Monthly Archives: October 2009

“Understanding Trafficking” a film by Ananya Chakraborti – Monday 16th November, 2009 Goldsmiths Cinema

still from Understanding Trafficking4UK screening of “Understanding Trafficking”

plus Q&A with the director Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti

6pm Monday 16th November, 2009 Goldsmiths Cinema (Richard Hoggart Building, New Cross, SE14)

Legend goes, there is a magical line that Laxman drew around Sita, which no woman is supposed to cross. If any woman dared to cross the magical line, she would risk being kidnapped by Ravan the demon.

Women have for centuries been discouraged to cross the line, to remain indoors, and within limits. The lines and limits of their existence have always been defined by patriarchy. So what happens if a woman does cross the line? By circumstances, through need, or just by a desire to dare the magical line?

Camera Joydeep Bose, Sound Sukanta Majumdar, Editing Saikat Sekhareswar Ray, Direction Ananya C. Chakraborti

Reviews here:

note to howard p

kovelDo you know Joel Kovel’s wonderful book ‘Red Hunting in the Promised Land’? Excellent if you are writing on anti-red hysteria.

Kovel was recently forced out of his job at Bard for writing a book on Israel/Palestine as single state.


and maybe (though I have problems with its ‘quivering’ tone:

Film: To Gaza with Love

gazaIndyMedia on Aki on Gaza:

At this years London Anarchist Bookfair I grabbed Musician, Activist, Punk, Broadcaster and Musilim, Aki Nawaz who was there to introduce his film ‘To Gaza With Love’.

He gave some tough critiques on the Anarchist movement, talked about his recent visit to Pakistan in which he questions the true motives recent violence towards western journalists, and hints at what exciting projects we can expect from him in 2010.

Attached Files

Report Aki Nawaz (Fun-Da-Mental)

Coleridge invents trinketization

coleridge1_2Samuel Taylor Coleridge was ahead of the game in so many ways.  His other work is of course crucial, stuff about an albatross, and the opening sequence to the newsreel section of Citizen Kane. A massive influence and to be adored. This piece is a small fragment written around 1800.

To a critic

Who extracted a passage from a poem without adding a word respecting the context, and then described it as unintelligible.

Most candid critic, what if I.
By way of joke, pull out your eye.
‘Ha! ha! that men such fools should be!
Behold this shapeless dab! – and he
Who own’ed it, fancied it could see!’
The joke were mighty analytic,
But should you like it, candid critic?

From Samuel Taylor Coleridge Selected Poems.

The eye as trinket is excellent – it cannot see on its own. Though Bataille finds other functions.

11 theses on art and politics #8 & #9

verses8. The cartoon is contained in the frame, and can safely say so much more because of that protection. Oftentimes what is illustrated in art and comedy can be far more critical than the editorials or headline ‘breaking news’. But as we also know, even in Denmark, politics can spill over the border of this containment. There are many such incidents – it seems no coincidence today that the 20 year old furore around Salman Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses marks the beginning of a global ‘attention’ to a politics of Islam. Rushdie’s novel can be discussed in a wide variety of ways of course. Certain anthropologists identified the ‘Rushdie Affair’ as a moment of awakening for a diasporic identity formation in the UK (we can safely consign them to a sidebar, see Hutnyk 2006). Other writers, however, assimilate the event to new times. Recently Kenan Malik attempts a strange amalgam of anti-racist activist history and condemnation of ‘the multiculturalist’ tendency in the British context that owes much, but does not fully acknowledge, the work of Sivinandan and the Institute of Race Relations. What happened around Rushdie’s book? Banned first a few months earlier in India, there was then a celebrated, televised, burning of the book in Bradford by those who, according to Malik, acted in large part:

“because of disenchantment with the secular left, on the one hand, and the institutionalisation of multicultural policies, on the other. The disintegration of the left in the 1980s, the abandonment by leftwing organisations of the politics of universalism in favour of ethnic particularism, and the wider shift from the politics of ideology to the politics of identity, pushed many young, secular Asians towards Islamism as an alternative worldview” ( accessed 6 June 2009)

The critique of ethnicity, identity and multiculturalism misfires, however, where Malik insists on universalism as if it were the only and antithetical inverse of identity and ethnicity. Caught in a complimentary logic, Malik repeats the obvious and automatic reaction – and endorses an integration model for Britain. The case can be, and has been, made that ‘ethnic funding’ elevated culturalist ‘community leaders’ as a ‘bulwark’ with which to undermine militant anti-racist alliances, but to then diagnose the problem as culture and insist on its overcoming in some naïve secular French Republic type model is a deeply conservative, even nationalist, error.

More interesting is Gayatri Spivak’s essay on The Satanic Verses, which uses the occasion of Rushdie to consider other cases written out of the record (Shahbano made a ‘figure’ in a contest over votes), to reflect on the position of Southall Black Sisters in relation to the ‘controversy’ as crisis, to then in this context think about ‘freedom of expression’-talk and the ‘uses to which the spectacular rational abstractions of democracy can sometimes be put’ (Spivak 1993: 241). Rushdie, accused of complicity with the West’s imperialist ‘crusade’ against Islam by Ayatollahs and others, surely did not know or intend the extent to which his little fiction would offend, even as he aimed to offend indeed (as he had oftentimes done – Midnights’ Children and Shame both also banned).

The Satanic Verses, as art, went unread. Instead something of a rumour (Spivak 1993:228) spread that Rushdie had engaged in ‘gossip’ about the prophet, that he had blasphemed against the Quran. Again politics, here on the part of postcolonial metropolitan activists (not subalterns) proceeds without full representation. Of course it is almost bad taste now to think of Rushdie’s book in terms of the theoretical interests or fashions of its time of writing. The controversy has a different context now, that cannot ignore the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Then, Iran was central in a different way, an the Ayatollah railed against America. Then also, the death of the author thematic, signed under the proper names of Barthes and Foucault, alongside celebrations of the schizoid self, did not make for easy jokes about he fatwah.

Spivak pointed out at the time that there might be critics of her reading of The Satanic Verses that might complain that she ‘gives resistance no speaking part’ in Rushdie’s text (Spivak 1993:226). But if the book does not enact resistance as a character, perhaps we can agree with Spivak that to ‘“state the problem” is not bad politics’. She continues: ‘In fact, it might be poor judgement to consider academy or novel as straight blueprint for action on the street’ (Spivak 1993:227). I do not find this far from Adorno’s critique of an introspective protest against order that is indifferent to, and so compatible with, that order. Rushdie’s book explores blasphemy and ambiguity within Islam – a complication neither trenchant defenders of the Holy Book, nor those who attack Islam, and desecrate the book in prisons like Bahgram or Guantanamo, can assimilate.

Any art as blueprint for action of course again invokes the metaphor of the architect, not the bees. A novel, or academic test, as blueprint for action condemns actors to repetition (18th Brumaire) and containment (its not the 1960s anymore). This is true if one is wanting postcolonial engagement around race and gender ambivalence, or if revolutionary change is a goal – in each case scripted responses invite containment.

9. Book burning has its own heritage – degenerate art, lost libraries, the exotic image of Alexandria and the horrors of National Socialism. Pornographic books destroyed, Andre Malraux’s manuscript burned on his capture in 1944, the Leuven University library in Belgium in WW1, the Jaffna, Sarevo and Abhazian libraries in recent civil wars. Kafka’s books, the Master’s manuscript in Bulgakov’ Margarita , the chivalry books of Don Quixote,  the firemen destroying books in F˚451

On May 10, 1933 the Deutsche Studentenschaft (German Student Association) burned a great many books in Berlin’s Opernplatz after proclaiming them degenerate and un-German.

In 1953 Senator McCarthy and Eisenhower ordered overseas US libraries to remove from their shelves books by communists and fellow-travellers (they burned them).

Rushdie’s book burned in Bradford, insults the Quran. The Quran itself associates the word of god with the honey of bees (‘Honey is a remedy for every illness and the Qur’an is a remedy for all illness of the mind, therefore I recommend to you both remedies, the Qur’an and honey’ (Bukhari) accessed June 5 2009). Beekeepers know that smoke is a tool of control. Rushdie’s insult is to make pornography of the revelation, the sacred origin of this text. He inserts new verses into the revelation, and authorship of them is given to a doubly mischevious archangel. As they appear in the drama of the book, those verses were of course already something to be interpreted politically, in terms of blueprint and control. They are a script the book excised in exactly the most insulting passage that offended those in Bradford. Rushdie has the ‘businessman’, a false but read as if the, prophet, tussle with the angel in a way that makes the revelation of the book pornographic or at least obscene. The prophet wrestles with the archangel in a cave 500 feet below the summit of Mount Cone with tongues in mouths and fists round balls only to end up with ‘Mahound’ pinned to the ground and the archangel’s mouth ‘open and making the voice, the Voice, pour out … [and] pour all over him, like sick’ (Rushdie 1988:123). That Mahound awakes later in the cave and realizes a previous visitation had been Shaitan’ ‘that he had been tricked, so that the devil came to him in the guise of the  archangel, so that the verses he memorized, the ones he recited in the poetry tent, were not the real thing but its diabolical opposite, not godly, but satanic’. Mahound rushes back to the city to expunge a previous false revelation – ‘to expunge the foul verses that reek of brimstone and sulphur, to strike them for the record for ever and ever, so that they will survive in just one or two unreliable collections’ (Rushdie 1988:123).

Of course this is an insult to Islam, and in some ways indeed worse, more mischievous, than the insults so well known in Bahgram. Have you ever burnt a book? Golden Bough…


Next in the series – 10 and 11 is here:

Previous posts in this list:





[Spoiler alert: the comments are closed on this particular post because the twisted madness of the first ten or so responses - which I have happily left up as forensic evidence - included various ultra dubious film clips that somehow attract a mad number of useless pingbacks if comments are open. If you are not a robot, and I know many of you are struggling with that ontological head-frak, it is still possible to comment elsewhere. cheers.]

December 2009 in Kolkata

113_1387I am lucky enough to have been invited to go to Kolkata in December for a symposium on the “Cultural Politics of Preservation”, organised by Gayatri Spivak. Was asked today what I would present on. Gulp. I have no idea yet. How about this:

To work among the masses – co-research, institutionalization or vanguard intervention?

I am interested in the ways intellectual work, debates around method, and the ethical position of both the academic researcher and the vanguard political intersect with questions of preservation and globality.

Inspired by, and critical of, several examples in relation to this, I have three themes: a) I want to talk about the Co-Research or Class Recomposition Studies approach that emerges from Autonomist Marxism in Italy in the 1970s and which has been discussed a great deal by European activists in recent years (eg Kolinko group); b) my second ‘case study’ is the traditional project of ‘Anthropology’ as an institutionalized way of both ‘going to have a look for yourself’ and of inscribing ‘peoples’ inside a global knowledge apparatus (libraries, textbooks and the like); and c) my third example is the problem of the vanguard party and what, and how, it knows about the ‘masses’ (from Mao’s report on Hunan to the critique of Leninism today).

In this way, a perspective on the critique of cultural preservation might be developed drawing on my previous work on cultural exotica, rumour, writing and activism.

[I am not sure if this will work out, but I think its where I am just now]

There was also a request for some relevant representative work (let’s debate that term, ‘representation’). I sent this lot:

(pic -taken on the train to Kolkata)

Hektor Rottweiler Rethinks

adorno_cCurrent of Music is a very important addition to Adorno’s bibliography.

“Adorno mentions in a letter [to Rudolf Kolisch, 12 July 1940] that [for one of the sections of his planned book 'Current of Music'] he planned to use an English translation of his 1936 essay ‘Uber Jazz’ (‘On Jazz’). He speaks, however, in a later letter [to Friedrich Pollock, 3 October 1940], of wanting to conjoin this essay with a substantial body of new research materials. For, while he was living in the United States, Adorno had become aware that what he had known of jazz in Germany, and as he presented it in his early essay, was limited. He was thus making research visits to Harlem and had sought assistance from experts such as the American composer Milton Babbit – who would have nothing to do with him. But, in any event, Adorno never wrote anything new for this section” – Robert Hullot-Kentor, editor’s introduction to Current of Music.

This is only one of the electric points of interest in this third volume from the collected posthumous writings of Adorno. Vol 3 was published in German in 2006, in English in 2009 – but most of the work, some 480 pages, was originally written in English when Adorno was in the USA.  Adorno had help with his English grammar – a heavy Teutonic style no doubt - from people like George Simpson who was a young American communist. In a 1969 essay, Adorno acknowledges him for ‘making the first attempts to transform my [Adorno's] distinctive efforts into American sociological language’ (Adorno 1969:146).

Current of Music offers a whole lot more than these snippets however, and its a shame it was left as a draft in his lifetime (but then he had Minima Moralia to write), Current includes a course on good listening, and an entire unpublished theory of the listener(s) that suggests rethinking the usual dismal dismissal of Adorno as some sort of elite purist who thought mere circulation was epiphenomenal.

More Hektoring herehere and here.

Border Documents 9-11 Nov 2009 Copenhagen

Border Documents @ CPH:DOX

Border Documents: A scholarly/activist workshop on the crossings of borders and documentary films.

Border Documents is the third in a series of events run as part of the international research network Beyond Borders.

Preamble: In “Sonic Border” (London Nov 2008) we explored the way sound crosses the border differently, provoking a rethink of the border’s location – not just in ports, but between us all, in conversations, in ideas – an oppressive structure of language, meaning, representation, and a cry of protest and the music of solidarity across divides. Sound problematized the geographic and visual location of the border regime.

In “Theatre Border” (Berlin April 2009) the performative, tactile and ritualistic force of the border as staged power suggests we rethink connection, touch, proximity and co-responsibility. The theatrical exclusion of others manufactures a charade populated by demons, caricatures and monstrosity. We don’t want to be cast in such dramas.

In “Border Documents” (Copenhagen Nov 2009) we will join the CPH.DOX documentary film festival to consider the border as it unfolds in time/screen based media – what does thinking about border activism and the telematic offer us? Possible topics include the border in television news, the in-focus out of focus role of CCTV in detention centres, the scanning screens of the immigration check, the civilian phone-cam exposé of deportation and ‘Torture Taxi’ (special rendition) flights, and more.

We are interested in new perspectives on the status and function of the documentary forms today, as they cross the ontological divide between fiction and truth, art and reality (objective/subjective, social, political, ethical etc) and frame alternative ways of seeing, witnessing, representing, archiving and experiencing ‘the elements of truth’ (Steyerl, 2003). Can we understand documentation not as paper passports or mere representation but as docketing the (re)construction of (new) social and political realities – we are interested in time and screen formats that offer access to critical recontextualization of the reproduction of borders, and of unfolding new agents of social and political (ex)change. On a more formalistic note, how does the documentary form carry a politic, an ethics or epistemology and how can the documentary film help us see and act differently? Does the time of the border transform its place, or its performative character? Does border activism lend itself to the cinematic? Can we film another way across?

Beyond Borders is a collaborative venture between the Copenhagen Doctoral School in Cultural Studies, the Friei University Berlin InterArts, Jadavpur University (India) Film Studies and the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths University of London, and with guest participation from Clandestino Festival (Sweden) and Migrant Media (UK), among others. Beyond Borders is funded by the AHRC UK Beyond Text program.


9th November 2009

11.30-12.00 (Seminar room)
Prof Frederik Tystrup & Prof John Hutnyk:
‘Introduction’ to “Border Documents”

12.00-13.30 (Seminar room)
Lecture by Mathias Danbolt:
‘Queers Without Borders: Activist Travels in Elliat Graney-Saucke’s Travel Queeries’
ravel Queeries (2009) by Elliat Graney-Saucke is the first feature length documentary film portraying radical queer culture in Europe. Produced by queer filmmakers from the U.S., Travel Queeries takes us on an extensive tour of queer communities in ten major European cities – from London to Warsaw to Belgrade and Copenhagen. The travels alluded to in the film’s title do not only refer to the U.S. filmmakers’ travel with a camera to and through Europe, as it also points to the travels of activists within Europe, where people circulate between squats, festivals, and other social and political gatherings. In this paper I will focus on the way in which Travel Queeries queries activist travels. By looking into the way the film represent – as well as take part in – the circulation of concepts, repertoires, esthetics, and politics, I will discuss how travels and translation have been central to the development of the transnational (Euroamerican) queer activist community. Informed by the activist group Queers Without Borders fight for free movement for all in relation to crossings of gender, sexuality, and national borders, I will focus especially on the border issues raised by and evident in Travel Queeries, touching upon question of racism and activist tourism.

Presentation and screening by Maria Finn: ‘A Technical Problem’ (DVD, 16. min).
After having studied the films of Michelangelo Antonioni I grew interested in his writing and found Unfinished Business, a collection of his never realized screenplays, where Technically Sweet was mentioned as one. I have used this screenplay as a starting point for a video where I travel to the sites in Sardinia that should have appeared in the film. The video from that trip, A Technical Problem, can be seen as a reflection over how fiction is constructed by including excerpts from the screenplay, and through the documentation of these places that itself produces a fiction. Film locations become virtual archaeological sites, which Laura Mulvey describes in Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy/Viaggio in Italia (1953) from her collection of essays, Death 24x a Second (1996). Rossellini used the archaeological sites in Naples for his film to reflect over how the present is fossilized on film. I will use Mulvey’s essay to investigate how movies functions as an archive over places, some ruined and some still existing, and how visiting these places affects us.

13.30-15.00 Lunch

15.00-16.30 (Seminar room)
‘Border performed’ – Workshop, led by Filmmaker Dr Hito Steyerl
3 recent video art works will be screened (Amar Kanwar’s “ A season outside”, plus work by von Wedemeyer and Mik) and discussed in relation to their relation to border and performance.

17.00-19.00 (Tent)
European Premiere screening of “Musafer: Sikhi is Travelling” with Q@A with one of the directors Kushwant Singh (the other director is Michael Nijhawan)
Musafer is an independent documentary film that has been shot in Frankfurt, Paris, London, Delhi and San Francisco between 2003 and 2009. The film portrays the interconnected lives of a younger generation of diasporic Sikhs by giving emphasis to their artistic expressions and in-depth conversations about the meaning of Sikhi in times of political upheaval and social uncertainty. Musafer does not attempt to portray the Sikh tradition (Sikhi) in its multifaceted forms, but instead sheds a light on the inner and outer journeys of particular individuals, their homing desires, as well as their boundary crossing endeavours.

20.00 (venue to be decided) dinner

10th November

11.00–13.00 (Seminar room)
Round table discussion on ‘Borders and Selves’

Heidi Hasbrouck:
‘Personal Borders: The Filmmaker’s Family through the Lens’
This paper aims to explore the re-formation of boundaries when the filmmaker turns the camera to her personal life. Historian and film critic, Paul Arthur, writes of the relationship between the filmmaker and the subject as a negotiation where borders are shaped. “An ethical compact of sorts, an explicit or tacit ‘transaction’ between observer and participant, is negotiated; its terms regulate what can be recorded, what form the recording will ultimately take, and how the filmmaker intends to portray social actors who agree to appear (Arthur, 876).” What then happens when those borders must be re-shaped from a previously formulated relationship? Between the filmmaker and her film? Between the filmmaker and the audience when the story is a personal one? Furthermore, how does turning the camera on one’s own family change the ethics or politics of the documentary itself? Through the exploration of multiple personal documentaries, including Hara Kazuo’s “Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974”, John Maringouin’s “Running Stumbled”, recently released Kurt Kuenne’s “Dear Zachary”, and new filmmaker Marianne Hougen-Moraga’s “My Mother’s Promise”, I aim to resolve my own qualms as a documentary filmmaker torn between the boundaries of my family and a potential documentary about our ‘darker side’.

Elena Papadaki:
‘Even better than the real thing: when fiction becomes more convincing than the truth – Stefanos Tsivopoulos’ documentaries’
Stefanos Tsivopoulos is a visual artist engaged with the documentary format. He uses archival material, historical footage and real-time events in order to create his own -often pseudo- narratives. Among others, his work challenge journalistic conventions and the meaning of an “objective” historical narrative (Gray 2008) (Interview, 2007. He commissioned a BBC reporter to interview a war veteran from Serbia; then asked a Serb filmmaker to take the transcript and create a fictional version of the same interview, shot at the same location. Both interviews were projected at the same time in adjacent rooms, with the fictional one looking more convincing than the real documentary) as well as the power of mediated news and propaganda (The Remake, 2007. He uses archival material from the Greek national television and from events that took place during the dictatorship in Greece [1967-1974] with his own shooting of recreated scenes from the television studios at the time). According to Tsivopoulos, the “visualisation of history and reality can be interpreted and misinterpreted at the same time” (Tsivopoulos 2008). His interest lies in the way in which we, the spectators, consume the information that exists within the visual imagery and accept the validity of the “archive”. Where do we draw the line between fiction and reality? How does his work (re-)create a new social and historical imagery? A selection of clips from Tsivopoulos’ work will be shown during the presentation.

13.00 Lunch

15.00-16.30 (Seminar room)
Round table discussion on ‘Framing Border’

Ray Ganz:
‘Radio Verité and Acoustic Osmosis’
Field recordings and found sounds are still one of the major sources of radio artworks, in spite of Raymond Schafer having introduced the concept of soundscape and developed the World Soundscape Project more than 30 years ago. The present article examines the different contemporary artistic uses of field recordings and found sounds within the Radia network during the last three years, according to Schafer’s concept of schizophonia and Feld’s notion of schismogenesis. It argues that although radio occupies a privileged position in the current media landscape to broadcast acoustic decisive moments and documents, it is during the aural osmosis of different soundscapes (diegetic and non-diegetic in relation to the listener’s existence) allowed by the radiophonic experience that field recordings and found sounds become radio artworks.

Jennifer Otter:
‘[Dancing In] Isolation: Joy Division Tribute Bands Transmission of 2.0’s Melancholy’
Manchester’s iconic Joy Division officially disbanded almost thirty years ago, after the untimely suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis. Yet many people point to this seminal group as one, if not the, forefather of modern rock in its present incarnation. Bands such as The Killers, Fall Out Boy and Interpol blatantly rip off the Mancunians’ riffs, style and sentiments through out their own manipulations of musicality. However, some people feel that just paying accolades to the fallen heroes through interpretations of their own new music is not enough. They believe that only the original music of Joy Division truly expresses the spirit of the troubling times we are living in, a world reflective of Ian Curtis’s own bleak Manchester of the late 1970s. For this tribe of people, solely by creating their own group to play exclusively and inclusively the music of Joy Division can they express their own situational oppression, of a world that is simultaneously connected via the world wide web and instant messenger, yet more alienated, with people staying inside their homes more, hidden behind a computer screen and “mediated reality.” Tribute bands and interviewees from a variety of geographic and socioeconomic groups have been included in the project, spanning Mexico City, London, Macclesfield, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Iraq, Australia, and Bosnia, illustrating a true breaking of borders and staying power of the foursome from the North not often illustrated by artists of today.

17.00-19.00 (Seminar room)

Lecture by DR Bhaskar Mukhophadhyay:
‘Ritwik Ghatak Documentarist’
Largely unknown and unacknowledged in the West and misunderstood in India, one of the masters of twentieth century cinema, the Communist director Ritwik Kumar Ghatak’s cinematic oeuvre revolves largely around the after effects of the Partition of Bengal which displaced thousand and left deep wounds that never healed. Ritwik’s cinema is about the monumentality of this catastrophe though as a theorist of postcolonial culture and a Communist cultural worker, he never allowed nostalgia to take over his sense of engagement with the present. As a cultural theorist, Ritiwik rejected the Soviet model of Social Realism and the European radical avant-garde aesthetic politics of high Modernism. His uniquely postcolonial vision of culture entailed a renewed engagement with the epic and the vernacular and a re-enchantment of the machine through a renewal of the ‘primitive.’ In cinema, his renewal of melodrama fused majestically with his revival of the epic, leading to an aesthetic of vernacular modernism that has no precedent or parallel anywhere in world cinema.
As political film-maker, Ritwik’s treatment of Partition is multi-layered which interrogates and confronts borders at many levels. Himself a refugee, he had little illusion about culture’s holism. He depicted with compassion the class-logic of the inevitable but historic disintegration of the colonial Bengali bhadralok in the aftermath of the Partition and the continued presence of the sealed-off border in the affective landscape of the subcontinent. In Ajantric, a film about the animistic beliefs of tribals and an old automobile that takes on human attributes through the affective engagement of its owner, Ritwik plays on the cognitive-affective borders between fetishism and disenchantment, between the human and the non-human, between the sensible and the intelligible. My presentation will focus on two of his major films, Ajantrik (1957-58) and Subarnarekha (1962) through the optic of ‘border’ in order to situate Ghatak in the wider cultural politics of our times.

Lecture by Abhijit Roy
‘Documentary Diversions? Factual Popular and the Reality Debates’
This presentation talks about how the televisual genre of the ‘factual popular’ and the debates around reality shows can help us revisit the ‘documentary’ form and its legacies. It would like to engage with recent theorizations as evident in John Corner’s coinage ‘documentary diversions’ and Keath Betty’s ‘documentary display’, and also the classical/Griersonian school of documentary practice, to pose the age-old, somewhat hackneyed, debates around the ‘border’ between fact and faction in a new light. While the factual popular, in its form, and in its mode of address (posing as the neo-progressivist messiah of the late-capital, citizenising agent etc.) enters into interesting dialogue with the documentary tradition, particularly with its ‘classical’ mode, the current trends in documentary filming and dissemination, in turn, get highly interjected by the factual popular. Contextual, in this regard, could be a recent practice in documentary diversion: that of creating incessant audiovisual archives (foregrounding therefore a certain idea of ‘beyond text’) and circulating across the de-territorializing space of internet. The ‘publics/users’ of both of these trajectories intersect in various ways. Tickling the network, generating circuits of fandom and activism defying national borders, have become major trends in both of these.

19.00 dinner (1 hour)

20.00 (Tent)
European Premiere screening of “Understanding Trafficking” plus Q&A with the director Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti
Legend goes, there is a magical line that Laxman drew around Sita, which no woman is supposed to cross. If any woman dared to cross the magical line, she would risk being kidnapped by Ravan the demon.
Women have for centuries been discouraged to cross the line, to remain indoors, and within limits. The lines and limits of their existence have always been defined by patriarchy.
So what happens if a woman does cross the line? By circumstances, through need, or just by a desire to dare the magical line?
Camera Joydeep Bose, Sound Sukanta Majumdar, Editing Saikat Sekhareswar Ray, Direction Ananya C. Chakraborti
Reviews here:

11 November

11.00–11.30 (Seminar room)

Ruth Hogarth: Beyond Text Program Co-Ordinator. ‘The Wider Program’

Mary Claire Halvorson (Goldsmiths Director of Professional Development): ‘Alterity, mobility and rhizomatic model of learning’

11.30–13.30 (Seminar room)

Dr Dietmar Kammerer:
‘Official, unofficial, invisible – the role of the filmic document in “Operation Spring”’
“Operation Spring” was the name of the first (and later widely publicized) undercover police operation in 1999 that made use of covert surveillance technologies in order to collect evidence against an (allegedly) international ring of drug dealers. “Operation Spring” is also the name of a documentary film that years later put in question the police operation and the subsequent trials and convictions of more than in ehundred people, mostly immigrants form Nigeria. The documentary became one of the rare cases, where a film actually sparks a political debate and was discussed in the national parliament. In my presentation I want to argue, that the political and persuasive power of this film can – among other factors – be explained by its use of the filmic document. Three types of images can be made out in this film: official, unofficial and invisible images. What counts as a document or as evidence, is always to be seen within a strategy of power.”

Renate Wöhrer:
‘How (Not) to Be Seen. Contemporary Attempts in Social Documentary to Contradict Hegemonic Discourses on Labour’
In my contribution to the workshop I would like to discuss the documentary art project ‘Chat(t)er Gardens: Stories by and about Filipina Workers’ (2002-2008) by the Austrian artist Moira Zoitl. It is not a film but an installation, in which video plays a major part. It consists of videos, photography, text, embroidery, sculptures and/or spatial constructions. The project documents the working and living conditions of Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong and London as well as their political and social activities. It is conceived as a platform, where different kinds of expressions – also by different authors – are possible. In this documentary the border is at issue in three different ways: First of all the depicted migrant workers are confronted with borders between nation states. In their “host country” they also have to deal with social borders. Due to their special working and living situation migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong make this social border visible. Since they mostly live at their working places, which are the private homes of their employers, most of them don’t have a private space of their own. Therefore they spend their rare free time in public places, which they use differently than the majority society. They create a public visibility, which contradicts their hidden existence in everyday life. In Hong Kong as well as in other industrialized – or better: post-industrial – countries the economic systems relies on the exploitation of domestic workers. But neither the exploitation nor the domestic workers should be a public issue. The system is based on the concealment of these facts. On the one hand the workers counteract this kind of suppression (in taking public space as well as in political demonstrations, celebrations, etc.) on the other hand Moira Zoitl brings up the issue (and the efforts of the workers) in the public of the art world via her documentary. So the third kind of border, which is at issue within this documentary project, is the border drawn by hegemonic practices to demarcate what can be said, shown, discussed, etc. within a society and what’s excluded from public discourse. In my paper I will examine Moira Zoitl’s methods and artistic strategies to undermine dominant regimes of visibility. In analyzing this project as an example I will discuss the problems and possibilities of documentary to produce and initiate counter-hegemonic discourses.

13.30 (Lunch)

15.00-17.30 (lecture room)

Raul Gschrey

Between Fact and Fiction. Artistic Works on Visual Surveillance.

Documentary approaches play a major role in artistic works on visual surveillance. This becomes most obvious in the mockumentary ?Citizen Cam? (France/Iceland, 1999), a satire on a fictional TV-channel in Reykjavik. Artistic projects which focus on the topic often include phases of research on the extend and possibilities of CCTV systems and their utilisation. Some artists use the original pictures produced by surveillance systems, but through the process of editing the material becomes fictionalised. During performances and interventions in spaces under surveillance, usually there is not only the CCTV camera present but also further cameras, which document the action and form a means of counter- and self-observation. In these situations, the presence of the camera also changes the reaction of the audience and the authorities. The borders between the documentary and the fictional become porous.

All: Discussion of the Future of Beyond Borders.

18.00 Beyond Borders Workshop after-party


Herbert Marcuse

def0f523b6f7b89652b8df511fe899f6Am reading “The Frankfurt School in Exile”, by Thomas Wheatland. Which has reminded me how much Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man” was touted by my politics tutor when I was in second year of uni. I didn’t find many things in ‘Exile’ that weren’t already in the many other tomes I’ve read on Adorno and his migrant intellectual mates, but at least its mostly a good read – just far too much money crunching by Horkheimer, and nothing much on Teddy in California… (sweating no doubt in the sun, mopping his brow, knocking back margarita’s like there’s no more poetry to be written… Now there was a chapter that could have been snappy). Nevertheless, Wheatland’s book improves massively when it gets to the 1960s and Marcuse, SDS, the Weathermen, Panthers and so on. Speaking of the ‘cultural revolution’ that was the flower power lifestyle choice of those who drifted away from SDS and Movement politics at the end of the sixties, Marcuse wrote:

“Co-option threatens the cultural revolution … Against this threat, the entirely premature immediate identification of private and social freedom creates tranquilizing rather than radicalizing conditions adn leads to withdrawal from the political universe in which, alone, freedom can be attained” (Marcuse 1972 “Counterrevolution and Revolt”)

I am going to read Julia Kristeva next – “Sense and Nonsense of Revolt”. I don’t expect her to be so grumpy, but I do hope the echo of Adorno’s Hegelian-inflected negativity is retained. ‘Tranquilizing’ is my italic.

This Much is True

demenezesI will be attending this important bit of theatre:

By Paul Unwin and Sarah Beck

On 22 July 2005 Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by the Metropolitan Police at Stockwell tube station. It was a defining moment in London’s history yet too many questions are left unanswered.

Award-winning writer and director Paul Unwin’s (co-creator of Casualty and Holby City) and Sarah Beck’s play is a shocking, electrifying, insight into what really happened before, during and in the years following Jean Charles de Menezes’ death.

Weaving together new and personal testimonies from senior police officers including Andy Hayman (Metropolitan Police former head of counter terrorism), Brian Paddick, Jean’s family, his friends, the legal team (including Michael Mansfield QC), THIS MUCH IS TRUE brings the tragedy to the stage and reveals much that has never been said publicly before.

Cast: Amber Agar, Stefano Braschi, Alice Da Cunha, Gerald Kyd, Beatriz Romilly, Justine Waddell.

Directed by Tim Roseman with a multi award-winning creative team including Paul Wills, Mike Walker, Knifedge, Richard Howell and Daniel Pemberton.
follow us on twitter @theatre503 and on facebook

11 theses on art and politics (#5,6,7)

IMG_2777[Thesis five, six and seven (of eleven)]:

5. Trinketization would be a diagnosis of limited responses to global reconfigurations of commodity fetishism, where affect and shopping disguise an unbroken deal with hierarchical social relations locked in, unchallenged. Where class/race/gender politics was, we now have lip-service mockery of these same themes, articulated by the celebrity/televisual machine. The contradictions of news entertainment stand starkly exposed and still without purchase. Participation in conceptual politics is voluntary and belongs to an economy of contribution (Boutang 2009) or the ‘attention theory of value’ (Beller 2006). Here circulation, valourization and expression are governed as the activity of bees – who are dying out, but architectural reflection on this process is in even shorter supply.

The contribution economy is appropriate to a Google mode of production – algorithms are enhanced by voluntary activity of ‘political’ subjects – even ones professing artistic opposition to the system. Accumulated hits (like bees visiting plants for pollen) are aggregated in the hive mind of the virtual. My attention to images accrues value for some rather than other scenes. A calculus of image and attention operates to place some scenes before us and to erase others – the significance of Mao or of the collapse of the Berlin wall would be examples.

Surplus attention, surplus value and conceptual elaboration are the machineries of representation as productivity. It is no longer a case of ‘they cannot represent themselves’ but that they are represented by way of their own activity – the algorithm is Napoleon. In the 18th Brumaire Marx offered this formula as a critique of the little nephew, not an indictment of the lumpen and the peasantry who were unorganised, but a condemnation of the opportunist organiser – that Louis Bonaparte who stood above them as their advocate, while all the time advocating only himself as Queen Bee.

6. Art engaged with politics must engage with institutions – galleries, art books, colleges, conferences – and commerce infiltrates and orchestrates every corner of this quadrant so as to show over and over again that the connection politics-to-market is reinforced with steel. Evaluations of art are then always invested, and self-awareness a false economy, still for sale, worked by the hive-mind. In London, even the most ‘political’ of (art) institutions – the Stephen Lawrence Gallery – which at present hosts a show called ‘Re-Framed’ contrasting and dialoguing between street artists and conceptual artists – stages its own branding niche marketing commercialization for attention’s sake on the basis of the old high and low art façade. Adorno had stressed that these two halves are neither halves of any particular whole, nor either immune to the saturation of industrial processes that diminish them and threaten that secret omnipresence.

7. But what is bad art? What judgement will be made of art when if fails in the service of politics because politics fails and falls short in terms of:

- aesthetic excellence, technical competence, significance, relevance, impact

The most political points made inside a certain frame – gallery, exhibition, border, cartoon – invalidates politics to the degree that it is art, even at its most critical. Billie Holiday only sings ‘Strange Fruit’. Bob Dylan’s times did not a change – and it is no real concern that this jingle now sells automobiles at a time when the automobile industry is in disarray.

Art as decoration is a demystifying containment. Desecration of art contains politics for the domestic. Wallpapers design is now as much a historical condemnation as was Duchamp’s urinal, as Jarry’s Pere Ubu. Merde. No-one even laughs uncomfortably anymore.

Art as insult. The occasions where inwardness or introspection makes for art that exceeds its own containment are the points at which we might be interested.



Protest Sri Lanka Detention


11 theses on art and politics #4

dth14. There is good reason to consider the art object in the widest sense, as a mode of containment. This is true if we are talking of a literary work, graffiti on a wall, or a state monument – each can be a provocation, but each allusion to ‘politics’ can be overtaken by the real.

Politics can be contained in various forms – Berlin ‘walled’, Rushdie burned, China Wendered. Mere representation as representation (vertreten/darstellung) appears as a way of containng/erasing politics. The ‘political’ in art is a neutralization. This is more often than not a vote for order, for the status quo. Radical art must be a process, not a thing – a thing, even where critical, is compatible with wage slavery.

Even films are things. The pop promo is as much conceptual art as commercial format designed to sell records and jingles. A distraction machine even when, perhaps most often when, it is explicitly ‘political. The sensational fascination of the ‘Rage Against the Machine’ is complicit even as it enacts opposition. The overtly political is a release valve and a containment – at best a fable illustrating values that are wholly other than those its existence (and its audience) puts into play. The antithesis of political creativity, the committed artist is no better than a cornered ant. (Ants, I note, cannot pollinate flowers – there is no possible stand-in for the bees if they die out. Why cannot ants pollinate – something to do with how plants have stems…)

That the political artist offers conflict in a way that deflects conflict is not a new point. But here we do get to the issue of architect and intention. And this is not even yet to speak of those who shun this complicity in a higher-minded aspiration that belongs to art ‘as such’. Still more hygienic, conceptual art takes a distance from traditional forms (painting, sculpture) but is nevertheless governed by the same old ‘atmosphere’ that insists on hygiene – that art should remain artistic. Conceptual politics would also distance itself from sculpture, and elections, but still be caught in the logic of representation. Politics as everyday art of life trades upon sensation and eschews depth (party, programme, personality) and trends towards temporary and surface effects.



The Internationale in its many varied forms. Many Languages, One Struggle – Workers of the World Unite. Nothing to lose but chains.

Direct Action Graeber


I am reading David Graeber’s big fat tome “Direct Action: An Ethnography” and, so far so good, up to page 317 [which looks like more than half way - its big]. I have really enjoyed the diary parts of it, which take up most of the first half, and which give a lived-in flavour of what it is like organizing for actions – in this case Quebec City April 2001. From missed meetings through to CS gas, its a rollicking good read [and reminds me of AIDEX arms fair in Canberra in 1991 - which is one to drag from the vault some day]. There are a few things that might have been fixed by a good editor – for example, the phrase ‘worst kinds of Stalinists’ seems to have several problems: multiple plurals, anti-Stalin, gradations of Stalins, implied good Stalinists… etc; and there are too many acronyms… alphabet soup was also a problem in my stuff on the Criminal Justice Act [CJB/CJA etc] – but on the whole the writing here is crisp and engaging. Proper ethnography, its just like ‘being there’… So I recommend, though the discussion of anarchism is a bit, um, David-like, and will appeal only to some, and I am amazed at the absence of any kind of radical Marxist activism apart from the most awful-sounding Troskyite caricatures who do what Trotskyite groups seem far too often to only do – join groups in order to recruit and derail (are these people the only Lefts that exist in the US, eek, and if not where’s the rest?). The discussion of meeting procedure is absolutely classic, and I want to reproduce a small section from a workshop transcript on meeting procedure, which is truly funny (for about as many different reasons as the ‘Stalins’ phrase needs an edit):

Lesley: modified consensus would be, for example, when you have just one or two blocks [people can block a proposed action, which is the principle of consensus I guess] …

Jim: The groups that really tend to use modified consensus the most are very large groups, like spokescouncils, where people don’t really know each other, and sometimes you just don’t have time to allow any one person to hijack the process.

George: Wasn’t there supposed to be a case of one DAN [Direct Action Network] chapter on the West Coast where some ISO [International Socialist Organisation] people wanted to show how consensus couldn’t really work, so they just blocked everything? …

Jim: Oh, I hadn’t head about that.

Mac: [sighs] Yeah, that was in San Francisco DAN. It almost destroyed the group. There were only thee ISOers, but they tried to systematically sabotage the process to force people to go over to majority vote.

David: What did they end up doing?

Mac: Well, one day, there was a meeting where the ISO people didn’t show up, so everyone immediately put through a proposal that the group would operate on consensus minus three.

(Graeber 2009:312-313).

Get the book – it is an excellent compendium of dos and don’ts for activists. Sure, it is a door-stopper, but a bargain at just under 26 bucks from AK Press. 2009

11 theses on art and politics…

IMG_2748 (…continued – parts 2 & 3 - Part one was Do Bee Do Bee Doo: here).

2. The ‘secret omnipresence of resistance’ is Adorno’s enigmatic turn of phrase in The Culture Industry for a subtle judgement on art and politics. ‘It is a delicate question whether the liquidation of aesthetic intrication and development represents the liquidation of every last trace of resistance or rather the medium of its secret omnipresence’ (Adorno 1991:67). To understand the liquidation of intrication we have, I think, to move some years forward to his book Aesthetic Theory – an indispensable and difficult commentary on the complicity of art with the culture industry. Here you will find condemnations aplenty, of the complaisance of those who find politics in art, or who find crisis – of the separation and reification of art that relies dialectically upon otherness to confirm the soulless totality of the society in which it is other – an other with ‘the marrow’ sucked out of it (Adorno 1970/1997:31). Also find: condemnations of the injunction against self-awareness which insists that ‘nothing should be moist: art becomes hygienic’ (Adorno 1970/1997:116) and a critique whereby the reception of art oscillates in a tension between ‘do-not-let-yourself-be-understood and a wanting-to-be-understood’ (Adorno 1970/1997:302) that is held more significant than the work’s appearance. Introspection, where it is exists as a protest against order, is mere inwardness and indifference to that order, fully compatible with wage slavery (Adorno 1970/1997:116). It is monopoly, especially the monopoly form that is bourgeois film, that abolishes art along with conflict. Here, in the face of an omnipotent productive power, ‘all preservation of individual conflict in the work of art, and generally even the introduction of social conflict as well, only serves as a romantic deception’ (Adorno 1991:67).

3. Cinema is the art form of our times (even if now transformed through multi platform formats and televised via laptop and mobile phone). In his book Film Fables, Jacques Rancière offers the intriguing suggestion that documentary fiction ‘invents new intrigues with historical documents’. It ‘joins and disjoins – in the relationship between story and character, shot and sequence – the powers of the visible, of speech, and of movement’ (Rancière 2001/2006:18). Rancière is talking of Chris Marker’s great film The Last Bolshevik and Jean-Luc Goddard’s ‘Maoist theatricalization of Marxism’ in the pop age. These fictions using historical documents and making pointed reference to political struggles and current events (the collapse of Soviet power in the USSR; the cultural revolution in France) are glossed by Rancière as an indication that laments about contemporary commercial cinema or mass television as the death of great art, or even over the impossibility of cinema after Auschwitz, are premature. Not just a ‘machine for information and advertisement’ (Rancière 2001/2006:19), Rancière has a more nuanced, even Adorno-esque critique of television (and I do not mean the Adorno as rendered too simply as an elite critic of mass culture, but the Adorno that wrote of the two torn halves of a bourgeois culture, ripped asunder by industrialization, and which cannot, perhaps should not, be repaired). Rancière writes:

“cinema arrives as if expressly designed to thwart a simple technology of artistic modernity, to counter art’s aesthetic autonomy with its old submission to the representative regime. We must not map this process of thwarting onto the opposition between the principles of art and those of popular entertainment subject to the industrialization of leisure and the pleasures of the masses. The art of the aesthetic age abolishes all these borders because it makes art of everything” (Rancière 2001/2006:10).

Although there is no reference here to Wiesengrund, nor even to the notion of real subsumption, there are reasons to consider the predicament of the political fable here as the question Adorno brought into Marxism, in however European a way [Euro-Marxism] and consider the possibility that the question of art remains a ground of struggle for representation and politics in the widest sense. Do the bees, as it turns out, share with us a co-constiitution of art and ppolitics, of institution and design, a symbiotic relationship between appearance and essence. The frame through which, or rather in which, ever tightening, something is exhibited, excludes other possibilities. Adorno’s sentence about the ‘secret omnipresence of resistance’ that I have so often quoted, seems apt yet again here as I try to bring forward the discussion of cinema to include not just the staples that reach from Eisenstein’s montage through to Marker or Goddard, but also the much more prosaic art of the pop promo and the documentary television moments of the period immediately after Rancière wrote his book. Has representation collapsed, or is there a secret resistance to be revealed in the silence of the images of which we see and hear so much?

More later:

Stop Deportations

2174762-3-get-smart-kaos-logoFrom the makers of INSANE government policy inc, a new and vastly more stupid strategy of deportation. They should give prizes for this sort of thing. Deportations to Iraq x!k”zx%^j%^*! You have got to be joking. Not even the hired killers (Sandline International etc) really want to be there. The Ministry of Defence surely wants out. So why does UKBA (the UK Border Assholes) seem to think its a happy time?

The following call is from the Stop Deportation Network:

* Please forward widely *
URGENT: Stop the first mass deportation flight to Baghdad

Demonstration at Communications House, London, on Wednesday 14th
October, 5pm.

The Stop Deportation network and other groups and organisations are demanding that the first deportation charter flight to southern Iraq, expected to leave on Wednesday, is suspended and the detainees threatened with forcible removal are released immediately. Over the last week, detainees in various immigration detention centres have been given ‘removal directions’ clearly stating they will be removed to Iraq, as opposed to the Kurdistan Regional Government-controlled area, which was stated in previous removals.

Deporting people to a war zone like Iraq would put the lives of many deportees at risk. As recently as the 11th October, three car bombs exploded in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, killing at least 19 people. Violence and bloodshed continue throughout the country, which saw 1,891 civilian deaths in the first six months of this year alone. There are also widespread food shortages, lack of access to clean drinking water and other grave humanitarian crises in many areas.

The British government, through its participation in the war on and occupation of Iraq since 2003, is responsible for these crises and the consequent displacement of millions of Iraqis. Instead of helping accommodate refugees fleeing war and violence, it is now is planning to send them back en masse to face their possible death.

Deportation charter flights limit refugees’ access to due legal process. The UK Border Agency states that “charter flights may be subject to different arrangements where it is considered appropriate because of the complexities, practicalities and costs of arranging an operation.” Charter flight deportees are told that “removal will not necessarily be deferred in the event that a Judicial Review is lodged.” The emphasis, thus, is on filling the flight rather than ensuring the appropriate legal avenues have been exhausted. Detainees have also lost the right to know the date and time of their removal, making it more difficult for their legal representatives to act properly and leaving deportees in fear and uncertainty for days or weeks.

Iraqi refugees have been forcibly deported to Iraqi Kurdistan (northern Iraq) since November 2005. Mass deportation flights to Kurdistan have been removing 50-60 men almost once a month since June 2008, with the Home Office arguing that, unlike the rest of the country, the Kurdistan area is ‘safe’. The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees estimate 1,000 people have been deported to Kurdistan from the UK since 2005. Despite these claims of safety, however, several people have died or disappeared following their forcible return, including Hussein Ali who killed himself two days after his arrival in 2008. Many others have been forced into hiding.

The Stop Deportation network calls upon all groups, organisations and individuals opposed to this brutal action by the UK government to stand with us in calling for all deportations to Iraq to be stopped. Join us on the first public demonstration against mass deportations to Iraq this Wednesday, at 5pm, at the local immigration reporting centre, where many deportees are first arrested without prior warning whilst signing on (Communications House, Old Street, London, EC1).

If you would like to add your or your organisation’s name to this statement, or for any further information, please email

Other things you can do to help stop this flight:

Contact your local MP and ask them to put pressure on the UK Border Agency to cancel the deportation. You can find your local MP at

Contact the UKBA directly to demand the deportation be cancelled:

Contact the minister for borders and immigration Phil Woolas:
House of Commons phone number: 020 7219 1149
House of Commons fax number: 020 7219 0992
Constituency phone number: 0161 624 4248
Constituency fax number: 0161 626 8572

Please copy in your email correspondence.

Journalism of a type.

IMG_2774Some may think the quality of – ehem – journalism about the Maoist struggles in India is somewhat lacking in style. Others may think that this over-worked topic really pushed a writer to find a unique angle, a way in to the jungle that is the Naxalite narrative tradition (of demonization and ‘counter). But I warn over hasty readers that a subtle use of dialectics (here to be distinguished from literary ping pong) is often hard to discern. OK OK, in this one its really just ping pong, and certainly not of a type sourced in Yenan. How could so many neat reversals (contradictions to be handled?) be crammed into the one piece? And I am only quoting the first few paragraphs, see the whole thing here for the amazing unfolding truths.

This excerpt is from – ( I have no details as to who they are – they say they are my ‘window on news analysis and features on Pakistan, South Asia and the world’ – fab.).

Want to hate Maoists? Start calling them Taliban.

Jawed Naqvi 
Monday, 12 Oct, 200

IN the mosquito-infested inaccessible forests of Chhattisgarh, Maoist guerrillas often carry an insect repellent cream called Odomos. God help you if the security forces hunting the guerrillas — now for the first time with the help of helicopter-borne commandos — ever catch you with a tube.

Other than that there is little to distinguish a Maoist from an ordinary tribal or a Dalit, the two major communities that form the bulwark of their revolt straddling 20 Indian states.

Very little is made known about the Maoists except that they are a bloody-minded lot. The gap in information about their worldview can be partly ascribed to their cultivated aloofness from, and suspicion of, the mainstream Indian media. Otherwise too it has become a risky proposition for journalists to venture to assess them objectively.

The rest of the piece goes on to survey such wildly varied themes as poverty, water, kidnappings, the views of the PM, and of [confused] chief ministers, the BJP, the Business Standard, the Taliban, beheadings, including that of the Norwegian tourist in Kashmir more than ten years ago, Roman crucifixion and the marital peccadilloes of Henry VIII. It really does deserve to be read as abstracted (dialectic?) poetics. And in the last paragraph, the killer punch that assures this journalist his Pulitzer is the phrase: ‘Shoring up the chorus of unrelated idioms are the security forces…’ As I said, read the rest here.

OR, you can find better writing on Naxalites here and maybe here.

The theoretical framework.

IMG_2776Prank, trick, fool, contrive, coquette, flirt, dodge, incite, bewitch, plot, conspire, deceive, trump, strategy, tactic, scheme, racket, intrigue, spin, frame, brew, plan, act, stage – the pantomime of politics, the theatre of power, the double-plays of deception. There is something of the gambler and something of elegance in every stratagem of war. Better we know the rules, all the more to ward them off. Red Salute.


IMG_2796Tate Modern is an immensely successful souvenir shop with a gallery attached. The refreshments come in Tate-monogrammed cups, the books with a special discount for ‘members’. I do enjoy shopping there for things I do not have time to read, then I wander, in step with others – families, lovers, drifters of appreciation – through the large empty rooms, with vibrant pictures on the walls – drained of everything but their colour (curators celebrate the co-option of political histories, we merely acknowledge decorative composition). Andy Warhol got game, Takashi Murakami is the human Maneki-Neko, and Jeff Koons offers the asshole as vortex, but we are not absorbed. Nice one Jeff. Now, let’s grab a coffee.

The pic is of the wine list place-mat from the ground floor museaurant.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,812 other followers

%d bloggers like this: