and Ujica were conspicuously aware of this, as it appears as a deliberate choice for them to construct the film using both amateur and official footage and to remix them in multiple perspectives — to interrogate the ‘media reality’6 and strategies of weaponizing the image. Or, more precisely, what kinds of images were produced during the uprising, yearning for change under a repressive regime. As Farocki once stated in an interview, “I deal with these new images, but I don’t make any.”7 Videograms of a Revolution starts with an injured woman lying down on the bed in the hospital. “Pass on the message for me,” she says. The cameraman responds to her, “Speak to the camera. You’ll be on TV.” Then, she starts to introduce herself to the camera and quickly states that she was shot by the Securitate in Timișoara, and further describes tortures and arrests she witnessed in detail, people “beaten with rifle-butts.” 4. Klaus Kreimeier, “Enlargement of the Field of View: About Videograms of a Revolution,” in Harun Farocki, Against What? Against Whom?, ed. Antje Ehmann and Kodowo Eshun (London: Koenig, 2009),180 5. Ibid 6. By which I mean the reality that is always partial, and is represented through media 7. “On Image Questions: Harun Farocki Responds to Texte Zur Kunst,” in Art vs. Image = Bild vs. Kunst, trans. Karl Hoffman (Köln: Texte-zur-Kunst, 2014), 66


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The camera then zooms in on her face and she starts to recite her political manifesto: “We want a better life, freedom for the young people, enough bread and happiness. We don’t want a dictator.” Regardless of whether what she tells the camera is true or not, these things she mentions are visible within the frame; what she says is ‘verified’ by the image of her injury and hospitalization. The mise-en-scene also contextualizes what is being spoken; the environment indirectly reinforces the validity of woman’s speech. According to Kreimeier, “in the post-documentary context, the ‘authentic’ human being is already a mediatised one: it’s the television camera that enables the performance, and the performer appears only because the camera is present.”8 This, as the first scene of the film, signifies that performance in front of the camera is key in creating media ‘reality.’ Nonetheless, the performance of the camera (the camera’s movement, framing, and other aesthetic choices) and the distribution of what it captures play an important role in this political and representational interface. In the second scene a hand-held amateur camera from the upper level of a student dormitory captures more than ten thousand people marching to protest at the center of the city. The narrator says: “The image in the blue, wintry light, is divided. The wall in the foreground and the action in the background pertain to different temporal frames. The images are unequally divided. The major portion is occupied by the foreground, which is not the focus of the attention. The event has been shifted to the background.” What is crucial here is in the background, literally and analogically: literally, in the sense that what the camera person was trying to capture is in the background (people marching) and analogically in the sense that what is being seen in the image has a back-stage story (politics and history). But most importantly, what the statement “the event has been shifted to the background” invokes is what is underrepresented and suppressed — the people. Gilles Deleuze asserts in Cinema 2: The Time-Image that “if there were a modern political cinema, it would be on this basis: the people no longer exist or not yet…the people are missing.”9 In this particular case, people start to re-emerge into the frame, appearing in the background. This amateur’s use of the camera operates differently from the official uses. Whereas the official kind mostly focuses on the presented propaganda in the foreground and represents the people in keeping with its ideology, amateur footage is captured as a reclama8. Kreimeier, “Enlargement of the Field of View: About Videograms of a Revolution,” 181 9. Gilles Deleuze, “Cinema, Body and Brain, Thought,” in Cinema 2: The Time Image, (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2007), 216

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tion of what has been appropriated and subjected to the dictatorial control of representability — the protesters reemerge from the periphery, ghostly leaking in. The image is captured for its own agenda or it could be changed, framed, re-contextualized, associated, disguised as medial image, or interconnected with other images to create a narrative, echoing the revolution in itself as it is catalyzed by popular rebellions taking control over the television station. One of the essential turning points of the film is where the news media changes sides. Towards the first half of the film, there is a sequence where Ceaușescu is giving a public speech on the balcony of the Central Committee building. His speech is interrupted with shouting off-screen. He gazes out, the camera shakes and horizontal-interlacing lines run across the screen. Then, the live transmission goes offline. The film starts to compare what the offline camera shoots with the live-broadcast image, soaked in red and accompanied with Romanian text saying: “live broadcast.” The offline camera shoots at buildings and the overexposed sky filled with the off-screen sound of the dictator constantly shouting “Calm down!” The commentator explains that “the cameraman had received instructions to pan to the sky if anything unexpected occurred.” The broadcast then comes back on-air, “at first without audio” while in the meantime the dictator keeps shouting. When the sound comes back, the camera returns to Ceaușescu and he proceeds with his speech. Later on, the narrator introduces the film footage from the Weekly Newsreels camera that recorded the moment of the interruption; instead of panning to the sky, the camera films the crowd of people marching toward the building. This shot implies that the media is taking the side of the demonstrators rather than with the regime. The act hijacks control of the media from the dictatorship and serves symbolically as a gesture of revolution. Sovereignty slips off center. On the one hand, the actualization of the virtual10 is impossibilized by the decision of the sovereign; while on the other hand, the recording apparatus itself is capable of actualizing the virtual. The heart of the Videograms of a Revolution lies in the fact that the occupation of the TV station is a crucial factor in the overthrow of Ceaușescu. It is crucial to the reification of the revolution. The insurrection has to be actualized in public through media — to seize the authoritarian control of the perceptible and to disempower Ceaușescu. As mentioned earlier about the ‘changing sides’ of the camera, now it is the rebellion’s turn to utilize the media to gain support and inspire courage 10. For Deleuze, “virtual” means the “the condition of genesis of real experience,” in opposition not to the“real” but the “actual.”


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from the public. In her essay “Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?,” Hito Steyerl mentions this phenomena: [During] the Romanian uprising in 1989, protesters invaded the TV studios… At that moment, images changed their function. Broadcasts from occupied TV studios became active catalysts of events — not records or documents. Since then it has become clear that images are not objective or subjective renditions of a preexisting condition, or merely treacherous appearances. They are rather nodes of energy and matter that migrate across different supports, shaping and affecting people, landscapes, politics and social systems. They acquired an uncanny ability to proliferate, transform and activate. Around 1989, television images started walking through screens, right into reality.11

Steyerl seems to suggest that images change their functional relation after they become a political platform or stage for rebellions as opposed to a stage for the status quo. Images fuse with what is inside and outside the screen simultaneously. These broadcasts from the occupied TV station go beyond the screen, “right into reality.” Disseminated fragments of reality become ever more convoluted. Mediatization now has a greater role since it is no longer confined to the studios — infiltrating the rebellions through performativity, it leaks off the screen and out to the people. This, presumably, leads to professionalization in capitalistic practice as self-mediatization — daily reproduction becomes image and the machine producing it at the same time. Nevertheless, the “active catalysts of events” Steyerl mentions are suggesting that the image not only transmutes and migrates into the riot but also into the awaiting commodification of reality as the scent of neoliberal fantasies emanates in-the-air/on-air. By the time they took over the TV station, the popular rebellions did not know exactly how to deal with the television medium. As amateur actors, the rebels tried hard to come up with an impressive performance for their audiences, rousing them to see that the media is with them and that they have won — now we have tons of cameras and the broadcast system too. See, how mighty we are! This consciousness of being in front of the camera and the brief rehearsal in the studio thus reflect the image production itself12: production that requires directing to achieve its aims — politicizing, visualizing, and constituting new ‘truth.’ 11. Hito Steyerl, “Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?,” in Too Much World: The Films of Hito Steyerl, (Berlin: Sternberg, 2014), 30 12. The idea of mediatized or pre-interpreted subjects as part of image production reoccurs in many of Harun Farocki’s films. See: An Image (1983) or How to Live in The German Federal Republic (1990)

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“Truth! Truth! Truth!” is the motto the protesters chanting out loud in front of the media station. This does not only suggest that they want to trust that the media is reformed, but also a desire to implement the media as a public image distributor in order to confirm this so-called ‘truth.’ Even though the cameras were everywhere during the chaos and metaphorically operated to shoot like machine guns, they tended to be contradictory in themselves as they shaped their own landscape of reality by choosing sides — a campaign battles the other campaign, a newer propaganda against the old propaganda. This political primacy of orders and controlled narratives underpins the interrogation of any image. The film gives this lesson: the image manifests itself in liquidity13 — in the paradox that an image can only show what is in the frame but can never show what is in the frame only. Videograms of a Revolution ends precisely at the point where the images of the corpses of Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu, covered with blood, were publicly shown on TV — revolution confirmed . The last subtitles come up on the end credits, “That’s it then. Turn it off.” But can we really turn it off from this point?

13. By this I mean both the literal meaning, being fluid, or having liquid assets , and also ‘marketability.’


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Works Cited “Day-by-Day History of the Romanian Revolution.” Day-by-

Day History of the Romanian Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.ceausescu.org/ ceausescu_texts/revolution/revolt _daybyday.htm>. Deleuze, Gilles, Hugh Tomlinson, and Robert Galeta. “Cinema, Body and Brain, Thought.” Cinema 2: The Time Image. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2007. 189-224. Print. Kreimeier, Klaus. “Enlargement of the Field of View: About Videograms of a Revolution.”

Harun Farocki, Against What? Against Whom? Ed. Antje Ehmann and Kodwo Eshun. London: Koenig, 2009. 179-85. Print. “National Communism.”

Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Edited by Latham, Ernest Jr., n.d. Web. <http://www.britannica.com/ EBchecked/topic/508461/ Romania/42881/ National-communism>.

“On Image Questions: Harun Farocki Responds to Texte Zur Kunst.” Art vs. Image = Bild vs. Kunst. Trans. Karl Hoffmann. Köln: Texte-zur-Kunst, 2014. 62-66. Print. Steyerl, Hito. “Too Much World: Is the Internet Dead?” Too Much World: The Films of Hito Steyerl. Berlin: Sternberg, 2014. 29-40. Print. “The Unique Experience of Romania | Making the History of 1989.” The Unique Experience of

Romania | Making the History of 1989. N.p., n.d. Web. <http:// chnm.gmu.edu/1989/ exhibits/unique-experience-of-romania/ introduction>.

Videograms of a Revolution. Dir. Harun Farocki and Andrej Ujica. 1992. DVD.

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Tulapop Saenjaroen is an artist and filmmaker whose works encompass performance, film/video, and public art projects. He holds an MFA in Fine Art Media from the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London. His current research addresses political economy through the operation of fantasy in the concept of ‘free time’ today.


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Çağlar Köseoğlu

Mustafa is located in ethnically diverse Little India Little India is a shopping mall and of importance for the future of Turkey Turkey is the subject matter of conspiring army officials conspiring army officials gave the order for my birth my birth was just after that of Mustafa Mustafa held a speech between 15 and 20 October 1927 that lasted 36 hours 36 hours pass quickly in on one of the better strip joints of the country the country is an abstraction for Kurds in Uludere in Uludere the Republic of Turkey was established on 28 December 2011 Çağlar Köseoğlu


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Chandra N. Pok

D a r e t o W a s t e Yo u r L i f e !

Chandra N. Pok Dare to Waste Your Life!

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The Tragedy? The oldest and most personal relationship there is exists between creditor and debtor.1 What is held between these two entities is an invisible yet powerful force that neither can be exonerated from. Everyone suffers from debt to varying degrees. Debt on a most basic level is, as Maurizio Lazzarato defines it in his book The Making of the Indebted Man , the promise of future value. The value of the promise takes many forms. It can be a sum of money returned with interest, a piece of land tilled for a lord, freedom from incarceration, or a favor returned for a sacrifice made. Debt is always accumulating. From another perspective one could also say that debt can be looked at as a motivational tool. Working to pay off a debt in order to be absolved of it is the light at the end of the tunnel, if there even is a tunnel. What does it mean however to be in debt to someone or something that expects no promise of future value? Could it be oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life lived at the cost of otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lives having been sacrificed? This 1. This concept is drawn from the second essay by Friedrich Nietzsche in On the Genealogy of Morals. This idea can compared to the relation between mother and child--is that too not a debt? The child would be indebted to the mother for bringing them into the world


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phenomenon occurs most often in the narrative of a survivor. Specifically, a person who has faced a horrendous crime against their fellow kin and managed to survive. To put it very simply, guilt, if used correctly, is more powerful than all other tangibles and intangibles. To expand on this hypothesis, in addition to demonstrating its consequences, I will focus on the Cambodian genocide, which occurred from 1975-1980. Two million Cambodians and Vietnamese were killed or starved to death under the regime of Communist leader Pol Pot. I am aware that a much larger tragedy occurred between 1941-1945 which might be a better demonstration, yet I feel I might be able to do this topic more justice if what is underlying the issue is personal as well as political. Also, let us not forget that under no circumstance can you turn genocide into a pissing contest, but I digress. Let me now have you walk in the shoes of a Cambodian refugee from the perspective of a Cambodian refugeeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s daughter, using specific case studies and a grossly hyperbolic oral history from my mother. What I hope you will get out of it is an understanding of how blood debt works, and can work, as a motivational tool in service of the US economy. In order to reach this conclusion I first have to give you the set up. The Pentagon Papers, a study prepared by the US Department of Defense, chronicled the details of the US involvement in the Vietnam War from 1945-1967. Within the papers it states that the US persisted in an untenable war that resulted in over 2 million casualties. In addition to legitimizing claims that the war would always be unwon, the papers revealed US involvement in mass bombing throughout Cambodia and Laos. Some argue that the bombing of Cambodiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rural areas fostered the animosity of the peasants in Cambodia, which made the politics of third world communists more appealing. This enthusiasm helped a student of these ideas, Saloth Sar, or Pol Pot, to form the secret Communist Underground of Cambodia. Later this movement would surface as the Cambodian Communist Party, otherwise known as the Khmer Rouge, with Pol Pot as their secret leader. The Khmer Rouge fought many battles with the Kingdom of Cambodia, and in 1975 had successfully taken over the country. The turning point of the power struggle was marked by his takeover of the city of Phnom Penh. On that pivotal day my grandfather and his immediate family boarded a military helicopter at the US embassy in Phnom Penh and were airlifted out of the country.2 The sentiment held by these radical revolutionaries was disdain for all intellectuals, or even people who looked like intellectual people, out of fear that they would taint Khmer 2. Maman, personal communication

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Painting by a survivor of the Khmer Rouge. Image by Melisa Goss, Cambodia, 2013


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Rouge ideology with Western ideals.3 In addition to intellectuals, any Cambodian military personnel th ught to have ties to the US and their allies were targets. My grandfather fell into the latter category and the US government provided an opportunity to leave the country full stop. After a long journey my family arrived at Camp Pendleton, San Diego along with many other refugees. This first wave of refugees were relatively young, well-educated professional people whose former occupations and skills — as well as their experiences with Americans during the war years — helped them adapt to American society. Still, programs were put in place that would help them transition from being refugees to being upstanding American citizens. I know firsthand what being an upstanding American citizen looks like from watching my mother. Although there was help there for the purpose of aiding in the transition, welfare was only an option for her once in her life, and to this day she still wears her acceptance of this “charity” as badge of shame. I could draw upon many other instances where my family felt embarrassed to get help and worked extra overtime to make sure we weren’t, as my mother puts it, “look down upon”[sic]. In all fairness to my mother, I understand I too can be implicated in the disingenuous practice of bootstrapping. Now that I feel I have brought us up to speed on a minor history,4 let’s discuss Lowell, Massachusetts and a few words from President Carter. Lowell Massachusetts In 1979, thousands of Cambodians fled to the Thai border after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. President Carter, in the spirit of his human rights campaign, signed a refugee act that increased immigration quotas for mainland Southeast Asian people displaced by the war.5 Out of this context the word “quota” is a term most generally used when a company or business is trying to maximize or reach a certain economic benchmark. Why Lowell, Massachusetts? Well, Lowell was considered the cradle of the industrial revolution and in 2010 was the home of the largest population of Cambodians outside of Long Beach, CA. I don’t subscribe to a conspiracy theory of US warmongering as a way to furnish the post-industrial American economy with cheap labor.6 But it is clear 3. Generality confirmed by many as myth, but acted out in truth 4. I say minor because when people ask where I am from they usually have never heard of the county. This leads me to believe that what happened there is of little consequence to the rest of the world 5. Aihwa Ong, Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship and the New America (Berkeley: University of California, 2003), 82 6. But, I do

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enough from looking at the refugee training Cambodians received prior to arriving in Lowell, reflected the official perception that regardless of their former backgrounds, the majority of Southeast Asian refugees were going to be members of the working poor in the United States.7 The refugee, although naturalized and granted the same rights as the citizen of the host country “they are,” unfortunately still tends to be treated as marginalized and uncertain of their role in a host country.8 Economically speaking, the ability to speculate on future profits is crucial to how credit functions. Enclaves and diaspora are ways in which refugees commune but also free themselves of the burden to accept another man’s world. Enclaves provide a retreat from debt to a host country. Beyond a metaphorical separation, lending within and between others in your distant family is common among Cambodians. There is a term for this but I am not able to remember it right now.9 In this sense, enclaves can be small sovereign countries. Donut stores and manifest destiny, gambling debt, diaspora… Meet Tony Ngoy, Los Angeles donut shop mogul. Born Bun Tek Ngoy he was raised in a rural village near Cambodia's border with Thailand. He was Chinese Cambodian, part of a despised underclass in Cambodia that prided themselves on their drive. This is demonstrated in their emphasis on the ethnic Chinese disidentification with the Cambodian nationality.10 Their descendants fled from Chinese warlords to Cambodia to make a better life for themselves and excelled at about any business endeavor that came their way. Striving for success was in Tony Ngoy’s blood. Tony and his family, like mine, became refugees to the US in 1975. Straight away, Tony found work in the US. Working at a gas station across the street from a donut shop, Tony would watch the people coming and going across the street. The entrepreneurial side of Tony told him there was money to be made in donuts. One day while enjoying a Youtiao, a deep fried Chinese savory bread shaped like an eclair grown in the wild, Tony had a great idea: open more shops and lease them to other newly arriving second wave Cambodian refugees. This is how his empire began. 7. Ong, Buddha Is Hiding, 82 8. Ibid., 5 9. I will have to ask my mother at some point 10. Maman, personal communication. I asked her why my mechanic had both Chinese and Cambodian signage on his business. I also asked this to my mechanic. He stated “I am not Cambodian I am Chinese, I just lived in Cambodia.” my thinking, “then why have the Cambodian writing?” This inquiry made me wonder what or why he felt he had to distinguish himself. All of his mechanics are Cambodian, he spoke Cambodian and had the disposition of a Cambodian. Turns out, as my mother elucidated, it had everything to do with not forgetting where his parents’ parents came from. They fled from China and they were really proud of that


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Insolvency Essentially I am proposing a new way of thinking about debt. Wasting a life as a form of resistance; to be able to live outside of the shadow of consequences that were never yours to begin with. To not be better, good, motivated individuals but to be more like Tony Ngoy, who after many years of hard work in service of love, his family and the US, finally was able to do what he wanted. He spent his fortune on vice. A gambling and alcohol addiction is what he preferred. To put it simply, Tony spent his life looking for himself. What can be learned from finding yourself? Well, when you find yourself you find your HOME.

Tony began managing a Winchell’s in Newport Beach, CA. He worked 17 hours a day for years until he opened his own shop. His empire grew. He opened several more shops in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Tony and his family traveled all over California setting up donut shops to be leased by the new arrivals. The Ngoys helped hundreds of refugees find housing and apply for Social Security cards to expedite building their empire. Because of the Ngoys, a Cambodian refugee's first American job was often in a doughnut shop.11 In this sense the donut shop became a non-governmental support system for Cambodian refugees. The shops then provided them with jobs immediately upon arrival and for the US government this meant fewer people on welfare. The new arrivals, shell shocked from surviving the traumatic dictatorship of Pol Pot, were in debt to Tony and in debt to their family that didn’t make it. The blood debt would push them to make a better life for their children and their children’s children through old-fashioned hard work.12 Sorry, but I am going to skip a bit, because I think this paper is a little pedestrian, but interestingly low none the less. 11. There is so much more to Tony’s story that I can’t completely cover, but I feel it’s worth knowing. Please look up Sam Quinones’s Los Angeles Times article, listed in the works cited page 12. Get it? Old Fashioned, like the donut


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Works Cited Lazzarato, Maurizio. The Making of the Indebted Man: An Essay on the Neoliberal Condition. Translated by Joshua David Jordan. Los Angeles: Semiotexte, 2012. Print. Ong, Aihwa. Buddha Is Hiding: Refugees, Citizenship and the New America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Print. Quinones, Sam. “From Sweet Success to Bitter Tears.” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 19 th, 2005. Web. Accessed April 15th, 2015. <http://articles.latimes.com/2005/ jan/19/local/me-donutking19>.

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Chandra Natalie Pok earned a BA in Studio Arts at California State University Los Angeles. She makes her livelihood working at an In-N-Out Burger in Huntington Beach on the weekends and as a receptionist at a landscape architecture firm in Santa Ana during the day. When she has time, she is also a Research Assistant to Norman M. Klein. She enjoys EDM, cruising Main Street and drinking mojitos. She is also the front man/woman of the industrial hardcore band CBS aka crippled by society. She currently resides in Los Angeles.


In/Form–Haemo

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Rusty Van Riper Pricked

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4/9/2017 I walked to the car. An old sweater, my left shoe, the underwear that made my butt look cute. Trying not to drop anything, tripping. 4/10/2017 I’ve seen the documentaries: emaciated Sam on a floral c uch dying, George cleaning up after him (and their cat, Wyatt) while watering houseplants and arguing with machines on the phone, juxtaposed with scratchy recordings of people yelling about something outside a church, pink triangles, a lifetime’s collection of junk in trashcans on sidewalks. 4/9/2017 Turning the next sidewalk, panic settled. From the door, he yelled something stupid about being sorry, just being careful. “Just so that we know, and can let loose.” People want to Know things—the facts!—at the cost of other people’s boundaries. 2/7/2015 The news of this technology hit the Internet with a bang. An incessant flood of updates on Facebook made it clear: people I know are thrilled. “This is such a huge game changer that I am tearing up reading it,”1 they write. They learned that Samuel K. Sia and his colleagues at Columbia University have—after ten years of research—made it possible to test for HIV and Syphilis at home, with results in fifteen minutes.2 A dongle

1 Chanda Hsu Prescod-Weinstein, 7 February 2015, This is such a huge game changer that I am tearing up reading it. Soon people will be able to test partners . . . science can be really amazing sometimes. Thinking of Robert Finney and the ones I don’t know who were gone too soon. Wow. Facebook status update, retrieved from <https://www.facebook.com/chanda.prescod. weinstein?fref=ts> 2 Holly Evart, “Smartphone, Finger Prick, 15 Minutes, Diagnosis – Done!.” Columbia Engineering: The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (4 February 2015), accessed 16 February 2015, <http://engineering.columbia.edu/smartphone-finger-prick-15-minutesdiagnosis%E2%80%94done-0>


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is attached to a headphone jack of an iPhone or Android, a finger is pricked, a sample of blood is collected in a disposable, plastic collector, a microfludic chip (inserted into the dongle) analyzes the sample, a person watches on an app as the time passes, “…and voila: results.”3 Voila, indeed. I scrolled to the top, pulled down, waiting for the refreshed News Feed to be more critical, to complicate this advancement without discrediting it’s obvious value. Only more excitement was found. 4/9/2017 […] How can he be this excited when I am this scared? Maybe that was what motivated me to leave — that he, blinded by cute underwear, didn’t see clearly. Didn’t see that it looked foreign, a tool from the future sent from the gays of the past. With so many dead, it makes sense to want to protect the next generation, the group of kids who were born after much of this settled, who might know what happened, but might not fully relate. But who is being protected, who is doing the protecting, and at what costs? You, (turning slowly, looking for Him) but not You. A selection is also a separation. And I wanted to get fucked, not studied. 2/23/2015 José already asked us to question our understandings of HIV and it’s relation to the community. In “Chapter 2: Ghosts of Public Sex: Utopian Longings, Queer Memories” of Cruising Utopia (2010), he discussed “… moments in which queer utopian remembrance reenacts…a culture of sexual possibility.”4 He close-reads Douglas Crimp’s 1989 lecture, “Mourning and Militancy,” John Giorno’s You Got to Burn to Shine, Tony Just’s photographs of cleaned-up public restrooms (that were once sites of public sex), and Walt Odets’ In the Shadow of the Epidemic: Being

3 Abby Phillip, “A 15-minute HIV and syphilis text — from your iPhone,” The Washington Post (6 February 2015), accessed 16 February 2015, <http:// www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/02/06/a-15-minutehiv-and-syphilis-test-from-your-iphone/>. Diagnosis — Done!.” Columbia Engineering: The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (4 February 2015), accessed 16 February 2015, <http://engineering.columbia. edu/smartphone-finger-prick-15-minutes-diagnosis%E2%80%94done-0> 4 José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia (New York: New York University, 2009), 35

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HIV-Negative in the Age of AIDS. Although he was critiquing specific instances in which HIV- identities were supported in art and literature, his comments on the topic are eerily resonant with a potential critique of these new technologies: Can we afford to redirect our critical energies away from bodies that are infected by a physical virus toward uninfected bodies that are caught within a psychological epidemic? How would the already stigmatized lives of infected people be affected by this work that bolsters HIV-negative identity? Does work on HIV-negativity produce a wedge between infected and uninfected sectors of the gay community, further solidifying a binary between negative and positive? In short, what might be the cost of work that affirms HIV-negative identity for those who are struggling with and attempting to manage illness?5

4/12/2017 I got coffee with Nina the other day and told her about what happened with Graham. Well, kinda. I didn’t tell her that I’m going to see him again. I know I shouldn’t, that she’s right; but if I don’t respond, he’s gone. I won’t hear from him again. And who else have I gotten this far with? Finding someone who’s interested in you, lives in your state, and wants to see you again… isn’t that what we’ve been fighting for? 1/28/1987 Reagan said nothing. Except, “My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn’t just asking for civil rights; it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I.”6 But that was during the 1980 campaign trail; and that was removed, about the “movement,” not the dead bodies; he said nothing about our friends with AIDS. He couldn’t lose the religious right, the voters who made him who he was. He prevented Surgeon

5 Muñoz, Cruising Utopia, 47 6. Randy Shilts, Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1993), 368


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General C. Everett Koop from releasing this until after he won the re-election:

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There they are! Our friends, the homosexual men and intravenous drug users. The people whose love lives are considered “high risk behavior.” The movement that doesn’t move. We (no longer) exist!

3 / 5 / 2015 The affirmation of negativity—as opposed to positivity—shifts the focus of HIV/AIDS conversation(s) away from those in need and toward those with privilege(s). As PartyBottom (“a pseudonymous blog by an HIV+ trans woman living in NYC”)8 blogs through her experiences with welfare and government care, we learn that being HIV+ in 2014/5 is significantly more manageable than ever before. PartyBottom takes her pills (of which, granted, there are many—between her HIV medication, hormone medication, and health supplements), and moves on with her day. Is it ideal? No. Does she live without experiencing stigma, strife, daily problems? No. But is it an automatic death sentence? Also no. In her post titled, “HOW TO BE A GOOD ROOMMATE TO SOMEONE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS,” she adds, “…PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS MAY HAVE SPECIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL NEEDS. AS A GOOD ROOMMATE, IT’S ALSO YOUR JOB TO BE A GOOD FRIEND. Drug companies love to showcase PLWHA as being superhuman – if you live in a city or a neighborhood or read magazines where HIV meds are advertised, it is not unusual to see depictions of PLWHA running marathons, raising families, being in modern dance troupes, and generally having the time of their lives. And sure, lots of PLWHA are out there living their dreams – even PartyBottom, in a various attempts [sic] to reassure worrisome people that she is OK, jokes that she has ‘the Magic Johnson AIDS’ –i.e., is on meds, low viral load, good CD4 count, low side-effect profile. And, to an extent, that is true. But there are not-so-good days as well. Life with HIV can feel lonely and sad sometimes. Depression is always kind of knocking on your door. Lots of people – HIV+ and HIV- —feel this way, and everyone copes with this differently – and having nice friends around to shoot the shit with over a cup of tea or a beer is a great coping mechanism…” 9 Perhaps, with PartyBottom in mind, it is time to update Surgeon General Koop’s position on HIV/AIDS in 2015 America. Doing so might 7. C. Everett Koop, “Surgeon General’s Report on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome,” The United States Department of Health and Human Services (1986), accessed 6 March 2015, <http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/ access/NNBBVN.pdf>0.

8 PartyBottom, <www.partybottom.tumblr.com> 9. Party Bottom. “HOW TO BE A GOOD ROOMMATE TO SOMEONE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS,” PartyBottom, accessed 6 March 2015, <http:// partybottom.tumblr.com/post/73161473477/how-to-be-a-good-roommateto-someone-living-with>


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necessitate a complication of Sia’s new technological advancement. If (and I think this is a very plausible “if”) this new technology becomes widespread and accessible—easily used and cheaply sold at all major drug stores—it could lead to self-imposed surveillance of the community. We will be able to require “proof” of HIV status; we will police one another. It’s already headed in this direction—the technology comes with an app that walks users through the testing process. What will happen if this app is linked to apps such as Grindr, Tinder, or ManHunt, requiring users to not only share their status, but also prove it to sexual partners—on the spot—with a simple pricking of the finger? What biopolitical complications arise, especially when considering the current lifestyle of those living with HIV/AIDS? 12/4/1997 “With Giuliani re-elected, who knows what will happen,” he yelled from the bathroom.

An ironic spot to start this conversation again. Does he realize? “It’s obvious that he wants us gone. He even got rid of the Prince Street bathrooms, not to mention some of the best bathhouses in the city. Where the fuck am I supposed to get my dick sucked under a disco ball now?” (Laughs.) “This can’t be the future.”

Oh, sweet, sweet, David, he doesn’t see it yet: there is no future.

“And what’s next—closing gay bars? Why don’t we just criminalize sodomy all over again? They’re gonna start Oscar Wilde-ing us, for fuck’s sake!”

There’s No Future.10 Just a bunch of cleaned up, evacuated bathhouses and tearooms, Red Ribbons, Upper East Side women pushing their blond-haired sons around in nine hundred dollar strollers. “This is where The Homosexual Men used to sodomize one another, sweetie, and this is where their Lesbian Friends fooled around without bras on, darling, before we made things safe and sent them back to where they came from, dear.” No future I’d want to be a part of, at least.

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4/10/2017 Let me summarize for you: Sam dies, George dies, the houseplants die, the cat goes to one of their moms. 3/8/2015 They are dividing the already-divided. And we are letting them. By focusing exclusively on the “good” of this new technology. By talking about the ease (“It’s like a diabetic testing their blood sugar! One, two three! Boom, you know!”), the cheapness (“All this is yours for an easy, one-time payment of $34.99!”), the benefits for the health service industry (“Crowded waiting rooms can allow patients to test themselves, freeing doctors and nurses to focus their attention on other, more needy patients.”). We are falling for it — supporting the tech advancements, buying the apps, putting our community under a microscope, protecting them from us —  letting them stop us again. 4/12/2017 A series of surveillance policies disguised as national concerns. Prop 8, Gross Indecency, the NEA Four, […] 4/13/2017 […] I stayed, re-considered:

Don’t be so sensitive, he’s just being extra safe. You have nothing to hide. This is taking so fucking long. Fifteen minutes sounds fast, but god — What if it’s not what you think it is? What will he do? Stop. You’re psyching yourself out. Look more sure. Sit up straight. If he holds it, he’s going to see it first. He’ll know before you do. Do you want to have sex with someone who, clearly, doesn’t trust you?

10. Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (North Carolina: Duke University, 2004)


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Have you ever had sex with someone you trust? You’re sweating. Pull it together. You’ll be having sex with this cute guy in a minute. I guess the details don’t matter. The documentaries remain the same. Pricked, I floated. I let my shoe fall this time; didn’t go back for my underwear.

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Rusty Van Riper is interested in contemporary performance studies and queer theory.


In/Form–Haemo

Aesthetics and Politics

Emily Donnini

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Emily Donnini

Experimental Objects

1 ) What began with the passing of a leader remains to this day a narrative of science, fantasy, and the limits of power. I knew, like most of you, that Lenin’s body had been preserved, that it lies in a mausoleum tended and guarded and is occasional fodder for caustic headlines – the contents of which will certainly remind us of the spectacular fall of the Soviet Union. Many of the things you search when trying to understand how, since 1924, Lenin’s body has been preserved, sit at the nexus of science and fantasy. It is a space occupied by paraffin, glycerin, carotene, prosthetic skin, and experimental work with gelatin baths.1 The work that has been done to preserve the body of Lenin is remarkable in its ambition and particular in its objective. “The generations of scientists who have worked on preserving Lenin’s body for the past ninety years… have been concerned with maintaining not the body’s biological flesh, but its physical form…its dynamic characteristics…elasticity of skin, flexibility of joints.” 2 But how this experimental body exists and what constitutes it are questions of ethics, sovereignty and the appearance of power.

January 21, 1924 Vladimir Llyich “Lenin” dies. January 21-27 1924 The body lays in state in the House of Trade Unions. January 27, 1924 Lenin’s body is officially buried, the body is moved to a temporary mausoleum in Red Square and housed in a glass sarcophagus. The body is inspected every several days for signs of decomposition. March 5, 1924 The Commission for the Organization of Lenin’s Funeral meet to discuss the body. No agreement is made on burial, embalming, freezing or any form of preservation. March 1924

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2 ) Soon after Lenin’s death, Professor Alexei The weather warms and Abrikosov performed an autopsy on the late leader the first signs of decomof the Soviet Union. Cutting veins and arteries as he position become visible. An agreement is reached worked, he disrupted the natural method of distribution to preserve Lenin’s body that had carried a mix of red and white cells through through an experimental embalming procedure Lenin’s living body. This was a loss he would regret once the eternal preservation of Lenin’s body became proposed by Professor of Medicine Vladimir the aim of the political elite.3 Following months of Vorobiev and biochemist internal disagreement the commissions charged with Boris Zbarsky. putting Lenin’s body to rest re-formed under the title July 1924 “The Commission for the Immortalization of Lenin’s Dr.’s Vorobiev and 4 Memory” and issued a public statement. Zbarsky announce success in the preserving of “We do not want to turn the body of Vladimir Lenin’s body. Ilyich into some kind of “relic,” by means of which we 1.Yurchak, Alexei. “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty.” Represenatations Winter 129.1 (2015): 116-57. JSTOR. Web. 01 Mar. 2015. 139 2. Ibid., 116 3. Ibid., 124


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could popularize and preserve his memory. He had July 24, 1924 already immortalized himself enough with his brilliant The “Commission for the Immortalization of Lenin’s teaching and revolutionary activities….We wanted to Memory” issue a public preserve the body of Vladimir Ilyich…[because] it is statement providing the reason for the preservaof great importance to preserve the fizicheskii oblik [physical guise, physical appearance] of this remark- tion of Lenin’s body. able leader for the next generation and all of the future 1924 generations.”5 Architect Konstantin Intended to remove any relation to the relics of Mel’nikov designs the original sarcophagus saints in Christendom, this statement instead prioribased on a folkloric 6 tizes the image of the leader. Nina Tumarkin has writ- source. “Tale of the ten about the intersections of religion, Bolshevism and Sleeping Princess” and the cult of Lenin that develops an understanding of this Pushkin’s “Tale of the Dead Princess and the carefully worded ann uncement.7 The politics of the Seven Heroes” politburo vying for power in the wake of Lenin’s death 1930’s were certainly central. Following from this, Alexei It is clear that the body Yurchak, in his essay “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden can be preserved for an Science of Communist Sovereignty” depicts a messy indefinite period of time. period in the wake of Lenin’s death where the need to Procedures are developed to be repeated daily, separate ideology, for political manipulation, from the weekly and every one and physical body was crucial to the treatment of Lenin’s a half years. body in both life and death.8 But let us take this stateOctober 1930 ment at face value for a moment. If Leninism as an The permanent granite ideology stands without need of this physical reminder, mausoleum is completed. why preserve the body at all? And further, why was such care, so many resources, the development of an January 19, 1939 A Commission of the entire scientific institution devoted to the preservation People’s Commissariat of an appearance? There were many public-facing of Health for the Examination of Lenin’s aspects to the preservation of appearance, not least Body report on several of which being the competitions for architectural problems with the facial design of monuments and the mausoleum itself in Red features, most notably his nose. Square.9 A reading of the preservation as historically monumentalizing does not however explain the 5 Ibid 6 Ibid 7 Tumarkin, Nina. "Religion, Bolshevism, and the Origins of the Lenin Cult." Russian Review 40.1 (1981): 35-46. JSTOR. Web. 18 Apr. 2015 8 Yurchak, Alexei. “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty.” Represenatations Winter 129.1 (2015): 116-57. JSTOR. Web. 01 Mar. 2015. 127 9 Brooks Platt, Jonathan. “Snow White Adn the Enchanted Palace: A Reading of Lenin’s Architectural Cult.” Representations Winter 129.1 (2015): 86-115. JSTOR. Web. 17 Apr. 2015

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immense care given to parts of the body never seen by 1939 the public eye or the hysteria of government officials A special laboratory is created as part of the over a small piece of missing flesh atop the right foot of Center for Scientific 10 Lenin’s body. In these examples, one could read the Research and Teaching body as a transitional object, and the act of preserva- Methods in Biochemical tion a form of self-preservation. For as long as Lenin’s Technologies. Anonymous experimental bodbody remained, so do the Soviets. It is possible to ies are kept to study and practice procedures beanswer, he was preserved for them. 3 ) Hannah Arendt, in her essay “On Violence” makes a claim of American power. “It is as though we have fallen under a fairyland spell which permits us to do the impossible: on the condition that we lose the capacity of doing the possible”. Thus power shows its impotence and science its disregard of consequence when neither, through their obsession with the impossible, is able to “attend properly to our everyday needs.11 Is this an indictment of the Enlightenment narrative or a statement of the abstract and distanced results of a power that believes its own lies and obsesses over its own image? For me, the passage at the end of her essay hinges on understanding what it is to be under the spell of the impossible and more specifically, what it means for power to be under this spell. Attachment to the impossible implies a lack of foundation, a drifting towards illusion that must come at the cost of something more pragmatic. It is what allows us to land on Mars while we cannot fix our aging infrastructure. That is one example Arendt suggests, but it is also a delusion, a psychosis, and in that sense power exposes itself as weak. In the context of the radical preservation of Lenin we can see the will to the impossible in the flesh on display in the mausoleum. In the multitude inspections and reports, the obsessions over a small scrap of missing flesh on a corpse,

fore being implemented on Lenin’s body.

July 19, 1942 The body is inspected by the high-ranking Commission of the Soviet People’s Commissars. They note remarkable mobility in the neck and wrist joints as well as flexibility in the head, elbows and forearms. March 9, 1945 Experimental work on the right foot results in a piece of flesh going missing from the backside of the foot. 1952–62 The Lab grows under the direction of Sergei Mardashev. He introduces new areas of research, though hydrolysis remains the most urgent need. 1960s to 1980s The Lab employs a couple hundred members across several departments, labs and teams.

10 Yurchak, Alexei. “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty.” Represenatations Winter 129.1 (2015): 116-57. JSTOR. Web. 01 Mar. 2015. 140-41 11 Arendt, Hannah. Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics ; Civil Disobedience; On Violence ; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972. Print. 183


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we are closer to a psychosis. Arendt reminds us of the weakness within this image of power while at the same time warning of the violence that so often foll ws when those in power sense the appearance of this weakness. 4 ) That power and the image of weakness are not easy bedfellows needs no commentary. What I am concerned with is what constitutes an image of weakness. We have seen leaders command in the face of lost wars, remake their parties after loosing elections, or their image after exposure to a scandal. The threatening image of weakness is not so concrete. It is found in power that is laid bare, that has exposed what we already know or sense, that power in any form is precarious and unstable, an unsustainable and temporary support. In the 1970’s and 80’s Gianni Vattimo and Pier Aldo Rovatti, Italian philosophers, developed an understanding of weakness as described above in relation to thought — simply named Weak Thought. I have for some time been drawn to these thinkers from what began as a rather small affinity; that there is a politically generative space for weakness. Their work, a product of its time, is a response to the “violence of theology, of metaphysics, or rationalism, and of science [as it] runs through the entire course of our history as the manifestation of a thought strong in its dogmas”.12 What is lasting in their critique is the attention to the limits of thought, and that “contingency and disorder are…keys to access [life].”13 When applied to the political, these writings share a close proximity to Claude Lefort’s description of power as an empty place, but unlike Lefort they do not tie this so closely to democracy.14 The focus is on the potential to, through an embracing of indeterminacy, occupy a space that recognizes error and neutralizes self-deception.15 12 Vattimo, Gianni, Pier Aldo Rovatti, and Peter Carravetta. Weak Thought. Albany: State U of New York, 2012. Print. 258 13 Ibid 14 Lefort, Claude. Democracy and Political Theory. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1988. Print. 225 15 Vattimo, Gianni, Pier Aldo Rovatti, and Peter Carravetta. Weak Thought. Albany: State U of New York, 2012. Print. 19

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At every point of Lenin’s decomposing body there was a possibility of stopping, of reimagining the form of Soviet society. This would however have required a reconciliation with contingency that has for so long been the untouchable form of weakness for power.


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Works Cited Arendt, Hannah. Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics ; Civil Disobedience ; On Violence ; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972. Print. Brooks Platt, Jonathan. “Snow White And the Enchanted Palace: A Reading of Lenin’s Architectural Cult.” Representations Winter 129.1 (2015): 86-115. JSTOR. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. Lefort, Claude. Democracy and Political Theory. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1988. Print. Tumarkin, Nina. “Religion, Bolshevism, and the Origins of the Lenin Cult.” Russian Review 40.1 (1981): 35-46. JSTOR. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. Vattimo, Gianni, Pier Aldo Rovatti, and Peter Carravetta. Weak Thought. Albany: State U of New York, 2012. Print. Yurchak, Alexei. “Bodies of Lenin: The Hidden Science of Communist Sovereignty.” Represenatations Winter 129.1 (2015): 116-57. JSTOR. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

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Emiy Donnini

Experimental Objects

Emily Donnini holds an MFA from the Glasgow School of Art. Her work has exhibited at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, The Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, and Sils, Rotterdam. Her current work is a reflection on growth, limitations to discourse, and a tempering of expectation.


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In/Formâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;Haemo

Aesthetics and Politics


We all have blood, but we do not share our blood. What we have in common is also — and often simultaneously — what separates and divides. Whether taken as a biological substance, a biopolitical thematic or an aesthetic metaphor, “the blood” evokes multiple resonances and intersecting dualities. Blood signifies life and creation, but also death and violence. Blood symbolizes communion and belonging, but also alienation and exclusion. Blood replenishes the body with a general distribution of nourishment, but also purifies it by way of a rigid selection and evacuation of its wastes, toxins and foreign elements. Blood traverses the generations while at the same time establishing the limits of heritage. In this volume, the “I” of each of us and the “we” of all of us reciprocally implicate one another in their oscillation around this third term which circulates throughout. These essays serve as applications of thought in an aesthetico-political vein — itself a concept towards which we are differentially sanguine. Each of our approaches takes as its beginning a different take on this shared element. In doing so, this volume demonstrates the irreducible plurality of collective being and the inevitable tensions arising from being variably blooded in common struggle — at any level and in any domain. In/Haemo/Form

In / Haemo / Form  

HAEMO 2014-15 the fourth volume of IN/FORM, a yearly collection of writing by students in the School of Critical Studies’ MA in Aesthetics a...

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