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
  • North Carolina, United States
  • English
  • 93 illustrations, including 17 in color
  • 0822353407
  • 9780822353409
  • 219,640

Table of contents

Illustrations vii

Check-In: A Prelude xiii

Charting a Course: Exile, Diaspora, Nomads, Refugees: A Genealogy of Art and Migration 1

Departure A. Moving Images of Globalization 21

1. Indeterminacy and Bare Life in Steve McQueen's Western Deep 33

2. "Sabotaging the Future": The Essay-Films of the Otolith Group 54

3. Hito Steyerl's Traveling Images 74

Transit: Politicizing Aesthetics 90

Departure B. Life Full of Holes 95

4. The Art of Emily Jacir: Dislocation and Politicization 103

5. Recognizing the Unrecognized: The Photographs of Ahlam Shibli 124

6. The Right of Opacity: On the Otolith Group's Nervus Rerum 144

Transit: Going Offshore 160

Departure C. Zones of Conflict 169

7. Out of Beirut: Mobile Histories and the Politics of Fiction 177

8. Video's Migrant Geography: Ursula Biemann's Sahara Chronicle 201

9. Means without End: Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri's Camp Campaign 221

Destination: The Politics of Aesthetics during Global Crisis 245

Acknowledgments 251

Notes 255

Bibliography 305

Index 323
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Review quote

"Framing contemporary artworks dealing with the theme of migration within the twenty-first century context of 'crisis globalization,' Demos engages with a growing and interdisciplinary body of scholarship on neoliberalism and uneven development. The book's main intervention, however, is within the subfield of global contemporary art history, where it will serve as a very useful text for students, researchers, critics, and curators concerned with the relationship between art and politics in the post-September 11 era." -- Tammer Salah El-Sheikh * Arab Studies Journal * "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 * "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 * "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 * "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 *
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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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Rating details

16 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 25% (4)
4 25% (4)
3 44% (7)
2 6% (1)
1 0% (0)
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