Following other advances in international film movements, namely Third and Fourth Cinema, we propose the concept of Fifth Cinema to refer to a composite of audio-visual production developed primarily by refugees and/or enabled with their interests and stories at the centre. Although the experience of expatriation varies greatly from one person to the next, Fifth Cinema exhibits certain stylistic similarities, from the films’ open- and closed-form aesthetics to their nostalgic and memory-driven multilingual narratives, and from their emphasis on political agency to their concern with identity and its transgression. Characteristically, it is a cinema that is nomadic, insecure, fragmented, displaced, bricoleur, accented, hybrid. Emotionally and politically fraught, it is emergency cinema, getting unheard voices heard. It is a smart cinema enabled by the spread of digital technologies making it instantaneous, dispensable yet indispensable as a record of a millennial phenomenon. By no means a concerted social movement, it is certainly about reflecting on the surge of individual movements and their filmic outputs, occasionally collective as the result of shared endeavours and co-productions. In this article, we chart some key features and proponents of Fifth Cinema as an ‘open corpus’ and as part of making a political statement: that refugee conditions and contributions are appreciated, valorised and supported with the means to represent themselves, creatively, interculturally and politically through the (co-)production of their own stories with what we propose as an ‘open poethic’ approach.
This article compares and contrasts two monumental architectural ensembles: Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, Johannesburg, opened in 2005 by President Thabo Mbeki; and The Palace of Culture and Science, a Stalinist skyscraper ‘gifted’ to Warsaw by the Soviet Union in 1955.This architectural juxtaposition serves as the point of departure for the article's two interconnected key themes: an inquiry into the complex continuities and contradictions between the political and economic reconfigurations experienced by South Africa after 1994 and Poland after 1989; and an exploration into what the author defines as the ‘political morphology’ of monumental architecture.The bulk of the article is concerned with a critical investigation into how scholars conceive of the relationship between the morphological (spatial, geometric and aesthetic) characteristics of built form, and their political or economic correlates. Must there be – as the scholarly consensus suggests – an intrinsic connection between democracy and architectural humility, and between authoritarianism and monumentality?
Contrary to the discourses that argue that digital culture leads images to dematerialisation, this article approaches the materiality of images, paying attention to the difference between things and objects, and to the concepts of presence and mobility. The materiality of contemporary images lies in how images and imaginaries assume imperatives characteristic of today’s capitalism such as participation, connectivity and performativity. New visual forms such as GIFs, cinemagraphs, and the Live-Photos function of the iPhone embrace those demands. The article distinguishes between an internal and external mobility of images in order to understand how contemporary visual culture generates new material, spatial and temporal experiences that make it difficult to even maintain the distinction between still and moving images.
This article examines engagements with the natural environment in Indonesian contemporary art, with a specific focus on Yogyakarta-based multimedia artist Setu Legi. After discussing various historical models of Indonesian creative engagements with the environment, I argue that Legi’s work deals with environmental problems by personalising the political as well as highlighting political aspects of the personal. Using the work of Félix Guattari and T J Demos, I show how his art offers a form of eco-aesthetics that disentangles the interconnections between art, politics and the natural environment. I analyse Legi’s critical exploration of the concept of ‘homeland’ (tanah air) and the geopolitics of West Papua through his creation of alternative maps of the Indonesian archipelagic state. Finally, I demonstrate how Legi relates cultural and environmental destruction as well as possible solutions for these problems to a range of religious and spiritual ideas and practices in Indonesia.
This article discusses the work of contemporary Mongolian artist Jalkhaajavin Munkhtsetseg (b 1967), commonly known as Mugi. Focusing on her mixed-media series 'Silence', it explores her subversive approach to the female body as the site of a private exploration, previously discouraged by Mongolia’s socialist regime, and discusses the ways Mugi’s art responds to the questions of feminism, initially a Western concept, and its applicability to Asian women artists (Joan Kee 2007, 2009). The article argues that while Mugi’s ideas were shaped by the realities of a post-socialist atmosphere of anxiety (Manduhai Buyandelger 2007, 2013) and search for identity (Christopher Kaplonski 2004), yet her questions and visual forms relate to global issues of women dealing with trauma – as also attested to by Louise Bourgeois’s psychic body (Rosemary Betterton 2009) – reparation based on meaningful connections with nature, reviving of traditions and women’s positioning in society.
This article tries to address two main arguments suggesting that Kiarostami’s cinema is politically neutral and affirming of the dominant ideology. Referring to Deleuze’s notion of ‘minor cinema’, this article argues how politics is represented in Kiarostami’s cinema, giving a close analysis of 'Nama-ye Nazdik' (Close-Up, 1990). Deleuze, in his discussion of minor cinema, differentiates the modern approach to political cinema from classical cinema by analysing the relationship between the political and the private and the representation of people. In 'Nama-ye Nazdik', by revealing the hidden story of unemployment of a poor printer and the middle-class family’s sons, Kiarostami blurred the boundary between the private and the political. In addition, by portraying several people in the film, they are simultaneously unified and clashed with each other. Therefore, the film testifies to a split in the unity of people, and ‘people’ in this film represent a new political meaning.
In 1974, the First Biennale of Arab Art was inaugurated in Baghdad, envisioning a radical nomadic exhibitionary model that preceded the European equivalent, Manifesta, by two decades. The ostensible aim was to celebrate regional artistic virtuosity, and provide opportunities for evaluating and disseminating Arab art. By examining disputable claims to the event’s genesis and Ba’thist politics at the time, however, and by situating it within contemporaneous global currents, including oil embargos and Cold War alliances, this article argues that Iraq instrumentalised the biennial towards tightening control locally and asserting its position as the centre of the Arab world. While the regime’s manipulations ultimately compromised the initiative, the collective project signalled an exemplary moment of regional confluence and exchange, thus challenging hegemonic conventions and networks that often excluded Arab artists. Most importantly, the article argues that the biennial was motivated by global ambitions around which both the regime and Arab artists converged.
Third Text is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.