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In: Migratory Settings
In: Essays in Migratory Aesthetics
Author: Mieke Bal

Abstract

This essay prioritizes art’s solicitation of viewers’ engagement through affect. It focuses on the interactivity between artworks and their viewers. Instead of taking what is there to be seen, affective analysis will establish a relationship between that spectacle and what it does to the people looking at it and being affected by it. Detailed affect-oriented analysis of artworks seems more difficult to achieve than a form-based analysis of the artwork-only. Yet, such analysis is needed to account for the cultural processes in which art functions. ‘Affect’ helps us articulate the effects hitherto called political or ethical, aesthetic or sexual, under a unifying rubric that does not depend on the figurative quality of a given artwork, but seeks out the performative elements and aspects in the artworks that ‘trigger’ the occurrence of affective intensity. Calling on philosophical ideas developed by Bergson (memory) and Deleuze (affect), I analyze how the most recent work by Doris Salcedo (Palimpsesto, 2017) deploys slow time, humble materials, and forms together to entice affect for political awareness. Then, I briefly consider the video installation The House (Eija-Liisa Ahtila, 2002) to analyze the participation of mood for an awareness of care (Heidegger) to oppose indifference.

In: How to Do Things with Affects
Author: Mieke Bal

Abstract

This essay prioritizes art’s solicitation of viewers’ engagement through affect. It focuses on the interactivity between artworks and their viewers. Instead of taking what is there to be seen, affective analysis will establish a relationship between that spectacle and what it does to the people looking at it and being affected by it. Detailed affect-oriented analysis of artworks seems more difficult to achieve than a form-based analysis of the artwork-only. Yet, such analysis is needed to account for the cultural processes in which art functions. ‘Affect’ helps us articulate the effects hitherto called political or ethical, aesthetic or sexual, under a unifying rubric that does not depend on the figurative quality of a given artwork, but seeks out the performative elements and aspects in the artworks that ‘trigger’ the occurrence of affective intensity. Calling on philosophical ideas developed by Bergson (memory) and Deleuze (affect), I analyze how the most recent work by Doris Salcedo (Palimpsesto, 2017) deploys slow time, humble materials, and forms together to entice affect for political awareness. Then, I briefly consider the video installation The House (Eija-Liisa Ahtila, 2002) to analyze the participation of mood for an awareness of care (Heidegger) to oppose indifference.

In: How to Do Things with Affects
In: Metaphoricity and the Politics of Mobility
Author: 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?

In: Africa and Its Significant Others
Author: 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?

In: Africa and Its Significant Others
In: Metaphoricity and the Politics of Mobility
Author: 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.

In: Art and Visibility in Migratory Culture
In: Essays in Migratory Aesthetics