The Migrant Image

The Migrant Image : The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis

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In The Migrant Image T. J. Demos examines the ways contemporary artists have reinvented documentary practices in their representations of mobile lives: refugees, migrants, the stateless, and the politically dispossessed. He presents a sophisticated analysis of how artists from the United States, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East depict the often ignored effects of globalization and the ways their works connect viewers to the lived experiences of political and economic crisis. Demos investigates the cinematic approaches Steve McQueen, the Otolith Group, and Hito Steyerl employ to blur the real and imaginary in their films confronting geopolitical conflicts between North and South. He analyzes how Emily Jacir and Ahlam Shibli use blurs, lacuna, and blind spots in their photographs, performances, and conceptual strategies to directly address the dire circumstances of dislocated Palestinian people. He discusses the disparate interventions of Walid Raad in Lebanon, Ursula Biemann in North Africa, and Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri in the United States, and traces how their works offer images of conflict as much as a conflict of images. Throughout Demos shows the ways these artists creatively propose new possibilities for a politics of equality, social justice, and historical consciousness from within the aesthetic domain.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 154.94 x 233.68 x 22.86mm | 521.63g
  • Duke University Press
  • North Carolina, United States
  • English
  • 93 illustrations, including 17 in color
  • 0822353407
  • 9780822353409
  • 193,356

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"The Migrant Image provides an in-depth study of contemporary art in a global context, read through the specific lens of migration. T. J. Demos offers a seamless bridge between a critical and informed art history and an authoritative presentation of the socio-political interests that are essential to contextualizing each artist's practice. The achievement of The Migrant Image is to provide a full and rich justification for our paying attention to these works as multi-layered and probing artistic gestures that also have the capacity to renew a political imagination." -- Claire Bishop, author of Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship "T. J. Demos has established himself as a leading critic of politically engaged art, especially as it pertains to the main topic of this book, migration in the more general sense, and migration under late modern, late capitalist globalization. Nowhere else can readers access so many profiles of key works by these artists, or see their work read so deftly and thoroughly from relevant theoretical perspectives." -- Terry Smith, author of Contemporary Art: World Currents "The Migrant Image is an important reflection on a form of art practice marked by the 'posts' of postmodern critique and a political commitment to oppose prepackaged discourses of crisis, austerity, and futile resistance. In a timely way, Demos shows the two are compatible. The Migrant Image will stimulate fascinating debates in the academic, artistic, and documentary spheres. In triangulating among these camps Demos brings down the barriers separating them." -- Alex Fattal Public Books "Think of T.J. Demos's The Migrant Image as a field guide to art for those interested in the politics of human rights, globalization, migration, and war." -- Ryan Wong Hyperallergic "T. J. Demos's The Migrant Image is the most comprehensive and in-depth scholarly investigation of the effects that globalization has had on contemporary artistic practice over the past three decades. The scope of Demos's investigation is impressive, most notably in his unpacking and explication of key terms in global art discourse that have proven problematic, and at times elusive. The effects of globalization on creative and intellectual practices in the arts has been a controversial subject that has eluded easy consensus - and Demos skilfully brings a much needed legibility to a discussion that is as divisive as it is complex." -- Derek Conrad Murray Third Text "Demos's deft criticism means that he is able to bring together a broad range of artwork and argue very persuasively in each case for its effectiveness... His authorial voice rings crystal clear throughout the analysis of this range and mix of artistic practice." -- James Day Art History

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About T. J. Demos

T. J. Demos is Reader in Art History at University College London. He is the author of Dara Birnbaum-Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman and The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp.

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