Ariella Aïsha Azoulay: Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (2019)

22 November 2019, dusan

“A passionately urgent call for all of us to unlearn imperialism and repair the violent world we share

In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.

Azoulay argues that the institutions that make our world, from archives and museums to ideas of sovereignty and human rights to history itself, are all dependent on imperial modes of thinking. Imperialism has segmented populations into differentially governed groups, continually emphasized the possibility of progress while it tries to destroy what came before, and voraciously seeks out the new by sealing the past away in dusty archival boxes and the glass vitrines of museums.

By practicing what she calls potential history, Azoulay argues that we can still refuse the original imperial violence that shattered communities, lives, and worlds, from native peoples in the Americas at the moment of conquest to the Congo ruled by Belgium’s brutal King Léopold II, from dispossessed Palestinians in 1948 to displaced refugees in our own day. In Potential History, Azoulay travels alongside historical companions—an old Palestinian man who refused to leave his village in 1948, an anonymous woman in war-ravaged Berlin, looted objects and documents torn from their worlds and now housed in archives and museums—to chart the ways imperialism has sought to order time, space, and politics.

Rather than looking for a new future, Azoulay calls upon us to rewind history and unlearn our imperial rights, to continue to refuse imperial violence by making present what was invented as ‘past’ and making the repair of torn worlds the substance of politics.”

Publisher Verso Books, London, 2019
ISBN 9781788735711, 1788735714
656 pages

Interviews with author: Jadaliyya (2019), Brad Evans (LA Review of Books, 2020), Sabrina Alli (Guernica, 2020).
Reviews: Ian Wallace (Artforum, 2020), Guy Mannes-Abbott (Third Text, 2020), Louis Rogers (review31, 2020), Lunettes Rouges (Le Monde blog, 2020, FR, part 2).
Roundtable: Gil Hochberg, Zoé Samudzi, Joshua Simon, Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman (Protocols, 2020).

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bell hooks: Art on My Mind: Visual Politics (1995)

27 October 2019, dusan

“In her first book about art and the “politics of the visual,” hooks, a writer known for her clarifying views on feminism and black women, addresses the deplorable absence of discourse on black artists, especially by black critics. Why, she asks, has art played a minimal role in the lives of most African Americans? With a firm grasp of the racial and cultural climate in which black aesthetics must grow, hooks offers some astute answers to that question and holds out hope for change. She then hones her aesthetic in her adept interpretations of the work and impact of black artists, including Romare Bearden, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alison Saar, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, and Margo Humphreys. Hooks also discusses portrayals of black women and men in art and, in an essay on photography, how the ‘struggle over images’ became part of the black liberation movement. Art matters, hooks assures us; it helps us forge our identities while forcing society to evolve from being exclusive to inclusive. As erudite and sophisticated as hooks is, she is also eminently readable, even exhilarating.” (Donna Seaman)

Publisher The New Press, New York, 1995
ISBN 1565842634, 9781565842632
xvi+224 pages
via Arch

Reviews: Okwui Enwezor (Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, 1996), Phoebe Farris (Art Journal, 1996), Publishers Weekly (1995), Kirkus Review (1995).

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Franz Roh, Jan Tschichold (eds.), Foto-Auge: 76 Fotos der Zeit / Œil et photo: 76 photographies de notre temps / Photo-Eye: 76 Photos of the Period (1929) [DE/FR/EN]

9 July 2019, dusan

“Two books were published to accompany the 1929 Film und Foto exhibition in Stuttgart organised by the Deutscher Werkbund: Foto-Auge, edited by Franz Roh and Jan Tschichold, and Es kommt der neue Fotograf!, edited by Werner Gräff. With its cover of El Lissitzky‘s now famous Self Portrait of the artist as a hand in service to the eye celebrating the monocular medium (photography), Foto-Auge served both as an catalogue of the work exhibited as well as a visual polemic detailing László Moholy-Nagy‘s New Vision. Featuring work from the world’s leading modernist photographers, as well as anonymous news and bureau photos, Roh’s and Tschichold’s editing and sequencing energetically riff on the Bauhausian notion of enlightened objectivity.”

With photographs by Piet Zwart, John Heartfield, El Lissitzky, Eugène Atget, Andreas Feininger, Max Ernst, Herbert Bayer, Willi Baumeister, George Grosz, Gutschow, Florence Henri, Hannah Höch, Hans Leistikow, Max Burchartz, László Moholy-Nagy, Walter Peterhans, Man Ray, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Geert Paul, Hendrikus Schuitema, Maurice Tabard, Karel Teige, Grete Vester, Dsiga Wertoff, Edward Weston, Umbo, a.o. Introduction by Franz Roh (“Mechanismus und Ausdruck. Wesen und Wert der Fotographie”).

Publisher Akademischer Verlag Dr. Fritz Wedekind, Stuttgart, 1929
Designer Jan Tschichold
Printer Heinrich Fink
18+[76] pages, 30 x 21 cm
via Thebaus

Commentary: Inka Graeve Ingelmann (MoMA, 2014), Object:Photo exhibition (MoMA, 2014), Felix (Wiedler.ch, n.d.).

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