This article retrieves the anti-imperialist thrust of the work of Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt and Jacques Lacan, in search of a critical method capable of understanding, explaining and challenging the contemporary phenomenon of “non-governmental” micro-imperialism. It argues that an attentive reading that juxtaposes portraits, characters and physiognomies as they appear in their work may provide strong theoretical ground and seminal insights into the operational principles and paradigmatic depressions germane to the mental apparatus and occupational structure of biopolitical micro-imperialism.
Among the most outstanding characteristics of recent painting in China is its size, an aspect some view as a function of individual volition or of market forces. Yet the question raised by the matter of large size has less to do with the absolute physical dimensions of a work than about the kinds of relationships initiated by these dimensions as well as by the relativisation of size. In short, the question of why Chinese paintings are so large is a question of scale, which, as the works of numerous artists, including Yan Pei-Ming, Zhou Tiehai, and Yun-Fei Ji, demonstrates is further tied to questions of social function and social value. This article is an extended rumination on the significance of scale and its capacity to frame the artwork as itself a function of responses between meaning and materiality.
This article expands on a little-known work by Paulo Fernando Novaes Correia, Boi Encantado (Enchanted Carcass) that created a stink by defying expectations of museum protocol when it was shown in 1972. By contextualizing Boi Encantado within the particular circumstances of Brazilian history, this article examines an artwork whose mephitic intervention into an institution crossed into the public arena, complicating the role of institutions as neutral interlocutors between artists and viewers. Boi Encantado, shown at the sixth Jovem Arte Contemporânea exhibition in São Paulo, brings to light the tensions generated between a museum's commitment to artistic freedom and the display of works probing the limits of institutional tolerance. Such tensions expose the challenges of promoting creative freedom while administering institutional authority, particularly in the context of increasing military repression in Brazil circa 1972.
This article focuses on the representation of ‘non-places’ in European migrant cinema. Postcolonial subjects, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are often depicted in non-places such as city outskirts, hotels, detention centres, on the open sea or in airports. Through the analysis of Pawel Pawlikowski's Last Resort (UK, 2000), Stephen Frears's Dirty Pretty Things (UK, 2002), and Mohsen Melliti's Io, l'altro (I, the Other, Italy, 2007), migrants are seen in non-locations, characterised by their disposable bodies and are portrayed against a background of hostile media representations. The article argues that non-places allude to the visual and ideological instability of the notion of Europe, and also to the creation of an alternative space, a possible Third Space, a location of transformation and belonging to an alternative organic society, where new notions of hospitality and tolerance are conveyed.
This article takes at its point of the departure the practice of transracial adoption of children and adults. During the colonial period, it was not only non-white native children or adults who were adopted by white colonisers and settlers; the opposite also occurred. The existence of these ‘inverted’ transracial adoptions is well-documented in literary and autobiographical texts and historical documents, as well as in art and visual culture. At that time, the white transracial adoptee who had been transformed into the Other was stigmatised and even demonised as something of an ethno-racial monster transgressing the boundaries between Europeans and non-Europeans. This article aims to re-conceptualise transracial adoption within the framework of the fundamental inability of Europeans to attach to the lands and peoples outside Europe by making use of the concepts of indigenisation and autochtonisation.
Argentinian artist León Ferrari's work has often been read as comprising two distinct orientations: an explicitly political, content-centred one on the one hand and, on the other, a formalist, apolitical one. This article contests the basis of this distinction, arguing that the distinction occludes Ferrari's primary artistic practice – that of making lines. Understanding line-making as a political act – one that leaves intact the traces of the signifier's emergence – the author reads Ferrari's work in dialogue both with Brazilian Concrete poetry – an important line-making enterprise contemporary to his work – and with the explosion of signification in other realms of public life. He concludes that Ferrari's formalist work is premised on unmasking the false transparency of all communication.
Colombian Conceptual art of the early 1970s emerged at a time when, internationally, Conceptual art seemed to be the new avant-garde. An examination of the ways in which Colombian Conceptual artists created their work in critical dialogue with international Conceptualism complements recent studies that explain Latin American Conceptualism as distinct from European and United States Conceptual art due to its definitively political profile. Yet this art cannot be explained solely vis-à-vis international Conceptualism. To understand why it emerged and how it differs from Conceptualism elsewhere, it must be seen within political context of Colombia, which was an environment marked by the growth of left-wing guerilla groups and social protest wherein intellectuals, especially within Colombia's National University, were questioning their role in fostering political revolution.
This article focuses on the connections between reality and imagined worlds in the play His Master's Voice by Sevim Burak. Burak is an ignored, underrated, avant-garde Turkish writer/playwright who employed surrealistic and experimental language to open up the interior space of subjectivity into the realm of the real of the narrative and life. Burak's negotiation with reality permeates all levels of the narrative in His Master's Voice. The unfolding of the plot is blurred by obscure dreams in which imagined people induce the reader/viewer to access the subjective experience of the protagonist. Burak interrogates how and why the fear of the Other and central antagonisms persist in such transitory periods as the formation of citizenship and the nation in the 1930s or the military coup in the 1980s by scrutinizing the rupture within and the relations between the individual and collective psyches.
This article examines how official and unofficial early film footage intersects in the representation of France's mission civilisatrice in films taken in West Congo in the early twentieth century. We study uncut, and largely unseen footage of the French soldier General Henri Gouraud in Syria and Lebanon, filmed during the French acquisition of these territories following the First World War. This footage taken by Albert Kahn's photographer Lucien Le Saint, and now in the Archives de la Planète in Paris, reveals twin images of the General: one a powerful military commander of France's ‘civilizing mission’ and the other a relaxed, modern man of the kind not usually seen in public film footage. This article then, examines various contradictions at the heart of imperialistic discourse that characterised French cultural self-confidence in the last decades of the Third Republic.
Many artists from rural areas in the global south are driven by the functionality of the art object and of naturalism in communicating the urgency of redressing sociopolitical conditions. This article does not advocate a return to the totalising idea of an ‘undifferentiated’ Africa as found in Outsiderist views on Africa, which still reflect stereotype and the conjuring of sensational spectacles of perceived Others. In sectors of the global south art production provides mostly untrained artists with a resourceful platform for examining notions of modernity, difference and transculturality.
Third Text is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.