Displacing Modernism


Form and Failure
David Platzer (Adobe Systems)

This presentation offers a reading of Gregory Bateson’s sole ethnography Naven. More specifically, it focuses on Bateson’s repeated insistences that the book, which takes the form of three divergent accounts of a single ceremonial form, was a failure. In analyzing the meaning of “failure” in relation to the form of the text, and its objectives, at once epistemic and aesthetic, I aim to elucidate the aporias, indeed the double-binds, that animated Bateson’s oeuvre.

Haltung: Care Considers Crossing the River
Paul Rabinow (UC Berkeley)

Dying Imges’ Afterlives: Grasping a Gestus
Anthony Stavrianakis (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Chinese Documentary Film and the Displaced Stranger
Darren Byler (University of Washington)

Western critics often assume that Chinese documentary film that addresses displaced ethnic others operates from the position of the heroic, liberal auteur. This video essay places Ai Weiwei’s film on the global refugee crisis called Human Flow in conversation with a documentary called Mountain Goat Hill produced by the photographer Tian Lin near Ai Weiwei’s hometown in the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. Both films examine displaced Muslim populations from a Han perspective. This essay discusses how the history of ethnic minority representation in socialist China informs contemporary Chinese film. By making this explicit, this essay displaces the primacy of the western critic in thinking about a Chinese decolonial aesthetics.

Migrant Gardens, Rogue Plants and Inner City Imaginaries in Sydney, Australia
Alexandra Crosby & Ilaria Vanni Accarigi (University of Technology Sydney)

Our research is situated in the gardens of Marrickville, in the inner city of Sydney on the land of the Cadigal and Wangal people of the Eora nation. As the current home of a large population of migrants, Marrickville is as a contact zone between a Mediterranean and a tropical imaginary, between industrial landscapes and residential streets. Gardens are considered here as a practice of constant translation, reinvention and ‘redistribution of the sensible’ (Ranciere 2004), one where plants, as well as humans, play a key role.

Seaside Lament
Anand Pandian (Johns Hopkins University)

“Speechlessness,” Walter Benjamin suggested, “is the great sorrow of nature.” Think, for example, of the plastic fossil remnants that assume an ever greater prominence in the landscapes of the present. If these things could speak, what would they say?