I focus on two contemporary art installations in which Teresa Margolles employs
water used to wash corpses during autopsies. By running this water through a fog
machine or through air conditioners, these works incorporate bodily matter but
refuse to depict, identify or locate anybody (or any body) within it. Rather,
Margolles creates abstract works in which physical limits – whether of bodies or
of art works – dissolve into a state of indeterminacy. With that pervasive
distribution of corporeal matter, Margolles charts the dissolution of the
social, political and spatial borders that contain death from the public sphere.
In discussing these works, I consider Margolles’ practice in relation to the
social and aesthetic function of the morgue. Specifically, I consider how
Margolles turns the morgue inside out, opening it upon the city in order to
explore the inoperative distinctions between spaces of sociality and those of
death. In turn, I consider how Margolles places viewers in uneasy proximity to
mortality, bodily abjection and violence in order to illustrate the social,
political and aesthetic conditions by which bodies become unidentifiable. I
ultimately argue that her aesthetic strategies match her ethical aspirations to
reconsider relations to death, violence and loss within the social realm.
Including transformation: notes on
the art of the contemporary
Central to any understanding of contemporaryart and therefore central to any
engagement with a contemporary politics of art is the question of the nature of the
contemporary.1 Even before definitions of art and politics are oﬀered it is the contemporary that emerges as the more insistent problem. While any attempt to pursue the
contemporary in a detailed manner must become, in the end, an engagement within
the philosophico-political problem of modernity, here, in this context, a
This book is about science in theatre and performance. It explores how theatre and performance engage with emerging scientific themes from artificial intelligence to genetics and climate change. The book covers a wide range of performance forms from the spectacle of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to Broadway musicals, from experimental contemporary performance and opera to educational theatre, Somali poetic drama and grime videos. It features work by pioneering companies including Gob Squad, Headlong Theatre and Theatre of Debate as well as offering fresh analysis of global blockbusters such as Wicked and Urinetown. The book offers detailed description and analysis of theatre and performance practices as well as broader commentary on the politics of theatre as public engagement with science. It documents important examples of collaborative practice with extended discussion of the Theatre of Debate process developed by Y Touring theatre company, exploration of bilingual theatre-making in East London and an account of how grime MCs and dermatologists ended up making a film together in Birmingham. The interdisciplinary approach draws on contemporary research in theatre and performance studies in combination with key ideas from science studies. It shows how theatre can offer important perspectives on what the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers has called ‘cosmopolitics’. The book argues that theatre can flatten knowledge hierarchies and hold together different ways of knowing.
In May 1958, and four years into the Algerian War of Independence, a revolt again appropriated the revolutionary and republican symbolism of the French Revolution by seizing power through a Committee of Public Safety. This book explores why a repressive colonial system that had for over a century maintained the material and intellectual backwardness of Algerian women now turned to an extensive programme of 'emancipation'. After a brief background sketch of the situation of Algerian women during the post-war decade, it discusses the various factors contributed to the emergence of the first significant women's organisations in the main urban centres. It was only after the outbreak of the rebellion in 1954 and the arrival of many hundreds of wives of army officers that the model of female interventionism became dramatically activated. The French military intervention in Algeria during 1954-1962 derived its force from the Orientalist current in European colonialism and also seemed to foreshadow the revival of global Islamophobia after 1979 and the eventual moves to 'liberate' Muslim societies by US-led neo-imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the women of Bordj Okhriss, as throughout Algeria, the French army represented a dangerous and powerful force associated with mass destruction, brutality and rape. The central contradiction facing the mobile socio-medical teams teams was how to gain the trust of Algerian women and to bring them social progress and emancipation when they themselves were part of an army that had destroyed their villages and driven them into refugee camps.
The cinematic afterlife of an early modern political diva
Elisabeth Bronfen and Barbara Straumann
Political Animals , TV mini-series written
and directed by G. Berlanti, USA Network, aired from 15 July to 19
Mieke Bal, Quoting Caravagg io: ContemporaryArt, Preposterous History (Chicago and London: University of
Chicago Press, 1999 ), pp. 6, 7
‘smell-o-vision’ experiments of the 1960s argued, as
did John Water’s ‘odorama’ sniff cards that accompanied Polyester).24 Finally,
we ‘breathe’ in much more than just the aura of art in the space of the museum,
as experimental exhibits such as Laib’s wax rooms or Martynka Wawrzyniak’s
‘Smell Me’ olfactory self-portrait show. In this way, the ephemerality of scent
connects to other kinds of contemporaryart that challenge an aesthetic of
Staged in this way, perfume and its history connect these recent artistic
movements to a longer, sensuous history of
, put simply, a work of beautiful
damage. It enables us to reconceptualise Finsen’s healed lupus vulgaris
patients as the same, their beautifully cicatrised skin
produced by destructive light. Howalt’s project is thus an instance of
contemporaryart allowing us to revisit medicine’s past with fresh
The second image is from a series of health campaign posters
from 2013 created by the agency Draft
Cameron and Charles
Merewether (eds), Doris Salcedo (New York: New Museum of
ContemporaryArt, 1998), p. 17.
66 Rosalind Krauss, ‘Sculpture in the expanded field’, The Originality of
the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (Cambridge, MA: The MIT
Press, 1986), p. 279.
67 Gabriele Schwab, ‘The politics of small differences: Beckett’s The
Unnamable’, in Henry Sussman and Christopher Devenney (eds),
Engagement and Indifference: Beckett and the Political (Albany: State
University of New York Press, 2001), p. 56.
68 Feldman, ‘The note man on the word man: interview with
presume that with the devolution of power
to a Scottish parliament and the clear possibility of independence, such
attitudes no longer exist. But attitudes can lag behind political reality
and from an attitudinal point of view the unthinkability of Scottish
culture within a British context is alive and well. One question that must
be considered is, how does one think about the unthinkable? Out of this
paradox are born the stereotypes already referred to.
The model of ‘Scotland as unthinkable’ is easy to find even in writing
relating to contemporaryart. An illuminating
changes; and lastly the relationship of the photograph to the map. As I set out in
this chapter, issues of temporality are key to that relationship, both practically –
in the photographic mapping services that Google provides – and analogically.
The figures captured in this photograph are those of the Dutch media artist
Esther Polak and her partner Ivar van Bekkum; it was taken in September
2009 during their residency at the Highland Institute for ContemporaryArt, an
artist-run space in a converted farm building to the south of Loch Ness. When