Abstract This paper was presented by Abdelkebir Khatibi at the colloquium ‘Entre Psychanalyse et Islam’ in 1989 at the Collège International de Philosophie. Khatibi, taking up Freud's propositions in Moses and Monotheism that Moses was an Egyptian, and Christ a murderer and that Islam, lacking a murder, is an abbreviated repetition of the Jewish religion, subjects Freud's account of monotheism to a deconstructive reading. Khatibi reads the dismissal of Islam as an abbreviated version of the Jewish religion as symptomatic of the dismissal of difference that lies at the origin of monotheism. Following Freud, who wrote that the origin was the mythical account of a borrowing of names, and reconsidering his account of the Islamic imaginary as merely an abbreviated repetition, Khatibi takes up this question of frontiers at the origin of monotheism in order to challenge psychoanalytic theory as an exercise of a ‘frontierial’ position.
Abstract Through an analysis of Pasolini's works (films and texts), this article aims to criticise the Western vision of history as a linear or circular transcendental model. In this vision Pasolini's images replace a praxis of creation, according to which the sense of Western history (as history of sense) changes itself in a different way in consideration of spaces and times, causing to appear on the surface of historical narrations the cracks of a different articulation, in which a vision of history as active process of creative interpretation supplants the classical vision of history as a totality of data.
Abstract This article explores the relationship between violence, patriotism and the national‐popular within the medium of film, by examining the Indian film‐maker Rakeysh Mehra's recent Bollywood hit, Rang de Basanti (2006). This film forms part of a body of work that represents violence as integral to the emergence of an Indian national identity. It restages Indian nationalist history not in the customary pacifist Gandhian vein, but in the mode of martyrdom and armed struggle. It represents a more ‘masculine’ version of the nationalist narrative for its contemporary audiences by retelling the story of the Punjabi revolutionary Bhagat Singh as an Indian hero and as an example for today's generation. This article argues that its recuperation of a violent anti‐colonial history is integral to the middle‐class ethos of the film, presenting the viewers with a bourgeois nationalism of immediate and timely appeal, coupled with an accessible (and politically acceptable) social activism.
Abstract This article concerns the representation of slavery and decolonisation in historical film. Two films serve this purpose: Queimada! (Burn!) by the deceased Italian Marxist, Gillo Pontecorvo, and Sankofa by the ‘accented’ Ethiopian/American film‐maker, Haile Gerima. The article addresses two concerns: first, whether these films contribute to the intelligibility of the past and, if so, do they suggest a different construct of agency and human possibility? Second, are they relevant to the contemporary period in world affairs, especially to North–South polarity? The author compares and contrasts the two films, emphasising the framing of slavery and its deployment as a trans‐historical category in Queimada! Next he discusses nine scenes that comprise and narrate agency, the ‘decisive moments’ in the revolutionary process; its appropriation, decline and renewal in Queimada! The article concludes with Gerima and Pontecorvo's distinctive calls for solidarity and renewal.
Abstract In this dialogue anthropologist and artist Fiamma Montezemolo invites public intellectual and anthropologist Néstor García Canclini to reflect on the conceptual work that emerged during the 1980s out of his encounter with the border city of Tijuana, a city which he famously labelled the ‘laboratory of post‐modernity’ in his classic book Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity (1995). Canclini's past and ongoing theoretical work is brought to bear upon a city that since the 1990s has transformed not only into a major hub for contemporary artists and curators but also a political nightmare of narcotraffic‐related warfare that has shed serious doubts on its hybrid and binational futures. With his usual elegance and lucidity, Canclini clarifies his position and proposes an alternative conceptual and interpretive framework to evaluate the futures of Tijuana (in particular) and the relationship between contemporary art and anthropology (in general).
Abstract Barbara Kruger's work is discussed as an exploration of the ambivalently hidden violence of the stereotype (in line with Homi Bhabha and Craig Owens's theorisations). The author proposes a discussion of the semiotic‐ideological place the stereotype occupies in the socioeconomic, political and cultural order of Western societies, based on the historical notion of the latent fear of the Other proper to the Cold War period. Focusing on the female stereotype, its specific concealed violence and major perils, Kruger's practice is related to three concepts borrowed from Rosalyn Deutsche (who has, in turn, borrowed them from Virginia Woolf and Jacqueline Rose) – failure, inadequacy and derision. They allow for an understanding of Kruger's work as an ‘ethico‐political space’ (in Deutsche's terminology), despite the problems entailed by the artist's chosen media and appropriationist strategies. Finally, Freud's discussion of compulsive repetition, trauma, death drive and pleasure principle contribute to new, albeit always open and paradoxical, perspectives.
Abstract Taking the Nakba of 1948 as the most traumatising and Kafkaesque event of the modern history of Palestine, this article explores Palestine's condition in the post‐Oslo Accords era in which both the idea and reality of Palestine has changed. This condition, that is not pre‐colonial, colonial or post‐colonial, is a tunnel condition that has attained the evils of all three. The transformations of the idea of Palestine intensified nomadic trends in all aspects of life, and art was no exception. Using a Deleuzean framework, the lines defining the location of art – between the official establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the deviant part of civil society and those who do not identify with either – are drawn. Nomadic art exists as an alternative mode of knowledge and practice that is still loyal to the original idea and reality of Palestine, yet immune to the local Orientalism that produced a de‐Palestinianised Palestine. The works of Jawad Ibrahim are used as a seminal contribution to this condition.
Abstract Louise Bourgeois has forged her own idiosyncratic aesthetic language over the course of more than eighty years of artistic practice. Her virtuosity in articulating difficult psycho‐emotional themes through sculpture, installation, drawing, text, mixed media and performance has inspired generations of artists to draw on their own personal experience as a driving force in their artistic production. In this brief yet poignant conversation, granted in February of 2009, Bourgeois shares insights on being an artist, on longevity and on life's purpose. A rarely stated spiritual perspective emerges, revealing a more positive portrait of Bourgeois than has commonly been perceived.
Abstract The realisation of ‘Palestine c/o Venice’ as a ‘collateral event’ at the 53rd Venice Biennale confounded attempts to isolate modern Palestinian culture from the international community. Following a brief introduction to the history of Palestine and the Venice Biennale, the article gives an account of the aesthetic and conceptual concerns of the artists in ‘Palestine c/o Venice’, addressing both Palestinian and international audiences. The unexplained cancellation of stazione, Emily Jacir's contribution to the event, is discussed in relation to the widespread failure to discriminate between ‘Arab’ and ‘Islam’, and to the less well‐publicised Zionist policies of discrediting or intimidating intellectuals, scholars and journalists who deviate from the Israeli narrative which seeks to bury evidence of Palestine's modernity and sophistication.
Abstract Nicolas Bourriaud's 2009 Tate Triennial, titled ‘Altermodern’, claims to trace a profound shift in contemporary art. According to Bourriaud's catalogue essay, postmodernism has been superseded by a new ‘altermodern’ culture, the artist of today responding to the processes of globalisation in works that reflect his or her increasingly nomadic ways. The central problem here is that Bourriaud celebrates the artist‐nomad without considering the diverse objectives and experiences of the various travellers, including the businessman, tourist, migrant and refugee, whose movements are directly or indirectly recast in the artist's work. Bourriaud's blindness to the larger sociopolitical implications of the artist's nomadism results in a peculiarly flat and uncritical perspective on globalisation. Fortunately, some of the works on display in the Triennial advance more lucid and nuanced visions of contemporary travel, artists such as Walead Beshty and Franz Ackermann inserting themselves into the pathways of global exchange and reflecting corrosively on the contradictions of globalisation.
Abstract A review of Renzo Martens, Episode III, video, 90 minutes, Wilkinson, London, 16 January – 22 February 2009.
Abstract A review of Sanja Iveković, ‘Urgent Matters’, 18 April – 2 August 2009, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and BAK (basis voor actuele kunst), Utrecht, curated by Maria Hlavajova.
Third Text is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.