Monthly Archive: April 2021

Militant Landscape: Notes on Counter-Figuration from Early Modern Genre Formation to Contemporary Practices, or, Landscape after the Failure of Representation

In 1844, the year of Marx’s Philosophical and Economic Manuscripts, J.M.W. Turner presented Rain, Steam, and Speed: The Great Western Railway, the first landscape painting to both articulate the ontological shifts brought about by new modes of extraction and production, but also to suggest concomitant transformation in perception. In this way, it collapsed the dialectical relation between perceiving subject and external landscape, suggesting the reciprocal relationship of reification. In 2013, the contemporary artist and filmmaker Zachary Formwalt produced a piece entitled Projective Geometry in which he read from Chapter 25 of Marx’s Capital, the chapter on “So-called … Read more

Reframing Landscape

“Reframing Landscape” explores three distinct landscapes that have been decisively impacted by conquest and colonization, reframed by three artistic interventions: painting, photography, and sculpture. August Earle shows us the de-forested landscape of 19th century New Zealand, still guarded by a Maori totem; Miki Kratsman photographs a wall mural in occupied Palestine that erases the presence of indigeneous people; and Antony Gormley anticipates the clearing of Manhattan by a pandemic in whirlwind of metal. Real spaces and places are converted into landscapes of attention into what has been lost and what is to come.… Read more

Fury and the Landscape Film: Three Men Who Left Their Will on Concrete

In the 1960s, Japanese artists and filmmakers directed their fury against the sterile urban landscapes which surrounded them. The “Theory of Landscape,” developed by Matsuda Masao as well as many other filmmakers, artists, and writers, posited that our lived landscape is an expression of dominant political power. This article uses the lens of Landscape Theory to analyze three Japanese political avant-garde films from the late 1960s and early 1970s, all of which mark frustration and anger through a reworking of the mundane urban environment that surrounds them: Wakamatsu Koji’s Go, Go Second Time Virgin (1969), Oshima Nagisa’s The Man Who Read more

A Room with a landscape: Vedute from the Palace of the Privileged Company of Trieste and Rijeka

In the oldest Austro-Hungarian sugar refinement plant opened in mid 18thcentury in Rijeka, today Croatia, a series of “idealized” landscapes pained by unknown artisans include depictions of slaves. The so-called Vedute ideate are a rare depiction of the racialized slave labor in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that points to the invisible labor, which enabled industrial production of sugar and made visible the relation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, together with the peripheral port town of Rijeka, to the global flow of capital and the history of colonialism. By drawing on Catherine Baker’s recently published “Race in Yugoslavia” we look at how representation … Read more

Introduction to “City as Landscape” (1970) by Matsuda Masao (1933–2020)

This introduction to Masao Matsuda’s essay, “The City as Landscape,” provides an outline of the essay’s role in the emergence of a radical discourse of landscape, known as fūkei-ron in Japan. In addition to illuminating crucial aspects of the political and discursive context of Matsuda’s writings, the introduction orients contemporary readers to this essay’s contributions to an expansion of the global imaginaries and aesthetic genealogies of the radical left.

Landscape and Its Double: The Technological Sublime

The essay inquires about the historical condition of representation in our present while invoking the modern experience of the sublime and landscape as the medium of that experience. Can the sublime as the experience of the subject confronted with the very limits of representation be extended to our late capitalist conditions of mediatized representations? What constitutes “a landscape” as the site of the experience of the sublime in late capitalism? The essay addresses these questions through a renewed discussion of Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproducibility” (1936) by focusing on the discussion of the … Read more

a photograph of a Black soldier in wartime Berlin

Building Up and Breaking Down Walls of Our Own: An Interview with Paul M. Farber

This interview unpacks the making of Paul M. Farber’s book A Wall of Our Own: An American History of the Berlin Wall (University of North Carolina Press, 2020). More than just a Cold War travelogue shadowing the times spent by legendary American cultural figures Leonard Freed, Angela Davis, Shinkichi Tajiri, and Audre Lorde in Berlin during the second half of the twentieth century, the book interweaves history with critical visual analyses to draw comparisons and contrasts across national borders. The Berlin Wall itself becomes a protagonist in the book, which is a thoughtful meditation on physical, often monumental, manifestations of … Read more

The Paintbrush Factory: A Changing Ecosystem of Labor, Fragility, and Community

As I write this piece, numerous narratives are being produced and reproduced in relation to the history of Fabrica de Pensule / The Paintbrush Factory, a collective space devoted to contemporary art and performing arts founded in 2009 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Known for being the most ambitious independent art space in Romania, the Paintbrush Factory functioned between 2009 and 2019 in a rented industrial building that inspired its name – a former paintbrush factory. In the autumn of 2019, the private owners of the space decided to raise the rent and search for business tenants, following the trends of gentrification … Read more