Abstract Since Chinua Achebe’s groundbreaking pronouncement that Conrad was ‘a bloody racist’ in 1979, scholars have taken Heart of Darkness as the definitive starting point for discussing Conrad and race. In contrast, this article argues that a geographically comparative approach challenges this critical paradigm, given that Conrad was Polish, French and British in his lifetime, as well as both a colonised subject and a coloniser. These numerous identity shifts come together in Conrad’s first novel, Almayer’s Folly. While superficially set in Asia, Almayer’s Folly is also a simultaneous representation of Conrad’s relationships with Poland and the Congo. This article examines the representation of these three regions in Almayer’s Folly, arguing that taking a comparative approach may reshape scholarship on Conrad and imperialism.
Abstract The colonial visual history of the black female body, namely the gesture of uncovering and inscribing grotesquerie and aberration on the black female body, has generated a postcolonial and black artistic angst about the black female body and resulted in timid artistic engagements with black female nudity. Using the photographic work of Cameroonian‐born Angèle Etoundi Essamba, a rare female presence in the male‐dominated field of African photography, this article shows how she circumvents the ideological pitfalls of the black female nude for black and postcolonial visual artists. The article argues that she develops a pedagogy of the black female nude to train the viewers of her photographs and avoid reinstalling her black female nudes within a colonial visual economy.
Abstract This article argues that Australian Indigenous art was invented in the early to mid‐1980s by its very challenge to Western conceptions of aesthetics and authorship. To illustrate that claim, the article explores Roland Barthes’s concept of the photograph’s punctum as it relates to a particular press photograph published in 1984.
Abstract The Active Objects series is the contribution of Brazilian artist and poet Willys de Castro (1926–1988) to Neoconcretism, which was an avant‐garde movement in Rio de Janeiro from 1959 to the mid‐1960s that changed the parameters of Brazilian art definitively. A typical Active Object is composed of a wooden structure covered with painted canvas that is hung on the wall like a regular painting – but the evident tri‐dimensionality of the object purposefully contrasts with the flatness of its frontal surface. Thus the artist addressed the potential conflict between sculpture and painting to the benefit of a fruitful interdisciplinary practice. The reception of these works, however, is still based on Ferreira Gullar’s formalist writings of the late 1950s, and does not consider Castro’s poetic production, which informed the series. Based on poststructuralist theory, the article analyses his works in an attempt to understand their complex regimes of signification.
Abstract The simple question, ‘Where are you from?’ exists in a discursive relationship with the concepts of home, origins, and freedom of movement. This article unsettles the certainties underlying the question by interweaving historical, visual, literary and poetic narratives with the realities of Palestinian life, of issues of longing and belonging to an absent home/homeland. Its focus is on Palestinian children as the audience for these narratives that socialize them into active participation in the remembrance and liberation of the homeland. At its core is a selection of children’s books that exemplifies the shift from the call to action that prevailed in the 1970s to the current emphasis on human rights – including the right to a secure home and the freedom of departure and return – that prevails in the present.
Abstract The notion that the global art fair is the new entity for the globalised art institution – biennials and triennials transcending old nationalist orders for art – requires a better understanding of their historical structures. Rather than a product of innovation, its organising principle originated in the nineteenth century when nearly every colonial world exposition included palaces devoted to fine art. The art fairs inhabit the ‘image as dialectics at a standstill’ in the manner that Walter Benjamin describes the historical phenomenon of the arcades as the spectre of the history of empire, for ‘the relation of what‐has‐been to the now is dialectical: is not progression but image, suddenly emergent’. To view the fair as the ‘wish image’ of globalisation is to transfigure into the present what art fairs stood for in the past in terms of empire and commodity culture.
Abstract This article discusses the contemporary relevance of the images of Havana taken by Walker Evans during his three‐week stay in the city in 1933. Its focus is on these images’ role in Evans’s photographic re‐creations of the ‘American city’, a concept central to the construction of the United States’ national narratives. Using Evans’s photographs as a case study, this article contributes to contemporary debates regarding the role of photography in the formation and, more importantly, the problematisation of national identities. The author attempts to retain the indexical character of the images in order to understand the context in which they were taken, particularly the cultural context in Cuba and the United States during the 1930s. Some of Evans’s images from his Havana series later acquired status as works of art and were inserted into the tradition of the ‘documentary style’ in photography and the visual arts in Europe and North America. One particular image from this series, Citizen in Downtown Havana, was among the other eighty‐seven displayed later at the 1938 MOMA exhibition of Evans’s American Photographs. This article interprets this image as visually playing out the utopianisms associated with the discourses on the modern city, not only during the 1930s but also in more contemporary contexts and within both the Cuban and the United States’ national projects. Overall, this article demonstrates how Evans’s images serve to exemplify the role that photographic technology plays in the contemporary erosion of national discourses.
THIRD TEXT is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group