Third Text

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Online ISSN: 0952-8822
Publications
Article
This article articulates the significance and multiplicity of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) and its legacies and sets the stage for this special issue on Art and Revolution in Mexico. In particular, a line is drawn between scholars who examine and contribute to the comprehension of the diverse nature of the war and its legacies and revisionists and neo-revisionists who have a more singular approach to the rebellion and its narrative. An interrogation of problematic frameworks that have been applied to Mexican history and art history includes: the Caudillo (or great man) based conception of history, the Corporativist model of state patronage, and a structuralist/post-modernist model. As part of his critique the author discerns major structural and institutional changes that occurred between 1910 and 1940 that were unique to Mexico, including the Constitution of 1917, separation of Church and State, a national literacy campaign, and agrarian land reform.
 
Article
Discusses the writings of Antonio Negri regarding the 'tradition' or 'school of Italian autonomist or post-workerist Marxism, and focuses on 'Arte e Multitudo'. The author comments on Negri's involvement with art, describes the political context of his work, and discusses Negri's periodisation of the modern correlation of art/labour/politics. He explains the notion of singularity, considers the ethics dimension in Negri's work, and comments that he considers the dominant theme of 'Arte e Multitudo' to be the resurrection of an emancipatory politics in the midst of postmodern abstraction.
 
Article
This article addresses aesthetics in Latin America through an exploration of the meaning and impact of ideological theories proposed by thinkers including Karl Marx, Herbert Marcuse, Immanuel Kant and Sigmund Freud. It looks at the implications that these theories have for aesthetics as a critique of society and the potential of revolutionary utopian strategies to counter the capitalist law of value.
 
Article
This article examines Georges Bataille's notion of revolution-as-festival and his attempt, in his writing of the 1930s, to place theories of affect within the framework of Marxist philosophy. Against the various negative characterisations of this project, it looks at Bataille's ideas in this period in context, in order to understand their vivid contradictions as an attempt to assert a positive project of affect's utility to the Left, within and against negative categories in early twentieth-century cultural and critical thought.
 
Article
This article investigates the centenary celebrations of the Angel Island immigration station (off the coast of California) in order to think through how this site configures the island in relation to issues of Chinese migration, time and tourism. Moving through four interrelated performance events – a dance-theatre piece, the tour of the station, theatrical re-enactments of detainee interviews and the exhibition of a junk – the author identifies and elaborates a concept of fugitive temporality and related insular phenomena that come into relief through the twining of performance and memory. These phenomena include the production of boredom and intimacy as well as the construction of an antipodal imaginary. These phenomena thus become different optics to think through insularity in relation to the social reproduction of Chineseness and Americanness.
 
Article
The relative neglect that art from the communist period of former Eastern Bloc countries suffers now has much to do with the dominant ideologies of the present and the consequent preconceptions and framings that have been retrospectively imposed. This article argues the need for critical analysis of such preconceptions and framings themselves, and of their ideological underpinnings. Three sections take up different modes of retrospective disposal of art from the communist Eastern Bloc: the first discusses divisions between the 'official' and the 'unofficial' made for such art; the second focuses on the overdetermination of the schism between pre-1989 and post-1989, or loosely the before and after of the 1980s; and the third analyses influential accounts of 'totalitarian art' which developed primarily in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The latter, it is argued, are not merely accounts of totalitarianism but are also totalistic themselves.
 
Article
A review article of Mary K Coffey's How Revolutionary Art Became Official Culture: Murals, Museums, and the Mexican State. This article is a discussion of the interaction of art and politics in Mexico in the post-revolutionary decades, focusing on the development of three museums, the Palace of Fine Arts, the National History Museum, and the National Anthropology Museum. It considers how the works of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siquieros and José Clemente Orozco are seen in the discussions of art historians Mary Coffey and David Craven.
 
Article
This article examines the development of Mexican art after the Mexican Revolution. This text identifies and investigates historical figures, vanguard art movements and artists who have contributed to the development of Mexican art in general and Mexican Muralism in particular. By considering how the Mexican civil war enabled the convergence of interests of both the state and artists and examining developments in vanguard Mexican art of the twentieth century, the author invites rethinking about whether mural painting was or was not official or state art.
 
Article
Discusses the video work of Turkish film-maker Kutlug Ataman curated under the title 'De-Regulation', and the subsequent research project developed out of this entitled 'Istanbul - Skin of the City' which includes photographs, a 'visual essay' by Stefan Roemer, an archive of wedding cultures throughout Turkey assembled by Nermin Saybasili, television, posters, books and magazines. The author describes Ataman's video installations, many of which include female subjects, considers the focus on Turkish lives, examines the fictions of identification in many of the video testimonies, and comments on sexuality in the narratives. She considers what is meant by experience and comments on her interest in creolised subjects.
 
Article
This article examines commonalities and differences between the literary and artistic avant-gardes in Mexico and Peru during the 1920s, as well as instances of direct exchange between Mexican writers and artists and Peruvian exiles in Mexico. It traces the ways in which works of literature and art conceptualized the avant-garde in relation to modernity and/or social justice. Debates around contemporary aesthetics, especially the perspectives of José Carlos Mariátegui and Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre, are addressed, as are the Mexican avant-garde movements Estridentismo and 30-30!.
 
Article
This article argues that a new image of the West Indies as affordable tourist paradise was consolidated from colonial tropes in the 1950s to promote the introduction of mass-market tourism in the region. Tourism is now the region's leading industry and it reproduces the economic and social relations of colonial society so closely that it warrants the term neo-colonial. However, this neo-colonial image was shaped by competing interests, Britain's loss of empire and the United States' ascent to imperial superpower on the one hand, and on the other, the US struggle for Civil Rights and West Indian nationalism – and their interaction with culture – and their interaction with Caribbean, US and British culture. This article sheds light on the construction of this image by examining two texts that contributed to it greatly: Darryl Zanuck's film Island in the Sun (1957), and Alec Waugh's 1955 novel on which it was based.
 
Article
This article addresses the constructions of Mexican graphic art history. In particular, a select group of recent exhibitions and their accompanying catalogues will be examined in relation to the narrative development of Mexican graphic art. How El Taller de Gráfica Popular (The Workshop for Popular Graphic Art) or TGP, a graphic art collective founded in Mexico City in 1937, is situated with Mexican art history is a primary concern of this article; it also addresses the significance of the Mexican Revolution to the TGP. In particular, this article analyses two prints by TGP member artists from the 1947 portfolio Las Estampas de la Revolución Mexicana (Prints of the Mexican Revolution) with a focus on the graphic collective's approach to narratives of the war.
 
Article
In using key texts of Marx and Engels against all dogmatic schools of Marxism, Adolfo Sánchez Vázquez accomplished a major theoretical shift by revalidating ‘modern art’ from within the Marxist tradition, so that ‘socialist pluralism’, and not any single doctrine of ‘social realism’, seemed most consistent with the vantage point of Marx. Sánchez Vázquez wrote significant art criticism about the murals of Diego Rivera in which he deftly applied his concept of non-normative Marxism. Remaining focused on Rivera, in this article Sánchez Vázquez concentrates on the characteristics and deliberates the roles of political art. The author examines how and why Rivera's artwork is political in nature and cites a diverse range of evidence to make his point. Sánchez Vázquez also evaluates the aesthetic quality of Rivera's work and makes connections between the Mexican artist and Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya, Eugène Delacroix and Honoré Daumier.
 
Article
Political traumas and ethnic antagonisms in Taiwan emphasize the need for a reconsideration of the intervulnerable relation between island imaginaries and mainland ideological violence. Premiered at Metropolitan Hall in Taipei City on 28 October 2011, Golden Bough Theatre's musical Pirates and Formosa presents images of pirates of different races and genders surviving on the island, theatricalizing an islandscape that challenges the official, Kuomintang-advanced, historical grand narrative that has relied upon Confucian gender norms and the exclusion of women as subjects of nation-building processes. Combining local queer debates and camp discussions with island theories, this project sees the performance as a queer, de-hegemonic, and postcolonial discourse, which fashions a queer island disidentification that undoes the truth-claims of nationalist identitarianism and queers the Chinese-centrist identity as the ‘descendants of dragon’ that the Kuomintang has promoted for the past sixty years.
 
Article
This article chronicles the development and critical underpinnings of an inter-insular exhibition and editorial project curated by two Canary Islander specialists, art critic and literary scholar Nilo Palenzuela and art historian and curator Orlando Britto. The project, named Horizontes Insulares/Insular horizons, focused on contemporary art and literary practices in a range of island and insular locations. Occurring in 2010–2011, it brought together visual artists and authors from Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Cape Verde, Madeira, Azores, La Réunion, French Guiana and the Canary Islands. The itinerant exhibition included a multi-lingual edition of twelve books featuring work by writers and artists, a substantial exhibition catalogue, and the multi-site exhibition itself which travelled from the Canary Islands to Madeira, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Martinique. Seeking to explore and explain the exhibition's guiding principles, the article delves deep into an Atlantic, inter-insular and inter-oceanic consciousness that is both historically aware and decidedly forward-looking.
 
Article
Cornford & Cross were invited to contribute a paper for a special edition of “Third Text” focused on collaboration. The article explored the limits of collaboration and the tolerance and intolerances of institutions in the wake of the museum’s incorporation of post-conceptual practice. Writing about their art practice and nature of collaboration in relation to the institution, Cornford & Cross questioned the privileging of the art object, and the role of artists primarily as being either to produce such objects for consumption, or to facilitate community involvement in urban regeneration. Cornford & Cross do produce objects, installations and images, and they do engage in a range of interactions with various organizations and groups. However, the distinguishing aspect of their practice is ‘action research’, a process of creative and critical collaboration, which may transform social relations.
 
Article
This article explores Singapore's Gardens by the Bay as a sci-fi botany fantasy and a postcolonial super garden of the twenty-first century. The Gardens presents an island botany complex that internalizes imperial horticultural display for an electric tropicality powered by biodiversity, sustainable energy, and a global ambition for the postcolony. Its award-winning cooled conservatories and Supertree Grove are all emblems of this futuristic vision. Using the architectural and botanical performance of the Gardens as the basis for reading this complex, Lim considers its cool design and sensory logics as an aesthetic and vision of transnational performance in the twenty first century. This is a new iteration of island performance that also marks Singapore's allegorical transmogrification from tropical colony to global city to transnational island.
 
Article
This article analyses a set of photographic works on island and littoral locations by German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans. Focusing initially on one of Tillmans' signature images, Untitled (La Gomera), 1997, the article draws attention to this piece's originating context in the island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands. The critical narrative expands to include other island and littoral photographs to sketch a series of ‘frames’, from notions of process, scene, borders and the elemental, to escape and mobilities. The text locates its readings in dialogue with Tillmans' most recent project, Neue Welt, as a way to think about contemporary ways of producing and altering island images that depart from longstanding island imaginaries of the tropical Atlantic and other, similar oceanic locations. The article concludes by arguing that an ‘aesthetics off the margin’ can be teased out of Tillmans' photographic shores and islandscapes.
 
Article
Mexican culture from the 1920s to the 1940s was strongly influenced by the work of artists with a common aesthetic proposal embracing socialism, public art and social content in parallel with the creation of innovative languages of which nationalism formed an essential part. These artists include certain painters, members of the muralist movement and, in the area of photography, artists such as Tina Modotti. This article focuses on some of the points of contact between the common language of muralists' artistic expression and the images created by Modotti. Similarly, attention is given to concrete examples from the Tina Modotti photographic collection held by the Institute of Aesthetic Studies (IIE) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), that reproduce the mural works of Diego Rivera at the Ministry of Public Education and Chapingo, together with those of José Clemente Orozco at the National Preparatory School in San Ildefonso.
 
Article
Artist Mariko Mori's series Present from Beginning of the End grounds an island imaginary in visual iterations of global urban centres, belying notions of insularity and periphery. Globalization, this article argues, has disappeared the connotations of island imaginaries and spaces from the four global cities, each also islands, represented across Present. The series nuances the term ‘island’, exposing the disparities that exist between islands; not all islands are understood as equal in relationship to global economic and political power. Mori's photographs link the island and the alien as imbricated analytics, asserting the two as pivotal geopolitical markers of a global urban present. Mori's photo series remaps temporal and spatial narratives of globalization via the alien and the island, questioning the ways in which the processes of globalization attach to bodies, and the ways in which finance dictates the terms of global contact and the creation of networks.
 
Article
The most recent revisionist accounts of Mexican muralism – and in particular that provided by Leonard Folgarait – have read the murals produced by los tres grandes – Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros – through a Foucauldian prism based upon a Poulantzian theory of the state. Eliding the concept of human agency and its complicated relationship to state patronage, these interpretations read off the imperatives of state ideology into the various murals sponsored by successive post-revolutionary governments. Consequently, the muralists become unreflexive agents of counter-revolution, and the political differences between them, and between them and the post-revolutionary governments that patronized them, largely insignificant. Following the suggestive readings of Meyer Schapiro and David Craven, the author introduces a more complex theory of the Mexican state into an analysis of the murals that it sponsored to allow for a far more differentiated and nuanced reading that properly contextualizes this important political medium as a site of active struggle.
 
Article
Using a post-revisionist framework, this article considers the engagement of unions and leftist artists in the two decades after the Mexican Revolution by exploring the organizational attempts of both in relation to artistic representations of the working class. The divergent visions of radical and reformist workers of the 1920s are explored respectively by contrasting the class-based and internationalist wood block prints of David Alfaro Siqueiros and Xavier Guerrero in the proto-communist journal El Machete with the nationalist, art nouveau images in the Revista CROM, published by the dominant, officialist labour confederation. These distinct traditions converged in the 1930s, under the Communist Party concept of the ‘Popular Front’ that helped unify artists and workers behind the progressive nationalist project of President Lázaro Cardenas, a pattern exemplified by the Mexican Electricians Union (Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas, SME), the Confederation of Mexican Workers (Confederación de Trabajadores de México, CTM) and the images of workers in the Revista Lux and by artists such as Santos Balmori of the League of Revolutionary Artists and Writers (Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios, LEAR).
 
Article
Since 2008, the inaugural year of an ongoing ‘crisis’, globalization has strongly emerged as an economic, rather than cultural, reality in the making – principally through a conflict between capital and labour. As feminism tackles the gendered division of labour, what kind of context does ‘the 2008 effect’ illuminate for the struggle to end gender and sex-based oppression, and how are feminist narratives of art contributing to this struggle? With the aim of encouraging a feminist dialogue on this urgent question, three lines of feminist opposition are identified that can be practised in the art world: a) resistance to the historicization of feminism, as feminist knowledge is indispensible for subverting globalization as crisis; b) a commitment to a biopolitical paradigm implying a shift of emphasis from the partiality of the ‘body’ to the more rounded concept of ‘life’; c) an exploration of the potential offered by feminist collectivism and a practice of seeking alliances rather than advocating insular, and separatist, feminist platforms.
 
Article
This article takes at its point of the departure the practice of transracial adoption of children and adults. During the colonial period, it was not only non-white native children or adults who were adopted by white colonisers and settlers; the opposite also occurred. The existence of these ‘inverted’ transracial adoptions is well-documented in literary and autobiographical texts and historical documents, as well as in art and visual culture. At that time, the white transracial adoptee who had been transformed into the Other was stigmatised and even demonised as something of an ethno-racial monster transgressing the boundaries between Europeans and non-Europeans. This article aims to re-conceptualise transracial adoption within the framework of the fundamental inability of Europeans to attach to the lands and peoples outside Europe by making use of the concepts of indigenisation and autochtonisation.
 
Article
Hélio Oiticica's artistic practice moved through a number of discrete, though related, conceptual phases, each with its own distinctive articulation and each bounding one or more series of works. Each successive phase of Oiticica's work developed out of his attempt to resolve the challenges raised by a preceding phase. His work was explicitly dialectical in this sense and its philosophical sophistication marks its distinctiveness in ways that are only beginning to be recognised. In the work the artist developed in New York between 1970 and 1978, elaborating on the concept of ‘creleisure’ that he had conceived in London in 1969, Oiticica proposed nothing less than a revolution in the idea of aesthetic revolution. Creleisure was a neologism that combined the senses of creativity, faith, leisure and pleasure, but in order to understand the concept's full significance it is necessary to trace its relation to the aesthetics of Schiller and Marcuse and Latin American foquismo theory.
 
Article
The effects of oil exploration in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria have attracted serious concern on a global scale, largely thanks to the initiative of Ken Saro-Wiwa. In spite of the activities of environmental activists the region remains an epitome of environmental disaster. This has given rise to an impressive body of work by poets and visual artists enunciating the environmental challenges in this oil-rich region. The authors examine the common thread that is shared in this corpus within the larger context of education in eco-aesthetics and social responsibility, considering the relationship that currently exists between oil-producing communities and the multinational oil corporations. This position is anchored on the insights offered by current thought in eco-ethics and eco-aesthetics. Previous efforts to ameliorate these effects failed; what is now required is a strong synergy between aesthetic/environmental education and social function.
 
Article
The Three Gorges Dam (TGD) is currently the world's largest hydroelectric project. The difficulty of coming to terms with the TGD lies not only in its extensive effects on the ground, but also in the ways in which its history has been enmeshed in global networks of finance, business, politics and activism. This article considers how the uncertainties generated by the dam translate into aesthetic phenomena that in turn illuminate the contours of globality in China. The first part of this article examines a public park built near the TGD the purpose of which is to frame and fix the dam's ideological meaning for tourists and visitors. The second part considers the work of contemporary Chinese painter Liu Xiaodong, whose large-scale paintings depicting displaced peoples constitute a broader critique of painting and realism. Despite their markedly different stances, both foreground the conceptual boundary between art and the world as part of a complex engagement with globality.
 
Article
This article discusses the film La Negra Angustias (1949), directed by Matilde Landeta. Angustias was a poor mulata country girl who joined the Mexican Revolution at its beginning and became a colonel in the Zapatista army.The film was directed by a pioneer of the film industry in Mexico. It tells a fascinating story of great aesthetic quality, and is also a critical film in terms of gender, race and class. The treatment of the relationship between genders and the way of understanding the feminine are exceptional in Mexican cinematography of the first half of the twentieth century. Matilde Landeta was one of the few directors of social conscience to empower women and to show the hidden face of poverty, racism and social injustice in general.
 
Article
Beginning with a critique of Thierry de Duve's return to Kantian aesthetics in order to rescue art from a commodified culture exemplified by the art biennial, this article argues that the globalised proliferation of biennials is a symptom of a broader problem: the hegemony of the exhibition form in the public's encounter with art. The analysis focuses on the concept of globalisation and what it hides from view; participatory art and the post-documentary artwork, with video essay as an example, as two radical tendencies associated with experiential, co-operative knowledge generated in the social field; and the rhetoric of specific exhibitions – ‘Documenta XI’ (2002) and ‘Altermodern’ (2009) – addressing globalisation. The continual reproduction of the exhibition form performs an important role in post-Fordism and ensures a transcription of art as immaterial, affective labour, marginalising the more complex forms of labour that produce the artwork when globalisation becomes the latter's production site.
 
Article
The artist has been both fascinated and repulsed in unequal measure by images of himself; the idea of self has been a recurrent theme in his work. His feelings about being photographed border on the phobic and he felt compelled to make works that could loosely be termed self-portraits, but showing those things about himself that cause him the most unease. For a recent show at the John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, he showed Once Bitten, a large photographic close-up of his badly-bitten finger nails. Smith states: ‘I hate this part of me, but at the same time I think I needed to expose it.’ The images on these pages show the artist when he had a very short haircut to discover what kind of head he had: ‘Well, it turned out to be a disappointment, but as usual I had felt the urge to out this image by publicly sharing it. Maybe this is what art does, it allows us to rid ourselves of our failings and explore the dark side. Whatever the reason, the following pages are my answer to a question no one asked of me.’
 
Article
Paul O'Kane's Dutch Diary is a report on a visit to several cities in the Netherlands exploring the art, history and politics of cultural diversity that has become increasingly contentious in the so-called post-colonial societies of twenty-first century Europe. The Diary employs an empirical, creative writing approach related to Walter Benjamin's tradition of the flâneur to dramatise current issues rooted both in art history and contemporary art.
 
Article
This article argues that the films of Abbas Kiarostami and Pedro Costa propose new forms of political subjectivity which hover between the real and the fictional, the present and the future. What distinguishes their films is a focus on marginalised groups that resists representing them either in a predetermined ‘documentary’ manner or in a ‘fictional’ form in which identities are granted psychological ‘interiority’. In their films ‘real’ characters play themselves rather than simply ‘be’ themselves. This is cinema that insists on what Gilles Deleuze calls ‘the power of the false’, which allows a character not to be ‘represented’ but to become-another. The films are thus emblematic of recent theoretical efforts to articulate a political form of subjectivity that will not be subsumed under a unified form of representation.
 
Article
Ina Blom's 2007 book On the Style Site: Art, Sociality, and Media Culture is the most sustained attempt so far to analyse, from the perspective of post-autonomist debates concerning biopolitics and immaterial labour, the work of some of the most prolific international artists to emerge during the 1990s. This article specifies Blom's claims before examining in greater detail the key theoretical assumptions underlying her argument that the ‘style site works’ of Pierre Huyghe, Philippe Parreno, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and others are most attuned to contemporary possibilities for critical practice. Blom's defence of these artists' immanent engagements with spectacle and style, namely the biopolitical mantra that life-time and work-time have become indivisible as a result of the proliferation of media technologies into every corner of contemporary life, is at best parochial and at worst contradictory. Blom's theory rests on the problematic claim that communication and sociality – characterised by plenitude – are today productive of surplus-value, which in the classical Marxian analysis results from the variability of supply, and hence fundamental scarcity, of labour.
 
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