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Jennifer in Paradise – the correspondence

1 March 2016

Jennifer.ps, Constant Dullaart, 2014

Courtesy of a private collection

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The Correspondence

5 September, 2013

Constant to Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,

Sometime in 1987, you were sitting on a beach in Bora Bora, looking at To’opua island, enjoying a holiday with a very serious boyfriend. The serious boyfriend, John, took a photograph of you sitting on the beach, not wearing your bikini top. John later became your husband and father to your children Sarah, Lisa, Alex and Jane.

This photograph of a beautiful moment in your personal history has also become a part of my history, and that of many other people; it has even shaped our outlooks on the world at large. John’s image of you became the first image to be publicly altered by the most influential image manipulation program ever. Of course, this is why I know the names of your children, and this is also why I know about the cool things you do trying to get a .green top level domain name to promote environmental sustainability. (Although, personally, I believe that the importance of the domain name has been reduced to a nostalgic, poetic value).

I still wonder if you felt the world change there on that beach. The fact that reality would be more moldable, that normal people could change their history, brighten up their past, and put twirl effects on their faces? That holiday image was distributed with the first demo editions of Photoshop, and your intimate beach moment became the reality for many people to play with. Two Jennifers, no Jennifer, less clouds, etc. In essence, it was the very first photoshop meme—but now the image is nowhere to be found online.

Did John ask you if he could use the image? Did you enjoy seeing yourself on the screen as much as he did? Did you think you would be the muse that would inspire so much contemporary image making? Did you ever print out the image? Would you be willing to share it with me, and so, the other people for whom it took on such an unexpected significance? Shouldn’t the Smithsonian have the negative of that image, not to mention digital backups of its endless variations?

All these questions have made me decide to redistribute the image ‘jennifer in paradise’ as well as I can, somewhat as an artist, somewhat as a digital archeologist, restoring what few traces of it I could find. It was sad to realize this blurry screen grab was the closest I could get to the image, but beautiful at the same time. How often do you find an important image that is not online in several different sizes already?

I have two exhibitions opening this coming Saturday in Berlin, Germany. Both of them are called Jennifer in Paradise. And you, or at least your depiction, play a central part in these exhibitions. A faint, blurry, pixelated focal point. To celebrate the time that you were young, and the world was young, as it still naïvely believed in the authenticity of the photograph.

Sometimes, when I am anxious about the future of our surveilled, computer-mediated world, when I worry about cultural imperialism and the politics behind software design, I imagine myself traveling back in time. just like the Terminator, to that important moment in technological world history, there on the beach in Bora Bora. And just sit there with you, watching the tide roll away.

Sincerely,

Constant Dullaart

Courtesy Rhizome and the Artist

JenniferInParadise Jennifer_in_Paradise, Constant Dullaart, 2013

 

11 December, 2013

John to Wall Street Journal

Hi Ellen,

If you’re fact checking the story told here:
http://futuregallery.org/past/constant-dullaart-jennifer-in-paradise/

Where he states: “Jennifer in Paradise is the name of the first picture ever to be photoshopped. Taken by John Knoll, co-creator – along with his brother Thomas – of the now ubiquitous software, it depicts his girlfriend on a tropical beach. The image was digitized by Kodak in 1987 and supplied with early versions of the program. Though initially ubiquitous, it has since become harder to track down. For the online component of this exhibition Dullaart is redistributing a version that contains a steganographically encrypted payload.”

This statement is incorrect in a number of ways.  It’s ONE of the first images to be “photoshopped” (I Guess that’s a word now).  It was the first good color photograph I had to work with to do Photoshop demos with.  It is a photograph I took of my then girlfriend (now wife) Jennifer on the beach in Bora Bora during a vacation we went on in August 1988.  I proposed marriage to her the next day.  That vacation was a special and treasured memory of mine and that photograph has great emotional significance to me.

About a month later, I was visiting Jim Batson, a friend of mine at the time at Apple’s Advanced Technology Group, when he showed me that they had this really nice flatbed scanner.  I scanned a 4×6 print of the Jennifer image (with Jim’s help) on his Sharp JX-450 flatbed scanner, and I took it home on multiple floppy discs.  If I remember right, I saved the red, green and blue channels as separate images on separate floppy discs, and reassembled the “high resolution” 24-bit color image once I got home.

I gave the Jennifer image to some friends at Apple, and a few others who had early copies of Photoshop under NDA as an example image to work with.  It was never distributed with Photoshop, and I still own the copyright.  That’s why it’s “harder to track down”.  Nobody has permission to redistribute the image and nobody has asked.  As you can see, I’m not that hard to find, so I’m surprised that Dullaart hadn’t made the attempt.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

John Knoll

 

20 February, 2014

Constant to John

Dear John Knoll,

Hopefully you and your family had wonderful holidays. My name is Constant Dullaart, and I am the artist that tried to restore the picture you used to demonstrate Photoshop with. Due to the holidays, and most of all my excitement for writing this letter, I waited with my reply in hope not to disturb you. First of all I would like to thank you for including the Future Gallery in your reply to Ellen Gamerman of the Wall Street Journal newspaper. Since his gives me the opportunity to hopefully provide you with some context to the work that involves the beautiful and important picture you made. I can not emphasize enough that no harm was intended in any way with this attempt to restore the image, and I would like to offer my sincere apologies for any misunderstandings, worries or time this may have caused. The work is only meant to emphasize the cultural impact of Photoshop, and the personal beauty and poetry that hides in it’s history. This comes from my personal conviction that we live in an age where computer interfaces depersonalize the changes in culture we experience, although the decisions these cultural changes have arisen from are mostly very beautiful and easy for people to relate to. Even more beautiful was the fact that this digital photograph you had used to demonstrate the capabilities of Photoshop with, was so hard to find on the internet. Due to it’s rarity it became a digital artifact to me, or even relic from a revolution in photography to only be found in traces left in a re-enacted demonstration video.
After an attempt to contact your brother Thomas Knoll through his website, in my inexperience I did not know how to track you down, I decided it was more beautiful to restore the image from the available traces left on the internet to emphasize mystery around the image. To work with the few traces an every day internet surfer could find. This made me realize that the protagonist in the image would be much more beautiful to address. She plays a central role in this story, and on the image. This i what I attempted to do by writing an open letter to your wife featured on Rhizome.org, which I tweeted and emailed to your wife, Mrs Jennifer Knoll. As a visual artist the personal motivations and background stories are what interested me most in telling an anthropologic history on a global change in photography and aesthetics in general. And I hoped to make it into a beautiful gesture contacting the women featured in that digital relic, and not a journalists research of the facts. Hopefully you can forgive me for the liberties I have taken in this work, and allow the restoration attempt to remain online. When possible I would like to converse with you about the work, but more importantly about your work, and the choices that were made in making Photoshop. Even though I am a Dutch artist based in Berlin with no money to my name, I would borrow money to fly over just for a coffee.
Since the focus of all my work in the last decade has been about the human decisions behind technology, it would be a dream come true.
The image and the story behind it is so valuable that I think the image should be in a museum such as the Smithsonian. But this might not be to your interest at all, although it would illustrate the importance of this image, and the story behind it. The beautiful fact that you needed 3 floppy disks, the fact that you have to deal with ‘photoshopping’ having become a verb, and the beautiful fact that you and that girl in the image are still together. In my eyes this story deserves much more then a brief mention in a documentary.
Sincerely,
Constant Dullaart

 

27 March, 2014

Constant to John

Dear John Knoll,
When you have decided not to answer this email I understand, especially due to the long time it took me to formulate my thoughts on the subject. But, I was suddenly afraid it got lost in a spam folder. Therefore I hope you have received the email below [see above email dated 20 February, 2014].

Sincerely,
Constant Dullaart

 

28 March, 2014

John to Constant

Constant,

Your email arrived when I was travelling, and I simply forgot to follow up.  Sorry about that.
As I had previously mentioned to Ellen, the reason my image of Jennifer is “so hard to find on the internet” is because I’ve never made it available on the internet.  It’s not public domain, and never has been.  I don’t have a problem with your exhibit, but as I mentioned to Ellen, the polite thing would have been to ask permission.  I could have provided you with a higher quality version of the image.  Your written description of the origin and history of the image were also incorrect.  I would have been happy to correct the errors.

I understand from your mail that you tried to contact Thomas and Jennifer without success.  I asked them both about this, and neither of them remember any such contact attempt.

I showed Thomas the gallery images, and he recognized many of them as having been taken from his Facebook page also without permission.

It also doesn’t appear that you made any real attempt to contact me.  I’m pretty easy to find.  If you do a google search for my name, the very first result is a Wikipedia article stating I’m CCO of ILM.  The ILM.com website has a contact address, and an inquiry there would have gotten to me.  Ellen Gamerman sent a single email inquiry to Adobe’s public relations department, and had a reply from me within four hours.  If you tried, you didn’t try very hard.

I’ll just point out It wasn’t particularly hard for me to contact you.  I’m pretty sure I spent less than 2 minutes finding a contact address for Future Gallery.

Thank you for the kind words, and good luck with the exhibition!

John

 

A few links to articles about Jennifer in Paradise

Rachel Falconer, Furtherfield, 20 July, 2014

Gordon Comstock, The Guardian, 13 June, 2014

Johnny Magdaleno, The Creators Project, 2 May, 2014

Louisa Elderton, Frieze, November-December, 2013

 

Constant Dullaart, Jennifer Liquid 6, 2014
Jennifer Liquid 6,Constant Dullaart, 2014

SeaWomen – part three of Work Quartet

Mikhail-Kairkis-SeaWomen-production-photograph-web2

SeaWomen, the third part of Mikhail Karkis’s Work Quartet, is a video and sound installation focusing on a fast vanishing community of elderly female sea workers living on the North Pacific island of Jeju – a jagged patch of black volcanic rock located between Japan and China yet part of South Korea. The work was created during Karikis’s residency on the island, when he encountered a group of women called haenyeo (sea-women), now in their late 70s and 80s, who dive to great depths with no oxygen supply to find pearls and catch sea-food. This ancient female profession became the dominant economic force on the island by the 1970s, establishing a matriarchal system. Karikis’s project SeaWomen witnesses the diving women’s insistence on sustainable eco-feminist work practices operating outside the trend of industrialization. It observes the reversal of traditional gender-roles, the women’s deep sense of community and egalitarianism, their collective economics, and their sense of professional identity, purpose, fun and independence in later age.

The Installation

SeaWomen is experienced as an immersive twelve-speaker audiovisual installation that evokes the immediate aural environment of a typical working day – diving from the rocks and a boat; selling and sharing their catch; sorting their nets etc. The audio scenes include a rhythmic rowing work-song; the reverberant hubbub of the women’s communal baths and a sudden violent thunderstorm during a pearl-diving expedition and the sumbisori, which is the striking high-pitched and dolphin-like whistling noises of the diving women’s traditional breathing technique. Often mistaken for noises produced by sea-mammals, this unique breathing technique is a trans-generational skill transmitted from mother to daughter, when a new pearl-diver began her training at the age of eight. This soundscape, along with the women’s profession are on the verge of disappearance.

The clip above is from the installation of SeaWomen at the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, UK. The work was presented as a 12-speaker sound installation with 5 cube monitors scattered across the floor, each monitor playing one of the five chapters from the film.

This clip is documentation of the premiere of SeaWomen at The Wapping Project, London, UK. The installation consisted of: 1) watercolour portraits of some of the diving women, 2) 12 sound speakers, 3) a single screen HD video projection and 4) a seating area made of woven mats using indigenous plants and methods from Jeju island.

The Single-Breath Portraits

Along with the installation, Karikis composed a series of ink and watercolour portraits depicting the elderly female pearl divers of Jeju island.  Each portrait was completed while Karikis held a single breath.

Mikhail-Karikis-Breath-Portrait-SeaWomen-web2

 

The Lament of the Unlamented

Mikhail-Karikis-Sounds-from-Beneath-web3

From 7 January Carroll / Fletcher Onscreen will be showing Sounds from Beneath, the second part of Mikhail Karikis’s Work Quartet.  The following section is the first part of a text Mikhail wrote for Voice Studies: Critical Approaches to Process, Performance and Experience (Routledge, 2015), which reflects upon the origin, making and sonic structure of the film.

“What are the sounds specific to this community and how are they remembered? Are official language and ceremony adequate memory keepers of the miners, their achievements, resistance and culture?” Mikhail Karikis.

Sounds from Beneath: the lament of the unlamented

The project Sounds from Beneath emerged as an artistic response to an invitation by an arts festival in Kent in South East England to create a site-specific work. The piece orchestrates an aural reunion of a group of former coal miners on a disused colliery, and discovers a mode of voicing that responds to their professional specificity, charged with the political and historical dimensions of their community and culture.

Rich in its industrial history from the time when coal played a primary role in British life, fuelling domestic fires and industrial furnaces, and stimulating the socio-political and cultural life of the country – from unions to choirs – the Kentish landscape is marked by the radical urban, social and economic changes that have taken place in Britain since the mid 1980s. Lush green hills are punctuated by barren and disused collieries, vast shopping malls, former mining villages and their alienated regenerated versions. Kent was a place of intense coal mining activity, where local and migrant miners and their families lived, worked, and partook in the cultural and political life that characterized the mining community. Since the dismantling of the coalmining industry in England in the ‘80s, the Kentish coalmines have stood silent.

Despite the striking muteness of the empty pits, what is still audible, through the spoken memories of old ex-miners, is the generational passage of song and story in the vivid language of the miners, which has kept account of their history and tradition, giving voice where official narratives and histories have denied it. Traces of such sounds and memories can still be heard in some village pubs and mining welfare clubs and choirs where former colliers socialise and sing. But what sounds are specific to this community and how are they to be remembered? Are official language and ceremony adequate memory keepers of the miners, their achievements, resistance and culture?

Defeated by the state, the coal miners did not receive official praise, nor were they nationally ceremonially mourned as they fell in combat with the state’s interests. Both official praise (through civic speech), and ceremonial mourning (through religious or formal musical rituals) are vocal acts designed to introduce the fallen into the realms of glory and historical memory. They also have a role to play in managing public grief and supressing expressions of resentment. In the case of fallen soldiers, who are sent by the state itself to the battlefield, ceremonies and speeches manage trauma and control rage, which may threaten public order. As vocal acts, they are essentially control strategies of public expressions of grief, giving articulate and restrained shape to sorrow. Civic speeches and formal rituals are directed to the nation and are experienced communally, overwhelming individual lament in its manifestation of despair, trauma and fury at the cause of harm, and its potential to lead to reciprocal violence and subsequently shake the stability of the state and challenge its leadership. As Gail Holst-Warhaft observes in her study of traditional ritual laments practiced by women in Greece and across many parts of the world, lamenting has often been supressed and antagonized by official authorities due to its open expression of personal anger at the cause of death, and its refusal to acquiesce with the state’s demand for men to die in its defence.

Ethnographic film projects such as Cecila Mangini’s ‘Stendali’ indicate that as vocal acts, laments operate outside official language; they inhabit the marginal space of dialect and idiom, and include extra-lingual vocal gestures such as shouts, sighs, cries and sobs. Laments present personal narratives that summarise the dead relative’s life and the emotional impact of his/her loss. In contrast, official national mourning is a form that finds expression in articulate vocal acts which assert the state’s authority over death, remember its fallen as citizens, and ultimately supress and tame inarticulate pain and anger by channelling them into feelings of pride and nationalism. While lament narratives tie the bodies and personal memories of dead relatives to a physical location and give a sense of subjective and site-specific concreteness to the otherwise abstract nothingness of death, national mourning aims to provide an abstract raison d’être for death in defence of the nation. It insists that posthumous glory outweighs private grief, and inspires new generations to fight for a state that glorifies its fallen in a uniform comradeship beyond physical defeat. Women’s laments are infused by a logic of care that privileges birth and makes an enemy of the cause of death. They voice the preservative role of love and oppose the military destruction of life, thus presenting a de-militarised conception of human life and the body, which transcends civic and military function.

While the above suggests a conflict of interests inherent in any attempt to make civic speech a memory keeper of the miners’ culture and achievements, it also presents the female practice of lamenting as a model of voicing loss, which exists outside official language and shakes its authority. Therefore, if there is to be a mode of vocal production that expresses the narrative of disempowerment of the miners, it must gain the subversive dynamics and challenging power of women’s laments, while expressing the miners’ cultural specificity.

Returning to the issue of identifying the sounds that are specific to the mining community, my field research for Sounds from Beneath revealed some stark facts. In my exploration of the region of Kent, I visited local pubs and mining welfare clubs where old miners gather to socialise. In 2010, at the back of Snowdown Colliery Welfare Club, I discovered a choir of elderly former miners, who regularly rehearse in a large barrel-shaped dance-hall a repertoire that ranges from miners’ anthems to Broadway songs – the former singing of past strength and the miner’s hardships, the latter offering light entertainment. This vast gap in content and sentiment in the choir’s repertoire was a poignant signifier of the alienation and abrupt interruption of the miners’ choral tradition, which was entwined with their workplace and the union. Sung outside the work context and recounting past narratives, the choir’s mining songs are heard like dusty historical records temporally disconnected from the present.

Beyond the choir’s mining songs however, the work of the collier was itself sonorous, as was the working mine with its powerful soundscape of excavating the earth. From the rumble of subterranean explosions to the scratching of shovels, each part of the coal mining process was sonically distinct, making sound practice the by-product of the miner’s labour. The soundscape of the mine formed a profession-specific noise composition, which followed the rhythms of the working day. Its noise connected the miners’ labour with the site of their work, and produced an aural signifier of the mining community, identity and profession.

Although mining sounds have stopped resounding in the Kentish collieries, they still exist in the aural memories of former miners. In my search for sounds specific to the their community, I collaborated with Snowdown Colliery Choir and asked them to recall and vocalise the sounds they used to hear when they worked in the mines. In a subsequent film entitled Sounds from Beneath, the choir sing noises that evoke the coalmine standing on the disused Tillmanstone Colliery near Dover. Mechanical clangs, whirring engines, wailing alarms, subterranean blasts, scratching, hissing and whistling vocalised by the men reanimate the empty pits. Detached from their original source and emanating from the aging bodies of the miners on the colliery, these noises re-establish a connection between the labour of mining and the body, site and memory, humans and machines. Their song presents the men with a reason to come together again and transforms the desolate site into an amphitheatre of communal remembering forming a subjective and site-specific record of former activity and community. But these are not sounds as they used to resound across the mine in the past; they are aural recollections as they exist in the embodied present, marked by the texture of the half-remembered and of time passing. The miners unearth a suppressed memory of loss, and compose a re-collective lament outside the confines of language, both resisting social inaudibility and resonating beyond the silence of vanished industrial architectures.

 Courtesy Mikhail Karikis and Routledge

 

 

 

 

 

BRANDON

“In 1993 Brandon Teena (born Teena Renae Brandon), a young transgender person living as a man, was raped and murdered in Nebraska when it was discovered that “he” was anatomically a woman. Shu Lea Cheang‘s 1998 work Brandon is a multifaceted web project that uses the nonlinear and participatory nature of the Internet as a means to explore and illuminate Brandon Teena’s tragic story. From the opening image of morphing gender signifiers, Cheang propels the viewer into a probing investigation of human sexuality. It is an inquiry that utilizes hyperlinked images of a disembodied human form, once-live chat rooms on the subject of crime and punishment, and graphic moving images in order to illuminate the wide-reaching effect of Brandon’s life and death…[read more here]” Guggenheim’s website.

 

bigdollClick on BRANDON to go to the website.  Enjoy the road-trip, take a detour to Theatrum Anatomicum where there’s a case study and virtual trial session related to Brandon.

Two events were staged at the Theatrum Anatomicum in The Waag, Amsterdam: ‘DIGI GENDER SOCIAL BODY: Under the knife, Under the spell of anaesthesia’, a performance and installation, and ‘Would the jurors please stand up? Crime and punishment as Net Spectacle’, a netcast round-table. Both events were broadcast on the video wall of the Guggenheim Museum and presented on the World Wide Web.

TAinstallation1

Click on BRANDON to go to the website.  BRANDON was commissioned in 1998 by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and produced in association with the Waag Society for Old and New Media, The Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at Harvard Univeristy, and The Banff Centre, with additional funding from The Bohen Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Mondriaan Foundation.

Shu Lea Chang discussing the structure of BRANDON with Rhizome

“BRANDON is like a puzzle? I guess. It was deliberately designed with no easy/clear marked icons to help you navigate through the site. One’s ability to investigate, negotiate with the mouse(over) brings different experience of the work. Within a one year stretch, which includes installation, live chat format, actual/virtual performance, no one (including myself) can claim to have viewed the entirety of this work. Pop-up windows on the road-trip interface, cells of panopticon interface, are all an expansion of the space, spaces to be occupied by various narratives and inhabitants. Surely, non-linear and non-conformative. Yes, the work was conceived for the web space. However, there remains the necessity at the time to have a real space for public interaction. The exhibition at the Guggenheim Soho’s multi-screenwall is a direct translation of the website with…[read more here].

videowall#1“BRANDON was first conceived as a feature film and developed into a web narrative project. I have approached BRANDON in a film production mode and taken up the time-based video installation concept for the one year duration of BRANDON on the web. BRANDON as a multi-artist, multi-author, multi-institution endeavour is a case of my own desire to ‘hack’ the very institutionalized, structured net scape.” Shu Lea Chang.

Shu Lea Chang – in her own words

“As an artist, filmmaker, networker, Cheang constructs networked installations and multi-player performances in participatory impromptu mode. She drafts sci-fi narratives in her film scenario and artwork imagination. She builds social interface with transgressive plots and open network that permits public participation. Engaged in media activism for two decades (the 80s and 90s) in New York city, Cheang concluded her NYC period with the first Guggenheim museum web art commission/collection BRANDON (1998 – 1999).  Whilst in NYC, she made two feature films, FRESH KILL (permiered at Berlin Film festival, 1994) and I.K.U. (premiered at Sundance film festival, 2000).
“Since her relocation to Eurozone in 2000, Cheang has been staging large scale performative works in collaboration and taking on installation art projects including 3 part Locker Baby Project (2001 – 2012) and UKI viral performance viral game (2009 – 2014). Currently situated in post-crash BioNet zone, Cheang takes on viral love, bio hack in her current cycle of works.” From http://www.mauvaiscontact.info/

 

 

 

Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme: Incidental Insurgents – some influences

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme (1)

Part 1, The Part about The Bandits

Films featured either as clips or stills in Incidental Insurgents, Part 1:

Wim Wenders – Paris, Texas, 1984

Jean-Luc Godard – Pierrot Le Fou, 1965

Jean-Luc Godard – Band of Outsiders, 1964

Jean-Luc Godard- Breathless, 1960

Chris Marker – Remembrance of things to Come, 2003

Chris Marker – A Grin Without a Cat, 1977

“The film’s original French title is Le fond de l’air est rouge, which means ‘The essence of the air is red’, and has a subtext similar to the English title, implying that the socialist movement existed only in the air. The title is also a play on words: The original expression in French is ‘Le fond de l’air est frais’, meaning ‘there is a nip in the air’. Chris Marker replaced the last word with ‘rouge’ (red), so the original title translates to There are Reds in the Air.” Courtesy Wikipedia.

“There are still some wolves left” (from A Grin Without a Cat – towards the end)

Solanos and Getino – The Hour of the Furnaces, 1968

photo(2)

Part 2, Unforgiving Years

Films that are among the research materials for Incidental Insurgents, Part 2:

Chris Marker – Sans Soleil, 1983

Guy Debord – Refutation of all the judgments, 1975

Guy Debord – In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni, 1978

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni is a medieval Latin palindrome meaning ‘we turn in the night and are consumed by fire’.

Debord’s films can be found on UBUWEB here.  Sadly, the screening quality of both Refutation of all the judgments and In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni is very poor.  However, the unauthorised translation and clean-up, initiated by Ed Halter, Thomas Beard, and Buyoung Kim, and narrated by Paul Chan, is ok (see UBUWEB page).

Michelangelo Antonioni – Il Deserto Rosso, 1964

Jim Jarmusch – Stranger Than Paradise, 1984

Various Film Makers – Ten Minutes Older: The Cello, 2002

Jean-Luc Godard – La Chinoise, 1967

Jean-Luc Godard – Histoire Du Cinema, 1988

Jean-Luc Godard – Un Film Comme Les Autres, 1968

Jean-Luc Godard – Vivre Sa Vie, 1962

Jean-Luc Godard – In praise of love, 2001

Jean-Luc Godard – Masculin Feminin, 1966

photo(4)

And here’s a few books that are amongst the papers in the installation:

Roberto Bolano – Between Paratheses, 2011

Victor Serge – Resistance, ????

“Victor Lvovich Khibalchich (better known as Victor Serge) was born in Brussels, the son of Russian Narodnik exiles. Originally an anarchist, he joined the Russian Communist Party on arriving in Petrograd in February 1919 and worked for the newly founded Communist International as a journalist, editor and translator. As a Comintern representative in Germany he helped prepare the aborted insurrection in the autumn of 1923. In 1923 he also joined the Left Opposition. He was expelled from the party in 1928 and briefly imprisoned. At this time he turned to writing fiction, which was published mainly in France. In 1933 he was arrested and exiled. After an international campaign he was eventually deported from Russia in April 1936 on the eve of the Moscow Show Trials. Upon arrival in the West he renewed contact with Trotsky but political differences developed and a bitter controversy developed between the two remaining veterans of the pre-Stalinist Russian Communist Party. Escaping from Paris in 1940 just ahead of the invading Nazi troops he found refuge in Mexico. During his last years Serge lived in isolation and died penniless shortly after the 30th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in November 1947.” Source: Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Adrienne Rich – An Atlas of the Difficult World, 1991

Victor Serge – Unforgiving Years, ????

First published in French 25 years after his death in 1947.  An English translation only became available in 2008.

Paul Gordon – Vagabond Witness: Victor Serge and the politics of hope, 2013

Guy Debord – Panegyric, 1989

khamsin: Journal of Revolutionary Socialists in the Middle East

Victor Serge – Men In Prison, ????

Between 1912 and 1917, Serge was incarcerated in French penitentiaries:  “Everything in this book is fictional and everything is true. I have attempted, through literary creation, to bring out the general meaning and human content of a personal experience.” Victor Serge in the epigraph to Men in Prison.

Chris Kraus – Where Art Belongs, 2011

Greil Marcus – Lipstick Traces, 1989

It’s the updated 2011 edition in the installation.

McKenzie Wark – A Hacker Manifesto, 2004

Victor Serge – Birth of Our Power, ????

Composed, a decade after the revolution, in Leningrad, where Serge was living in semi-captivity because of his declared opposition to Stalin’s dictatorship over the revolution.

The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection, 2007

 

photo(1)From The Coming Insurrection, The Invisible Committee

 

A Diversion … to Elena Ferrante

“I grew up with the idea that if I didn’t let myself be absorbed as much as possible into the world of eminently capable men, if I did not learn from their cultural excellence, if I did not pass brilliantly all the exams that world required of me, it would have been tantamount to not existing at all. Then I read books that exalted the female difference and my thinking was turned upside down. I realized that I had to do exactly the opposite: I had to start with myself and with my relationships with other women—this is another essential formula—if I really wanted to give myself a shape. Today I read everything that emerges out of so-called postfeminist thought. It helps me look critically at the world, at us, our bodies, our subjectivity. But it also fires my imagination, it pushes me to reflect on the use of literature. I’ll name some women to whom I owe a great deal: Firestone, Lonzi, Irigaray, Muraro, Caverero, Gagliasso, Haraway, Butler, Braidotti.”
“I hold that male colonization of our imaginations—a calamity while ever we were unable to give shape to our difference—is, today, a strength. We know everything about the male symbol system; they, for the most part, know nothing about ours, above all about how it has been restructured by the blows the world has dealt us. What’s more, they are not even curious, indeed they recognize us only from within their system.”
Thanks to Sarah Shin at verso for sending the quotes (hence, not sure of the ultimate source).

One Thing Leads To Another

Chris Marker, Stopover In Dubai, (2011)

“[Chris Marker’s] late short video Stopover in Dubai is the most minimal effective gesture: it’s the film produced by the Dubai State Security service, of found CCTV footage tracking the assassins on their way to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room. All Marker has done is change the soundtrack, adding the first three movements of Henryk Górecki’s ‘String Quartet No. 3’: the dark adagio as the team assembles, drifting in and out of shopping centres; the profound gloom of the second movement, as the circle inexorably closes and the doomed man goes to his hotel room under the watchful eye of the surveillance group; and the escalating frenzy of the allegro as the work is done and the killers scatter.” From Chris Marker’s obituary in Radical Philosophy November/December 2012.

Emily Jacir Europa at Whitechapel Gallery

“Winner of a Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Material for a film (2004–ongoing) is a large-scale, immersive installation based on the life of Palestinian writer Wael Zuaiter who was assassinated near his home in Rome by Israeli Mossad agents in 1972. Jacir reimagines chapters of Zuaiter’s life through materials unearthed by the artist including family photographs, correspondence and documents relating to his death.” From the catalogue accompanying Emily Jacir’s solo exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London.

EmilyJacirPhoto“Wael Zwaiter / وائل زعيتر‎ ( 2 January 1934 – 16 October 1972) was a Palestinian translator assassinated as the first target of Israel’s Operation Wrath of God campaign following the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics. Israel considered Zwaiter a terrorist for his role in the Black September Group, while his supporters argue that he was “never conclusively linked” with Black September or the Munich massacre and was killed in retribution…[more here]” Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Eric Baudelaire, The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 years without images, (2011)

Trailer for Eric Baudelaire‘s film The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years without Images (2011)

“Who are May and Fusako Shigenobu? Fusako — leader of an extremist left-wing faction, the Japanese Red Army, involved in a number of terrorist operations — has been in hiding in Beirut for almost 30 years. May, her daughter, born in Lebanon, only discovered Japan at the age of twenty-seven, after her mother’s arrest in 2000. And Masao Adachi? A screenwriter and radical activist filmmaker, committed to armed struggle and the Palestinian cause, was also underground in Lebanon for several decades before being sent back to his native country. In his years as a film director, he had been one of the instigators of a ‘theory of landscape’ — fukeiron: through filming landscapes, Adachi sought to reveal the structures of oppression that underpin and perpetuate the political system. Anabasis? The name given, since Xenophon, to wandering, circuitous homeward journeys.

“It is this complicated, dark, and always suspenseful story that Eric Baudelaire — an artist renowned for using photography as a means of questioning the staging of reality — chose to bring forth using the documentary format. Filmed on Super 8 mm, and in the manner of fukeiron, contemporary panoramas of Tokyo and Beirut are blended in with archival footage, TV clips and film excerpts as backdrop for May and Adachi’s voices and memories. They speak of everyday life, of being a little girl in hiding, of exile, politics and cinema, and their fascinating overlap. All of which adds up not so much to an enquiry as a fragmented anamnesis.” Jean-Pierre Rehm (from the FID Marseille catalog).

The film is accompanied by a fascinating publication that’s available for free here from ISSUU (courtesy of Eric).

Jumana Manna – A magical substance flows into me (2015)

JM-WEB-04Courtesy Chisenhale and Jumana Manna

Jumana’s wonderful, inspiring, important new film forms the centrepiece of her first UK solo exhibition at Chisenhale, London.  The exhibition guide includes an Katie Guggenheim, Exhibitions and Events curator at Chisenhale, interviewing Jumana.

“I chose not to emphasise borders, in terms of what is Palestinian territory and what is Israel given that Lachmann’s radio programme took place before the partition of Palestine. I thought of Lachmann’s programme as radio waves spilling out across a territory, defining a certain polity, and participating in shaping the territory. In a sense, when making the film, I physically follow those waves. I follow the path of Lachmann’s research, performing the radio
waves as I travel to the different parts of the country bringing the recordings on my smart phone to where these groups live – even more segregated today than before. In this way, the structure of the work expresses both the loss of that political space –historical Palestine – but also my effort to retrieve it. This labor, and the traversal of various borders are not to idealise the period of the British Mandate, but rather to provide a space from which another Palestine can be imagined. It is part of my interest in going beyond the logic of segregation and separation. This paradigm of partition, the two-state solution that is still the prevalent one for Israel/Palestine is, I believe, no longer realistic or appropriate. It neutralises history by underestimating the pre-1948 realities, and is dysfunctional in the present conditions of the occupation. This is a big discussion, but essentially, given the increasing intertwinements – even if they are asymmetrical and devastating – resulting from the colonial expansion of
Israeli settlements in the West Bank, it is becoming increasingly impossible to imagine two separated states. Part of the decision to ignore borders in the film is also part of my interest in a long-term one-state, bi-national solution. Moreover, Israel is the only recognised state in the world that doesn’t have borders, so why would I adhere to the ones it imposes?” Jumana Manna.

The interview can be downloaded from the Chisenhale website here.

On your way back from, or on your way to, Chisenhale don’t forget to visit Emily Jacir’s exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery:

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Odds & Ends VII – Feminist Origins and Body Anxiety

VDB TV – The Feminist Origins

“In April 1974, Video Data Bank co-founders Lyn Blumenthal and Kate Horsfield conducted their first interview, an in-depth conversation with art historian and curator Marcia Tucker. During the remainder of that year, Blumenthal and Horsfield went on to interview four more notable art world women: Joan Mitchell, Lucy Lippard, Agnes Martin and Ree Morton.  Seen together, these five interviews mark a seminal moment in the history of 20th Century art, a moment in which women artists were increasingly being asked to define and position their practice within the growing feminist movement… [read more and watch the interviews here].

Body Anxiety – an internet exhibition

“Body Anxiety shares the varied perspectives of artists who examine gendered embodiment, performance and self-representation on the internet. Throughout art and film history, the female body and nude has been an ongoing subject in male-authored work. More often than not, the woman’s body is capitalized on in these works while their voice is muted. From the Seventies onwards, female artists employed video and performance to reclaim their bodies from this art historical trajectory. Today, artists use the internet as a platform to create and share their own imagery. While appropriation might be a common practice in contemporary art, using the internet as gender-queer performative space allows artists to question contemporary attitudes towards femininity. In “Body Anxiety” Schrager and Chan have selected a collection of female-empowering artworks to present in one single location in hopes of reshaping pre-existing narrative of gendered appropriation… [read more and view the exhibition here]”.

“Think of sex-divided wash-rooms and fashion stores.  Public spaces are gendered spaces; the web is gendered space. Once you reveal yourself to be a female-identified user, people treat you like one. On the internet I cannot escape who I really am, I can only abandon my body.  The internet has allowed women and gender-queer people to  reinvent and explore sexual identities by sharing self-imagery that radically differ from the limited versions of femininity seen in pop culture.”  From Jennifer Chan’s essay, How We Become Objects, that accompanies the exhibition (read more here).

Courtesy of curators Jennifer Chan and Leah Schrager, and artists Alexandra Marzella, Andrea Crespo, Angela Washko, Ann Hirsch, Aurorae Parker, Endam Nihan, Erika Alexander, Faith Holland, Georges Jacotey, Hannah Black, Kate Durbin, Marie Karlberg, Mary Bond, May Waver, Nancy Leticia, Rachel Rabbit White, Leah Schrager, RaFia Santana, Randon Rosenbohm, Saoirse Wall, Victoria Campbell.

“Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behaviour. It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of generalised dread over anticipated events. Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a specific real or perceived immediate threat; whereas anxiety is the expectation of a future more generalised threat.  Anxiety can be appropriate, but when experienced regularly the individual may suffer from an anxiety disorder that severely impacts upon behaviour and feelings of well being.” Adapted from Wikipedia.

Courtesy of Ann Hirsch.

Shulasmith Firestone – The Dialectic of Sex: the case for feminist revolution

In this ground breaking text from 1970, Shulasmith offers a radical view of the second wave feminist movement for social equality.  Her aim is to break free from oppressive power structures set up by nature and enforced by men.  In true manifesto-style, the book’s final chapter makes four demands:

1.The freeing of women from the tyranny of their reproductive biology by every means available, and the diffusion of the childbearing and childrearing role to the society as a whole, men as well as women.

2.The full self-determination, including economic independence, of both women and children.

3.The total integration of women and children into all aspects of the larger society

4. The freedom of all women and children to do whatever they wish sexually.

The Dialectic of Sex has recently been republished by Verso.

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time on Feminism

With Dr Helena Cronin, Co-director of the Centre for the Philosophy of the Natural and Social Sciences, London School of Economics; Dr Germaine Greer, Professor of English and Comparative Studies, Warwick University.  Listen here.

Critical Perspectives on Pornography – an episodic internet essay

“As a change from single-screen films, this week’s CarrollFletcherOnscreen brings together a series of URLs that link to a selection of films, performances, texts and websites that critically reflect on pornography as an industry, as a literary and film genre and as a pervasive part of everyday life…[here].”

Thanks to Susan Sontag, Omer Fast, Joshua Cohen, Addie Wagenknecht, Ann Hirsch, Lora Hristova and Faith Holland.

Courtesy of Faith Holland.  Original video can be seen in situ here: redtube.com/755207