ENVISION: Collaborations of Art, Analysis, and Activism
Call for Papers Date:
ENVISION: Collaborations of Art, Analysis, and Activism invites scholarly essays and artist/activist presentations for its Spring 2012 issue entitled “THE SPECTACULAR.” We seek concrete examples from the field (specifically Africa and the Americas including the Caribbean), essays, artistic presentations of the spectacular and its myriad consequences, as well as theoretical explorations that strive to make sense of the spectacular in ways that are practical and useful to social change efforts.This issue of ENVISION explores the subjects, social processes, and representational practices of the spectacular. We welcome work that explores the spectacular as a catalyst, as a strategy, and as a shifting field of expression in which various entities interact in differing and often forceful ways.
This issue is concerned with ongoing violence that prompts forms of the spectacular, both as a vehicle of social inclusion and visibility, and as a form of “counter” performance by states, corporations, or other entities. In response to the visual politics of what journalists now refer to as “Arab Spring,” this issue considers Donald Goldstein’s definition of spectacle as “a form of political action based on visual display, undertaken by specifically positioned social groups and actors attempting to stamp society with their own agenda” (2004: 18).
On the one hand, we can approach the spectacular as a visible response to the failures of the post/neolibereal project: a virulent collective embodiment in which disenfranchised people make demands on a state that is unable or unwilling to provide security, safety, or hope. As with protestors in Libya and London, spectacle becomes a way for people ordinarily excluded from political discourse to force themselves into the public eye, perhaps violently. Spectacle may be global publicity for people who suffer state violence waged in the name of market reforms and ongoing oppressions of economic iniquity. We can also consider spectacle, in this iteration, to be both political and performative: reimagining the invisible, reinventing the historic.
At the same time, the spectacular requires the observer. Rather than indexical or referring only to a specific event, the visual representation of spectacle may become ubiquitous, its reinterpretation endless. Much like the 2009 Green Movement protests in Iran, where officials posted images of alleged offenders and asked the public to identify individuals, there are a broad spectrum of social and political activities that modulate spectacular events. While the ability to control the representation of political action remains convoluted and confusing, particularly with the emergence of crowd-sourcing surveillance, responses to spectacle may become a way for state powers or corporate entities to re-inscribe—sometimes violently—norms.
This issue of ENVISION explores the subjects, social processes, and representational practices of the spectacular. We welcome work that explores the spectacular as a catalyst, as a strategy, and as a shifting field of expression in which various entities interact in differing and often forceful ways.
This issue asks:
The spectacular can bring about social reform; at the same time it may bring about retaliation, the re-inscription of social norms and increase oppressive policies. What can these tensions reveal?
What can the expression, embodiment, and interpretation of the spectacular set in motion?
What are the moments that mark the transition/interactions/dialogue between spectacle and the spectacular? What are the experiences of crossing these intersections?
How can the spectacular reveal structural and social inequities? In what ways can it mask these same things? Can spectacular enactments be understood as a response to the quotidian violence of everyday? Or as embodied and visualized performances of citizenship or nationalism? What can the spectacular reveal about historical subjectivity?
How can responses to spectacle—by those in power and those observing from afar—influence the impact of the spectacular on the everyday?
How have activists or movements of change been able to harness the spectacular? Can the spectacular create spaces of collaboration between ongoing activist efforts and “everyday” people? What may be the dangers of aligning with the spectacular?
What are the relationships between the spectacular and the intimate?
How does the spectacular relate to other forms of political and social expression? Can the spectacular, and associated media, be a means of organizing activity on the ground?
Please send all enquiries and submissions to Beth Uzwiak and Laurian Bowles via firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be found at http://www.envisionimprint.org
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