This article historicises and applies a critical framework to key themes in Afrofuturist cultural production. Building on recent popularisations of tropes of black futurity and Afrocentrism, it analyses the figure of the ‘afronaut’ as it has appeared in a range of contemporary art practices in Europe, the United States and Africa. The author roots the afronaut in a visual cultural lineage of science fiction and argues that, in recent history, artists deploy this figure to an array of socio-political and epistemological ends.
This article examines the ways in which several Korean documentary films in the 2010s use archival footage of the distant or recent histories of Korea. It argues that the films testify to what I call the ‘post-vérité’ turn of recent Korean documentaries: an array of experimentations with the forms and aesthetics of documentary, which are distinguished from the vérité style – an activist tradition of Korean independent documentary – but also inherit and renew its commitment to politics and history. As a subcategory of the ‘post-vérité’ turn, I characterise the recent Korean documentary’s increasing uses of found footage as the ‘archival turn’ and argue for its two implications. First, this term suggests that the extensive uses of found footage allow filmmakers to develop other modes of documentary filmmaking – compilation documentary, essay film and metahistorical documentary – besides the participatory mode distinguished by the supremacy of the camera’s immediate, on-the-spot witnessing of reality. Second, this term indicates that Walter Benjamin’s idea of historiography is shared by the filmmakers, as their appropriation, reassessment and manipulation of found footage are motivated by the desire to endow it with a new historical perspective in relation to their engagement with the politics of the present.
This article analyses a selection of creative projects engaging with Romanian migrant labourers, in relation to the controversy in the UK and in Romania prompted by the Channel 4 television series ‘The Romanians are Coming’ (2015). The case studies are a co-production exploring post-communism and the history of Romania through the history of the Dacia car, ‘My Beautiful Dacia’ (2009), by Romanian artist Ştefan Constantinescu and Spanish documentary maker Julio Soto, and British artist Adam Chodzko's short film ‘The Pickers’ (2009), a collaboration with a group of young Romanian strawberry pickers working in Kent, who co-edit and comment on found historical footage of agricultural labour. The article considers the modes of address and tactics deployed within these different observational documentary-style productions in relation to the politics of Brexit, drawing on TJ Demos’s work on the reification of migrants in documentary image-making more globally.
How has the commercial art gallery, the capitalist art institution par excellence, operated in contexts marked by ‘peripheral’ or ‘transitional’ economic conditions? This article approaches this question through a study of the operations of Istanbul’s first modern art gallery, Gallery Maya, between 1950 and 1955. Drawing on photographic documentation and an extensive archive of Turkish-language primary sources, this article contends that the seemingly contradictory impulses that characterised Gallery Maya’s activities were in fact the hallmark of the ‘semiperipheral art gallery’, an institutional form that simultaneously sought its place in a public sphere and economic order historically dominated by the state, and endeavoured to stand as a private enterprise in a moment of international liberalisation. This hybrid institutional form was neither solely public nor private, and defies standard art historical distinctions such as the gallery versus the salon, artwork versus commodity, and state versus individual.
This article examines Lee Ufan’s ‘Relatum’ series, works which he started producing in Japan in the late 1960s. It begins by historicising the series, where steel plates and rocks are placed in various configurations, in relation to Mono-ha, or School of Things. The article then explores the theatrical and animistic dimensions of the works, which are contrasted with the fetish character of the commodity and the forms of interpretation it demands. The ‘Relatum’ series is then considered in relation to haikus, together with Roland Barthes’s later writings on the neutral. The article ends by examining the reference to Marcel Proust in Lee’s work, focusing on memory and its relation to affect, while also raising wider questions concerned with the nostalgic character of the ‘Relatum’ series and the relationship between the industrial and the natural.
Twenty per cent of Israel’s population are Palestinians, who despite being the indigenous people of the land are its second-class citizens. In his long running comedy drama series on Israeli television, Sayed Kashua, a Palestinian-Israeli writer and journalist, stages life’s realities for the Palestinian citizens of Israel among the Jews with humour, irony and sarcasm. It is argued that their relationship is that of the colonised among the coloniser, as characterised by postcolonial writers such as Bhabha, Fanon and Memi. The TV series, while focusing on the fragile identity of its Palestinian anti-hero, also shows that the colonising state of affairs affects not only the Palestinians but the Jews too. This article, in addition to providing the political context to Kashua’s text, analyses those episodes in the series in which Palestinians and Jews ‘pass as… the other’. It is argued that ‘passing as’ is an extreme response to living in anomalous circumstances and is motivated not only by a wish to improve one’s everyday life, but, in addition, by deeper, often unconscious desires.
THIRD TEXT is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group