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Mieke Bal

Abstract

Meanwhile: Literature in an Expanded Field

There is an analogy between the borders that separate nations and those that separate disciplines. In this contribution, I examine that analogy. The result is a revisioning of my obligation to earn “expertise” as a literary scholar. Instead, I ask questions to the literary text that, by virtue of my Western training, I cannot understand. The novel that guides my reflections on nation(alism) and literature as an epistemological and philosophical tool is Ces fruits si doux de l’arbre à pain by the Congolese author Tchicaya U Tam’si. This novel, written in a French I know but with inflections I don’t know, raises issues of justice and our presumption to judge. The yielding and pulling between the novel and me as reader constitutes the fluctuating terrain of Benedict Anderson’s conjunction “meanwhile” that creates nations by means of simultaneity. Today, this conjunction, particularly relevant because of electronic communications, creates new communities, on which the nation-state has no bearing. Or does it?

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Mieke Bal

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Mieke Bal

Abstract

While the moving image and migration were both phenomena of substantial currency and effect during the twentieth century, in the present moment, it appears that the visibility of video and migration is increasingly enhanced based respectively on the sheer volume and variety of populations on the move, and the pyramiding appeal and accessibility of video. Video is a medium of time; of time contrived, manipulated, and offered in different, multilayered ways. Time no longer captured, as in the very first strips of celluloid, nor even “sampled” in bits separated by cuts; time is “framed,” made to appear real but no longer indexically attached to the real time that it purportedly represents. Like cinema, it offers images moving in time—slow or fast, interrupting and integrating. Similarly, migration is an experience of time; of time as multiple, heterogeneous—the time of haste and waiting; the time of movement and stagnation; the time of memory and of an unsettling, provisional present, with its pleasures and its violence. I explore the interactions, connections and discrepancies between these two temporalities

Through several works from the video exhibition 2MOVE, I examine three intersections between video and migration. First, both are anchored in the conceptual metaphor of movement—but a movement that cannot be taken for routine, “natural,” or realist. Second, heterochrony offers temporal shelter to memories. And memories are themselves heterogeneous, multisensate, and multitemporal. Third, I probe the time of the viewing, which is the present.

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Schweben zwischen Gegenstand und Ereignis

Begegnungen mit Lili Dujourie

Mieke Bal

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Art and Visibility in Migratory Culture

Conflict, Resistance, and Agency

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Edited by Mieke Bal and Miguel Á. Hernández-Navarro

This book explores the idea that art can enact small-scale resistances against the status quo in the social domain. These acts, which we call “little resistances,” determine the limited yet potentially powerful political impact of art. From different angles, seventeen authors consider the spaces where art events occur as “political spaces,” and explore how such spaces host events of disagreements in migratory culture. The newly coined word “migratory” refers to the sensate traces of the movements of migration that characterize contemporary culture. In other words, movement is not an exceptional occurrence in an otherwise stable world, but a normal, generalized process in a world that cannot be grasped in terms of any given notion of stability. Thus the book offers fresh reflections on art’s power to move people, in the double sense of that verb, and shows how it helps to illuminate migratory culture’s contributions to this process.
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Mieke Bal, Maaike Bleeker, Bennett Carpenter and Frans-Willem Korsten