Most of the readings of James Cameron's Avatar as a subversive film focus on the alleged critique provided by the film on predatory corporate capitalism, the destruction of the environment and the planet, the colonisation and annihilation of indigenous people, and the militarisation of the globe through the ‘security bubble’ generated by ‘disaster capitalism’. As such, the film has been read allegorically as an anti-corporatist, anti-capitalist, anti-militarist and anti-colonialist-imperialist text which champions the environment and the rights of indigenous people (and non-human animals) against the alliance of the military-industrial complex with science and technology. This article focuses on how the major interpretative frameworks of reading Avatar against the grain of the Hollywood blockbuster resonate with the Palestinian condition and therefore made the film popular with the Palestinian non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation and colonisation.
This article chronicles several visits to Germany's most prominent Holocaust monuments: Peter Eisenman's Holocaust Memorial and Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum, both located in Berlin. Juxtaposing memories with observation, the author argues that in the German national imaginary Eisenman's and Libeskind's architecture of abstraction offers a space for ‘wall love’: a certain German nostalgia for the innocence of a history that never was; a longing for the return of the Berlin Wall, that safeguard of German post-war identity.
Communism has influenced art practices for nearly a century, yet studies on how artists from post-Socialist countries respond to their Communist heritage remain limited in both scope and depth. This article examines how Chinese artists today appropriated, investigated and performed their revolutionary legacy. This article surveys a variety of practices while focusing on the Long March Project (2002), a group project that re-enacted a legendary episode of the Chinese Communist Party in its original locale. While many artists under discussion confront the Communist legacy with a combination of irony and nostalgia, some simulate Maoist strategies to shed new light on issues in contemporary art – its increasing detachment from a wider audience and its persistent fetishisation of individuality. The grassroots and improvisational approach of the Long March, the author argues, leads to a ‘communal aesthetics’: an art practice that appears genuinely collaborative, engaging and provocative in its geo-historical specificity yet falls flat when displayed in institutional settings.
Questions of cultural identity and the status of non-Western artists in the West have been important to the discourses on contemporary art for at least two decades. This article considers the connections between the critical discourse on cultural identity, the globalisation of the artworld and the adoption of multicultural policies by Western art institutions. It is argued that discussions from the last two decades have not only made it clear that institutional multiculturalism is not the answer to the problem of attaining ‘true’ recognition of non-Western artists, but have also revealed that critical discourse on identity politics has not come up with solutions either. In fact, it is marred by the same binary thinking and mechanisms of exclusion that it aims to deconstruct. To get beyond the present deadlock of the critical discourse on identity politics it is necessary to reconsider the works of art themselves from an aesthetic and epistemological point of view.
Conventional analyses of the Cold War rely on a static binary division between the US and the USSR. This article, focusing on art and film production in Italy between 1946 and 1963, reveals a more complex and dynamic interaction between cultures beyond this binary. In Cold War Italy, important cultural exchanges and networks emerged across political, national and intellectual boundaries. By placing an Italian case study at the centre of the analysis, we propose more generally that Cold War art and cinema should be read as culturally inventive, politically charged and globally networked in unexpected ways. These networks provide us with new directions for understanding Cold War cultures and how they presage present-day globalisation.
Naomi Klein's book-length essay The Shock Doctrine (2007) draws extensively from Latin American history, theorists and fiction writers. The article elucidates such borrowings in the context of the broader multimedia phenomenon to which the book has given rise, showing how several of its cognate cultural products share a tendency to ventriloquise Latin American interpretations of history in the name of solidarity. Two distinct sources inform Klein's argument: the motif of blood in Eduardo Galeano's The Open Veins of Latin America (1971) and the strategies of narrative estrangement in César Aira's novels. A sympathetic yet critical analysis of these influences calls to question the notion of shock itself, particularly its tactical and pedagogical oversimplification of the political history of the Southern Cone. While Klein seeks to move the centre of the political spectrum to the left, a radicalisation of her Latin American readings suggests the need to move the centre south.
This article argues that modern art has always had a complex relationship to the idea of revolution, at the same time embodying and articulating a critique of modern capitalist society as well as consolidating the same society. From Romanticism onwards art has sought to transgress the discursive and institutional limits of the art institution and to transcend the separation of art and everyday life. Today much of what goes by the name of contemporary art is rarely able to continue this destructive project. A notable exception is the milieu that has published Tiqqun and L'Insurrection qui vient (The Coming Insurrection), combining elements from the revolutionary tradition as well as avant-garde art working towards a communisation of everyday life under conditions of spectacle.
THIRD TEXT is published in print and online by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group