Tag, dystopia
2. Towards a Theory of the Zoopolitical Unconscious

There are utopian spaces knitted into the fabric of the seemingly pessimistic film La Haine.1 One famous scene in La Haine condenses this “fleeting utopia”2 more then any other moment in the film: Hubert packages and smokes weed in his bedroom, listening to “That Loving Feeling,” sung by Isaac Hayes, and looks outside the window of his “rabbit hutch” (cage à lapins – as the identical flats of the cité are called). His gaze falls onto the inhabitants of the banlieue below. While the sound of a police helicopter immerses the social landscape in a tense mode of being watched by unfriendly eyes, Hubert’s gaze arrives at another window. Here we see a DJ, Cut Killer, positioning the loudspeakers by the window to sound outwards into the space between the buildings. The non-admission of young migrant men into discotheques is a recurring theme in banlieue films3 and also later in La Haine; here, the loudspeakers transform the open space of the banlieue into a grand dance floor.4Cut Killer stages an ingenious mix with samples of U.S. hip-hop artist KRS-One’s “Sound of the Police,” French rap formation Supreme NTM’s “Nique La Police” and Edith Piaf’s notorious “Je ne regrette rien.” more

Published: 27.06.2015
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4. Heart of Darkness

The 1960s are dark and phantasmagoric, like an ambiguous terrain vague or “nowhere land” in the periodization of photographic history. I’m not free from that uncertainty about the interpretation of this complex decade. It seems like a moment when the past was not quite over and the future had yet to start. Such ambiguity is evident if we compare Steichen’s The Bitter Years with Szarkowski’s New Documents. Both exhibitions were created within only five years of each other, yet stand for two different historical eras in the same decade. In a way, The Bitter Years is the last hurrah of prewar modernism, a living fossil that represents the peak and the end of the 1920-30s’ innovations. more

Published: 29.06.2014
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01.11.–15.12.2013
7. I, It, We, and They See You

In Blue Nights, a 2011 book in which Joan Didion struggles to come to terms with her daughter’s death, she relates how, when she was briefly hospitalized herself, doctors urged her to undergo a medical procedure:

I recall resisting: since I had never in my life been able to swallow an aspirin it seemed unlikely that I could swallow a camera.

“Of course you can, it’s only a little camera.”

A pause. The attempt at briskness declined into wheedling: “It’s really a very little camera.”

In the end I did swallow the very little camera, and the very little camera transmitted the desired images, which did not demonstrate what was causing the bleed but did demonstrate that with sufficient sedation anyone could swallow a very little camera.

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Published: 13.12.2013
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