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LIVE STREAM OCTOBER 20–22ND EST ON THIS SITE
October 18th, 6–8pm
at Columbia University
612 Schermerhorn Hall
New York, NY 10027
NIGHT TIME GO W/ INAATE/SE
October 19th, 7:30–9:30pm
at UNION DOCS
322 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
- TOXIC LANGUAGES
- October 20TH, 6:30–9:30pm, open from 5:30pm
- October 21ST, 1–9pm, open from 12pm
- October 22TH, 3–5:30pm, open from 2pm
311 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
TOXIC ASSETS is a public seminar featuring dance, poetry, art installation, screenings, and talks that responds to the question: What would it take to detox New York City? The project marks the arrival of art and research initiative Frontier Imaginaries to New York City from October 18–22, as a guest of e-flux lectures and Columbia University’s Ruth S. Biermann Memorial Meetings.
The ragged infrastructures and gleaming salad bars of New York City stand as the historic epicenter of the late liberal fold—a hit that, like any bad drug, goes by a handful of names. “Structural adjustment” suggested an improving spin to the debt-disciplined global south; in Australia, it was “the recession we had to have” while European metropoles have come to know its caustic reflux as “austerity.”
What kind of topology can grasp the belatedness and trans-local intimacy of the global condition? What concepts might emerge as useful where existing political tropes continue to perpetuate harm? And how are arts and the aesthetic caught within the crosshairs of the liberal dilemma, whereby the difficulty with having a critique of liberalism is that the fascists have one too?
- CINEMA ASSETS
- OCTOBER 18TH
- at COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
When the Dogs Talked (2014), Karrabing Film Collective (37min)
As a group of Indigenous adults argue about whether to save their government housing or their sacred lands, their children struggle with how the ancestral Dreaming makes sense in their contemporary lives filled with hip-hop and dinosaur bones.
Blue Heart (Corazón azul), lm-in-development (2017), Miguel Coyula (34min)
Corazon Azul (Blue Heart) is a Science Fiction lm about human genetic engineering in Cuba, and a sinister corporate-state experiment to build a new man to save socialism in the image of Castro’s ideal ‘new man’.
Out on the Street, Jasmina Metwaly and Philip Rizk
(71min, excerpt selected by Adania Shibli)
Depicting the times preceding the Egyptian revolution through the lens of factory workers who have held a long-standing opposition to the regime, Out on the Street depicts the systematic oppression of Egyptian workers both at the hands of the state and the factory floor. An excerpt will be presented.
Disobedience (2017), Haneen Odetalla (5min, selected by Adania Shibli)
In the small and stark architectures of a girls’ school facets of playfulness and cunning are revealed.
Karrabing Film Collective (Natasha Bigfoot Lewis, Sheree Bianamu, Gavin Bianamu, Rex Edmunds, Rex Sing, Linda Yarrowin, Ethan Jorrock, Elizabeth Povinelli), Miguel Coyula, and guest-programmer Adania Shibli.
NIGHT TIME GO W/ INAATE/SE
at UNION DOCS
Night Time Go (2017), Karrabing Film Collective (30min)
On September 19, 1943, a group of Karrabing ancestors escaped from a war internment camp and walked over 300 kilometers back to their coastal homelands in Northern Australia. Night Time Go is an exploration of the settler state’s attempt to remove Indigenous people from their lands during the Second World War using truck, train, and rifle and the refusal of the Karrabing ancestors to be detained.
INAATE/SE (it shines a certain way. to a certain place/ it ies. falls./), Adam and Zack Khalil (75min, excerpt)
History is written by the victors, but this lm reminds us
that the history of the oppressed can still be saved from being extinguished. Native American video artists Adam and Zack Khalil here reclaim the narrative of the Ojibway of Sault Ste. Marie, in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula, from the archives and museums that would con ne it to the past.
EXHIBITION ON VIEW
OPENING Brian Kuan Wood, “Creative Class Warfare”
In imperial centers, creative industries are often criticized for being an agent of gentrification and zombie revitalization. But for those on the other side of colonial plunder, could its
twee tchotchkes and cute kids signal a vitality pointing in another direction entirely?
KEYNOTE Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “Toxic Assets and the Extimacy of Existence”
How are political concepts—bred in the west as a support
to its self-proclaimed civilizational exceptionalism—faring as the twisting, back-bending layers and sedimentations of anthropogenic toxicity combine with anthropogenic climate change and leave their signature on critical theory and bodily dispositions? Moving across a series of films from the Karrabing Film Collective and other visual references, this talk begins with three general axioms of existence that currently shape critical theory and then explores the possibility for other political gestures.
CONVERSATION Moderator: Vivian Ziherl
DANCE Tara Crichlow, When You Pray, Move Your Feet: The Legacy of Marjory Smarth
Through a multimedia dance demonstration, Tara Crichlow will introduce the role, contributions, movement language of Marjory Smarth, an innovator in New York urban dance culture, whose life motto was “Live True, Dance Free”. The presentation takes place in the greater context of As Long As It Takes!, an acquisition research group organised with Dutch institutions the Van Abbemuseum, the Bijlmer Parktheatre, the HipHopHuis and the University of Colour, initiated by Frontier Imaginaries.
POETRY Demian DinéYazhi’, An Infected Sun
This long-form descriptive prose poem is a reflection on queer sex, survival and death politics, indigenous identity and environmental injustice. It honors the intersections of various community voices, and lays the groundwork for an evolving theoretical poesis with roots in Indigenous philosophy and critical inquiry of Western institutional hegemony.
CONVERSATION Respondent: Gregg Bordowitz; Moderator: Vivian Ziherl
12:00PM EXHIBITION ON VIEW
ARTWORK Bonita Ely, The Locust People, 1974. Pencil on paper.
PAPER Rachel O’Reilly, “Mirror, Curtain, Indemnity?: Settler Topsoil Citizen-Ships, Redacted”
Beginning with the proviso that the dematerialisationof property concepts analytically precede and re-figure the dematerialisation of the art object (Lippard), this talk focuses one thread of O’Reilly’s ‘The Gas Imaginary’ (2013–) research addressing one specifically ‘Australian design’ of mercantile era legal innovations, the Torrens Title land registry system. Torrens Title continues to be installed beyond settler states as a dispossessive instrument of global governance. How does this particular history in-form unconventional extraction literacies under racial capitalism?
PAPER Cassie Fennell, “Ends of the House”
This paper asks what houses become when they are no longer places in which humans dwell. Based on anthropological research in the urban Midwest of the United States, it traces the material and social afterlives of derelict houses—not just physical structures but critical components in a pivotal welfare infrastructure that distributed wealth, well being and its opposites across generations of American homeowners and renters. By focusing on efforts to reclaim building materials from derelict houses and cast them as the lost ecological heritage of the region, this paper interrogates competing visions of human ourishing and decay now anchored by the American house.
CONVERSATION Moderator: Alan Michelson
ARTWORK Decolonize This Place—MTL, 2017. Image and video contribution.
PAPER Laura Harris, “Fermentation and the Cut: Gordon Matta- Clark, Martine Barrat and Vickie Alvarez in the South Bronx”
This paper examines a series of cuts made in the space of the South Bronx in the context of the brutal “renewal” of New York City in the 1960s and 70s. Focusing in particular on architectural cuts made by artist Gordon Matta-Clark, and smaller-scale cuttings by Bronx teenager, Vickie Alvarez, recounted in a video she composed with artist Martine Barrat, it explores the forms of creative habitation—or fermentation—these cuts imagine and enact as they too attempt to break down and renew the space and social life of the South Bronx.
PAPER Greg Tate (voiced by Shelly Nicole), “Code Blackety Black On Black Boom Diggety Properties: The Power of Vernacular Cryptologies”
Black American music, as we know it, was born in rebellion and horror, fantasy and desire, slave camps and starships, ring shouts and juke joints, barrelhouses and barber shops, buckets of blood and Neo-hoodoo rituals.
We hear the background radiation. We hear the sonic refusal of Black Civilizations to submit to The Barbarians delusion.
Their unfulfilled wish-projection that several millennia of African cunning and cosmology had somehow wound up bereft of human features.No Gods No memory No Love No history, culture or intellects? Ha. As if, only.
In his visionary and prophetic 1903 essay collection The Souls of Black Folk, WEB Du Bois identifies the earliest genre of those sonic refusals as The Sorrow Songs. Du Bois rightly declares them the only sign from America that human life might still exist there amongst the wages of sin, gin, genocide and technology. The Sorrow Songs affirmed two things—a deep inner life among our enslaved ancestors and a coded language for subverting bondage with tonal espionage and melodic counter-terrorism.
Jaskiran Dhillon, “Indigenous Youth, Urban Realities, and Toxic Embodiment”
This presentation takes up questions of settler state sovereignty and governance and colonial violence with respect to the lives of urban Indigenous youth. More specifically, I trace the ways that urban settler spaces continue to do the work of colonial dispossession in both design and through the violent containment of Indigenous youth.
CONVERSATION Moderator: Constantina Zavitsanos
PERFORMANCE Maria Hupfield, Untitled (Slide Show), 2017.
PAPER Angela Mitropoulos (voiced by Max Fox), “The Art and Performance of Life: Movements, Un/Common Forms and Infrastructure”
Emphasising the concepts of topology, performative contracts and the biophysical ‘art of life,’ this paper suggests a non-Platonist theory of forms, movement and infrastructure set against the limits to freedom of movement. In this paper, the contemporary circumstance of increasing controls on that freedom is approached through an exploration of the choreographies of Loie Fuller and Rudolf Laban, the sublated curve and the völkisch mass chora, the ‘failure to signify’ and the expressionism of fascist kinaesthetics.
PAPER Neferti X. M. Tadiar, “Powers of Expending Life”
In the new global political economy of life, the financialized enterprise of extrajudicial killings undertaken by the Philippine police state under Duterte’s “war on drugs” operates on the logic of derivatives, with dead bodies or spent life as its underlying assets. This talk explores the socio-historical conditions and political significance of the powers of this police machine for expending life, including centrally its connections to vital platforms, the subaltern productive forces of serviceable life (migrant, domestic servitude) driving the new global urbanism. It further re ects on the politics of the word/image in artistic responses to the killings in the context of the fatal, signifying practices of an emergent form of platform totalitarianism.
CONVERSATION Moderator: Simon Leung
ARTWORK Ryan Presley, Crown Land (To the Ends of the Earth), 2016. Oil and gold foil on hoop pine
PAPER Jonathan Beller, “Derivative Living Under the Regime of Informatic Subsumption”
Under conditions in which racial capitalism has not only captured but indeed is the planetary communications infrastructure, the alienation of struggles to survive generates physics and metaphysics as media of war. I sketch the contours of this mise
en scene for multiple pasts and futures, and discuss the work of
a group (ECSA) experimenting with radical finance as a wager in politics, autonomy and community.
DIALOGUE Yazan Khalili & David Kim, I, the Artwork, 2016
I, the Artwork is an artist contract presented in the form of a large-scale photographic print. In its base principles, it is an incisive intervention into the tradition of conceptual art that demands relevance to the context of occupation and colonialism. The contract, as a “Deed of Ownership and Condition of Existence,” establishes the moral rights of the artwork at the fundamental categories of ownership, pro t and obligation. Crucially, in order to be binding in perpetuity, the moral rights are assigned to the artwork as “I, the Artwork,” rather than to the authoring artist. Closing the programme of TOXIC PROPERTIES lawyer and critic David Kim and artist Yazan Khalili will discuss the speculative and material potential of I, the Artwork.
CONVERSATION Moderator: Elizabeth A. Povinelli
EXHIBITION ON VIEW
INTRODUCTION Richard Bell, Embassy, 2013 – onging. Tent (various dimensions), painted signage.
PAPER Adania Shibli, “A Play in One Act, and Many More”
How do the tactics of “playing” and “cunningness” manifest themselves privately and publicly as tenable measures for challenging the toxicity of state sovereignty and countering tyranny, exploitation and deep inequality? Playing and cunningness are increasingly put into practice by Palestinians as means to guarantee their existence where it is caught between the Israeli settler state and a subordinate
Palestinian authority. Among the instances that will be examined are the north Jerusalem neighborhood of Kufer Aqab. With it is increasing concrete high-rise buildings, Kufer Aqab has become a theatre set for Palestinian Jerusalemites to stage plays before the Israeli interior ministry. Here the asset and value
registers of “property”, “address” and “residence” are all chequers in a far greater game of disavowal and expulsion.
Windjarrameru, The Stealing Cnt$ (2015), Karrabing Film Collective (37min)
The programme title “toxic sovereignty” refers to a scene in the lm Windjarrameru: The Stealing Cnt$ where, pursued by police, a group of boys flee into a contaminated swamp giving rise to the memorable line: “We’re safe, too much radiation here; we’re safe.”
The film inscribes the paradoxes of market normativity vis a vis frontier dispossession. A fence line traces the contour of radioactive contamination, while mining activity reveals the shape of subterranean mineral seams. A zip-tie handcuff anticipates the lines of prison walls. Telegraph wires cut through bush areas that are themselves without mobile phone signal. The film’s protagonists are perpetually caught between theft and property—both of which they’d rather do without.
CONVERSATION Richard Bell in conversation with Karrabing Film Collective (Natasha Bigfoot Lewis, Sheree Bianamu, Gavin Bianamu,Rex Edmunds, Rex Sing, Linda Yarrowin, Ethan Jorrock, Elizabeth Povinelli)
CINEMATIC RESPONSE #1 Christian Nyampeta
CINEMATIC RESPONSE #2 Wendelien van Oldenborgh
CINEMATIC RESPONSE #3 Julieta Aranda
Army tent, synthetic polymer paint on board.
Video: Richard Bell, The Dinner Party, 2013.
Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Richard Bell is a renowned artist, activist and provocateur.
Bell’s Embassy is a re-staging of Australia’s longest standing protest action, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy which has stood opposite Parliament House in Canberra from 1972 to the present day. Since 2013, Bell’s Embassy has hosted gatherings of talks, poetry and screenings on the topic of Aboriginal sovereignty in cities including Moscow, Jakarta, Jerusalem, Arnhem and Sydney.
Bonita Ely, THE LOCUST PEOPLE, 1974
Pencil on paper, 22.5 x 30.5 cm.
Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery.
Bonita Ely was one of the rst artists in Australia to be
identi ed with feminist concerns in the 1970s. Rather than social reform or “rights” however, Ely’s practice has always been grounded in a focus on the ecological and colonial consequences of patriarchal violence. The drawing installed in the TOXIC ASSETS exhibition is a sketch towards the larger series C20th Mythological Beasts: At Home with the Locust People, 1975. It was inspired in 1974 when Ely moved to New York with her partner. There she was struck most of all with the city’s air pollution, prompting a deeper re ection upon the human exo-skeleton of the modern city.
HOOGAH BOOGAH, 2009
Acrylic on paper, 76 x 55 cm.
Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.
“Hoogah Boogha” was the first introduction of an incisive conceptual equation that has marked Waanyi artist Gordon Hookey’s vivid practice in painting and sculpture. The formula “They want our spirituality, but not our political reality” very precisely pin-points and refutes the liberal calculus of cultural difference. First spray painted roughly onto card, this phrase has gone on to appear amid elaborate drawings of Kangaroos wearing sun-glasses and bearing arms, along side boxing-gloves painted with the Aboriginal ag, and as an animating force throughout Hookey’s entire oeuvre.
UNTITLED (SLIDE SHOW), 2017
Installation and performance, with augmented slides from the collection of the artists’ father.
Courtesy of the artist.
Untitled (Slide Show) is a 15 min performance by Maria Hupfield in which she will respond to a selection of slides taken by her father John of her mother Peggy’s community on Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario where they lived in the 70’s. This work will move through a combination of scored and unscored representational and abstract movement, visualities and vocalizations that reference archives of cultural knowledge and the management of that knowledge by an outsider (her non-native, Canadian father) to consider inherited legacy across time and possible models for accomplices in conversation with indigenous peoples. Hupfield grounds her work in everyday materials and experiences; during her live performances items displayed in the gallery acquire new meaning.
I, THE ARTWORK, 2016
Framed photographic print 120 x 79.2cm.
Legal consultation Martin Heller.
Commissioned by Riwaq Biennial, with support of Mophradat Courtesy of the artist.
I, The Artwork is an artist contract presented in the form of a large-scale photographic print. In its base principles, it is an incisive intervention into the tradition of conceptual art that demands relevance to the context of occupation and colonialism. The contract, as a Deed of Ownership and Condition of Existence, establishes the moral rights of the artwork at the fundamental categories of ownership, pro t and obligation. Crucially, in order to be binding in perpetuity, the moral rights are assigned to the artwork as “I, The Artwork”, rather than to the authoring artist.
HOME IN THE WILDERNESS, 2012
Handmade paper, archival ink, adhesive, and board. Dimensions: cabin: 12.25 x 18 x 10.5 inches; shed: 3 x 8.25 x 7.25 inches.
Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School of painting, depicted a settler family in their log cabin, a popular domestic motif of the era, in his 1847 painting Home in the Woods (the source for this work). Printed on it are facsimiles of the 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne that, over the objections of Tecumseh and the nations involved, conveyed some three million acres of Indian land to the U.S.
AN INFRASTRUCTURE OF QUASI-EVENTS, 2017
Adhesive vinyl on yellow-painted wall. Commissioned by Frontier Imaginaries, with support of Mondriaan Fund.
Courtesy of the artist.
The work of “modern” African philosophers such as Abbé Alexis Kagame’s La Philosophie bantu-rwandaise de l’être (1956) were works of translations: from oral writing to textual writing, and from “non-philosophy” to “philosophy.” Reading these writers today involves thinking through the limit of the translatability of being: such reading is not only a matter of cultural, disciplinary or linguistic translations, but it involves instead a task of geographic and temporal desedimentation. The infrastructural importance of such works must be underscored. B. Kojo Laing’s 1988 novel Woman of the Aeroplanes lends words at these limits, inviting the index as a mode of transverse visitation.
Elizabeth A. Povinelli
SYMPHONY OF LATE LIBERALISM, 2017
Vinyl wallpaper, felt-tip marker pens, sound and video installation.
With sound score by: Thomas Bartlett and Stefana Fratila
Video contributions by: Miguel Coyula, Bonita Ely, Rui An Ho, Karrabing Film. Collective, Yazan Khalili, Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Naeem Mohaiemen, MTL, Christian Nyampeta, Adania Shibli.
The Symphony of Late Liberalism annotates social, economic and political events in the form of a musical score. On the upper lines, or ‘staff ’, events that have been felt across the work are noted from the 1950s to present. On the lower staff events that express the same transformations in power in north Australia, Jerusalem and New York are marked. For the TOXIC ASSETS exhibition this work as been extended with the Symphony of Late Liberalism, a video installation that evokes the sonic and haptic layers of major melodies and localized counter melodies by which the Symphony plays out as a tactical operation.
CROWN LAND (TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH), 2016
Synthetic polymer paint and gold leaf on hoop pine panel, 53 x 43cm.
Courtesy of the artist.
Aboriginal artist Ryan Presley re-imagines the icon of St George as an allegory of the Northern Territory “Intervention”— or the new regime of discipline over Aboriginal lives inaugurated in 2007. The icon depicts a young Aboriginal woman caught in a canyon between the towers of mining and banking corporations on one side, and the military-industrial presence of US garrisons in Australia on the other.
FREETOWN LOUNGE, 2017
Astro-turf with stencilled slogans and custom upholstered foam blocks.
Commissioned by Frontier Imaginaries, with support of Mondriaan Fund and thanks to Julie Peeters.
Courtesy of the artist.
Over the dealings of the 1667 Treaty of Breda, both New Amsterdam (now New York) and the sugar factories of Surinam were up for bargaining. In 2017 Surinamese-Dutch artist Farida Sedoc comes to New York with a lounge and interior installation for TOXIC ASSETS. The text interventions are inspired by Sedoc’s standpoint in Hip Hop culture, and the fabrics are the Panji style worn extensively in Surinam.
TOXIC ASSETS: Frontier Imaginaries Ed.No3 is supported by Columbia University in particular the Ruth S. Biermann Memorial Meetings, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, the Center for Palestine Studies, the Centre for Ethnomusicology and the Department of Anthropology; by e-flux; and by UnionDocs through their workshops program. The program is made possible through funding support from the Australia Council for the Arts and from the Mondriaan Fund.
Frontier Imaginaries Ed.No3
Curated by: Vivian Ziherl
In dialogue with:
Elizabeth A. Povinelli and Brian Kuan Wood Head of Public Program, e-flux: Amal Issa
Coordinator, Frontier Imaginaries: Andrew Hibbard
General Manager, Frontier Imaginaries: Emilie van Heydoorn Coordinator, Columbia University: Chloé Faux
Coordinator, e-flux: Rivers Plasketes
Technical Team, e-flux: Decade Pictures (camera and broadcast),
Erin Ferro-Murray (sound), David Johnson (artwork assistance), Maxim Evstafyev (installation),
Ray A and Tom McCavera (photography)
Interns: Yining Chen (Frontier Imaginaries) and Jacqueline Kok (e-flux) Graphic Design, flyer & communications: Ziga Testen with James Oates Graphic Design, Symphony of Late Liberalism: Muxingye Chen
With deepest thanks to the generous supporters of the programme, as well as Milani Gallery, Aileen Moreton Robinson, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Nadia Abu el Haj, Ana Ochoa, Yumi Maes, and the International Print Center New York