SPEAKER 1: It's really been fantastically stimulating and inter-personally wonderful. And this afternoon they will continue on. We have still lots of interpersonal connections going on today.
I'm happy to introduce Liz Anker, who's a faculty fellow in the Society for the Humanities. Liz is an assistant professor in the English Department , a tremendously exciting specialist in relations of democracy, constitutionality, and literature, and hosted two years ago--
ELIZABETH ANKER: Last year.
SPEAKER 1: It was just last year? A really great conference on democracy in post-colonial [INAUDIBLE]. It was incredibly important. So Liz Anker. And I should admit that she's coming here to us as the owner of a brand new furnace.
ELIZABETH ANKER: Yes, I had major furnace trauma.
But in the meantime, I will also thank Tim for his fabulous efforts organizing such a wonderful event as well as his presence in society is an incredibly rewarding and productive one.
So our first speaker today is Brenda L. Croft. Brenda is a lecturer in indigenous art culture and design art, architecture and design, and the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research at the University of South Australia. Brenda's been an exhibiting artist since the mid '80s and has worked in indigenous art and cultural organizations since 1987.
From 2002 to early 2009, she was Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia, and from 1999 to 2001, curator of indigenous art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. She was recently awarded an honorary doctorate in visual arts from the University of Sydney.
Croft first exhibited her work in the [? Nadive ?] exhibition of aboriginal and islander photographers at the Aboriginal Artist Gallery in Sydney in 1986. Since then her work has been included in Inside Black Australia, and in photography, recent acquisitions at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, the Aboriginal Women's Exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the exhibit [INAUDIBLE] at Boomalli Original Artist Cooperative, and with the African American artist, Adrian Piper, in the show at the ninth Biennale of Sydney.
In 1994, Croft's solo exposition, Strange Fruit, was held at the Performance Space in Sydney. And since then she's also participated in a number of group exhibitions. She's also worked in various capacities with Radio Skid Row Radio Redfern. She was a member of the National Museum of Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory committee. And she was a founding member of the Boomalli Aboriginal Artist's Cooperative. And [INAUDIBLE] paper today is titled Sight to Sight Lines, Seeing, Beyond the Surface.
And I'll go ahead and also introduce our second speaker.
SPEAKER 1: No one knows him.
ELIZABETH ANKER: Tejumola Olaniyan is the Louise Durham Meade Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Madison. He actually received his PhD in English from Cornell University in 1991, which I didn't realize until today.
Teju is currently co-editor of West Africa Review and the chair of the African Diaspora Research Circle. And to just list just a few of his publications, he recently co-edited with [INAUDIBLE] the Blackwell Anthology African Literature, an Anthology of Criticism and Theory. His book, Arrest the Music, Fela and His Rebel Art and Politics, was published with Indiana University Press in 2004. His book, Scars of Conquest/Masks of Resistance, the Invention of Cultural Identities in African American and Caribbean Drama, was published by Oxford in '95.
He was also editor of the volume, African Drama and Performance, as well as editor of the special issue of, [INAUDIBLE], titled On Post-Colonial Discourse. And his other publications have included a number of journals, including Cultural Critique, Transition, Research in Africa Literatures, Theater Journal, African American Review, and Social Dynamics.
And his talk today is titled On Postcolonial Urban Garrison Architecture. So let us welcome our two speakers.
BRENDA CROFT: Thank you. There's a reason-- I won't start on that slide. We'll get back to it in a minute. I'd like to, first of all, acknowledge [INAUDIBLE] yesterday on his wonderful, wonderful placing in context of this symposium.
It's really, really important for me, as an indigenous person from Australia, to feel-- and it's not simply about being welcomed into someone else's country being the proper kind of protocols and ambassadorial roles that take place when we meet each other in our different countries. I was riveted to-- and I don't mind this going through because, for me, the makers of the work that I'm going to be referring to are just as essential and integral to my role as an indigenous curator, artist, and writer, academic.
Peter, yesterday, got that level down, I think, where everyone just realized it's not about simply the idea of a group of us coming together from all over the world to present our own ideas. It's about us being aware of where we are and whose country we're in. So I very much thank him for that.
I'd also like to pay my respects to the [? Cayuga ?] Nation, and very much to [INAUDIBLE] for being so integral to bringing me here, and, of course, Tim Murray, who I haven't seen for many years, and Cornell University.
I'm a [? Girringun ?] [INAUDIBLE] woman on my father's side from the Northern Territory in Australia. The slide I was trying to start on, you saw all of those camouflage greens. It was a map of Australia, and I'm assuming most people here know what Australia looks like. But it's not simply a place of five states and two territories. It's a place made up of hundreds of different indigenous nations.
And I'm very proudly from those people. On my mother's side of the family is a Anglo-Australian woman, a German and Irish English heritage, but very solidly placed in my country as a person of [INAUDIBLE] heritage.
I'm just going to read a colleague's text from a recent publication on [INAUDIBLE], which is looking at contemporary and indigenous art practiced in Australia today, [? Patty ?] Perkins.
The contrast between [INAUDIBLE], which is a really remote community in Western Australia-- it's just over the Northern Territory border. It's in the Great Sandy Desert region. And New York couldn't be more extreme to me. All the action in the desert happens below the surface beyond what's tangible and what can be seen. Whereas New York seems to be all about what happens on the surface.
Culture miraculously bridges these immaterial and material worlds. The curious cacophony of shapes, colors, sounds and people that is New York, seemed at once confronting and oddly comforting to the artists [INAUDIBLE] when [INAUDIBLE] travelled there with them for an exhibition on the contemporary [INAUDIBLE] toolworks last year.
At least in New York, people don't stare at black fellows. An artist from [INAUDIBLE] once told me that walking the streets of Sydney made her feel like a stranger in her own land.
And now this is a quote my work. My mother marrying my father, white dress black suit, the negative makes me laugh; the story makes me cry. Reverse roles look at me, us, and do not see through me, us. Acknowledge me, us. I am right beside you.
So those two brief quotes, I hope give you some insight into why I chose the title of my paper, Sight as in Seen and Site as in Place, seeing Beyond the Surface.
I met Tim at [INAUDIBLE] conference at the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. I think it was '95-'96. And I was presenting a paper at that as an artist. I've been working as an artist since the mid 1980s.
But I guess for the 10 years-- well, sorry the last 10 years before the last year and half, I was working as a senior curator in the public foreign art museum sector in Australia. And I've been talking with friends, catching up with friends here today, like [INAUDIBLE]. He's a dear friend from my time in New York 30 years ago, and also with [? Jolene, ?] taking about what it's like as an indigenous person working within cultural institutions and, I think, how we find ourselves questioning our roles after a while and, for me anyway, choosing to leave what was the most senior indigenous curatorial position in the country.
And it left a lot of people shocked because you fight so hard to get into those positions or to get those positions created for a start that choosing to leave them seems a strange trajectory. But for me, it was very much about following my heart as an aboriginal person and also not losing my way.
I felt increasingly-- the term, I guess, is-- and I don't want to use the terms like marginalized. I hear these terms all the time. I'll come back to those. But the boxes are ticked when indigenous people are employed in these institutions. But to what purpose? To what end really?
I started with that map of the aboriginal languages. What you're seeing here are a series of images from different projects I've been really fortunate to work on over the years. I see it as a vocation. I don't see it as a job. And I have had that drummed into me from a very early age by both of my parents.
My father was a member of the Stolen Generations and was taken away as a baby from his family. And this might seem like a bit of a leap from what the context the conference is about, but everything that has happened to me in my life as an indigenous person is echoed for many, many of my people in Australia. And it impacts on what we do now.
The other thing I wanted to say was how happy I was to see an image by [INAUDIBLE] McKenzie on the cover of the program. Because [INAUDIBLE] McKenzie, who was an incredible artist and was also a countrywoman she was a [? Girringun ?] woman, didn't start painting as an artist until she was in her 60s or 70s.
And when Tim and I were talking, he said, I don't think she started training as an artist until she was in her 70s. And I said, oh, she'd been training all her life. Because she'd been placed within her cultural context, and when she died she highly revered. Her work is held in the most major collections throughout the country. So that made me feel at home. Thank you.
I was really honored to be asked to participate in Global Aesthetics, and I was also a bit terrified given the lineup of the other participants and their contributions. However, I am who I am, and the foundation of that is as a [? Girringun ?] [INAUDIBLE] woman, who's also informed by my mother's heritage, as a white, Australian woman drawn from Anglo-Australian, German, and Irish backgrounds.
There's no word for art in aboriginal languages in Australia. In fact one highly significant, contemporary indigenous artist, [INAUDIBLE] provocatively presented his manifesto in 2002, when he was awarded The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait [INAUDIBLE] award for his work Scientifica and [INAUDIBLE].
And his manifesto was titled [INAUDIBLE] Theorem. Aboriginal art, it's a white thing. That is, it's a western construct into which indigenous artists are categorized, defined, and generally constrained and restricted.
We are constantly try to break free of these constraints. As recently as August, a major national, and I'm talking about Australia here, art critic, a critic of indigenous art but not indigenous, and a self-appointed expert on indigenous issues, wrote that indigenous art and culture is in danger of extinction with the passing of the last of the art masters.
This is something that this critic has alluded to time and time again, a continual gratification of the passing of the true, the authentic, the real aborigine. The contemporary paraphrasing of a well-worn belief of the eugenicism of the 19th century called smoothing the dying pillow, the presumption that our race was heading towards extinction, crushed, erased dispersed by the onslaught of white civilization in Australia. We continue to be denied authority to define ourselves within our communities as indigenous people. Or rather, we are accepted within our communities but rendered peripheral, if not invisible, altogether within broader Australian society.
To paraphrase my colleague and dear friend, [INAUDIBLE] Perkins, we are always being pushed to the edge of the margins, white spaces to black brown and red peoples. One of the main reasons I chose to leave the public fine art museum sector after a decade or so, was that I felt I had lost my way, that the road underneath my feet was constantly undermined.
If one pushed for correct cultural protocols to be adhered to and supported within the institution, you were accused of hiding behind your, or in my case, my, aboriginality, a statement, which perhaps could be equally inverted and put back to the person who made it, stating, well, you usually hide behind your whiteness. But then it's not really hiding, is it? As that remains the position and the standpoint of privilege. And it's an imposed central point of whiteness.
Interestingly, Australia, as country of contact, has always been a mix of races. Trade existed for centuries with peoples from Asia, Asian countries. The [INAUDIBLE] from [INAUDIBLE] or Indonesia to the north traded with people all across the top end for many centuries until it was declared illegal in 1907 by the federal government.
Chinese, Japanese, [INAUDIBLE], Filipino, Afghan and [INAUDIBLE] communities have long married into aboriginal and indigenous communities in Australia from the 19th Century, similarly, African and African American communities likewise. In the mid 1800s, refugees from Europe [INAUDIBLE] Austro-Hungarian or settled in Australia, particularly in South Australia, where I live now.
After World War II, European immigrants traveled to Australia in their thousands after being encouraged by the federal government and contributing and to the makeup of Australian society. Lebanese, Middle Eastern communities. After the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia, many, many refugees came. And that was my time at school, so I was very used to people from those countries being my schoolmates.
And various countries from South America, likewise in the early 1980s, people were actively encouraged to seek refuge in Australia. Post-Tiananmen Square, many Chinese dissidents and their families came to Australia. More recently, [INAUDIBLE] and African refugees, particularly from Sudan, Ethiopia, and other countries.
And I'm not professing to be an expert on this. This is just from observing who lives in the towns that I've lived in. Persian peoples from Iran and other countries. But, unfortunately, we've also seen an increasing rise of detention centers filling with peoples fleeing Afghanistan, Iran, and other countries.
It was during the former liberal federal government's long reign that much of the structure of the country I love, and am ground in and of and always will be, has gone back, back, back to the mid-20th century attitudes of, I guess you could liken it to Custer or [INAUDIBLE], tasteless [INAUDIBLE] and easy to swallow.
So hiding behind my aboriginality? You bet. Proud of my mother's heritage? Equally so.
It's interesting and ironic that we currently have a prime minister and a leader of the opposition who both came to Australia with their families as child migrants in the 1950s and '60s, only slightly older than me. However, they came from Britain, escaping the status quo of a failing empire to seek their place in the sun.
To paraphrase indigenous artist, Judy Watson, they came to build empires on the bones of the dispossessed. I'd also like to refer to another saying by a dear artist friend, Gordon [INAUDIBLE], a [INAUDIBLE] artist. He states to people who question him about how aboriginal he is and why he doesn't have access to his language, and he says, English is my second language. I just don't have access to my first.
And what I'm going to do now is--
OK, so this is going to be a very quick slide show of how I started out as an artist. I got a really bad haircut. I started out in the mid 1980s, but I'd always had a fascination with photography as a very small child. And that had lot to do with the fact that there was just so far back we could go on my father's family history.
He didn't get to meet up with his mother again until he was nearly 50. And he went through a series of children's homes and foster families, which happened to many, many aboriginal people in Australia. So we didn't have records of him. We didn't have birthdates. We didn't have places. We had a vague idea of where he was born.
He knew he was [? Girringun ?] and [INAUDIBLE]. He was told his mother was dead, that she had given him away, which was the way it worked at that time. The kids were taken as far away as possible from where they came from because that made it much more difficult for them to find their way back. I know it's very similar to what's happened in North America with residential schools.
I started out as a photographer because of that. I could there on my mom's side of the family, but I couldn't go back on my dad's side of the family. I was also constantly looking for the representation of myself, or images that I could relate to as a young, aboriginal kid, who was afraid of growing up in the country of Australia at the time.
And I did not relate to what-- I guess when I was growing up, there was not really an idea of what aboriginal art was anyway. It was a very small field. And what you did see by the time I went to art school in the mid 1980s were dot paintings from central Australia or [? bark ?] paintings from the Northern Territory. And, again, I just didn't see how I could relate to that. I wasn't going to just replicate or duplicate something because I was being told that's what the indigenous art was.
This is an image of my father and I taken by a dear friend and artist, Michael [? Reilly, ?] who died in 2004 at the age of 44 from renal failure, one our most gifted artists, who, like so many of our communities, suffered the effects of poor health and poverty.
And I'm going to stick on these ones for a sec. There's [INAUDIBLE] series from here from 1992. And you might have seen these, Tim, at [INAUDIBLE]. These were part of an installation I was invited to work on with Adrian Piper for the Biennale of Sydney. And again, these works particularly relate the idea of sight and sight lines.
They're taken in Redfin in Sydney. They're very historical now because none of that background looks like that anymore. It's all lovely and developed. And the T&T building is on the right-hand side. It used to house the Redfin detective squads.
And they had cameras trained from the top of there down at the right over the railway line into a place called [? Everly Street, ?] otherwise known as the block, which was a very, very solid aboriginal community. There's always been aboriginal people living there. People came from the country areas looking for work. They would come and stay with families particularly around this area.
And so Adrian was invited to for Biennale, and she wanted to work with an aboriginal photographer, which is how I got contacted. And her original idea was to have images of aboriginal people from different parts of Australia.
This is an installation shot I'll show in a minute.
But I was very clear that I wanted to do work that people I knew from Sydney, where I was living, and particularly because Biennale was being held there.
The images are historical, not simply because many of these structures no longer exist, but also because some of the people have since passed away. The images, even though they were taken in '92-- and there were huge-- they were the first, I think, large-scale lightboxes shown in Australia, according to [INAUDIBLE]. They were life-size. You walked into a room, an installation where you were-- they're almost life-size-- where sat and faced from each side this group of people, Merv Bishop, on the left, and my dad on the right, so two fine, upstanding pillars of the community who had been actively involved in organizations for many years, Polly and Matthew who worked in needle exchange and with HIV issues as well, and Noel and Shane who were the-- Shane, on the right, was the captain of the local aboriginal football team, which was a real role modelling group of people, especially for the young kids in that area.
And Susie Ingram, whose family had come in from Coventry, New South Wales. And her mother and aunties have been integral in setting up things like the Aboriginal Children's Service. They've been involved with the Aboriginal Medical Service and established relief service. And Susie is the signifier for me in a way.
So I know it's obviously a self-portrait, but here's this young, fair woman. She's wearing the aboriginal football knock out t-shirt for that year. But she's also wearing a flag for the Aboriginal Provisional Government which was quite controversial at the time and was being proposed by a group of activists from Tasmania to establish and fight for sovereignty and recognition of sovereignty within Australia which we've never seen.
When you came into the space, the phone was ringing. It's very old style. At the phone ringing there was a note saying, please be seated and answer the telephone. You picked up the telephone, and someone would be speaking to you in a Pitjantjatjara language from Central Australia. So it was this idea of what's foreign and what's alien. It's a language from here, but people don't understand what it is.
And what was interesting to me too was that this image here, which I just think is an image of pride, was reviewed in a quite conservative magazine by a critic renowned for his quite conservative views saying, what relevance does it have to me to be looked at by angry, young black boys? For a start, I don't see them as angry but, again, it's what you see in the eye of the beholder obviously.
And those images have continued to have currency. They were just recently shown in-- There Goes the Neighborhood was the title of the exhibition, looking back at the activism of the Redfern area because so much of it has been developed and beautified, and now you need to earn a certain kind of wage to be able to live there. So I love the fact that they keep getting referred to and included in exhibitions well beyond the time frame of when they were taken.
These are sort of a mix of images. The two top left-hand ones are from a series, The Big Deal is Black, where I worked with aboriginal friends. And you saw those early black and white images where they were social documentary images. And anyone could access darkroom back then. I had a crappy, old camera. I couldn't develop my own photographs.
But I wanted to get beyond that idea of-- even though I was an indigenous person working in that community, I still felt it wasn't a two-way relationship. And so I worked closely with particularly women friends and the big deal is black was part of that but also this other series Strange Fruit, which plays on the title of the song by Billie Holiday obviously. And also it looks at ideas and issues of representation, and exoticism, and fetishization, and gender and sexuality. Aboriginal woman friends who were constantly being told as they were growing up, well, you could be Spanish, Italian, Hawaiian, [INAUDIBLE], anything except aboriginal, because that was seen as the lowest category, so you try and attain those levels. And, of course, in those other countries, that would be the theme. So playing on characters such as Billie Holiday, Eartha Kitt, Dorothy Dandridge, Freida Kahlo and [INAUDIBLE] a Tasmanian aboriginal woman resistance fighter.
And in the installation at the exhibition, that's the image of myself. So I was a segment of Strange Fruit and the idea of you saw elements of me, but you couldn't recognize me and with paint tones that actually existed-- so this is back in '94-- paint tones that actually existed which obviously relate to skin tones. You can read most of them there complexion, coconut, caramel, pure cream, creole, foreigner. Interloper was one I think.
And then an installation that introduced plants and fruit and native plants and fruit that rotted during the exhibition duration which was lovely for the people who had to work there. But it had this overwhelming sense of things going off. And that was, again, an allusion to the [INAUDIBLE] and the rotting bodies. And you might have the Deep South in the States, but it was the Deep North in Australia. So there's very much similarities there.
And in fact, in quite recent years, there have been Ku Klux Klan attacks up in areas of Queensland and also had cases where policemen have been filmed off duty dressed up as the Ku Klux Klan and reenacting hanging deaths of our young, aboriginal men. And some of the artists allude to refer to work that relates to deaths in custody, which continued well into the 21st century.
So at least three of these. This is from a series, In My Father's House, which related very much as a tribute to my dad after he passed away in '96, and also my brother died when he was here in the states actually on a fellowship working on indigenous health.
And I used art to heal myself. And I also was dealing with that bigger issue that this is just after the report into the Bringing Them Home report. Where the thousands of aboriginal children who were removed from their families, there was finally a formal report, a Royal Commission. The impacts of that are still continuing. There was a formal apology in 2008, but there's been a very strong resistance to reparation.
In some states, there is- some state governments have actually made reparation, but in places like the Northern Territory, where my father comes from, because they're found on the federal jurisdiction, they are still looking at pushing that back.
My dad's the little altar boy on the left. And this is at the children's home in the early 1930s. The kids with the nuns and the Anglican priests at the back. And dad had totally forgotten about this. This turned up on an autobiography by one of our cultural leaders, Charles Perkins, in 1976. And we were looking through it, and my mother looked at it and said, oh, that looks like you to my dad. And, indeed, it looked exactly like him. And he said, oh, I remember that now. So they're the things that he erased from his own memory.
And then this idea of making his way in the world, and marrying a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman who was much younger than him, well, 12 years younger than him, and very much in love. She married for love. When they first met, he asked her if she knew what he was, and she said, a minister?
Because she came from a working-class background in Sydney. She hadn't ever met any aboriginal people. And she left school early in her mid-teens. So moving across to the other side of the country with my dad and establishing our family.
The image underlined here, I'll see if I can find a better one of that. It's a lineup from-- and that's me as a little brat going to Sunday school with my mom and dad. [INAUDIBLE] the image of [INAUDIBLE] was from a children's book I grew up with reading from left-to-right from a full-blood white woman through to a full-blood aboriginal woman and the varying fractions in between. And I think the title of the image was What Price Civilization.
And being a young kid reading this, I was, A, fascinated and also repulsed because I'm thinking, well, how am I supposed to fit into this? Which way fit do I slot myself into? And the women always they looked so unhappy to me. This idea it follows on from 19th century photography and this a [INAUDIBLE] image a little bit.
But you can see I overlaid the only image that we have of my dad and his mom together just before she died. We met up with her. She was very sick at the time in 1974. And I find myself, the irony of saying we were lucky to find her because I know many people didn't find their families.
So I'm going to whiz through a bit. In My Mother's Garden was another series of that same year which was a tribute to my mom. She was a very, very strong, staunch woman who [INAUDIBLE] the resentment that was directed a couple from a mixed marriage was directed at my mother and not my father so much.
And I did this series based on [INAUDIBLE] a city across the other side of Australia. It might as well have been in another country, Perth, which is the most isolated city in the world. And particularly in the '60s it was very isolating for her because her family was across the other side of the country.
I've mined the archives a lot in my work. And many indigenous photographers do that, as well as photographers around the world who are looking for that idea of placing yourself And these images, to me, are iconic representations of Australia, except the man in the middle is black.
So these are the kinds of images you wouldn't have seen in magazines growing up. You would have seen the aboriginal in the [INAUDIBLE], the stratification marks. One of the things I watched when I first got here are the [INAUDIBLE] about 3:00 o'clock in the morning when we watched Geronimo late at night with Chuck Connors. And he had to sit and listen to me pulling this film apart, and the idea of representation which continues to have in Australia today.
So I'm just looking for that challenging that sense of erasure within Australia which continues. That's an image of Carol. But also here in '97, I worked on a series called [INAUDIBLE] which looked at how I felt as an indigenous person in somebody else's country and being in New York, which is the city of the world. And Sydney has a very simple kind of a sense in Australia. And just always looking and always wondering underneath all that concrete feeling who must have been there.
I met Carol-- I can't remember where I met you through, but tracking down people through the American Indian Community House gallery, the NMAI, and just looking for knowledge and information. So I did this series in 2000 based on the idea of erasure, dispersal, ongoing colonization.
And worked with people like [? Edgar Higaberts ?] as well. And he became a signifier for the fact that the very first person recorded dying of small pox in Australia in the late 1700s was a Native American sailor on the First Fleet. And he's buried somewhere in what is now called the Royal Botanic Gardens in an unmarked grave. So these ideas of histories that aren't recorded unless you're willing to dig deep and the idea that keeps getting propagated that we never fought back and we never resisted.
Irresistible, of course, indigenous women were irresistible, but it was also the name of one of the First Fleet boats which carried small pox out with it. And try and consider these kinds of exchanges.
And this was within my own work. I'm going to whiz through these because I would like to show some of the things that I've been working on now.
This is just another recent series, called Peripheral Vision, looking at my disgust with what was happening in the detention centers in Australia and people coming. I'll finish at the end of this.
I'm working on a project at the moment which is looking at indigenous moving image and performance artists from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the US. And that's part of the reason I'm over here at the moment. I left the NGA because I felt that I couldn't do those kinds of shows there. And I would start to just be doing [? mock two ?] of the same exhibitions I'd been creating in those places.
I'm interested in dialogue and exchange on parallel pathways that don't seem to get the recognition that I want to see. One of the images I was going to show related to a group of indigenous artists from Canada to the US and Australia meeting up at the Venice Biennale.
So there's this idea that we don't have any interest in those kinds of places and engaging in what's going on around the world. I certainly do. And I hope to continue with that dialogue. And I'm very grateful for being allowed to speak here.
This relates to detention centers, [INAUDIBLE] which related to the former Prime Minister John Howard saying that everyone in Australia should be given a fair go. But he didn't believe in multiculturalism, and he certainly didn't believe in indigenous rights. And, in fact, he gave a recent speech over here, as a former statesman, that if people want to come to Australia, they must learn to fit in with the correct social structure there.
So I worked with friends from different cultures. Italian refuge [INAUDIBLE] obviously Latvian, because my mother's best friend in the '50s was from Latvia. And this is just advanced Australia fare and then the Union Jack. And they were actually street signs. They were manufactured by street signs.
So I've finished that.
TEJUMOLA OLANIYAN: Thanks very much, Elizabeth, for that introduction. I really appreciate it. And thanks also to Celeste and Aaron for running around all day. I told Aaron that I hope he's getting properly paid.
Also, apologies to my co-presenters. I was not there yesterday. I assure you it's not because I thought there was nothing I would get from your presentation. So apologies for that. And, of course, finally to Tim, my former teacher here, thanks for bringing me back. [INAUDIBLE] a long-time family friend.
It's great to be back. What I want to do is to quickly give a brief introduction to a project I'm just starting. It overlaps with another project, so this is actually not the one I'm working on. I'll try [INAUDIBLE] projects.
And my specific emphasis in this presentation will be on Post-colonial Africa, where I have been gathering materials on and off recently. I'll be showing some pictures. A lot of them are mine, and some will end up in a photographical exhibition on this same subject. So this is just a brief research report I have. Typically, that should take me about 26 minutes or so.
What I call garrison architecture is that colorful feature of urban African landscape of a residential homes encased by high walls and those spikes at the top with broken bottles and barbed wires in addition to built-in iron bars on windows and room doors. If you travel to that region, you will be familiar with some of this.
In some instances, the barbed wires are additionally electrified, or the security measures do not in anyway preclude a manned entrance gate by those who could afford it.
In many African cities today, a new residential house, from mid to upscale, is not yet complete until the enclosing walls, barbed wires, and iron bars are firmly in place. In many instances, it's not just that the houses are walled, but additionally, entire neighborhoods are gated. It is not an exaggeration at all to say that the garrison architecture has become normalized like an entrenched sociocultural trait.
And one of the most effective agents of this normalization in general consciousness today all over Africa is that highly popular cultural form known as Nollywood. There's a specialist of that same tradition here in the audience. There's hardly a city located firm without [INAUDIBLE] or has things such as this. I actually wanted to show you two clips. Let me begin with this one.
TEJUMOLA OLANIYAN: This is very low tech.
And because I'm interested in property, pay attention, not just to what's going on, but what's in the house, the cars. I mean, there's a kind of fetish going on. But this is not [INAUDIBLE].
Don't worry she'll be fine.
So you wonder, what are they hiding behind the walls? You can see some of that. It's also questions of what's the family relationship what sorts of gender was in the home. There are all kinds of implications here.
TEJUMOLA OLANIYAN: For city residents, the safety and protection of life and property, which has to be the garrison architecture's main justifications, hold the status of a pragmatic philosophical good, and they are not debatable. The open garrison architecture emerged out of the conjunction of an expanding garish class inequality, the creation of a huge underclass in the expansive ghettos of the cities, and above all, the systemic ineffectiveness of the post-colonial state in managing its exploding city population due to its weak and inadequate surveillance infrastructure and methods.
The specific histories in particular countries may be different, but this is generally a post-independence phenomenon in most African countries.
But I don't want to overstate the rise of the margins the garrison architecture in Post-colonial Africa. I want to venture, on the contrary, a deeper archeology for it by noting that high-walled residences have been of the landscape of African cities since their emergence in antiquity, from [INAUDIBLE] to the Great Zimbabwe, just to drop two names.
And for whatever central purpose or cluster of purposes such walls were built, ritual, ceremonial, refuge, commerce, industry, security was really outside the status of the constant.
I want to make this constant the link between then and now, even with the acknowledgment that the forms, processes, and meanings of security change over time and across space.
So I have drawn this long line to the past, but I know that pre-colonial Africa, from Harar in Ethiopia, to [INAUDIBLE] in Benin and Nigeria, we should be speaking properly of walled cities and palaces rather than walled residences of individuals or families, even if the later may not be unheard of.
Generally, pre-colonial high-walled residences were not the residences of worldly persons but of this or that principality, king, or emir. The catalyst of their construction was mostly the security of the chiefly person and, by metaphorical extension, the chiefly domain of a kingdom.
These structures protect individual lives and property, yes, but not as private selves and personal acquisitions, but as core strands in the woven tapestry that binds the community together.
Above all, the buildings are architecturally-distinctive in conception and execution. In plan, structure, location, as well as building materials, they were conceived more as monument than as a residence. This is why you will most likely find no more than one of its kind in town.
In the context of this long history, I'm committing myself to see the post-colonial garrison architecture as, in a sense, a continuation or a democratization of the walled-off residence of old. But I'm also saying that this contemporary fortress is in another category entirely. It belongs to an era of organization the like of which never existed before. The change is both qualitative and quantitative.
Quantitatively, African cities have been dramatically getting bigger since the 19th century-- I mean, after the slave trade, the cities began getting bigger. And cityfication, or the creation of new cities, was an additional result.
Qualitatively, African cities became more diverse than ever. In the global history of cities, these two kinds of changes, you know, the size and the diversity of a population, have always been the biggest challenges to maintain law and order in the metro police.
Let me quickly explore one aspect of the dizzying diversity of post-colonial urban populations, that is changes in the use of space and is obtained in [? ideology. ?] The dominant pattern or spatial organization of the majority of pre-colonial African cities was governed more by kinship and linear structures and hierarchies than by any preconcieved abstract use of space. Space was not an empty lot occupied by anonymous entities.
I imagine this is the idea that scholars tried to capture with the word compound in describing the living patterns of many African communities-- a collection of houses, enclosed or open, in which nuclear and extended family members sleep. This arrangement obviously created and nourished the bonds of kinship, and is standardly given a positive interpretation in Africanized scholarship. That is not wrong.
But I insist that that nourishment was also enforcement, and kinship bonds is little more a vast and effective network of surveillance. This surveillance was productive and enabled order and reproduction. It was able to do so particularly because it was and still is articulated in the psychologically stirring idiom of familiar care. It is admitted in the psychologically stirring idiom of familiar care. I care for you, so people are concerned about what you do in town, even if it's 20 miles north from your family's house.
This special organization and ideological idiom of kinship care it engendered and was engendered by it was not close to diversity. What it did well, in fact, was integrate and domesticate diversity, even if inchoately and incompletely. In the pre-colonial African city, a falcon [INAUDIBLE] loudly hear the falconer.
But when I say that implicit in the narrative I just gave you is what we could call [INAUDIBLE] or aboriginal cities as such, for want of a better term, that is very old cities with a primarily spiritual political administrative that evolved gradually over time with a more rather than less homogeneous population core, thereby firmly setting in place a specific cultural pattern of special arrangement.
We may then ask, what of [? defense ?] cities? [INAUDIBLE] more or less that more often than not arose out of the hasty massing of very heterogeneous groups fleeing from a region-wide catastrophe, a region-wide war or catastrophe. This particular point was particularly a major issue across much of Africa in the 19th century. From the [? Shaka ?] wars in the southern part to the [INAUDIBLE] wars in the west. And it created a whole lot of new cities.
Ibadan, Nigeria is very exemplary in this regard. It emerged in late 1820s as a refuge from those fleeing the Fulani invasion of northern Oyo. It's a hilly location [INAUDIBLE] most fitting for its defensive function. The leading Nigerian writer, JP Clark, poetically memorialized the city's geography in his famous lines, "Ibadan, running splash of rust and gold-flung and scattered among seven hills like broken china in the sun."
The vast and lengthy wars, all through the 19th century [INAUDIBLE] pumped more and more successive waves of refugees into the city such that the population was nearly 200,000 by the late 1890s, making it then the largest city in Africa south of the Sahara. In spite of the diversity and heterogeneity of the population, however, the evolved pattern of the organizational space basically roughly followed the pattern of kinship aggregation described earlier with aboriginal cities, but kinship by blood now replaced by kinship by social relations. Social relations with this or that war hero or general or some significant figure.
In other words, a city founded upon thoroughly secular social relations of affiliation borrowed a special organization that emerged in and typical of context of blood-bonded filiative relations. It was a grafting that resulted in reciprocal containment between the spatial organization and the operative ideology, but unequally. What would have been [INAUDIBLE] sprawl of the [? affiliative ?] was in effect tamed by the filiative and its typically affective idioms and protocols. The pattern of compounds, [INAUDIBLE] compounds of kins still survive in the older sections of the city today, though that will be virtually invisible to the outsider, given the lack of clear demarcations.
Instead of a recent picture of my own, let me show you this recent, slightly idealized painting by [INAUDIBLE] of a lower middle class neighborhood in Ibadan and a 1951 picture by a visitor from the UK. Do not be deceived by the portrayed neighborhoods in both images, look utterly unplanned. To [? invent ?] a Yoruba proverb, every child knows its mother's stall in the market. You can imagine how, even if the need were there, the economy of the spatial organization here absolutely precludes the possibility of the garrison architecture.
The garrison architecture is simply no other than the product of a conception of space as empty and available for the inscription of standardized geometrical markings for anonymous individuals who are basically anonymous to one another. The dominant form, if not the dominant aspiration everywhere in the new development since 1970s, seem to be more or less rigidly intersecting streets, [? having ?] rigidly rectangular houses into blocks like we often hear with, even if that word is not used.
And I say geometrical markings because you are almost always struck first by shape and size, and only second, really, by curiosity about the occupants of the houses. This perception of secondariness of [INAUDIBLE] property is very apt, for after all, the preeminent relational principal of the era of garrison homes is neither biological nor social kinship, but private property, specifically of the most [INAUDIBLE] kind that exist in the post-colonies.
This is the reason the greatest enemy or nightmare of post-colonial garrison architecture is none other than its very own [INAUDIBLE] identical [? twin, ?] [INAUDIBLE]. We know that a growth in private property went hand in hand with a whole array of other evolutions, including in the structure of city authority, what counts as a law, how do laws be enforced and by whom, the emergence of the single family home, [INAUDIBLE] issue, and the distance of the nuclear from the extended family. And in my own experience, the disappearance of the veranda. There's a whole section in this where you don't see the veranda anymore. And that led to all kinds of changes in social relations in the city.
So distance of the nuclear from the extended family, not to mention evolutions in the psychological orientations occasioned by all of this. So the heterogeneity of big cities, the anonymous relations, and the protective high walls feeds one another so well. So the garrison architecture, if you allow the [INAUDIBLE] is the architecture par excellent of an age in which the falcon cannot hear the falconer.
And I'm trying to borrow the discussion of [INAUDIBLE] in some context. There's the utopian dimension of it, which is really, really, very effective in some areas. So I want to borrow from it but not too much. So that's why you get this structure.
I have named the [? generative ?] political economy of your [? open ?] garrison architecture as [INAUDIBLE]. It is related, but in parallel, is subsidiary to the dominant idea and practice of the thing we described. And there are other names that we can discuss later on, that I might [INAUDIBLE] It is an abnormal, as in paranormal, functionally [INAUDIBLE]. In the area of production, it is basically parasitically extractive, and therefore not really dependent on elaborate and functioning integrative infrastructure. Moreover, such production is [INAUDIBLE] more by public funds than by the engine [INAUDIBLE] of private enterprise such that a state, the government, is nothing but a maternity room for manufacturing [INAUDIBLE] not through loss but through illegal and private appropriation of public wealth. Meaning that in distribution of resources, [? para-capitalism ?] is breathtakingly oligarchic.
In social reproduction, para-capitalism is characterized by the logical [? and vast ?] expectations. It is not just that there is growth with our development but also a progressive degradation rather than improvement in the quality of life for all, even for our good friend and extremely rich Gideon Gono in this example. This is the Central Bank governor of Zimbabwe, with a seven-bedroom mansion, and [INAUDIBLE] biometric iris recognition, fingerprint authentication, and so in. This is the house, but he doesn't feel entirely safe yet.
So all the money you have, there's no safety. [INAUDIBLE] So this is a degradation of life, even for the rich. This is typical para-capitalism.
Finally, and more immediate to my topic, para-capitalism is characterized by a systemic gulf between two things that are and should be closely related-- security and surveillance. It is incapable of surveillance, so only the thematic and practice of security-- the state of being free from danger or injury, [INAUDIBLE] violence, rule. In the absence of surveillance, the illusory, even delusional goal of every single individual is an absolutely protective garrison for a home for security. If you are wondering about the form, the aesthetic form, or the architectural aesthetic form, that neoliberal capitalist globalization has taken in Africa, it is this para-capitalism.
So what else can we expect from para-capitalism's skewed distribution mechanism if not an exclusive right in the ranks of those who are excluded, but who insist on forcibly sharing [INAUDIBLE]? Today, violent armed robbery is one of the central blights of post-colonial African cities. It has transformed [? all ?] work and leisure routines, making life unsafe, whether day or night, and [INAUDIBLE] has created entirely new industries dealing with the production and sale of security equipment and services, from humongous compound gates, [? front ?] fences, to human and electronic monitoring services.
Just quickly, a short story. The late distinguished South African writer and anti-apartheid activist Alan Paton published in 1945 a short essay titled, "Who is really to blame for the crime wave in South Africa?" Who is really to blame for the crime wave in South Africa. He saw the crime wave then as unprecedented and suggested two ways of understanding it. The first is the usual breakdown of law and order typical of post-war societies-- this is 1945. He dismissed that out of hand and gave his preferred answer. Quote, "the disintegration of native society beyond the safety point by our Western civilization."
Each time I return to Paton's essay, I always scratch my head endlessly on this foundation. What is the safety point of disintegration? One fifth? One quarter? Half?
And does it mean that disintegration of native society is fine, so long as it does not exceed the safety point?
Because Paton noted the effect of the disintegration as moral and spiritual decay, his first suggested solution as a devout man of God was moral and spiritual rearmament. But he was a very, very keen-eyed pragmatist, so he suggested a second solution, variations of which everyone in an African city today would think was [INAUDIBLE] yesterday. More police, more [INAUDIBLE] more pay for the police, [INAUDIBLE] and for my interest here, provisions of greater security by builders of houses.
One cannot read Paton's essay today and not be struck anew by that true stereotype of a classic, historicalist, [INAUDIBLE] kind of South African white liberal [INAUDIBLE]. A profound insight into the damages of appetite on black South Africans, but also an inexhaustible capacity to find unending moral or pragmatic accommodations to that apartheid. But the real significance of Paton's essay for me is that, with a fair degree of accuracy, we could chuck him down as one of the [INAUDIBLE] theories of the urban garrison architecture in Africa.
Now quickly, this is the story, fast forward more than half a century to 1998, to the worldwide headlines that explained why I'm fleeing South Africa by Anne Paton, Alan Paton's widow. You have the full statement with you. She was fleeing South Africa, she said, because crime is rampaging the land. Crime is rampaging the land. That's what [INAUDIBLE]. You can get a meaningful sense of what had happened in the intervening 53 years if you do a comparative study of metaphors over time.
Her husband's choice in 1945 was wave. Wave is almost wholly aesthetic. Soothing, even as it intimates danger. We know that an ocean wave is dangerous, but there's something-- there's always something beautiful and curious about it that makes you want to tarry a moment and see it. To hear rampage, on the other hand, is to instantly dive for the bunker. Her views otherwise matched her husband's in the impeccable [INAUDIBLE] nature of moral rearmament and better policing.
What is really important to me is her experience, which I gave you in full, because I wouldn't have been able to discuss it f fully. So that's her experience, very, very important to me, because I don't want to take away from it. And look at that very last sentence again. "What kind of society is this where one is considered lucky not to have been raped or murdered yet?" All of which, for me, gives a fresh new meaning to that phrase that Mrs. Paton knows so well. "Cry, the Beloved Country" is one of the famous African novels. It was written, actually, in 1948, published [INAUDIBLE] three years after [INAUDIBLE]. Similar themes in both the essay and the book.
I do not want to end this brief presentation on an elegiac note. Do not mourn, just mobilize. The garrison architecture has assumed the status of a common sense, and has moved from the upper to the middle, even lower classes in the cities, and even to the villages, in many instances. It is important to underscore how productive the garrison architecture as a cultural [INAUDIBLE] has been. It has led, as I said, not just to the explosion of security business services-- people are getting employed-- and the manufacture of steel gates and doors, but also the rise of cottage industries for the beautification of the garrison, such as artistic decoration of gates and walls and of horticultural and landscaping. And this-- I mean, there are all these businesses now specializing in the decoration of doors. And people are making big money. There was one time I thought maybe that's what I should be doing.
And the business of horticulture, I was thoroughly seduced by the-- OK. On the business of horticulture, I was thoroughly seduced by the young [INAUDIBLE] description. But in a way, there's another part. This would be two projects. There's one that she has more with my social science colleagues in Madison. And there's one that I'm writing for my literature constituency. And that really integrates the literature more into the story. Because if you look at African literature, you can literally recreate these stories. You look at the representation of African architecture, from the late 1950s to the present, you can construct this story by actually going to this text, and seeing what is, you know, the architecture. [INAUDIBLE]. So there are two projects. One would be a long essay. One would be a book-- in book form.
So I was thoroughly seduced by the young [INAUDIBLE] description. This is the main character in the book. Description of her fortress house in [INAUDIBLE]. [INAUDIBLE] critically acclaimed novel, [INAUDIBLE].
"[INAUDIBLE] was widely known to hold 100 people dancing at [INAUDIBLE]. Spacious enough for each dancer to do the usual [INAUDIBLE], and [INAUDIBLE] the next dancers [INAUDIBLE]. The compound walls and the [INAUDIBLE] coiled electric wires were so high, I could not see the cars driving by on our street. It was early rainy season, and the [INAUDIBLE] trees planted next to the walls already filled the yard with the sickly sweet smell of their flowers. A row of [INAUDIBLE] caught smooth and [INAUDIBLE]."
And then she goes on and on. And I remember, the first time I read this, I swooned. I literally swooned. I felt like, I want to belong to that fictional event.
But for the fact that I hate any sickly sweet smell, which the author [? insistently ?] repeated over 140 pages [INAUDIBLE]. This type of [INAUDIBLE] are used in [INAUDIBLE]. If not for that, I could've taken this [INAUDIBLE] compound for a paradise. So I must [INAUDIBLE] the writer for so sweetly and doggedly [INAUDIBLE] any illusion I might have of a blissful, safe garrison or home amidst the bountiful want of the [? majority ?] in the post-colonial city.
No matter a bank full of money, I might, like [INAUDIBLE] in the text, have. Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: We have time for a couple of questions.
AUDIENCE: Well, I was really fascinated by how these two presentations kind of danced together, in a sense, insofar as the distinction between what Teju is presenting is almost a social constriction, the self will. And in Brenda's narrative of actually leaving the self-willed constricted institution, and moving out. And I was just wondering if you cared to dialogue a little bit about how you-- about that understanding. Because it's really-- you end up both dealing with very, very similar issues, in relationship to a culturally inscribed, enforced decline that, yet, is trying to be self-willed otherwise.
TEJUMOLA OLANIYAN: I was in South Africa this summer, and talked with some African writers. And the question I asked them was it is-- I mean, this is the moment in the history of African literature where you have the most cosmopolitan mindsets in the literature. The literature has really reached out to the world, is [? narrating in ?] all kinds of languages, right? [? As I'm ?] making their names far away from the continent, even before getting to the continent.
So this is the time-- [? our way ?] how [? this is ?] reaching out to the world. But it is also the time in African cities in which there's this absolute constriction in the area of living. So I asked them, you have to live in these kind of houses due to necessities. But how come your views of the world are so-- are open, so cosmopolitan, but you live in this extremely constricted [INAUDIBLE] situation?
So they say-- I have my own theories for that, which is related to questions of [INAUDIBLE] developments in [INAUDIBLE]. But they just look at me and say, well, our people [? immediately ?] resource to low-level issues, like how to survive, a need to be alive. But there are issues in that.
BRENDA CROFT: Well, I guess, for me, it's the contradictions that exist where you spend so much of your time with other people-- you're certainly not by yourself-- in creating space for yourself and people. But the space is still being shaped by the bigger powers, the people who have the privilege [INAUDIBLE]. They still continue to shape you, and you are [? corralled, ?] no matter how much you think you are. And Richard Bell, when he [? stated ?] [? aboriginal ?] arts [? of white ?] theme, was seen as slapping, or biting the hand that was feeding him. Because here, he'd just been awarded this huge national award. It was an indigenous-identified award. And then he had the temerity to challenge the people who'd set up this kind of construct. And even now, some several years later, people are still dealing with that.
But I've found that I just kept getting in trouble. Because I would be-- I'd be asking questions, such as why am I, in a public institution, providing free service to an international auction house to enable them to put a work-- an indigenous work up for sale? Why am I providing an expert examiner's report for them, free of charge, when they're making profit off this on a secondary sale, but none of the money's going back to the original person who made the work? Or [? they ?] found representatives. Because it's written into government guidelines, and being told that's just the way it was.
And my response was, well, it was also just the way it was to remove kids from their families. That didn't necessarily make it right. And I just thought, I'm going to either lose who I am-- I'm complicit in what this industry is. And it's-- I'm an artist, you know? I still work. I make work. I make work because I feel driven to make it. But yes, it's great if I sell something. It allows me to do something else then.
So I'm not being hypocritical, I hope, by saying these are the things I find wrong. What I hope is that I'm allowed to have more of a dialogue because I'm not on someone's payroll at those institutions from the outside. And I don't know how much of that dialogue will actually be listened to, but it's not an easy thing.
It's also looking at what your own place is in the world, you know? I don't-- I see myself as someone who's engaged with humanity, I hope. I'm interested in what's happening to people wherever. And the fact that so many of my countrymen and women don't seem to be, and are quite willing to accept the status quo as just being that-- we're right. We'll be right made. This idea of dumbing down and, you know, this is how it is. You just have to accept this is how it is. And I just-- I can't live with myself not asking those things. Because I try and consider how I would feel if I was on the other side. And I'm part of a privileged middle class aboriginal community. I'm well aware of that. I'm on a very good salary. I'm able to travel and do stuff wherever.
But I also go back to my community and-- I was just talking with Carol about how you end up feeling torn-- you're not torn because you know where you're located. You know you have this kind of amorphous slippage because of where you work and where you're located. But you also realize that you've been dealt a certain set of cards that enables you to challenge what's out there, whereas immediate family members of mine don't have that same set of cards.
SPEAKER 1: Any questions?
AUDIENCE: Thank you for a really wonderful panel, jumping around the globe with identities and attentions and parasitical capitalism. My question is actually for Teju. I wonder if you could just share with us some of the specificity of the urban garrisons. Are they similar or different, and what are the distinctive differences in different parts of the African continent? Because I find myself jumping to other places, where I've seen this, or I've experienced this, particularly in India and massively dwelling cities. So what I would just like to learn more about is-- is this identified with a particular point of hyper-capitalist development? Where does it intersect with particular national histories? You allude to some of this in the 19th century origins of wars in Africa. I wonder if you could just share some of your insights.
AUDIENCE: Just to add to that question, which is [? my ?] garrisons were on [INAUDIBLE]. [INAUDIBLE]
TEJUMOLA OLANIYAN: Actually, I [? began ?] generally with the US. I lived in a garrison, but [? you won't ?] see the walls. I live in a garrison in Madison, Wisconsin. You [? won't see ?] the walls because the walls are not there. But walls are there.
So the walls are determined, in that sense, by how much money you can borrow from the bank. And so if you begin that way, you find-- you begin from that point of view, you see that the important thing is not so much a capitalist development-- a particular kind of capitalist development in a particular place. This is a capitalist setup.
But there are other things-- the maintenance of law and order, surveillance, and so on-- that keeps an orderly population. So in places where issues of law and order are not being resolved-- again, I'm reminded of [INAUDIBLE] from the scaffold [INAUDIBLE]. And his insistence that no, don't think-- in the [INAUDIBLE] regime, don't think that the spectacular nature of [? power ?] is over.
No, it's just [? translated ?] into a very different kind. But it's not in vulgarity. So I'm interested in that vulgarity of power. And this, for me, is what is the distinction. No matter the differences you will find in working with different parts of Africa, you will find that it is-- [INAUDIBLE] if you go to Brazil, after a while, you just think that we should find a much [? global ?] framework to look [? at it. ?] And one of my frameworks is to think even at the level of rhetoric. The transformation from the planned state of capitalism in the form to the market stage, you know? Beginning from the 1950s to '70s. There were all these development plans. That was the-- those were the decades in which huge dams are built from Asia to Africa. And at that time, the emphasis was on nation, our capitalist development within the nation. And looking back now, there's actually some advantage to that, in the sense at least, at that time, there was a pretense that people are living in this space, and [? we'll take ?] care of them with all this grandiose development.
But now, nobody talks about development plans. The [INAUDIBLE] market links to what's going on in the west. One of my professors said yesterday, describing his own [INAUDIBLE] rhetoric shifted from [? imagination ?] to imagine-markets.
Imaginations to imagine-markets. What that has done it to allow a kind of coming together of patterns across diverse areas. That's why I said I'd like to begin with the US. I don't think we're excluded from this at all. We are included [INAUDIBLE]. If we don't have that kind of [INAUDIBLE], it's not because we don't share the same system. It's because we're doing some things which does require [INAUDIBLE] right now. That's the only reason.
So there's a lot similarities. For me, that's actually much more significant than any difference you will find [? out. ?] Look at the differences and just pay attention to them on [? this ?] [? side. ?] I don't see where you don't have these extremes of wealth today. I don't see that, which is why I talk about this [? form. ?] You can't study [INAUDIBLE] and not study [? this form. ?] Because big [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 1: We have time for a final question.
AUDIENCE: I wonder if you can elaborate more [INAUDIBLE]. I wonder if you meant parasitic capitalism. Because that's a term that's gotten used, especially in the context of North Africa, where a form of [INAUDIBLE], especially in Sudan and other places, there's a total kind of-- from the '70s on, with the rise of structural [INAUDIBLE], this imposition on [INAUDIBLE]. [INAUDIBLE] international monitored [? from the World ?] Bank, where [INAUDIBLE] privatization, if there were subsidies and so forth. And they [INAUDIBLE]. It's a form of hypocrisy, where even [INAUDIBLE] allowed some form of [INAUDIBLE]. That was this movement. There's no [INAUDIBLE], looting of land, and cities-- many [INAUDIBLE]. And that allowed this kind of garrison architecture that has evolved to flourish in [INAUDIBLE]. So I wonder if you can elaborate more on this.
TEJUMOLA OLANIYAN: Yeah. Thank you very much. I was hoping that question [? wouldn't ?] come up, even though I tried to say, oh, I don't mind if it comes up. I actually don't want it to come up.
Some of my colleagues-- ideological colleagues who are not-- they don't like this [? principle ?] term. And because we have standard terms. Neocolonial. And they say, oh, tradition of refining that, even [? to post-colonial. ?] You remember this [INAUDIBLE] between post-colonial as a term and neocolonial. But my choice here is very, very pragmatic because I don't want to use a term-- no. Pragmatic, yes. That's one thing. Pragmatic because I don't want to use a term that comes with baggage of what had gone before. That seems to be said [? to. ?] Oh, people think it is [? said to. ?] So I can neocolonial, but that bring a lot of baggage.
The same thing with parasitical capitalism. It belongs to that era, and it would bring similar kind of baggage. But also at the level of content, [? this ?] whole-- the substantial difference that I'm trying to get at. It includes the question of parasitism. But also, there are certain issues that didn't come up in all those debates of neocolonial, and so on, that I actually want to-- [INAUDIBLE] go into at this time, such as the distinction between security and surveillance. That wasn't an issue during all the decades of [INAUDIBLE]-- or neocolonialism. That wasn't an issue at all.
But that is a core issue today in the emergence of our [? capitalism, ?] of the garrison architecture. These tastes are progressively [INAUDIBLE] to maintain the population, to maintain the surveillance of the population. And I don't want to just use surveillance. It's also the gathering of statistics. [? Community ?] development cannot go on, planning cannot go on because they don't know how many people they have, where they are, and so on. So there are all kinds of-- so because of these new aspects, that's why I cam up with-- I'm not invested in that name. If I [INAUDIBLE] response to it, I will stick with it. But if-- because, as I said, I didn't start with that. I'm just looking for something that's new. I didn't come with that baggage, so that people can at least listen to the content [? I'm giving. ?] I'm more concerned about the content I'm [? giving it ?] than the [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 1: So thank you very much, everyone.
SPEAKER 2: We're going to take a five-minute adjustment break.
SPEAKER 1: Welcome back to our last panel. Well, and then following the panel, we're going to spend about an hour in round table kind of reflection and regurgitation. After that, we drink, drink, drink. So there'll be plenty of time for merriment and further conversation. I'm very happy to have one of our fellows this year, Tracy Heatherington, who's going to introduce this panel. Tracy is normally ensconced at the University of Madison--
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: Wisconsin.
SPEAKER 1: At?
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: Milwaukee.
SPEAKER 1: At Milwaukee. Milwaukee. I wasn't finished. I was looking for Tejum and I was going to rub it in his face.
Tracey is an extremely interesting and provocative cultural anthropologist who's here working on a combination of ecological issues around Sardinia, and global digital networks in relationship to ecology. It's been tremendously stimulating to have her with us, and we're thankful for her doing this.
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: Thank you. It is a treat to be here, and an honor to introduce the next two speakers. I'm going to go ahead and introduce both of them, and allow them to exchange places on their won as we go through the discussions, so that we'll have more time for questions.
We're fortunate to have Gregg Lambert giving the first talk. Gregg Lambert is founding director and Dean's Professor of Humanities, Syracuse University Humanities Center. Are you a little young for that yet?
GREGG LAMBERT: [LAUGHS]
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: [INAUDIBLE]
GREGG LAMBERT: No response to that.
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: Syracuse University Humanities Center, as well as project director and principal investigator of the Mellon CUNY Humanities Corridor? Is it--
GREGG LAMBERT: It's CNY, which is Central New York.
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: Central New York.
SPEAKER 1: Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor that is the sponsor of this very event.
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: The sponsor of this very event, and a very excellent event it is, too. We're--
GREGG LAMBERT: [INAUDIBLE] days.
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: You're getting your money's worth out of me.
GREGG LAMBERT: OK, Tim, you can sign the check now.
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: Which includes both Cornell and the University of Rochester. It's a model I'm hoping we can someday replicate in Wisconsin after watching [INAUDIBLE]. After completing his PhD, Gregg Lambert joined the department-- sorry, his PhD in comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine-- Gregg joined the Department of English at Syracuse University in 1996, where he later served as chair in 2005.
Professor Lambert is internationally-renowned for his scholarship on comparitive Baroque and Neo-Baroque culture, contemporary issues, and critical theory in the academic humanities, 20th century continental philosophy, and especially his writings on the late contemporary French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida.
His major works include The Non-Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze in 2002, The Return of the Baroque in Modern Culture in 2004, Who's Afraid of Deleuze and Guattari? In 2008, and the three-volume Jean Francois Lyotard-- Critical Evaluations in Cultural Theory in 2006, which was co-edited with Victor Taylor.
Professor Lambert has lectured internationally and taught as a visiting distinguished professor at Emory University, Universities of Tasmania, Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, and he has--
GREGG LAMBERT: [INAUDIBLE]
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: [LAUGHS] I'm sure I got the tonals wrong. He's served as co-leader of the Transdisciplinary Media Studio with the SU School of Architecture? I don't know what that means. SU?
GREGG LAMBERT: Yeah, Syracuse University.
SPEAKER 1: Syracuse University.
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: Syracuse University. You can tell I'm from the Midwest. And the Perpetual Peace Project, a multilateral curatorial initiative cosponsored with Slot Foundation in Philadelphia, the European Union National Institutes of Culture, and the United Nations University.
Professor Lambert's new and forthcoming book projects include a second volume of The Non-Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze-- I'm always up for non-philosophy-- a phenomenological study of post-War political philosophy entitled The Other Person and the Possible World, and a collected volume of his published writings on contemporary continental philosophy and the return of religion.
His paper today is entitled "The Baroque Tsunami-- An Incident Analysis of Neo-Baroque Form."
Yukiko Shikata is most recently director of the Media Art Consortium, Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs in Tokyo, Japan. Prior to this, she was curator at NTT Intercommunications Center-- ICC Tokyo-- for five and a half years.
She was specially assigned professor at Tokyo Zokei University, guest professor at Tama Art University, and besides working as a co-curator of Canon ARTLAB, she was guest curator of Shiseido CyGnet, the National Art Gallery in 1997 to 2002. She was associate curator of Mori Art Museum from 2002 to 2004.
She's created many challenging projects including Christian Moeller's Sound Garden at the Spiral [INAUDIBLE] Art Center, Mischa Kuball's Power of Codes at the Tokyo National Museum in 1999, Kingdom of Piracy online, co-curated with Shu Lea Cheang and Armin Medosch from 2001, and that's still up. Am I correct?
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's Amodal Suspension, an opening project of the YCAM-- Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media in 2003. EnigmaAnagma, the Evening of Yukiko Shikata in Rotterdam. Open Nature at NTT ICC in 2005. moblab, the Mobile Laboratory Project utilizing mobile technology with a bus going around Japan in 2005. Lib-LIVE!, The Students Consortium at NTT ICC in 2005.
Connecting Worlds, also at NTT ICC the next year. And she was responsible for ICC 10th Anniversary Session Series in 2007-2008. She is the international advisory board member of Transmediale in Berlin, and has worked as a jury in many competitions, including the Prix Ars Electronica in 2000, 2003, 2006, the UNESCO DigiArt prize in 2004 and 2005, the [INAUDIBLE] Award in 2005 and 2006.
She participated in ISEA '02 as one of the steering committee members, and in ISEA '06 as one of the curators of contemporary culture. She will present a paper today called "Invisible Dynamics-- World as Interaction Process. So thank you for coming, and I'll leave it to the speakers.
GREGG LAMBERT: Thank you. Let's see. Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: Ask him if he's approved the budget for this show.
GREGG LAMBERT: Apparently, it's not my problem, it's the problem of your OSPs. I want to thank Tim, especially, for inviting me down to participate as something more than an administrator in this instance. Also, I think it couldn't be a better order in the sense that you'll see there will be a natural continuity, let's say, between the paper just given by Tej and this paper.
Both are going to be dealing with architecture, and in some way, both are going to be looking at aesthetics from, let's say, the ground up. My original interest in the Baroque as a concept and as a phenomena was what Calabrese, following Wolfflin and the Catalan art historian critic, Eugenio o'Dors, called a logic of cultural morphogenesis-- the study of the origin and historical evolution of cultural forms.
Consequently, I was attracted to the Baroque-- that's a picture of Jane-- because of its sheer variety, its historical regional dislocations, its myriad of formal definitions and properties, even in its polarity and formal contradictions, encompassing most of the classic arts-- architecture, music, literature, and philosophy.
This does not, as some critics have charged, make my earlier study of what I call the return of the Baroque a purely formalist study. In my view, the Baroque concept will never be understood only as the expression of one historical moment or cultural form, akin to an academic field of specialization, and it's overevaluation of linguistic, regional, cultural particularity in all aspects of morphology.
Simply, the fact the new definition must defend itself against all its cultural variables, especially the earlier Roman incarnation in the areas of architecture and sculpture, is enough to call into question any claim to a singular expression of the Baroque concept from any particular region or episode, including, I might add, the original so-called European Baroque.
Like its namesake, as a unique expression of either place or period, the concept is fatally flawed, but this is precisely what makes the Baroque so interesting from a morphological perspective, and why I began to study it from the beginning. For this reason, my work has been preoccupied with mapping the historical transmigration of the Baroque traveling concept, as was the patterns of transculturalization that can be found in its different regional expressions.
Concerning Deleuze's recent influence on the Baroque concept of [INAUDIBLE]
I picked these pictures out on purpose, as you can tell. Despite all the debates that have occurred around the super imposition of Deleuze's Baroque concept of the foe, the basic characteristic of a form that unfolds unto infinity, and this incorporates all varieties of matter in its movement, echoes, in some way, Eugenio o'Dors' earlier conception of what he called Baroque eon.
What is interesting to note, in both definitions, is that classicism is defined as a limit or a temporal stability that interrupts this constant progression. In other words, classism in its different forms is defined by a reactive consciousness that seeks to anchor, or weigh down, the Baroque spirit, defined as a form that flies or ascends.
The basic intuition is a specific tension between folding, or inclusion, and unfolding expression. Although in many cases, and in different arts, Neo-Classicism comes after the Baroque. The recurrent Baroque symbol is that of a burst structure, which is going to be very important because this is, in a sense, what I'm trying to really analyze-- this particular expression of the burst structure within neo-barroco, [INAUDIBLE].
Or the form that is too rigidly-defined and unable to contain or to include the Baroque expression, causing it to topple over, or become confused, mixed up, incorporating heterogeneous elements in an ever-expanding form. Perhaps this poetic symbol finds its most hyperbolic expression in Severo Sarduy's cosmological expression of a Baroque universe, and its dichotomy of steady state versus Big Bang.
It is this poetic image of a burst structure that is frequently employed to characterize the Neo-Baroque expression, which I will seek to theorize as a problem of global aesthetics. Let me just jump ahead here.
To begin, let me turn to my earlier thesis that the Baroque is, in some ways-- we have to understand the Baroque as not modular, and therefore it can longer be understood by periodicity, or by region, or topicality. But it's, in its current theorizations, more defined as serial, rather than modular or [? cicular. ?]
It must be described in terms of flows that are both successive and overlapping in time and space, which is to say, historically and geographically. If we attempt to assess the pattern of transmigration of the Baroque style as a style, we might identify three major flows, which I will restrict to the region of architecture just for the purposes of illustration.
The first flow of the transmigration of the Baroque style is that of the Propaganda Fide, particularly in architecture, and follows from the contours of Catholicism, globally following the Council of Trent, especially as priests and architectects trained in Rome would migrate to other regions and bring with them the principles and techniques that flourished in Italy in the late 16th century.
Of course, the second flow would accompany the first in the transmigration of the Baroque that was affected by European colonialism, particularly by Spain and Portugal. And we may find many Baroque principles in the construction of new churches in the colonial Baroque style across the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, and as far as the Philippines, which I'll talk about in a minute.
However, I think-- and this is partly my new theory, and I'll tell you why I'm trying to find a new way of theorizing the fact that the Neo-Baroque has occurred in so many different regions and so many different expressions around the globe.
The third wave, I would say, and the most crucial causal explanation for the transmigration of the Baroque, in one particular period, is definitely earthquakes and tsunamis, especially during a particularly active period of seismological activity that occurred globally between 1693 and 1755.
That is the date of the earthquake in Lisbon, which was the geological condition for which I will define, according to the methodology and history of an incident analysis. Presented here is the analysis of a Baroque tsunami that starts out in Sicily in 1693, and then a year later in the Philippines, and eventually slams into the coasts of Peru and Portugal, precisely at the same time in the mid-18th century.
In the year 1693, a powerful earthquake struck parts of southern Italy, notably Sicily and Malta, on January 11, 1693, around 9:00 PM local time, as Mount Etna erupted. It destroyed at least 43 towns and cities, affecting an area of 5,600 square kilometers and causing the death of over 60,000 people.
Completely destroying many buildings, the earthquake prompted a Baroque revival in architecture, and the many existing cathedrals and buildings today can be pinpointed as being built in a similar time after that. The towns hit by the earthquake prompted the rebuilding of many of its structures, including Siracusa, Noto, Catania, Sicily, [? Magusa, ?] Comiso, Medina, and Malta, such as St. Paul's Cathedral in Medina.
Voltaire once commented ironically on the predilection to use natural disasters as civil opportunities. Quote, "If half of Paris burned to the ground, we would rebuild it and more superb, in splendor, advantageous form," unquote, an observation that could only be historically applied to cities that have suffered natural catastrophes with a grain of salt, as most recently exemplified in the rebuilding of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
But also particularly-- I wrote this talk, actually, a month before the earthquake in Haiti. So if we could look at the rebuilding, certain rebuilding projects do take place. Others, of course, don't, depending upon the region.
This is a picture of a the Noto area that's been rebuilt according to what is called severe earthquake Baroque style, in which the piazzas and the pathways and the alleyways were widened, in order to prevent buildings from toppling on people in the alleyways and killing them, so in earthquakes.
As late as the case of Lisbon, post-1755, the complete devastation of many areas offered a unique opportunity in the reconstruction according to the new principles of urban design that were, at this moment, predominantly Baroque, including the widening of streets according to the geometrical grid patterns, and the location of central, hexagonal piazze to make greater use of vista and perspectival arrangement of monumental facades to heighten the emotional effect typical of Baroque ideology, as well as to forestall damage and loss of life caused bu future earthquakes, a new factor that also influenced the spread of the Baroque style in South America, Guatemala, Mexico, and other earthquake-prone regions.
Of Sicily's own form of Baroque, post-1693, it has been said, the buildings conceived in the wake of the disaster expressed a lighthearted freedom of decoration whose incongruous gating was intended, perhaps, to assuage the horror and destruction. So as you can see, I'm trying to address the notion of the aesthetic from a purely incident, or the issue of the response to a natural disaster.
The most famous example of what is called severe earthquake Baroque in the Philippines, which are built upon the early colonial Baroque principles that were imported from Mexico and South America. The design of San Augustin, Manila, followed the plans approved by the [INAUDIBLE], following the design of other churches built in earthquake-prone Mexico by the Augustinians.
The Augustinians came from Spain, and those born in Mexico had a great opportunity to observe and study the South American monastic architecture, which they later used in the Philippines. The most famous example of what is called severe earthquake Baroque was completed by the Augustine friar Estavillo after the earthquakes of 1693 and 1694, during the same year of intense seismological period that struck Sicily.
The Paoay Church has buttresses that extend up considerably from the exterior walls and provides a visual experience of a three-dimensional, unlike most of the churches in the colonial Baroque style, where the columns are internal to the structure, and the inherent beauty of the building's ornamentation is limited to the facade.
One description of the church is as follows. The buttresses are a visual spectacle. One can easily imagine them as giant sentinels poised to protect the church from adversaries. The rhythmic flow of massive form, cascading down from the pinnacles to the ground, emphasized by spires and reliefs visible on each side buttresses, alludes to the Baroque character.
And yet, the church was built-- the mortar used and the coral stones and bricks dramatizes the desire of the builders to make sure that the church stood against natural calamities. I underline the importance of this for one reason, that even while the priests would use the events of the earthquakes as mortar for popular sermons that reinforce the church as a fore authority in the community, just as quickly as absolutists would use the same events to foretell the end of the Baroque excess and corruption.
The priests and intelligentsia were, at the same time, importing new architectural principles, primarily from earthquake-prone regions of the colonies, to shore up the Baroque structures against their own ruins that would mean the end of the Baroque style, mostly due to natural disasters and the costs of rebuilding.
During the wake of the tsunamis that impacted Lima-- let me see. During the wake of the tsunamis that impacted Lima and Lisbon in 1746 and 1755, certainly one compelling factor that led to the decline of the Baroque influence in the phase of reconstruction is precisely the ideological dispute engaged by Enlightenment proponents against the church by the Bourbons in Lima, and by the estrangeirados, led by the minister of Sebastiao Jose Carvalho e Melo, who had already managed to wrest control of Lisbon's courts from the inquisition and missions in Brazil from the Jesuits prior to 1755.
In both cities, subsequently, the decline of the Baroque period in the area of architecture is primarily due to modernization of urban planning, and the alliance of the state to a more rationalized series of new knowledges and techniques that, in some ways, anticipates Foucault's thesis concerning the emergence of a new bio political order, the orderly distribution of circulation of commerce, goods, and populations, and the newfound role of the state to ensure against any force that might interrupt this new economia, which this stems from the political causes such as war, or from natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.
This ideological debate is reflected in the architectural history of both cities, as well. What follows, then, could be described as a tale of two cities that are both located on the Baroque faultline. Following the devastation in both cities, the site of the opulent, excessive Baroque structures and cathedrals toppling to the ground soon followed-- were immediately employed in pro-Enlightenment propaganda campaign that highlighted the Baroque excesses, and the corruption of the churches, implicitly the grounds for God's day of judgment, ironically turning the favorite rhetorical weapon used by priests and Cal reformists against them-- repent your Baroque excess.
For example, let us imagine the spectacle offered in accounts of the city of Lima, following the earthquake and the tsunami there. According to the historian Charles F. Walker who wrote a book-- which I love the title, Shaky Colonialism-- 1747.
I'm sorry if there's historians in the room, but sometimes they're not great poets.
So I put this passage up to save us time, so you can see it. What I love most is the description of nuns walking half-clothed through the streets. And so you can imagine the horror and the devastation, the horror of this scene. But of course, most of the damage was caused by the excessive facades of the Baroque structures that came tumbling down into the very narrow streets, killing everybody there.
So this, in a sense, became one of the reasons used to get rid of the Baroque style, or the Baroque form of architecture in the rebuilding. Lima was rebuilt, but due to basically bankruptcy of the church and the landowners at that time, it was rebuilt very slowly. And the reconstruction was kind of an interesting story of urban planning.
As would be, nine years later, exemplified by Carvalho's reconstruction of Lisbon according to Enlightenment notions of circulation, space, and order, Lima found its modernity in Viceroy Manso Valesco, who used the earthquake as an occasion to quote, "change Lima's architecture and grant his office more authority in urban planning against the church," even though he and the Bourbons would not be entirely successful in this particular case.
One factor was a ten-year legal dispute between the church and its destitute landlords who could not afford to pay [INAUDIBLE]. According to Walker, Manso devised an imperfect compromise in rebuilding, which the structure's stability was emphasized over the ornamental function, which is one of the factors in the end of the Baroque period in Lima's architectural history.
Even though this was the end of it, that implicitly served urban reforms. However, this did not stop the practice of the Baroque festivals, much to Manso's dismay. Recalling the function of the Baroque spectacle as described by Jose Antonio Maradona, these ornate festivals would include fireworks as well as auto-de-fe by the inquisition.
El Dia de Lima included, as well, symbolizing Lima's penitence and promise of rebirth like a Phoenix from the ashes. However, Manso was ambivalent about many of the aspects of the public ritual, and had bullfighting banned due to the expense and to avoid boisterous behavior, according to Walker.
However, the greatest concern had to do with the sexual licentiousness and the mixing of different classes and races. Quote, "The chaotic, carnivalistic nature of the Baroque festivals could potentially cause a more permanent subversion of social order." The masking of identities, the mixing of people, the exuberant multiday parties always disquieting the ruling class.
It is clear that whatever small victories the Bourbons were able to manage in the aftermath of the earthquake were a mixed bag, especially as the enlightened colonial reforms were soon replaced by more draconian Spanish colonial policies centered on bankrupting the colonies through increased taxation by the end of the 18th century, and on moral condemnation of Lima's indigenous populations, primarily targeting women for their improper attire, Indians as quote, "deceitful and possibly heretical," blacks, whose relative freedom and proximity to upper classes were regarded as too seductive, and finally, the lower classes and indigenous populations generally for their excesses and Baroque practices.
I'm going to skip over and come to the conclusion. And this is going to be more theoretical, and refers more to the after-effect of these incidents, particularly in Latin America, in terms of how they impact the theory of the neo-barraco, and a kind of counter-modernity discourse [INAUDIBLE].
At this point, allow me to come to some formal conclusions. I'm just going to go through this real quick. This is pictures of Lisbon. At this point, we come to some formal conclusions from these examples in the relation to the principles that Hegel defined as the symbolic function of architecture.
Architecture turns matter not into direct, sensuous expression of spiritual freedom, but into an artificially-shaped surrounding for direct expression from spiritual freedom in sculpture and painting. In other words, it is realizing the act of becoming the frame for direct expression of spiritual content. This is Hegel, not me.
The art of architecture fulfills its purpose, therefore, when it creates classical temples to house statues of the gods. If, according to Hegel, the distinguishing feature of Gothic or romantic architectural form, with regard to the representation of the spirit of community that dwelled within these structures, was that it housed Christian inwardness and can find its refuge from the outside world.
A second characteristic of the symbolic form would be located in the sensuous expression of spiritual light. In the Gothic cathedral, columns are located within, but rather around the outside of the enclosed space, and their overt function is no longer merely to bear weight, but to draw the soul up to heavens, or to draw the gaze of those below.
Consequently, the columns or pillars do not come to a definite end in a capital that rests on architrave of classical temple, but continue up until they meet a pointed arch or vaulted roof. In this way, the Gothic cathedral not only shelters the spirit of the religious community, but also symbolizes the upward movement of that spirit in its very structure.
This symbolic form of the column achieving its apex in the vaulted ceiling continues, in some ways, through many of the principles of the Baroque period. However, we might ask, what would be the symbolic expression of the structures designated by the earthquake Baroque? In other words, let us now imagine the fate of this symbolic form in an earthquake, where the spires of the vaulted ceiling topple over, and the columns crack and shatter.
The upward movement of the spirit housed in the structure is suddenly hurled to the base, crushed under the weight of the structure itself, along with the corpses of the religious community inside. Of course, Hegel never considered earthquakes in his aesthetic theory, which progresses through various art forms according to an inner theology or spirit, and could not account for such extrinsic and arbitrary causality.
Consequently, this is just one more in a long series of accusations concerning Hegel's blind spots. He didn't talk about earthquakes.
But one that I would argue is more damning with regard for the complete inability of any essentialist or morphogenetic theory, including, I might suggest, those of o'Dors' and Deleuze, to explain the unique variable that specifically shapes the evolution of the Baroque form. Here I want to highlight that my argument concerning the Baroque tsunami is not that of a dialectician, a cultural materialist, a post-colonial critic, much less that of a philosopher, but rather the argument of a Baroque geologist.
Consequently, I would immediately qualify my thesis only to refer to those regions of the original Baroque period that are prone to suffer earthquakes and tsunamis, along with the social, political, psychological effects that ensue in the wake of those catastrophes.
And this is a kind of interesting area of explanation when you think of the huge trauma that natural disasters and earthquakes cause to a community, and how that is incorporated into the aesthetic, and artistic and cultural expressions, that affect-- in a sense, that then become defined regionally as expressions of anxiety, expressions of a kind of ambivalent exuberance, expressions of joy.
And in a sense, without looking at this materialism-- this materialistic base and naturalist cause-- we often mistake the causality for something completely else, sometimes like ideology, rather than the very natural effects of the Earth itself.
But in other words, if the art of architecture represents a transformation of such brute, heavy matter into the expression of spiritual freedom, or what Hegel calls, the forming of the inorganic, here we witness a violent limit to that spiritual freedom in its struggle to shake the inorganic world of matter itself, a limit that is spelled out in the catastrophes that destroyed the handiwork of spiritual freedom, and reveal its powerlessness, already typified by the fear of empty space, brought on by the age of reason.
So in other words, that the fear of space, brought on, so-called, by the age of reason, we might now add a new fear of heights brought on by earthquakes and tsunamis. It is these characteristics of dizziness and vertigo of height, and a more primitive, symbolic form of art have become frequently the expression of Neo-Baroque style.
The perception of height, the traces of the soul's movement upward, is expressed in the crest of a wave that is about to topple over, producing a strange anxiety that is characteristic of a symbol of the burst structure. So I'm going to end with just a few passages. How much more time do I have?
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: About seven minutes.
GREGG LAMBERT: Huh?
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: Seven minutes.
GREGG LAMBERT: Oh. I've got time.
TRACEY HEATHERINGTON: You're good.
GREGG LAMBERT: [INAUDIBLE] To conclude, I would like to return to the original symbolist depiction of the Baroque as a burst structure.
If I'm right in my hypothesis that this symbolic representation find its origins in the incidents of the earthquake Baroque, and was employed ideologically as Bourbon and absolutist propaganda against the Cal Reformation and the church, it is just as important to note its reappearance in the 19th century as a symbol of the Neo-Baroque aspirations against neoclassical and Enlightenment principles of order and rationality.
In other words, the symbol of the original Propaganda Fide, the sensuous and material vision of a spiritual world bursting upon the spectator's emotions, becomes the symbol of the anti-Baroque a century later, the symbol of the Neo-Baroque with its post-structural taste for rent or burst structures, and at the same time the New World Baroque, with its reclamation of indigenous and hybrid forms of contra madernidad agendas.
Also the symbols of Baroque excess drawn from the colonial moral diatribe against Baroque excess comes to represent the forces of a popular New World Baroque premised on the liberation of repressed forms of contra quista sentiments, such as those represented by [INAUDIBLE] and Severo Sarduy.
It is the evolution of the moral idea of the Baroque into the expression of its exact opposite, the opposing moral force, that has led to much of the confusion concerning the specificity of the Baroque. So in other words, within all of the debates concerning the Baroque, there is this enormous contradiction between two fundamentally opposing ideological currents.
And so if you separate these currents by a century, and you explain it by the fact that there is a causality at the basis of this, you can understand why these two orders can exist together.
Halfway into the 20th century, the Baroque symbol takes on a new meaning that refers to the explosive potential of revolutionary intensity that was sweeping across the Caribbean, precisely figured in the poetic representations of a tsunami, that first appears in Alejo Carpentier's early novel, Ecue-Yambo-O, where we find find an earthquake of the sea, trembling of the firmament, Santa Barbara and her 10,000 horses with bronze helmets galloping on a rosary of defenseless islands.
I think I already had that there. OK? Another description of a hurricane and the chaos that it leaves in its wake erupts some pages further on. The sea advances to the city streets. Yeah. That was the passage that I had up for you to read. Carpentier will return to this symbol again at the end of his novel, The Kingdom of This World.
In the image of a great wave that carries away the leading protagonist, Ti Noel, as if demonstrating that the hard historical reality that any structure that is erected on this Earth by man is ultimately built on sand.
Something similar occurs in his novel, El Siglo de las Luces, when the leading characters, Esteban, Carlos, Sofa, and Victor, find themselves forced to flee Havana after the passage of a cyclone, and there, there is a raid by colonial authorities against those who harbor liberal or revolutionary ideas, only to run headlong into a tsunami, and even more fateful consequences for all of the Americas, the Haitian revolution.
Finally, Carpentier recounts the anecdote of Guerra at one point in 1967. Reading the pages one day of Humboldt, and musing about building a summer house in South America, believing that like himself, "nature had dared abandoned her mad and feverish upheavals and adopted a circumspect and complacent beauty," unquote.
Carpentier ironically replies to Guerra, architect of the Enlightenment, you can build whatever house you'd like, but our continent is a continent of hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods, a nature uncontained that is still driven by her primal upheavals.
I will close, therefore, by noting one final metaphysical irony, in the fact that the exact date of the centennial year of Carpentier's birth was commemorated on December 26, 2004, with a tsunami that swept across Indonesia, as if the Earth itself finally understood the meaning of his new Baroque symbol and responded.
YUKIKO SHIKATA: A little-- a little [INAUDIBLE], but anyway, I'm happy to be here. Thank you for-- Tim, for inviting me. It's a real pleasure to be here. And I actually came home to Japan to [INAUDIBLE] Japanese. Yeah. So the country of tsunami and the earthquake.
And actually, yeah, the nature's very strong. Then, I think, maybe [INAUDIBLE] people or [INAUDIBLE] also, [? as our cultures, ?] the people who have been separated during the earthquake has a somewhat different kind of a feeling to the nature. And also, maybe they don't think they are dominant to the nature. So maybe I can make some [INAUDIBLE] to the [INAUDIBLE]. So--
Somehow this angle is not good for me. So it's better to do it like this. So yeah. So today I want to make the presentation based on my curatorial directions. So I actually want to introduce many complete project that I have curated. So I hope you like this direction, and especially this direction [INAUDIBLE] invisible dynamics while as [? indirectional ?] process.
[INAUDIBLE] in 2000. So it's a tenth anniversary. In '90s, I also have been working-- have worked a lot as a curator, [INAUDIBLE] where we-- me and the other curator collaborated with artists in combination with [INAUDIBLE] company's [? computer ?] engineers to make the installations. And we don't make many works, basically one piece per year. And most of that piece were also toured [? in and out of ?] Japan.
And actually, I have so many also [? indirective ?] piece in '90s. And some of them are very interesting for me, especially the piece [INAUDIBLE], German media artist, who took the data of the [INAUDIBLE]. Also, the [INAUDIBLE] who took the data [INAUDIBLE] to get that out and to-- that the user can [? face ?] and [? conform ?] to the [INAUDIBLE] [? data. ?] [INAUDIBLE] [? data ?] has an outside environment. And then the feedback happens. It's interesting because it's-- in a way, the [INAUDIBLE] is a [? pilate, ?] the extension of the body, the person. But also, the person [? can't ?] articulate because they can be objects as being a surrounding environment.
So in later 90s, I started to think about one of the main reasons that indirective art-- we have the indirective art because we can-- that this kind of indirective piece can make us aware [INAUDIBLE] while this very interactive. This isn't my [? first ?] idea. So I wanted to have some quotations to-- as [INAUDIBLE]. This is something like [? clawing ?] based, [INAUDIBLE] based perspective to the world. And some [INAUDIBLE] [? degree ?] from all things is each thing's own [INAUDIBLE] [? alone ?] and send about to every [? region ?] around. And [? nature ?] [? rests not ?] in spite of the [INAUDIBLE] by [INAUDIBLE].
And this is from Japan in early 17th century. Kamo no Chomei. It's very popular at the [INAUDIBLE] "An Account of My Hut." Ceaselessly, the river flows. And yet, the water is never the same, while in the still pools, the [INAUDIBLE] foam gathers and is gone, never staying [? ever ?] a moment. This is something like a-- the river, that the river stays the same-- never stays the same. So this is maybe very intimate and [INAUDIBLE] for every Japanese as far as I see. Maybe especially after the second World War because we have the text in our school here.
And it's early 18th century. [INAUDIBLE] so that each body only is affected by its own wish in contact with it. And in some way, feels the effect of everything that happened to them. But also it is immediately affected by bodies adjoining those in which it is surfacing immediate contact, wherefore it follows that this intercommunication of things extend to a distance, however great.
So in visual dynamics, now tentatively, I want to say that this invisible-- originally, what we-- the few months cannot foresee [INAUDIBLE] senses. But we have expanded perception by developing the technologies time by time. So we extended our perception by [INAUDIBLE] biotechnologies and dynamics, the information flow, organization, and dispersion persistently in process to our micro and macro [INAUDIBLE].
Yeah, like here in the air, or in our bodies, many things are happening, but we are not [INAUDIBLE]. And we cannot see, even see that those thing, but they are to have some imagination what's happening dynamically somewhere or everywhere.
Then this is a piece that I clearly notice that are heading for the invisible dynamics. I didn't have this work at the time, but it's exactly 10 years when I and the other curator, Mr. Abe, [INAUDIBLE] Abe, co-curated [INAUDIBLE] [? Nikolai ?] and Michael [INAUDIBLE] serving as artists.
[INAUDIBLE] is from Germany. [INAUDIBLE] is the last piece by [INAUDIBLE]. And after one year, it didn't exist because the company created this program. It's a pity. But somehow, even without knowing that we [INAUDIBLE] this program, we saw as it looks like a last project somehow after [INAUDIBLE] 10 years.
So we have done a lot of things. Then this was something very special for us, and this is kind of a memorable piece. So I maybe-- I saw this better to explain by English, so you can read this, but I-- those two artists are from the [? former ?] Eastern countries. So surrealists by the novel and science fiction novels by [INAUDIBLE] and a film by [INAUDIBLE] was very, very important for them.
Then they made a-- like-- like, look, like a tea room, but something like a way Japanese kind of very quiet and beautiful film by [INAUDIBLE]. Then only two people, which is kind of assessing interface with each of them to get into, then it's a 10-minutes experience. Then they pass to collect many data in the space.
Then the data is sent to the computer. And the [INAUDIBLE] on the data, the keywords, you can see the interface put on the front, and keywords appear by choosing and dragging those keywords. The keywords will be sent to the search engine. Then getting the new texts and those texts filtered and also distributed to add the new keyword to the dictionary in the server.
So it's something very interesting because it-- it's like a [? zero ?] space, but like-- by using that behavior, the space has changed very sensitively, but also there is another layer of information space is not-- is not invisible space. And in this place, the information was grown. So it's the work, like, always kept growing during the division by adding the new keywords to the dictionary.
So this was a very important piece. Then there are some other thing that I have done, but always dealing with invisible dynamics. This is a [INAUDIBLE]. It's a mode of suspension. It's the opening project of [INAUDIBLE], the [INAUDIBLE] Center for Arts and Media [INAUDIBLE].
And this center is very active. And the artist director is a former co-curator [INAUDIBLE] of my colleague. So I have been doing a lot at the ICC center, and he is doing this center. So we have to actually-- have been developing-- finally developing our ideas of practice after [INAUDIBLE].
So this is the project that people can use a mobile phone to send short messages, but those messages sent is [INAUDIBLE] into the passing light, and anybody in the world can catch the message. So because the message is in public mode, and [INAUDIBLE] is suspended while in the sky waiting for someone from the world to catch and read them.
And, of course, there is a database, so if you are-- the message to you was [INAUDIBLE] captured by someone, you can only talk with the message to you in a database. So [INAUDIBLE] ask the world communication, but it's the center. You can see on the right picture, it's where-- like a wave. So now you've got the wave like a roof they have. And it's along the architecture.
So we had 20 search lights, so it's a very big project, so nobody could see everything. But it's at night to see-- you can easily lose [? the balance ?] under the light, flashing lights. It's not actual-- like, not like Albert Speer's light architecture This is more mesh, net architecture that is always flashing changing, like, like a firefly, it's very famous in this city.
So I just had an idea to use this firefly communication by light. This is also production by [INAUDIBLE], and I invited ICC to show, but originally made the center. Then [INAUDIBLE].
And this I can show you by a movie. But you can just read over this. Maybe it's better to understand this piece. So also like a wave, and it's this 2D. But, actually, you can imagine it's everywhere in 3D. Then when you enter, your existence and movement will distort this whole space. So you can see easily as a projection on the floor, but you can also imagine 3D what's happening.
So the graph deals with gravity, the notion of gravity, but gravity not only the one g, but most basic notion of gravity, the kind of attracting power of atoms.
So it's better that there were many people there to try to make some [INAUDIBLE].
If nobody there and only you are on [INAUDIBLE], you can easily see how it changes.
Then I go to the other things. Sorry, I cannot show longer.
Then I want to [INAUDIBLE] after I started to work at ICC. And this is an open [INAUDIBLE] exhibition. This [INAUDIBLE] is the first kind of homage to [INAUDIBLE] for me.
Then I also included [INAUDIBLE] and [INAUDIBLE] in this show. [INAUDIBLE]
So in this exhibition, I tried to ask how we can define nature in the age of [INAUDIBLE] technology. Because new type of nature generate inside of computer involving [INAUDIBLE] organization [INAUDIBLE] our conception.
Then there are many pieces. Especially this is an interesting combination. I put two pieces with same side projection. One is [INAUDIBLE] the other is [INAUDIBLE]. just before his wife output his baby. [INAUDIBLE].
And this is by [INAUDIBLE], one of the artists of Poland. And also [INAUDIBLE], [INAUDIBLE]. Both of them have, by chance, with the same [INAUDIBLE] was shown in the same space [INAUDIBLE].
And some other things. But it's on the nature of [INAUDIBLE], describing a drawing with natural figures and landscapes. But I want to show the system how the information is organized. So on the right, [INAUDIBLE], he's the leading member of the [INAUDIBLE], the work that I just showed on gravity and then [INAUDIBLE]. And this piece shows the [INAUDIBLE] picture by getting the real-time data weather outside [? ICC ?] center. And 24 hours during exhibition [INAUDIBLE] changing.
This one was upgraded in 2008 [INAUDIBLE] presented [INAUDIBLE] Hungarian [INAUDIBLE]. Because one of the members Hungarian, the other Swiss, and two Japanese.
And this is the first project I organized in the area of German, Japan, [INAUDIBLE] 2005.
This is a bus. So we had a collaboration with one artist who brought a bus to make his own project. Then he will also join as driver and artist. Then also with Japanese and German artists. So it's very quite hard to have [INAUDIBLE] for three weeks. We set up all things, like mobile equipment and other things [INAUDIBLE] High school, the only male high school [INAUDIBLE] .
So I didn't control everything, so it's always up to the people when they face some problem they stop and have a meeting and solve it by themselves. Then also, in Osaka, the student of the school asked us to come over to do something. So it's also nice not only to schedule by ourself, but also some people are interested to invite us. And the last destination was [INAUDIBLE].
We also had a [INAUDIBLE] and also [INAUDIBLE]. And we also made the results of data, all the data, open to the public for the future creation of anybody.
This is [INAUDIBLE]. At the time, [INAUDIBLE] and [INAUDIBLE] disappeared so we immediately use this.
[INAUDIBLE] very interesting project by [INAUDIBLE], Japanese couple. They-- maybe we have no time-- but they made an origami bus by capturing the whole landscape every five minutes for three weeks. So they made a good database of what the bus had seen. [INAUDIBLE]. And this is a down-loadable pdf file. You can follow origami. It's an origami bus here.
After the journey, [INAUDIBLE].
Then this is another exhibition to [INAUDIBLE]. And this is the exhibition [INAUDIBLE]. But yeah, communication not only within people, but also automatically between people and also some other things-- machines, information. It's an exhibition also raising the question of communication and also [INAUDIBLE] of communication in the age after Web 2.0. But also I included some [? authentic ?] artists like [INAUDIBLE] and [INAUDIBLE].
This is a very inspiring [INAUDIBLE] project [INAUDIBLE].
And also on the left I included [INAUDIBLE]. It's a photo site search engine in Japan. And I show search engine keep on [INAUDIBLE], so it shows the real-time desire of people.
We made a Japanese version. And also, [INAUDIBLE], also this included [INAUDIBLE] but also those [INAUDIBLE]. So there was oftentimes information-transparent projects.
And this is [? the new ?] Sakamoto, another exhibition. [INAUDIBLE] Sakamoto, Shiro Takatani [? line, ?] [INAUDIBLE]. This is another shown by Tim. So I don't comment anything about this.
But I have some additional information. Do you know this-- [INAUDIBLE]? His father is a scientist who worked at the Harvard University. And he first invented the snow machine-- artificial snow machine. And he was scientist.
And his daughter is [INAUDIBLE] and Shiro Takatani [INAUDIBLE]. That person made a collaboration. And actually, this is now on at the [INAUDIBLE] until tomorrow. I missed this exhibition. I came here.
Anyway, this is the artists are using [INAUDIBLE] so that [INAUDIBLE], on the upper left, it's a [INAUDIBLE]. You can see the final installation next to [INAUDIBLE] so [INAUDIBLE]. Then for your information, [INAUDIBLE] is a very important figure in Japanese media art. And she was one of the member [? of EFT ?] in USA.
And this is the photo of the Osaka Expo, 1970. And [INAUDIBLE] with [INAUDIBLE] [? of EFT. ?] So she actually has collaborated with many artists also. She knows Carsten Nicolai.
So somehow, Ryuichi Sakamoto [INAUDIBLE] people share in some of those directions. And this [INAUDIBLE] so much active these days. So also Diller and Scofidio, when they made a [INAUDIBLE] for the Swiss Expo 2002. And they asked [? Scofidio ?] about how to make a [INAUDIBLE].
Then, yeah, this is one of the latest exhibition by me-- Mission G-- Sensing the Earth. This is something that I want to show more [? intentionally. ?] After the first month space flight, and people first went out of the Earth to see the Mother Earth from outside, this is kind of very important moment in human history, I thought.
Then now we are living a age in which we can navigate image of the arts easily. So arts-- it's in our computer. So we can have a chance to see the art almost every day.
Then there is projects that are [? underway ?] and [? around ?] the world to [INAUDIBLE] [? sensors ?] everywhere on Earth. But it's not only by government or academic [INAUDIBLE] or [INAUDIBLE] business, but each individual over the world are getting involved, [INAUDIBLE] adding the information and sharing the information.
I want to show the movie from this exhibition.
Yeah, there is no speaker for this moment. But the sound is just sound for video [INAUDIBLE].
TIMOTHY MURRAY: Thank you. Good job, Eric.
YUKIKO SHIKATA: This is one [INAUDIBLE] also by [INAUDIBLE]. But in his [INAUDIBLE].
And this is an updated version of the piece at the [INAUDIBLE] Exhibition, [INAUDIBLE] Expo. And the [INAUDIBLE] by the team in the UK, led by [INAUDIBLE]. And we use a [? data ?] over [INAUDIBLE] and asked the young Japanese artist to make exhibition by [INAUDIBLE] [? data. ?]
Yeah, [? actually, ?] I asked [INAUDIBLE], the member of the Japanese expedition team in Antarctica. So he kept sending us a [? probe. ?] And over one year he was there. And he really [INAUDIBLE]. And also, he capturing [? during ?] his experience during his stay there.
YUKIKO SHIKATA: Yeah, so I think it's not time. So I don't continue. But just some other things.
So this is environmental data. But also, I'm thinking about more social data by the people. So I try to find out the new dimension of the individual dynamics [? for a ?] [? picture. ?]
Then the last one is with this [INAUDIBLE] like process. It's the beginning of the actual entities. This is very [INAUDIBLE] opening of the new dimension of the art exhibitions. Thank you.
TIMOTHY MURRAY: Thank you.
ELIZABETH ANKER: Let's go with pictures. Open to the floor.
AUDIENCE: I have a question for each of the speakers. [INAUDIBLE] Thank you so much. And I really loved the description that you had of the [INAUDIBLE] to social [INAUDIBLE].
The first thing I wanted to ask you was, [? you are a ?] [INAUDIBLE] particularly in the New World. And you describe it as for structure. I was wondering what you mean by structure? Because [INAUDIBLE] I'm familiar with in Mexico. It's more about [INAUDIBLE] of ornament rather than structural transformations [INAUDIBLE] And then you've got to have structure in the reflected columns. I was thinking of the document of 1793 that the Mexican Academy wrote to the King of Spain. Do you think they actually complain about the structure of their own project? Their embassy was very similar to what you [INAUDIBLE] appearance. And then you describe exteriors and interiors. And the [INAUDIBLE] quality of its structure that is born then. Did they complain about quality or about a job?
SPEAKER 1: Yes, yes.
AUDIENCE: So I wonder what you [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 1: I mean, this is-- it was trying to find the origin of this. I've been working on this question of the Baroque and Neo-Baroque [? baroque fleur-- ?] I don't know, about 30 years or something like that. Maybe 20? [? I'm not quite ?] sure. But I kept on coming up against a way of trying to account for proliferation of this in so many different places, such as even in Russia, and particularly in Latin America.
But to answer your question specifically, there is a lot of attention to the way that ornamentation is about-- particularly in the Mexican Neo-Baroque, where it's about the proliferation of ornamentation, which, in a sense, becomes so extensive it exceeds the ability of the structure to contain it. So even the facade no longer can contain it, in some ways. First it appears on the facade, then in a sense it overcomes the facade to the point where it no longer functions within the framework of order that is provided by the architectural structure.
And a lot of times, that becomes metaphorically applied to Creolization, to the notions of hybridity, to the excessiveness of different races and cultures mixed together in a Mestizo form in a certain way, that it's been theorized in terms-- and many of the contemporary theories in the world use that very same symbol, the burst structure, as a symbolic expression of complementary [INAUDIBLE]. It's a symbolic expression of a certain proliferation of multiplicity that in a sense overcomes the rational structural order of rationalism, of the Enlightenment. In some ways, that becomes a image.
But what you say about the columns is actually something that was data that I found, also. That there was a constant reference to the fact that something had evolved within the Baroque. That principle of ornamentation that exists particularly within the Colonial Baroque styles, that the columns themselves gradually move outward from the interior, to the point where even in Havana they are outside the structure itself, floating in the city. And in a certain way, they have no job. So it's a very interesting-- I try to think about it in terms of Hagel. But clarifying that-- what is a column that no longer supports-- that has no function, no longer supports the roof-- becomes part of that ornamentation, in some way. So I'm not sure I've resolved the problem. But it is a very-- that very contradiction is something that I saw. And then appearing-- that very symbolic expression appears within [? Carpenthia ?] or in the other writers of that period, talking about precisely this notion of the Neo-Baroque as an explosion of the notion of structure.
ELIZABETH ANKER: Did you have [INAUDIBLE]?
AUDIENCE: Yes. Thank you so much for your presentation. That was great. It was wonderful to see. Some familiar pieces and some new ones. I was wondering if you could elaborate on the relationship between some of the '60s work that you had there with [INAUDIBLE] and this concept of [INAUDIBLE] that you're working with? And whether you can actually locate [INAUDIBLE] somewhere in the '60s?
YUKIKO SHIKATA: You mean, [INAUDIBLE]?
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE] if you see that some artists in the '60s were actually also interested in disability [INAUDIBLE] you're working with [INAUDIBLE] some of the '60s work.
YUKIKO SHIKATA: You have a question?
AUDIENCE: I was wondering how you see the relationship in the '60s.
YUKIKO SHIKATA: Oh, OK. [INAUDIBLE] in '60s or '70s, [INAUDIBLE] or a museum [INAUDIBLE] and they tried to ask the roles of [INAUDIBLE], the possibility of [INAUDIBLE]
So this is kind of very similar for me. This is very similar to me [INAUDIBLE]. Also trying to get out of existing [? frames of art. ?] Also, they try to make the new experiments by [? the things, ?] by medium they found at each time.
So, in '60s, there was [INAUDIBLE] other kind of things. But now, it's the computer or some other things. So, the attitude is very similar that I think it's the reason that I choose. I try to combine those things.
AUDIENCE: Thanks to both presenters. Wonderful presentations. And I would like to ask a question to Gregg Lambert. And it has to do with-- you could say in a general way, the question that I would elaborate-- so that it doesn't stay as general-- will be why the reference on [INAUDIBLE]. And now I make a sort of hypothesis why that might be.
And you pointed out the blind spot of earthquakes, which indeed, it sounds humorous at first glance, and people laugh, but it's not so humorous because earthquakes in Kant play a role, but earthquakes in Hegel [INAUDIBLE]. And it is significant in that sense because it is it also [INAUDIBLE] because nature in Kant's [INAUDIBLE] is very prominent-- actually, overwhelmingly prominent-- whereas in Hegel's [INAUDIBLE], the first thing you get thrown out is exactly nature.
And of course, earthquakes will be on the side of nature. So they are thrown out. But as your talk shows very clearly, the effects of nature, thereby, are not contained. Here comes in my question-- you talked about [INAUDIBLE] and to maybe put a little bit more pressure on that concept, it is symbolic in the sense that there's an overwhelming [INAUDIBLE].
That's why it has to actually become [INAUDIBLE] that contains something else.
GREGG LAMBERT: Right.
AUDIENCE: Because, in itself, architecture doesn't have-- according to Hegel-- sufficient content [INAUDIBLE]. It is in our position [INAUDIBLE] art.
GREGG LAMBERT: Right.
AUDIENCE: And what is interesting there is that description-- if you move away from the aesthetics for a moment-- a very, almost verbatim [INAUDIBLE] describes the tombstone.
GREGG LAMBERT: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: And I find that really-- I've always wondered about it. Why is architecture, in a way, like a tombstone? And of course, then I would link, perhaps-- and I think you gestured in that direction-- although, I'm not entirely clear whether I'm putting words into your mouth here or not, and that's [INAUDIBLE]--
GREGG LAMBERT: That's why [INAUDIBLE]. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE: Yeah. OK, so the point is, if you're at a tombstone, we're already in a very baroque moment, in a sense.
GREGG LAMBERT: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: [INAUDIBLE], right? And that leads back to the question of excessive ornamentation [INAUDIBLE] in what you called [INAUDIBLE] in your presentation. So that one could say isn't the [INAUDIBLE] on the one hand, it's a celebration of something that we all [INAUDIBLE] but at the same time, it's also covering up [INAUDIBLE].
And in that sense, the tombstone, ultimately, [INAUDIBLE] all the way to the end, could also be a covering up of the emptiness of death, because [INAUDIBLE] and nature and keeping it out of architecture and still just talk about the poverty of spirit, but maybe absense of spirit, not talking about architecture strictly [INAUDIBLE] landscape or a geology, for the geologist here-- the baroque geologist. Is that the point you're trying to make? And once again, can you elaborate a little bit more-- maybe for people who are not so familiar with Hegel-- why Hegel is such an important touchstone as a [INAUDIBLE] position.
GREGG LAMBERT: Well, you've asked, I mean, a lot.
GREGG LAMBERT: Let me just make a few-- I mean, I think that we could pursue for this a long time. I think you're absolutely right. Just as a reminder that the most primitive symbolic form that Hegel uses the example is the pyramid. So is the tombstone. So, in other words, it is that primitive-- I mean, it is a form or a shape that has no essential expressive relation to what it contains.
In other words, it shelters or holds an empty space. When you talk about an empty space, that in itself is very-- of course, very profoundly because [INAUDIBLE] you create the emptiness and then, therefore, it shelters something inside. But in a sense, what it does is it creates that emptiness to begin with, and that void-- let's say that hole-- that is placed in there.
But what I was really interested in is the image of how [INAUDIBLE] is the tension between-- and I was being very specific and more political economist in a sense of it is the tension between the principles of urban design and the aesthetics that it enforces that call for the end of the baroque period. I mean, it is the tensions in urban design and planning and the modern knowledges and technologies that develop around the modern city that, in a sense, spell the end, in a sense, the power of the church in some area or some regions in some ways, as well.
But also a principle, symbolic principle of architecture But I mean, what I'm interested in is this image of precisely the disorder of the architectural proliferation or the [INAUDIBLE] structure, which becomes a political symbol-- particularly in Latin America-- a poetic symbol or a political symbol in revolution, as well. So, I mean, it's a very complicated kind of genealogy, so we can't go much further [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 1: So, we're going to take advantage of this evocation of disorder--
SPEAKER 1: --to transition. It's a tradition at the Society for the Humanities-- which we value very, very much after two longs days of labor and fatigue-- to just spend an hour or so reflecting on where it is we've been and might go. And we have two extraordinary colleagues who have agreed to do maybe the hardest thing that's possible, to, in 5 or 10 minutes, give us their thoughts about what they've experienced. So, we'll regather here in just five minutes, and we'll spend 45 minutes or an hour doing that. And then we have [? lots of dinner. ?]
SPEAKER 1: Thank you very much.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: Thank you very much. Can we reassemble, please?
Those of you who are in the hallway, would you like to come in?
Thank you. I have the real pleasure of introducing you to two extremely valued colleagues in the greater Ithaca metropolitan region.
We'll call it the Ithaca Global Region. We're going to hear from Naoki Sakai, who's my colleague in the department of comparative literature, and also in Asian studies. I think that we're extremely lucky to have Naoki spend two days with us. He's one of Asia's foremost cultural theoreticians and critics, if not Japan's foremost cultural theoretician and critic.
You might actually have seen or read, I hope, his incredible book, Translation and Subjectivity, On "Japan" and Cultural Nationalism. He's also the founding editor of the extraordinary global aesthetic intervention, which is the journal Traces, which is an amazing journal-- that [INAUDIBLE] is the managing editor of-- that is a global intervention in publishing. Published simultaneously in-- now, let's see if I can get this right today-- Japanese, Chinese, Korean, German, Spanish, and English, right? And so every issue has synonymous translations, but then some of the pieces in the issues are natural, indigenous languages to the publishing company. It's an extraordinary enterprise. So we're very, very thankful to have Naoki with us.
And next to him is Patricia Zimmerman, who's a professor of film, photography, and I guess, now, media studies, it's called, at Ithaca College. Also the co-curator of the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, which is an extraordinary yearlong festival that takes place across various interventions in which, I think, the notion of the ecological or the environmental is now understood, broadly spoken, as sustainable across all economic systems and networks.
And if you're in film studies, I know that you will have read Patty's book, Reel Families, which is an account of-- maybe the first major account of amateur domestic cinema. And she's also done an incredible book, also, with Minnesota called States of Emergencies, which is on documentary and the age of emergency. And has just returned from Singapore, where she was the so-and-so and so-and-so visiting professor of communications. Sorry.
Somebody really important.
Shaw-- [? Shaw. ?] Not Jeffrey [? Shaw. ?] Not [? Jeffrey Shaw. ?] Salah, where are you?
AUDIENCE: Out here.
SPEAKER 1: Could you-- can you just introduce? We're going to begin just by a little video intervention, thanks to Salah.
SPEAKER 1: Pardon me? Well, I like to just tell people what we're going to see.
AUDIENCE: OK. It's actually-- and I'm very grateful [? for Tim. ?] That he's allowed me the 10 minutes that they [? spoke of ?] yesterday. [INAUDIBLE]
It's actually [INAUDIBLE]-- this will not take 10 minutes. It's actually [INAUDIBLE] reading of the [? stuff ?] in [INAUDIBLE] work. It's the same [INAUDIBLE]. It's called Divine Intervention. So [? take a ?] seat. And I think, at this time, even though it's [? a clip, ?] [? but stand, ?] everyone.
SPEAKER 1: So what we'll do is we'll see the clip as a virtual intervention on what it is that we've done. And then Patty and Naoki will give us five minutes or so-- 10 minutes-- of their thoughts. And then we'll have [? a common ?] conversation. Thanks.
AUDIENCE: There we go.
[SHOUTING AND GUNFIRE CONTINUES]
AUDIENCE: Salah, can you tell us who made it?
AUDIENCE: Oh, oh, OK.
AUDIENCE: Yeah, that's-- Divine Intervention.
AUDIENCE: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
SPEAKER 1: Please come in. Please come in.
SPEAKER 1: Oh.
AUDIENCE: You're welcome any time.
NAOKI SAKAI: I actually love attending conferences and workshops at Cornell University. Mainly because you can actually choose the time when you want to see, and then you can go back to your home office. But this time, I think I really attended from the beginning--
--until the end, except for 80 minutes during lunchtime. I had to go back to my office. I don't know whether I should be proud or I should be ashamed of-- for the first time since I came to Cornell-- I really attended.
And it's-- after listening to the-- listening and seeing all the presentations of this conference, it's very, very difficult to summarize, of course. So instead of summarizing, I'd like to point out two of the major problems that occurred to me in listening to the various presentations [INAUDIBLE] for instance. [? The ?] question of autobiographic narrative with memory and so forth to the question of art market. And then-- and of course, [INAUDIBLE] of the aesthetic revolution.
And then [INAUDIBLE] question of [? Baroque, ?] in much the broader sense, so that we can actually [INAUDIBLE], and [? Greg ?] has been doing this, understanding the current situation, in terms of [? Baroque. ?]
So I thought about two major problems, which are related to one another. So let me just summarize one. The first one I thought was-- in a sense, it's only presence of the West. I think the question of the West was virtually present in almost all of the presentations we listened to. But secondly, I'd like to say that the [? excessively ?] [INAUDIBLE], or I might call over-determined uses of the designation the West itself.
So let me explain what I mean by the omnipresence of the West. I was thinking about the condition of post-coloniality from which none of us can escape today. This [INAUDIBLE] makes our contemporaneity, so to say. That is, we are all bound by conditions of post-coloniality, regardless of whether you are so-called the North or you're the South, or the West or outside the West.
This implies that neither Western Europe nor North America is actually outside the conditions of post-coloniality. However, post-coloniality cannot be construed either symbolically or [? summarily, ?] in terms of West colonizing the rest. Or according to the [? model ?] of classical modernization theory that the-- according to that modernization theory, some peculiar quality called modernity emanates from the global center called the West, to the peripheries of the world, usually called the rest. This is, I think, what I mean by omnipresence of the West.
And second thing-- excessive [INAUDIBLE], or in this case, more specifically, over-determined use of the West, is that-- let me touch upon the issue. Today, the West is, first of all, a spectre or something like a ghost. And it gives certain sense of coherence to the vision of the world-- our vision, our comprehension of the world. Because we-- you know, to explain why we have to suffer certain racial configuration today in certain places? We constantly refer to the term West.
But the designation West itself can hardly be coherent. And then I don't think it's possible to find any coherent marker in the West. Yesterday, I think Bruno [? Apostile ?] attempted to give some interpretation to the term West through, basically, the historical understanding of the regime of international law since, I think, the treaty of West [INAUDIBLE].
But this regime-- I think that's one of the reasons why there is such an urgency in the argument presented by [INAUDIBLE] that collapsed, [? precisely ?] 19th [INAUDIBLE] 19th century. That regime of, essentially-- later-- retrospectively, we would call West and rest regime-- collapsed as a result [INAUDIBLE] First World War. Violence was no longer contained within-- outside the West. Rather, it occurred in the midst of the West, which was followed by Second World War. And then-- and more symbolically, the Holocaust.
[INAUDIBLE] himself hoped the Pax Americana, who re-established the global economy of the West and the rest. So by maintaining certain safety valves for-- by safety valve, he means he wanted to maintain free [? space ?] of violence. If violence can be freely exercised, then, he believed, the West would be safe.
So to this [? mission, ?] I think you noticed the West has been extremely committed for the last seven decades. Even now, they're trying very hard to use free violence. Nonetheless, I don't think it's possible to sustain the divide between the West and the rest.
For me, what [? post-coloniality ?] means, first of all, is the loss of this economy. The division of the West and the rest. The West, therefore, no longer, in a sense, simply defined in terms of territoriality or sovereignty. In short, West is no longer [? cartographic ?] category.
And it is, in a sense, everywhere. As soon as the region of the West and the rest seizes to be cartographic, I think we must pay attention to its aesthetic aspect. That is, the West and the rest divide itself [? operates ?] in the way we feel things, we do things, and we feel obliged to do things.
I'm sorry if I'm not-- I cannot refer to very concrete materials, and [INAUDIBLE] presented in many presentation in this conference now to support my view. But I think this conference was a wonderful social forum, where we have shown how aesthetic innovations, in fact, interfere with the transformation of social relations. Thereby, in fact, it actually interferes with divide or economy of the West and the rest, I think. So it's a bit abstract, but I should stop here.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: Thank you, Naoki. And actually, it segues to some of the points I'd like to make. I'd first like to thank all the presenters for creating such a cacophony of ideas. It's been a very, very long time since I've been at any academic gathering of intellectuals and artists, where there was this kind of explosion of ideas and locations. And I really want to thank Tim, but more particularly, all the presenters, for the years and years of work it took to come up with your amazing ideas. And I'd also like to thank the audience that had to sit for, I think it's now 21 hours.
AUDIENCE: It's like flying to Asia.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: That's right. But only if you have business class on [INAUDIBLE].
OK. So what I'd like to do is take us back to Peter Jamison, and his early invocation, where he asked us to consider now our minds are one. And what I learned from him is that when we say now our minds are one, we do not mean unitary or unified. But instead, the wampum belt, which I kept drawing pictures of throughout this. The wampum belt, where different nations are connected in paths that [? bleed ?] out to unconnected, unknown places and imaginaries.
And to me, I'm wondering, Gregg, if the burst structure is simply the Baroque version of the wampum belt. So I ask us to really return to Peter Jamison and return to the place we are, and to think about the ways in which each of these talks and each of the interventions made from the audience was, in fact, perhaps, a little piece of that clam shell to create a larger wampum belt.
Peter asked us to think about images as being devices for larger ideas, and he said that when he does-- [INAUDIBLE]-- when these invocations are made, we should return at the end. And I wondered what it would mean to be a white woman-- American-- and do this. So forgive me if I've transgressed.
The point I'd like-- I'd like to make several points, and the point I'd like to really start with is the idea of-- I think what we've seen in all these presentations is a series of unsettlings. And these unsettlings are asking us, in some ways, to ask different kinds of questions that, perhaps, we used to ask when we thought about art and politics. I think what we've seen in all of these presentations is that binary has been re-threaded, cracked, burst, et cetera.
I think much of what we talked about, and learned here, asks us which side of [INAUDIBLE] wall we are on. Or to go back to Bruno, what side of the amity line are we on? And asking which side we are on is not, for me, a resurrection of 1930s labor calls. But instead, a question of where are the interstitial spaces and liminal zones in the global aesthetic.
And what do they do, and how do they function? How is the global system organized? How are these networks imbricated into works and networks? What kinds of multiple spatialities and multiple temporalities are operative now, as we move away from the West and the rest?
And how can we actually think about this so that we can consider, or reconsider, or imagine, what [? Jolene ?] Ricard said is an artwork as a forcework. I was really struck with this idea of forcework, and how it connects and goes around, and perhaps revises ideas of flows.
We have worked, for the last two days, over a range of arts practices-- painting, installation, performance, film. Art film, international art film, pop culture film, photography, video, sound, sound art, sculpture, new media, architecture, advertising, and music. We've also journeyed in our pods-- like the miners in Chile, returning from the depths of the ground to the top, thanks to NASA-- across a range of theoretical models. A dazzling array of theoretical models.
And I was struck by-- over my too many decades as an academic-- how models and methodologies are often debated, and here, they weren't. And I thank you all for creating that wampum belt. What I'm left with is a place, I think, that is very unsettled, very unresolved. Questions, investigations, and many definitional probings that I think is the best place to be right now. To not be settled. To not be fixed. To not be located. But instead, to be in the spirit of questioning.
Now, with that, let me say a word about nations. I, again, invoke Jolene that I now see nations as settler colonies. And I ask that, as we move away from nations-- the West and the rest-- perhaps we might consider a move towards oceans, air routes, spaces, and outer spaces outside nations. And thinking of Mexico, tunnels and checkpoints.
As we heard from Tim in his opening remarks on Thursday, this notion of flows-- continually, we return to this. Flows. Are these flows smooth flows of networked, digitized, global capitalism? Or are they informal flows [INAUDIBLE] described for us with such power? Or the errancy and discordant flows that Tim himself described in some of the Asian acoustics [? spaces. ?] The dislocations that we have learned from [? Yao ?] and from [? Kay ?] and [? Ukigo. ?] The disjunctures that Andy and Brenda have shared with us.
In this issue of flows, if we do not accept that they're smooth, then they are hurricanes. They are tsunamis. They are monsoons. They are floods. They are toxic sludge in Hungary. They are what I learned Singapore is called the GEC-- the Global Economic Collapse. And I might just share, in Southeast Asia, this is seen as being an American and European problem.
Spills from BP, miners trapped beneath the ground. All of us, perhaps, trapped from histories of massacres, genocides, detention centers, checkpoints, surveillance, security systems. Perhaps, we're all, as Teju pointed out, trapped in enclosures with barbed wire above our heads, and digital networks inside our own bodies.
So I ask, what are these new vectors? What are these recirculations? What are these recalibrations? What are these distributions and redistributions? And just some points that I saw across all the talks. A real interest emerging in works that are collaborative. I was so struck by this in [INAUDIBLE] work, Andy's work on the Gamalon, and even [? Evan ?] Saporin. Brenda, [? Kay, ?] Jolene, Yao, [? Ukiko. ?] I'm struck by the global aesthetic, perhaps, is a wampum belt of collaborations fraught with many chips and cracks and threads and problems. But still, this is, I think, a significant shift.
Another question of the archive, the archives. We know, from Jennifer, for example, that these archives are transitory, circulating, recirculating, contracting, expanding, lost, and dead. That the building of archives actually is contingent but is absolutely urgent and necessary in a century where we do not understand the devastations of indigenous peoples and their stories. The horrors of Suharto in Indonesia, which many activists-- as Andy could probably point out better than me-- are trying to track, still, as bodies are dug up, and artists deal with this. The genocide in Cambodia. The list goes on and on. It is the production of new archives that allow us to get our heads around the horrors and monsoons that are on the other side of the global flows.
I ask, also, similar questions to you, Naoki. What is the West? What is the West? Where is the West? How are we in the West? Do we need the West? I could go on.
I ask this because of other flows. I'm struck by how many works here owe some lineage to the USSR. And here I think of [? Kay, ?] and the Syrian filmmakers being trained in the USSR, or many African filmmakers going to the Moscow Film School.
I ask, similarly, how do we think of China? In many parts of the world, China is where the global flows emanate from. Perhaps not here [? yet. ?] The bottom of the economic collapse. I ask about [? the Monghol. ?] And [INAUDIBLE] I ask about Chung-hee-- I know I didn't say that right, so [INAUDIBLE], you can help me-- the early-- the Chinese admiral who conquered the oceans. And I ask about the BRIC countries-- Brazil, Russia, India, China.
I ask you, also, what is the global and what is the aesthetic? And are these irresolutely unresolved? I also ask, what is the market? So many of these talks across so many people discussed this complicatedness of the market, and the way cultural objects and heritages now link in to market economies that are complex market economies that are both economic, political, geopolitical. I don't have an answer.
I noticed the re-threading of the visual economies in [? Akin's ?] talk and Jennifer's talk with political economies. What happens when these are no longer seen as separate? And how are they woven together? I don't have an answer.
And finally, I ask a question about space. And so many invocations of space-- contingent spaces, closed spaces, provisional spaces, convening spaces, creative spaces. And finally, empty spaces, Baroque spaces, structures, voids. What are these spaces? And can we imagine an open space that is the side of the informal, the errant, and the discordant?
I end with simply a hope that these questions are ones we will not simply immerse in for two days, but ones that we will embrace as incredibly difficult, unresolved moments. I will not go into trying to give definitions of any of this. As much as I feel, for me, this conference has really been an opening of these interstitial cracks. So instead of thinking we're inside the wall, outside the wall, on one or the other side of the amity line, I ask us to think and remember that there is always violence and death in every conflict zone-- everywhere, and often, we are blind to those conflict zones.
So what interests me about what all of you have done, and which I thank you for, is moving us to think about lack of resolutions, and to think about where are those spaces that might be somewhere else, and where is that somewhere else? And can we ever find it? Thank you.
SPEAKER 1: Don't clap yet. We're not done.
We'd really like to hear your thoughts.
AUDIENCE: Sounds like we need another 21 hours.
SPEAKER 1: I guess I'll just, in that case, open it up. And I'd like to just pose, without any solution at all, a challenge that-- I won't use the microphone. So we'll just get used to not using it. A challenge that I think maybe Peter's invocation has left us with, which is a really interesting and, I think, provocative challenge. And that is-- that, I think, Patty pointed to-- and that is how to learn from the practices and languages of indigeneities and their multiplicities, I think-- their socio/cultural multiplicities in a way that might better inform the normative discourses around which both the global and the aesthetic-- those separate denominators-- have operated. But it's something that's been heavily on my mind this year, and I think that these welcome interventions that we've had has left me thinking about quite a lot.
AUDIENCE: I have a very minor and preliminary question. Reflecting on the list [? Teju ?] provided of the various kinds of artists that we looked at. It's a very comprehensive and lengthy list. Interestingly, it didn't mention literature, even though we heard quite a bit of it in Bruno's talk, for example, [? and Kay's ?] [INAUDIBLE] and so on.
SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE] this afternoon, as well.
AUDIENCE: Those are only some examples, yeah. And I think that that's not an oversight, exactly. I think that's a significant, symptomatic blindspot, or an account of the decline of literature from being the queen of the arts, as it was commonly of in the 19th century, to the situation in the 20th and 21st century, where that [? obtains ?] less and less. And how that [? resounds ?] on this conference, where issues of translation and translatability-- since we're drawing on traditions from all over the globe, and from many different languages. And so the different translation statuses-- stati?
--of different kinds of visual art and movies, as opposed to literature. To what extent that determines how we look and how we talk. It turns out we [INAUDIBLE] to talk-- how we talk about these things. And to what extent that underlies, without being discussed, the structure [INAUDIBLE]. So I throw that out as a simple opening question.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: I would just thank you for adding literature. My brain's not fully functioning, so thank you for adding that. It's a really good reminder.
AUDIENCE: I think Joshua's question is really interesting, and it actually takes me back, Tim, to your presentation, and where we started all of these discussions. And there's something that I was trying to articulate then, but couldn't quite come out with that seems a little bit clearer now. And that is we're not only talking about a move to the visual, but we're talking about a move to sound, in terms of certain types of [? movie ?] and digital practices. And I was thinking about the installations that you showed us, and wondering how they were positioned in relation to a [? politics ?] of linguistic differences. I think, at one point, you spoke about-- was it noise or sound, this [? pure ?] differential? But it seems that linguistic difference doesn't emerge as a [? side ?] of politics in any of those works. And I think that also has something to do with the status of the literary-- I don't know how, but I think it is related to that [INAUDIBLE].
SPEAKER 1: That's a really interesting point. There has actually been quite a few interventions, specifically linguistic interventions in relationship to the way in which data maps onto participants in different geopolitical ways. I'm thinking, for example, of an interesting piece by a Hong Kong artist named [INAUDIBLE], who used [? variables ?] more simplistic Chinese characters in relationship to a discourse of global flow. It's very interesting.
AUDIENCE: I just want to respond in a really minor register, I think, to Joshua's intervention, which I also find interesting on the level of, in my work, and in this project, and in the chapter from which I presented a very fragmentary piece this morning, this is exactly where the question [INAUDIBLE] the reasoning and literacy is bound up with form in my work on photography. And it's very much, for me-- particularly in working in a [INAUDIBLE] Senegalese space. There are questions about graphic reasoning, written and inscriptional systems and print [INAUDIBLE] that are entirely bound up with the conception of literature that you offer here.
So for me, this question has been extremely present from the beginning, and I would actually be very reluctant to talk about some kind of seeding of literary or print forms, and so on-- and graphic systems, and alphabetic writing systems, in particular, [INAUDIBLE]. I'm very reluctant to talk about a [? seeding ?] of [? us ?] here of the graphic to the visual, for example, in the context in which I'm working. It's too simple-- it's not [? a vexed ?] enough-- entangled and implicated enough a formulation. These are [INAUDIBLE] models that have very political problems in colonial and post-colonial space. So I just throw that out-- it's a minor, minor, minor point, in the end. But it's important for me to get it out.
SPEAKER 1: Doesn't sound minor at all, actually.
I think about it a lot. So to me, [INAUDIBLE].
AUDIENCE: Can I add something to-- just a question, but what are-- the role of literature maps onto-- again, to your politically-- the distribution. A different [? location ?] is what-- I'm looking around in the room, and I don't want to make anybody uncomfortable, but when Naoki said, in a sense, the West and the rest no longer operates because post-coloniality is, to some extent, everywhere, I think that claim will not come from the center. And with a few exceptions, for example, in this room, there are few-- [? especially ?] from Cornell-- people from, let's say, English department. And I think that's not--
AUDIENCE: Particularly from the English department.
But I think it's just very interesting because, speaking from my own field--
AUDIENCE: Or from Romance studies departments.
AUDIENCE: Well, but this is very, I think significant, that-- in the sense that, of course, from my perspective, language and literature is so tied up with the imperial projects. There are sophisticated arguments formulated under the [? title ?] of against literature. So the question is whether the move towards non-literary media-- new or old-- goes along with resistance against language and literature. But then again, I don't think that is really heard equally in all areas or departments.
So it's a little bit of a doubt whether the generalization of the post-colonial [INAUDIBLE] we're back into this predicament. I agree with your argument, but I don't think this argument is heard, let alone expressed, equally across the board. So how does the question of literature, as a field or a medium, map onto the distribution of faculties, departments, and [? area ?] studies as expressed in this conference? Because this is a conference about global aesthetics, but it almost seems to be a globe with what we traditionally call the center punched out. Because there was very, very little presence of the traditional center.
NAOKI SAKAI: It's about 10 years ago, I think, I remember that Tim, actually, introduced a concept of literacy. And then he suggested, I think, a transformation of humanities under the guiding concept of literacy. And I think it's a very important move, which is, I think, related to this conference, essentially. But one of the reasons is that-- I think literature could mean all sorts of things. But nonetheless, as Patty pointed out, the literature, particularly since 19th century, is so much tied with nation-states. And the nation state imposes very strict conception of language. Because language could be regulated in all sorts of ways. And I think you pointed out that there are many, many regions in the world today where the national language is not a given at all. And therefore, [? that the ?] certain classification of language has been imposed. And then, I think literature has been trapped in that particular regime. So it's [? equal to ?] even today, it's possible to liberate literature from that kind of a trap.
And in the sense, I [? tend ?] to see that, precisely, translation is the field where aesthetic [? reversion ?] can be thought in, really, an [? objective ?] way. That is, the-- in fact, translation is an operation which is never reducible to communication. Well, again, [INAUDIBLE].
I think the--
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: You've left them speechless.
AUDIENCE: Since we're at an impasse, I'll try a really broad, risky question. But Patty, it's really interesting that you wanted to leave the discussion at a point of lack of resolution and unsettledness, which I think is very wise and maybe interesting, in terms of Bruno's characterization of the [INAUDIBLE] when we're [INAUDIBLE] [? center ?] [? has been ?] punched out. So it's kind of getting together and trying to figure out how to talk without the usual hierarchized distinctions.
But that seems-- lack of resolution seems like an ethical attitude. And I just-- not to-- well, just let's, hypothetically, think of it that way. And I'm wondering if you could translate that into some of the structural issues that have come out in the art practices that we've looked at, where the art itself, as Patty said, or Naoki said, where the aesthetic is intervening in a kind of relationality. And I wonder whether we're also confronting the-- Bruno, you were so pessimistic yesterday.
I'm still trying to figure out why you were so pessimistic. Is it because it's impossible-- you seem to be saying it's impossible to speak outside of this structure [? of the ?] particular. The only place to critique the center is from the particular. But isn't the work that we're looking at, and the work that you looked at itself, somehow trying to articulate a kind of relationality? I mean, maybe it's difficult to articulate.
But we seem [? to have ?] this old tool, and we're looking at-- that's how I understand your desire to leave things unresolved, Patty. So [INAUDIBLE]. What are people [? going to speculate on? ?] [? The kinds ?] of relationalities that seem to be coming out in the texts that we're looking at. They're not just resistant to the center, and they're not just modeled around the center-periphery discourse. Oh, no.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, go ahead.
AUDIENCE: In talking about relationality, we're also embodying an institution that already organizes relationality in a way that already defines practices separately-- artistic practices, academic practices. We've talked about this [INAUDIBLE] as well as different media. I think those distinctions are too determining of a certain thing. Already, [INAUDIBLE] [? relation. ?] And also, to the institution [INAUDIBLE].
So one that I think that completely Naoki is right. One that does not want to give up its ghosts, as [? such, ?] of positing a center. Even the [? absent ?] center still posits a relation-- a relationality to that [INAUDIBLE]. And so I think that maybe the kind of conversation that takes place outside of discipline [INAUDIBLE] are ephemeral. And that's the problem that we all feel right now. I think conferences and conversations that take place here have an ephemerality that are like dust or powder or clouds. And we're afraid right you, and I think that's why the discussion comes to an impasse. How do we go from here? In other words, how do we make a movement of concretion? How do we institute this conversation?
AUDIENCE: Or is it necessary for it to become-- that's my question.
AUDIENCE: I would say that, as well. I think it's being documented, isn't it? And it will go out.
SPEAKER 1: Out.
AUDIENCE: It keeps going. It doesn't have to have a place where it's pooled all together, and neatly tied up in a petite little box. I'm going to go away-- my head hurt last night, but it's a good kind of hurt, you know? Because it's-- you're thinking and thinking and thinking. And the time it takes to digest that is a long way from here.
SPEAKER 1: I also want to just remind us that our gathering includes participants and practitioners who aren't academics, as well. And that, at least my personal oath is that we're now working together across various borders, acknowledging, of course, the very specific and empowered, and economically privileged-- and I'd like to think in relationship to the society in a productive way [? framework ?] from which we're working. But at the same time, having learned that Yao's students can just go out in urban culture and articulate interventions that are clearly related to some of their practices, but maybe shifting them. Or Yukiko's curating. Grace's curating. And work with the [INAUDIBLE] Foundation. I mean, I think that we're talking about a way of extending the-- pushing out the boundaries of this very, very closed disciplinary practice. It doesn't mean that they're not going to continue to engage themselves within that network. But I'm hopeful that these kinds of exchanges make the difference. Should we-- did anybody else--
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: No, that's OK. [? I'll help you. ?]
TEJUMOLA OLANIYAN: Yeah. [? There's definitely a ?] small fragment of what the first speaker and what the-- sorry, I couldn't [INAUDIBLE]. So [? just a ?] fragment of what [INAUDIBLE] I want to respond to because I've been asked that kind of question before, about literature and other media. And I have a totally non-academic response to that.
I answer by saying that I [INAUDIBLE] of my high school literature teachers, [? say ?] that literature provides insight into all aspects of life. And I remember I was always making fun of this guy.
But one day, somebody said, even [INAUDIBLE]. And everybody kept quiet, you know? He was really furious.
And then, five minutes later, he said, yes. Even [? nuclear ?] science. I mean, it was just a joke, you know? But later on, I found that a good defense of my own practice. [INAUDIBLE] music. I'm [? writing a ?] [INAUDIBLE] that I feel incredible beauty [INAUDIBLE] literature and other media is [? great. ?]
But I also point to African literature and its content. And you see how it actually leads you to [INAUDIBLE] so many areas. And I don't know why [? I think about ?] it. When you look at it, you-- it's [? assumed ?] [? literature-- ?] literature is actually asking you for [? proper position of this, ?] to go into those other areas. To find out what's going on in politics, in economics.
So part of-- when we discuss this in class with my students, part of the challenge is that, do I really need to know all of these areas before I'm able to understand the literature? But the literature is constantly evoking all those other areas. So this is my [? totally ?] on academic-- I mean, there are the academic issues of disciplinary divisions. I wanted to be in [? theater ?] department. I would have been fired long ago.
Because you can't do all these things. So English literature, I would be [INAUDIBLE] because it allows me to do [INAUDIBLE].
AUDIENCE: Can I just say one thing? I don't know if you guys realize that this is being webcast, or it has been for the last two days. And last night, we heard from [INAUDIBLE] from Singapore, who had sent in a message saying, I've been watching this. This is wonderful. La-da-da-da-da. But I just got a text from our daughter, who's a graduate student in Berkeley, who wrote me now and said, "Thanks to Teju. He's just helped me formulate my thesis."
So I think that, even though we think we're in this little, small group here-- intimate group-- I think that the waves of our energy have really flown out into space--
SPEAKER 1: Tell your daughter that maybe her professor is watching, too, and she better--
AUDIENCE: I'm sure she is. But I think we all-- I mean, we have no idea where our energy has flown. But I think this is also an indication of the wonderful [INAUDIBLE]. And thank you to Celeste for doing that.
AUDIENCE: I was just going to say, it's also going to the Center for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne. [INAUDIBLE]
SPEAKER 1: Fantastic.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: If I could just make a small-- I don't want to call it intervention because that feels so '70s to me. And I was really excited to not hear that word in this [INAUDIBLE]. Being from the other institution on the other hill, where humanities is being dismantled minute by minute--
SPEAKER 1: It's being dismantled minute by minute across this country.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. But--
SPEAKER 1: And on this campus.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: Something maybe, perhaps, a little [INAUDIBLE]. I'm inspired by [? Akin ?] and his talk on [INAUDIBLE], where he reminds us so many readings of [INAUDIBLE] have been infused with post-colonial enthusiams. Yet he reminds us that the French voiceover is a result of the French co-production from the former colonial center. And just listening to everyone, I just wanted to share two points. And they're really concrete, and maybe they're a bad place to end. Because I really do believe in leaving things unresolved at the moment. So this is not meant as summary.
But when I was in Singapore, I read an incredible government document on the institution of creative economies public policy in Singapore. And it noted 20 global cities around the world. [? Iftikhar, ?] are you here? [? Karachi ?] wasn't on the list.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: And [INAUDIBLE] Lagos wasn't on the list. But these are some global cities that have remade themselves to be very welcoming entrepots for global, digital, and entertainment capital. It included, of course, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Rio, Seoul.
And to see that the way in which one becomes a global player in those other global flows is by mobilizing public policies for the arts so that exciting, interesting people will move to your global city, and will populate it with a kind of internationalized multiculturalism that will be attractive to globalized ex-pats as they go to these places. Oh, I might also add Australia, right, is another country on the forefront of this [? create ?] economies.
And so, as I was listening to all these talks about art markets-- Chinese art markets and-- Salah, your amazing talk about the traffic in Islamic art. I was actually struck by when I was in Singapore. At least once a week, I'd see a long, half-hour news story on all the great art from the Middle East. Because, of course, it goes the other way, as well, to Southeast Asia, to rich countries that are in the middle of a different kind of Islamic world. I mean, endless stories. So I was really glad to have your roadmap to understand that.
But as we think about this, I think this is really complicated. Because coming from a place in the US, where I've been involved in independent media arts for longer than some people in here have been alive, it-- it's a complicated moment. Because you're looking at places now that are pouring money into arts productions, into these global flows, into art fairs by NELs, film festivals, arts festivals that are there to sell global cities as a new kind of entrepot.
We're no longer selling cardamom and spice and coffee and sugar. We are now trafficking in the imaginary. And I might also add, Josh, so many literary festivals in Southeast Asia and readings in multiple languages, et cetera. So thank you for that reminder.
So I'm just asking myself, what is this? Is this insurgent? I realize this can be hacked, and can be re-situated. But what does it mean? And I end with thinking about Indian activists and theorists like [? Sen, ?] who's been involved in the World Social [? Forum, and ?] himself has trained as an architect, who argues that a politics of confrontation is no longer workable.
And there are many artists also working in this way, where it's a politics, now, of creating open spaces that are transitional, somewhat amorphous, very [? transitory. ?] That enable a certain kind of convening to happen that I think is quite different from this [? creative ?] economies public policy, which is very complicated. I don't want to be negative about it because I think it's more complicated.
So I really just would ask that we return to, really, these unresolved dislocations. Because I absolutely believe it is the only ethical and political place to be. But I would conclude by saying, I think if we are there alone, or we are there in our departments-- is anyone still in a department here?
SPEAKER 1: Many departments believe that we're still in them.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: Oh, OK. I'm just curious because I'm-- you know, [INAUDIBLE].
AUDIENCE: I also talked about the ghosts.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: Yeah.
AUDIENCE: You still believe in those ghosts.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: So I just-- that's where I would like to end. I think it is the ethical and political place to imagine what new, open spaces of convenings might be conjured up. And I'm Irish, Naoki, so for us [INAUDIBLE] spectres--
--I want to get my own cultural specificity in there. For us, with Irish heritage, the ghosts are the pupas who live among us. So--
SPEAKER 1: And scare the shit out of us.
PATRICIA ZIMMERMAN: Tim, you get kind of wild when you're around me. [INAUDIBLE]. But I will say that the only power we have is to not let the ghosts become spectres, but to embrace all of our Celtic heritage. I really mean this in all seriousness. The ghosts actually are alive. They live with us, they guide us, and they help us.
SPEAKER 1: OK. I don't think we have any whiskey, but we have wine.
Thank you very much.
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Cornell's Society for the Humanities hosted "Global Aesthetics: Intersecting Culture, Theory, Practice," a conference Oct. 15-16 at the A.D. White House.
Speakers in this Oct. 16 session: Brenda Croft (Indigenous Art, Culture, and Design, University of South Australia), Tejumola Olaniyan (Louis Durham Mead Professor of English, University of Madison, Wisconsin), Gregg Lambert (Director, Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor), Yukiko Shikata (Director, Media Art Consortium, Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo, Japan), and conference roundtable with Naoki Sakai (Asian Studies and Comparative Literature), Karen Pinkus (Romance Studies) and Patricia Zimmerman (Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival/Cinema, Photography and Media Arts, Ithaca College).