Attention as Contact: Art, Objects, Agencies


Residue: Proximal Interactions
Trudi Lynn Smith & Kate Hennessy (Simon Fraser University)

Residue is an ongoing project that documents examples of anarchival materiality in archives. Chemical reactions, mould, rot, and other proximal interactions render archival materials as fugitives––eluding preservation, and anarchival––marked for destruction. Proximal Interactions was created at the British Columbia Provincial Archives and is shown as a two-channel video projection.

Corpse Pose
Karthik Pandian (Harvard University)

On the expeditions she organized in preparation for her monumental Field Museum commission of the early 1930s, American sculptor Malvina Hoffman used her self-proclaimed capacity to see and identify “true” racial types to create a bronze sculpture representing my family’s caste, the Nadars of Tamil Nadu, India. In this video, I step into her vision, casting myself as a living sculpture, indebted more to the street performances of stillness which “occupy” migrant South Asian men in the streets of Rome today than the patina of truth which continues to vex both the artistic and anthropological pretensions of Hoffman’s work.

Object(live)ly Speaking
Carmen Lamothe & Adam Van Sertima (Concordia University)

This short video presents our object centered story-telling method and its relationship to our recent ethnographic research. Our approach is to use objects of personal significance to those we speak to which in turn elicits deeper accounts of their lives. Through imaginative interpretation of the words we record, we attempt to let those objects speak. In this case, the objects belong to women working as drivers in the Canadian trucking industry, with its intrinsic elements of displacement.

The Garage
Joella Bitter (Duke University)

In September, one of my field sites in Gulu, Uganda—a mechanics garage and petrol station—was demolished so that a new one could be built. This 6-minute presentation meditates on some methodological, material, and temporal displacements involved. Working visually in 3 parts, this piece layers footage of the construction process with still memory-images from the garage with typewritten text recalling a field note practice. Ambient sounds create additional layers and serve as a kind of voice. This layering, with alternating simultaneity and discontinuity, draws attention to the entwining of practices of urbanization and ethnography.

The Portable Studio
Alex Nichols & Mushi Wooseong James (Alexandmushi)

Alex Nichols and Mushi Wooseong James use art systems to isolate different forms of nonverbal language across multiple cultures to examine unifying core forms of communication. The Portable Studio is a life size box built of foam core that unfolds into an eight foot white space carried into communities, inviting two people at a time into the box to play: with just two rules of no talking & no touching. This experience becomes a catalyst for an ongoing and meaningful dialogue around how we experience communication and connection as humans and how our cultures influence these experiences.

The Fertilizers’ Guided Tour of Athens, Europe’s Hippest Capital of Resistance
Niki Soumpassis & Christos-Georgios Kritikos (NTU Athens)

Deploying ethnographic fiction as a methodology and incorporating semi-academic marginalia, we have created a guided tour of Athens, presenting some of its “topographies of resistance”, critically exploring narratives that aestheticize notions of resistance. Adopting a foucauldian stance – according to which resistance is actually part of the mechanism of power relations – we consider that certain perceptions of Athens’ resistance specimens are leading to essentialist narratives and practices. The FERTILIZERS© will serve as a metaphor, that calls for a critical approach of the aestheticization and iconographies of resistance(s)