|Author||Mieke Bal, Miguel a. Hernandez-Navarro, and Miguel Hern Ndez-Navarro|
|File size||2.5 MB|
Art and Visibility in Migratory Culture
Intersecting: Place, Sex, and Race
Ernst van Alphen
Murat Aydemir, Maaike Bleeker, Yasco Horsman,
Isabel Hoving, Esther Peeren
Art and Visibility
in Migratory Culture
Conflict, Resistance, and Agency
Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro
Mart. Warmerdam, Haarlem, The Netherlands
The paper on which this book is printed meets the requirements of “ISO 9706:1994,
Information and documentation – Paper for documents – Requirements for permanence”.
E-Book ISSN: 1879-5846
E-Book ISBN: 978-90-420-3264-4
© Editions Rodopi B.V.,Amsterdam – New York, NY 2011
Printed in The Netherlands
Intersecting: Place, Sex, and Race
Intersecting is a new series of edited volumes with a critical, interdisciplinary focus.
Intersecting’s mission is to rigorously bring into encounter the crucial insights of
black and ethnic studies, gender studies, and queer studies, and facilitate dialogue
and confrontations between them. Intersecting shares this focus with Thamyris, the
socially committed international journal which was established by Jan Best en Nanny
de Vries, in 1994, out of which Intersecting has evolved. The sharpness and urgency
of these issues is our point of departure, and our title reflects our decision to work
on the cutting edge.
We envision these confrontations and dialogues through three recurring categories: place, sex, and race. To us they are three of the most decisive categories that
order society, locate power, and inflict pain and/or pleasure. Gender and class will
necessarily figure prominently in our engagement with the above. Race, for we will
keep analysing this ugly, much-debated concept, instead of turning to more civil concepts (ethnicity, culture) that do not address the full disgrace of racism. Sex, for sexuality has to be addressed as an always active social strategy of locating, controlling,
and mobilizing people, and as an all-important, not necessarily obvious, cultural practice. And place, for we agree with other cultural analysts that this is a most productive framework for the analysis of situated identities and acts that allow us to move
beyond narrow identitarian theories.
The title of the new book series points at what we, its editors, want to do: think
together. Our series will not satisfy itself with merely demonstrating the complexity of
our times, or with analyzing the shaping factors of that complexity. We know how
to theorize the intertwining of, for example, sexuality and race, but pushing these
intersections one step further is what we aim for: How can this complexity be understood in practice? That is, in concrete forms of political agency, and the efforts of selfreflexive, contextualized interpretation. How can different socially and theoretically
relevant issues be thought together? And: how can scholars (of different backgrounds)
and activists think together, and realize productive alliances in a radical, transnational
We invite proposals for edited volumes that take the issues that Intersecting
addresses seriously. These contributions should combine an activist-oriented perspective with intellectual rigor and theoretical insights, interdisciplinary and transnational perspectives. The editors seek cultural criticism that is daring, invigorating
and self-reflexive; that shares our commitment to thinking together. Contact us at
Mieke Bal and Miguel Á.
I. Art Matters: Metaphor, Materiality, and Knowledge
Migrants: Workers of Metaphors
Néstor García Canclini
The Place of Metaphor in a Metonymic World:
Paulina Aroch Fugellie
On Homi Bhabha’s “Democracy De-Realized”
Immigrants and Castaways: Smuggling Genres in
Manuel Rivas’s La mano del emigrante
Staging Transition: The Oresteia in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Astrid van Weyenberg
The Aesthetics of Displacement and the Performance of
II. Becoming Visible: Display as Tactics
Migratory Aesthetics: Art and Politics beyond Identity
The Seventh Man: Migration, Politics, and Aesthetics
Begüm Özden Firat
Transgressing Time: Imagining an Exhibition of Works by
Niamh Ann Kelly
Alanna O’Kelly and Phil Collins
The Mosaic Film: Nomadic Style and Politics in
Transnational Media Culture
Out of Synch: Visualizing Migratory Times through Video Art
III. Tension: Intention, Contention
Heterochrony in the Act: The Migratory Politics of Time
Molding Resistance: Aesthetics and Politics in the
Struggle of Bil’in against the Wall
Ismaël Ferroukhi’s Babelized Road Movie
Interstellar Hospitality: Missions of Star House Enterprise
Opacity and Openness: Creating New Senses of Dutchness
Global Art and the Politics of Mobility: (Trans)Cultural Shifts
in the International Contemporary Art-System
8 | Contents
Thamyris/Intersecting No. 23 (2011) 9–20
Mieke Bal and Miguel Á.
This book explores the idea that, in the social domain, art can enact small-scale
resistances against the status quo. These acts, which we call “little resistances,”
determine the limited yet potentially powerful political impact of art. By “political,” we
mean something other than what is equated with “politics,” in the usual sense of the
word. Both art and the political are domains of agency: realms where action is possible and can have effects. In the case of the political effect of art, that agency is one
and the same; art “works” as art because it works politically. In exploring what
makes art political and what constitutes the political in art, we will explore where
art’s political efficacy can be located; how it performs, how it achieves agency, and
the ramifications of art’s political agency in the larger domain of culture—in the case
of this book, migratory culture.
In a clear and concise book that addresses the distinction between politics and
the political, Belgian political scientist Chantal Mouffe defines the two terms as
. . . by “the political” I mean the dimension of antagonism which I take to be constitutive of human societies, while by “politics” I mean the set of practices and institutions
through which an order is created, organizing human coexistence in the context of
conflictuality provided by the political. (2005, 9)
By this distinction, politics is the ensemble of organizational entities that resolve conflict; the political is where conflict “happens.” The political is an inherent qualitative
aspect of the actions that comprise social life. Politics constantly attempts to
repress or defuse the political. The political resists this by creating political spaces
where conflict can exist. This view of conflict as a desirable, if not essential, dimension of social organization might seem counterintuitive to the extent that, in our own,
Introduction | 9
personal, social environments, we generally tend to eschew conflict. Yet, the culture
of consensus that is generated by politics is in fact highly exclusivist and is only
perpetuated through “the negation of the ineradicable character of antagonism”
(10). The current culture that we call “migratory” is an ideal lens through which we
can perceive the exclusive nature of this consensus.
We argue in favor of a conflictual nature of social life; the need, to put it politely,
to “disagree,” to live in tension with one another. The French philosopher Jacques
Rancière calls this kind of social tension “mésentente,” an untranslatable word that
combines misunderstanding with not getting along, and which is unilaterally translated as “disagreement” (1999). The misunderstanding component is, however, just
as crucial. Working with or through conflicts is necessary, not to eradicate them at
the cost of plurality, but to turn enemies into adversaries, and to transform lethal
struggle into vivid antagonism and negotiable critical tension. The former approach
draws sharp us/them distinctions that cast the “them” into the role of an enemy to
be fiercely combated; the latter accepts such distinctions while still acknowledging
the legitimacy of the “them”—the adversary, to be engaged with in debate. In migratory culture, where not only newly arrived people but the entire society live in what we
call productive tension, this step is still to be taken, and art can help to make this
possibility visible, and thus make it happen.
The American political scientist Wendy Brown, who takes a similar position, mentions the need, in democratic practice, for “political spaces” (1995). We take this
phrase rather literally, and consider the spaces where art events occur to be such
spaces. For, what Brown describes so tersely, yet is so hard to achieve—“images
that evoke, suggest, and connote rather than transmit meanings”—is, according to
the authors of this book, the mission of art (1995, 50). Once we succeed in understanding how meaning can “work” without being transmitted, we have created a
vision of a political space. Nothing makes this clearer than the settings of art.
The other key term here, “migratory,” is meant to indicate not a particular population but a state of the culture we share. This culture is replete with movement: people on the move, leaving traces and projecting new, provisional destinations. In the
context of art and the question of its political agency, “migratory” refers to the sensate traces of the movements of migration that characterize contemporary culture.
In other words, movement, once we notice its pervasiveness, is not an exceptional
occurrence in an otherwise stable world, but a normal, generalized process in a world
that cannot be grasped in terms of any given notion of stability.
In critical discussions, the current status quo is dominated by the paradigm of
travel, the key figure of modernity. This paradigm is still firmly in place. The idea of
travel, however, implies a directional notion of movement and a hidden ideology
of control. An aspect of the kind of control that is implicated in contemporary models
of mobility becomes apparent when we consider that even mobile phones are linked
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to satellite technologies of localization. The paradigm that is looming but not yet
established, and which we consider crucial to an understanding of the contemporary
world, is, in contrast, “migratory.” It is characterized by a more contradictory and nonlinear, perpetual movement that multiplies temporal and spatial coordinates beyond
the possibility of fixation. Migratory movement begins before departure, in the imagination, and, conversely, never ends, because no arrival is adequate to the imagined
return that is part of the movement’s motivation. The resulting delocalization can be
politically productive because the gaps in time and space the process leaves are
“uncertain territories” (Boer 2006) that through their very uncertainty make little
resistances possible by offering, as we argue in the book, ways of escaping technologies of control. Art is the tool that makes the political spaces, the platforms for such
resistances, visible and hence, enables the spectator to experience and participate
in the tensions of a nonconsensual society.
Art can do this because of certain of its characteristics that the essays herein
explore. The most obvious of these is its materiality. This materiality makes art tangible, and thus brings it closer to the social agents that interact with it. The resulting
proximity encourages participation; no art can exist without its audience; therefore,
art is by definition performative. In this volume, the migratory dimension of culture
is connected to a fundamental metaphoricity that evokes a permanent state of
movement. By virtue of these features of materiality, proximity, performativity and
metaphoricity, art offers the systemic opposite of the hegemonic use of media,
which promotes an illusion of immateriality and distance, an attitude of passive
consumption, and a literal, affirmative assumption of reality.
In view of this contribution of art, promoting the migratory as the paradigm of our
time thinks migration beyond either tragedy or glorification, the two most common
ways of thinking about the movement of people. Instead, the authors of this volume
think critically about migration not as a topic but as an aesthetic. This term we use
in the original, eighteenth-century, premodern sense of binding through the senses;
hence, the emphasis on materiality and proximity. Rather than taking migration as a
thematic center and speaking “about” it, we let the works speak in, through and from
migration. Thus, migration becomes a double movement, a double metaphor: of
transport, hence of instability—the first movement; and subsequent productive
tensions—the second movement. Every culture has the aesthetics it deserves;
contemporary culture, we contend, has therefore a “migratory aesthetics.”
This project began as a double endeavor. On the one hand, we organized a series
of “encounters”—workshops for reflection and discussion. On the other hand, we felt
the need to practice what we preached, and organized a traveling exhibition, under
the title of 2MOVE (Bal and Hernández-Navarro 2008). This exhibition, devoted to
video art, was held, respectively, in Murcia, Spain; Enkhuizen, the Netherlands;
Oslo, Norway and ended in a dual location in the two Irelands, Navan and Belfast.
Introduction | 11
The exhibition transformed our way of thinking to the extent that in this book we
reflect from the works instead of bringing an a priori bias of reality into play to “translate” the works. We experienced that art performs and embodies knowledge that is
not a preconceived given. That knowledge is new or becomes newly visible because
the works create the world along with the work; they do not represent it. Moreover,
the ever-changing combinations and juxtapositions among the works made clear how
much of art’s agency is embedded in its display and in its audience’s participation.
Many details of those works we thought we knew so well kept changing in front of our
very eyes. Thus, they demonstrated what we call in this volume “becoming visible.”
In short, that appearance is being and being is becoming.
This volume consists of three parts, all interconnected but each focusing on one
key aspect of migratory aesthetics. The subject matter ranges from film, video, and
music to literature, theater, sculpture, activist acts, and modes of display and circulation of art. Authored by an international group of scholars who worked together over
an extended period of time, the essays were originally written for the encounters,
since which they have been thoroughly revised in response to ongoing and extensive
discussion. Implicitly and explicitly, they address one another and thus constitute a
network, rather than a series. Together, the three parts articulate key aspects of what
we consider crucial to an understanding of migratory culture: the possibility for art to
know and, subsequently, contribute to transforming, the world—a transformation that
is conditional on the visible manifestation of what could hitherto not be perceived—
and, equally essential, the receptive attitude that makes this process possible,
comprising the acceptance, experience, and extending to the endorsement and
management, and, potentially, the enjoyment of the tensions that consensus culture
has obliterated from our collective vision.
Art Matters: Metaphor, Materiality, and Knowledge
In the pursuit of knowledge about the world, art, as permeably distinct from other
forms of discourse, is capable of reducing distance. The materiality of the work of art
sustains the communication between the object and the viewer, reader, consumer, or
otherwise engaged person. Thus, art works do not simply “think,” but facilitate and
even embody thought. In the reflections presented here, these thoughts concern the
world of migratory culture. Our world, which comprises the current but also past
states of the globe, is on the move. Theoretical and critical discourse cannot quite
grasp this movement. They can describe it, but always at a distance; they are always
engaged with the other part, on one part of the two or more that continue to intersect
and interact. Art, in contrast, can reduce that distance, that divide, and demonstrate
how artificially constructed it is.
The messiness of embodied reality is more adequately conveyed through the
equally messy, often multimedia materiality of the art work. Whereas discourse is
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desynchronized from reality, art, in its reception, its performance, is synchronized
with the world to which it relates. This dechronization results from the single temporality of discourse. Metaphor exists in two realms at the same time; realms that are
each enfolded in their own temporality. Hence, metaphor is able to bridge the gap
between temporalities as well as spaces or semantic units. Accordingly, metaphor is
multidimensional and, specifically, multitemporal. One of the key tools by means of
which the synchronization of which art is capable is accomplished is metaphor, the
figure of moving meaning.
Néstor García Canclini opens this section with a probing analysis of the centrality
of metaphor in migratory culture. This usefulness of metaphor resides in the concept’s own materiality: its refusal to let go of its etymological past where it stood for
transport: and its persistent association with uncertainty, mobility, and, we insist,
multitemporality. García Canclini therefore associates metaphor with migration
through their shared element of the journey, thus setting up the volume’s central
focus. In a migratory culture the people we call migrants are always translators,
García Canclini argues. The constant borrowing and creating of new words, ideas,
and things becomes the normal mode of existence for everyone.
In the next chapter, Paulina Aroch Fugellie performs what García Canclini explicates. She takes on an oral intervention, a recorded videoconference, by postcolonial
theorist Homi Bhabha held during documenta XI in 2001, and enacts a heterotemporal dialogue with “it” or “him.” She examines the materiality of metaphor in her
search to grasp metaphor’s ability to make leaps across borders. According to Aroch
Fugellie, metaphor acquires a specific political potential in its distinction from
metonymy. The latter trope is trapped in its own constant movement, but that movement remains linear. Thus it tends to separate language from that which is beyond it.
Metaphor, in contrast, is entangled in a constant circularity that never reaches an
endpoint. Hence, the distinction between literal and metaphorical does not hold.
Cornelia Gräbner brings the value of metaphor as a key to migratory culture to
bear on the domain from which it derives in the first place, literature. The hand of the
immigrant of the novel she discusses is the materializing metaphor of access to
knowledge. She demonstrates the crucial import of material experience—the experience the hand has—for insight into migratory life. This pertains particularly to the
North of Spain, a longstanding area of migration. But beyond the specific case,
Gräbner persuasively argues for the specific production of knowledge by literature—
rather than in literature—of experiential domains for which even a specialized field
such as postcolonial theory is less than adequate. In line with Aroch Fugellie’s position, the “smuggling” of her title leads to the acknowledgment of the benefits of
metaphor over metonymy.
The next chapter is devoted to a widely acknowledged issue, the relevance of classics for the contemporary world. Astrid van Weyenberg establishes a metaphoric link
Introduction | 13
between past and present, and thereby demonstrates the ongoing relevance of classic works of art. Her analysis boldly claims political relevance for the Greek tragedies
of the Oresteia today, in the post-apartheid, conflicted culture of modern South Africa.
The key to her analysis is the simple fact that narratives have, or lead to, an ending.
Merging the fabric of the ancient text with contemporary concerns, including the
ambiguities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this feature of narrative
enables a creative engagement with the changeability of ending. The theatrical
nature of the plays—both ancient and contemporary—facilitates an engaged imagination in a situation where a future is difficult to imagine. This analysis foregrounds
the way metaphor stimulates the imagination, which is, in turn, indispensable for
In the concluding essay of the first section, Sudeep Dasgupta discusses the materiality of art within the framework of aesthetic experience. Bringing together migratory
aesthetics and aesthetic migration, Dasgupta analyzes Indian films impossible to
locate in any single place. Moving between theater and cinema, between sound and
image, and between different locations, the films incarnate the metaphor-driven state
of constant becoming, moving, and migrating that this book examines. Art is particularly well constituted to harbor this movement of experiences into ideas through a
productive displacement that also calls into question the “re” of representation.
Dasgupta makes the most of the concept of performance as a counterpoint to the
stability implicit in that of representation. Aesthetics, bringing together sounds and
images and the movement of both, becomes reconfigured as a network of multiple
experiences of migration.
Becoming Visible: Display as Tactic
We can now extend the metaphorical quality of art to include a move that impacts our
modes of being in the world. Art is engaged in making the move from (absolute) nonvisibility to (provisional) invisibility. What we are unable to perceive because it does
not fit any of our frameworks must be made to become potentially visible, available
for perception. The second section is devoted to tactics, small operational moves
that facilitate that transformation. Without dictating its politics, as propaganda
would, art opens up the possible visibility of situations, issues, events, and people
and leaves it to its viewers or readers to enact that visibility; to answer its call by
seeing. Art is neither didactic nor apodictic but only proposes possibilities. In other
words, art proposes, the audience disposes. Thus, art exercises its agency on a level
that is itself invisible.
The essays here discuss the disruption of non-visibility, the insertion or insinuation of (in)visibility. They demonstrate how the art works make the observer aware of
what, before, seemed non-existing because it was too “normal,” too self-evident,
and thereby in fact non-visible. Covering many different art forms and strategies of
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display, they examine the tactics—small acts of resistance in contemporary art
events. Becoming visible is a way of materializing “aesthetics”—in ways that involve
experience, movement, and social change, as brought about by the current culture of
In the first chapter of this section, Jill Bennett dives into the murky problem of
identity—a notion that has become problematic in concert with the acknowledgement of “becoming” rather than “being” as a generalized contemporary way of life.
Analyzing a number of transnational exhibitions, such as Les magiciens de la terre,
documenta XII, and above all, Contemporary Commonwealth 2006, she contends
that migratoriness is the now-common form of aesthetics. Connecting her argument
to that of Aroch Fugellie, she shows the distancing effect of art about migration as
opposed to migratory art. For her, migratory aesthetics is a strategy—we would say,
a tactic—that serves as a transitional politics. This tactic can be observed in exhibitionary practice because, in exhibitions, art works are put together, provisionally and
outside of their context of making, to form transitional or provisional “communities.”
The stage as the temporally unstable common ground facilitates the establishment
of productive connections where things can, so to speak, be-in-common. Those connections did not exist before—and will all dissolve again after, forming new links elsewhere. Here lies the special political relevance of the temporally ephemeral arts of
the stage, performance, and exhibition.
Continuing the discussion of bringing to visibility, Begüm Özden Firat moves the
discussion of display to include image/texts and then literature, while remaining
firmly committed to the issue of (in)visibility. The (non)identity of the “sanspapiers”—“illegal immigrants”—occasions reflections on how people can be perceived as doubly invisible: “nonvisible” to the extent that they lack recognized status
in the public sphere, and invisible to the extent that they are neglected as full participants. The image/text she discusses adopts the tactic of morphing non-visibility into
invisibility, so that visibility becomes possible. It establishes the conditions of visibility. The people who hitherto remained unrepresentable, Firat argues, create a polemical space within which they are able to appear. The space is polemical to the extent
that it allows for disagreement, antagonism, and ensuing political struggle. In such a
sphere, for which the stage or the exhibition space could be a model, the possibility
of becoming visible entails participatory agency—to speak and be heard. Firat makes
this argument through three different art works or “art events”—an image/text, an
exhibition, and a novel.
A specialist in performance studies, Maaike Bleeker employs the concept of
theatricality to characterize the potential of the theater as public sphere and, conversely, the public sphere as theater, to offer a “critical vision machine.” This
machine generates visions ordinarily invisible and perhaps, over time, in danger of
becoming nonvisible, and facilitates a critical engagement with such visions. Bleeker
Introduction | 15
starts with a billboard that was staged in the space of advertisement but that functioned differently. As a result, the space itself was disrupted, made unfamiliar, and
increased the public awareness of visibility. For Bleeker, this awareness of visibility
produced by critical distancing becomes the key to theatricality. She then moves on
to discuss opera, specifically Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, in a Turkish
performance, as another such disruptive deployment of space. This performance of
an ironic displacement of what initially was a displaced “Turkishness” puts a new
spin on orientalism and makes visible the complexity of such projections. The performance, Bleeker claims, complicates the relationship between appearance and the
reality that representations “mirror.”
As Bleeker’s analysis suggests, the imagination has a lot to contribute to the possibility of becoming visible. Niamh Ann Kelly engages the issue of how curatorial practice, in a concrete case comprising two artists, can enable this capacity. She probes
in detail how putting works together can produce new meanings and engage new
contexts. The art works she analyzes bring characters or figures face-to-face with
alterity, and the viewer is solicited to do the same. These figures are defined not by
who or what they are but by their movements of displacement, in the way that a ballet
is defined through the dance from which the dancers cannot be distinguished. Their
ephemeral identities allow the artists to interweave these identities so that the
“visibilization” of moments of change, not stability, can literally reveal cultural alterity. In this way, the works enact aesthetic practices that indicate the boundary
between visible and invisible, thus making the invisible visible. This unsettling of a
culturally firm boundary unsettles the viewer in a productive way.
This unsettling is also possible in media destined for larger audiences. Patricia
Pisters discusses films that defamiliarize narrative structure, replacing it with spatial
spreads and incongruous simultaneities. She focuses on three recent films representative of the new genre “mosaic film”—a transnational genre—related to migratory movements and contemporary globalized media culture. These films deploy
intensity in their engagement with the external, extradiegetic world, an intensity that
enhances visibility. According to Pisters’s Deleuzian reading, the nomadic aesthetic
of the films makes a difficult fit with representational logic, in both meanings of
representation—speaking as, and speaking for. The tactic of “becoming minoritarian”
as a form of resistance, in particular in the films’ affective encounters with viewers,
is not normative or apodictic, but descriptive in the sense of making visible. They are
nonjudgmental and non-normative, and through that openness they produce the
“critical vision machine” of which Bleeker writes.
In a transition from the conditions of visibility to the tensions that seem to
hamper them, Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro’s analysis explores the ways in which
tensions and conflicts can become visible, and thus prepares us for the final section.
His special focus is the issue of time and technology, with the contradictions and
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collisions that occur between communication regimes, especially in relation to the
experience of migration. He examines how migrants introduce themselves to
Western technology while avoiding the indoctrination process that is usually required
for their “integration.” An appreciation of this innovative use of older technologies, or
use of new technologies from an “older” point of view, can provide us with new, more
affective and proximate ways of relating to technology across temporal divides. He
looks to the potentiality of works of video art to deploy the tactic of demonstrating,
on the one hand, the artificiality of the medium’s own ideology, which they disrupt,
and, on the other hand, the advantages of unlearning and the benefits of a certain
technological illiteracy in experiencing reality.
Tension: Intention, Contention
The political arena of the world is constituted by tensions between each individual’s
intentions and the arguments, disagreements, and antagonisms with which they
must contend to get those intentions across. Those tensions occur in time and
place. As a consequence, they affect the ways we live in time and place. This makes
for a fabric of tensions, with the proviso that this fabric has no stability. In migratory
culture, the instability of political tensions is not only primary, but actually productive;
it helps us to recognize the livability of instability. Movement happens in time and
place; it takes one from one situation and place to another, and this occurs over
time. Thus, movement embodies tension. Art, in turn, makes tension visible, because
it stages it.
Thanks to the reduction of distance, art is capable of bringing forth; at the
moment in which art makes tension visible, the viewer can experience tension
differently. Because art makes tension visible, it becomes inhabitable, providing a
sense of welcome instead of repulsion. In this section, we focus on the art’s potential for providing a kind of “hospitality” that is not fixed but in constant movement.
Returning to the material conception of metaphor as transit, art can provide a platform with which we can situate ourselves in that transit from one place and time to
another, as a permanent state of impermanence.
Mieke Bal opens the section in close relation to Hernández-Navarro’s argument.
She probes these tensions specifically in relation to time. Here, again, the migratory
situation exemplifies a more general state of which we are usually not aware: that
time experience is by definition, not coincidentally, heterochronic. She seeks to put
the finger on a few instances where this becomes visible concretely and in detail in
selected works of video art. This art of moving images sometimes multiplies its own
moving quality by not just showing but embodying heterochronic movement.
Conflicted temporalities are especially, but by no means exclusively, palpable in
migratory situations. Art can mobilize that potential and make it visible for all. She
addresses the relations of memory, narrative, and performance to temporality, so as
Introduction | 17
to better understand how the art works manage that mobilizing. Through these experiments with time, they contribute to a becoming-visible of the dense and complex
temporal texture of the contemporary world.
Noa Roei moves from time to space in her close analysis of the popular resistance
movement in the Palestinian village of Bil’in. Deploying Jacques Rancière’s theory of
the “distribution of the sensible,” she examines two versions of the movement’s
“work”: an event and an exhibition; an activist, political moment of confrontation and
resistance at the site of the Wall, on the one hand, and the exhibition in an art gallery
of the sculptures produced for and during that event, on the other. Thus she explores
the different roles that art plays in different spaces. One is activist, the other memorial. But there is also continuity between the two manifestations. They each engage
different audiences, and this modifies their agency. The fact that the objects were
exhibited as sculpture, Roei argues, testifies to the successful redistribution of the
sensible. The objects and the situation had both become visible.
In film, conflict seems to have a “natural” home, due to narrative traditions. In a
detailed analysis of a narrative film, Mireille Rosello addresses conflict in situations
that are in time and space together, such as religious belief, language, and experience, in a transgenerational setting. The film Le grand voyage by Ismaël Ferroukhi
depicts a father and son on a journey. This offers the author the ideal opportunity to
explore the often unspoken ways through which a first-generation migrant and his son
negotiate their tensions. Resonating with Pisters’s mosaic genre, her analysis makes
visible the postcolonial logic that ineluctably remains in place along the FranceMaghreb axis. Conflict is a tool for improving relations that is not hobbled by the need
for resolution. And, although in the film the differences are played out in language,
among other modes, Rosello argues that this does not mean that conversing in one
language precludes conflicts, misunderstandings, and silences. This conclusion proposes a new way of dealing with the contemporary multilingual world.
In the next chapter, Sonja Neef looks to the unlikely universe of Star Trek to argue
that hospitality is based on an irresolvable tension. This is the case because the
relationship between host and guest is always in movement; host can become guest
and vice versa. She calls on philosophers such as Derrida, Benjamin, and Heidegger
to lay out this argument. Hospitality entails the imposition of a particular position:
the host expects the guest to side with him. This is a conditional, relative hospitality.
Absolute hospitality, in fact the only kind, does not pose conditions. The translation
machine in Star Trek, called a Universal Translator, embodies this conditional
essence of hospitality. Translating “alien” language into the universal, meaning
English, human language, the machine eliminates, adapts, and, hence, modifies the
language of the other and consequently represses a host of meanings.
Contributing an example of one national culture, Isabel Hoving takes on another
aspect of hospitality, the allegedly “typically Dutch” tolerance. This somewhat
18 | Mieke Bal and Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro
Thamyris/Intersecting No. 23 (2011) 9–20
mythical feature of Dutch society assumes openness and directness as the straight
road to visibility. The author reads a number of novels by migrant authors living in the
Netherlands to learn how the feature of national pride in fact obscures a sense
of superiority, in turn occluding visibility, for it makes the non-superior people nonvisible; they do not belong to the visible category. In short, tolerance is an avoidance
of tension. Her alternative is a subtle unpacking of the ins and outs of representation. She binds representation in the political sense, according to which migrants
should have adequate representation, to representation in the aesthetic and semiotic sense, according to which they can create that polemical space within which they
can represent themselves. At the same time, she argues for an anti-representational
aesthetic because it can be anti-identitarian.
In conclusion, Joaquín Barriendos Rodríguez takes issue with the current international art system. He discusses the relevance that the politics of mobility can have
for that system. He emphasizes the tensions emerging in transcultural art practices.
Moreover, the validating usages of such terms as hybridization and periphery, marginalization and subalternity, confuse and obscure the inequalities they harbor. To make
matters even more problematic, between these two attempts to open up the world,
new tensions arise. Not only is there a gap between the discourse and the “official”
international practice embodied in biennales and other large-scale circuits of art,
but the practice is modified by the discourse. On the other hand, there remains an
international practice unaffected by this discourse-infested one. Thus, Barriendos
Rodríguez sums up the consequences of the becoming official (rather than visible) of
a particular, apologetic translationalism against which much of the art discussed in
this book offers “little resistances.”
Introduction | 19
Bal, Mieke and Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro
(eds.) 2MOVE: Video, Art, Migration. Murcia,
Spain: Cendeac, 2008.
The Identity in Question. Ed. John Rajchman.
New York and London: Routledge, 1995.
Boer, Inge E. Uncertain Territories. Eds. Mieke
Bal, Bregje van Eekelen and Patricia Spyer.
Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2006.
Mouffe, Chantal. On the Political. London and
New York: Routledge, 2005.
Brown, Wendy. “Wounded Attachments: Late
Modern Oppositional Political Formations.”
20 | Mieke Bal and Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro
Rancière, Jacques. La mésentente: Politique et
philosophie. Paris: Galilée, 1995.
Author Mieke Bal, Miguel a. Hernandez-Navarro, and Miguel Hern Ndez-Navarro Isbn 978-9042032637 File size 2.5 MB Year 2012 Pages 354 Language English File format PDF Category Art Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare This book explores the idea that art can enact small-scale resistances against the status quo in the social domain. These acts, which we call “little resistances,” determine the limited yet potentially powerful political impact of art. From different angles, seventeen authors consider the spaces where art events occur as “political spaces,” and explore how such spaces host events of disagreements in migratory culture. The newly coined word “migratory” refers to the sensate traces of the movements of migration that characterize contemporary culture. In other words, movement is not an exceptional occurrence in an otherwise stable world, but a normal, generalized process in a world that cannot be grasped in terms of any given notion of stability. Thus the book offers fresh reflections on art’s power to move people, in the double sense of that verb, and shows how it helps to illuminate migratory culture’s contributions to this process. Download (2.5 MB) Performance, Identity, and the Neo-Political Subject Rethinking Contemporary Art And Multicultural Education, 2 Edition Art And Politics: A Small History Of Art For Social Change Since 1945 Vanishing Points: Articulations of Death, Fragmentation, and the Unexperienced Experience of Created Objects Ornament and Order: Graffiti, Street Art and the Parergon Load more posts