In The Migrant Image T. J. Demos examines the ways contemporary artists have reinvented documentary practices in their representations of mobile lives: refugees, migrants, the stateless, and the politically dispossessed. He presents a sophisticated analysis of how artists from the United States, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East depict the often ignored effects of globalization and the ways their works connect viewers to the lived experiences of political and economic crisis. Demos investigates the cinematic approaches Steve McQueen, the Otolith Group, and Hito Steyerl employ to blur the real and imaginary in their films confronting geopolitical conflicts between North and South. He analyzes how Emily Jacir and Ahlam Shibli use blurs, lacuna, and blind spots in their photographs, performances, and conceptual strategies to directly address the dire circumstances of dislocated Palestinian people. He discusses the disparate interventions of Walid Raad in Lebanon, Ursula Biemann in North Africa, and Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri in the United States, and traces how their works offer images of conflict as much as a conflict of images. Throughout Demos shows the ways these artists creatively propose new possibilities for a politics of equality, social justice, and historical consciousness from within the aesthetic domain.
T. J. Demos is Reader in Art History at University College London. He is the author of Dara Birnbaum-Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman and The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp.
Illustrations vii Check-In: A Prelude xiii Charting a Course: Exile, Diaspora, Nomads, Refugees: A Genealogy of Art and Migration 1 Departure A. Moving Images of Globalization 21 1. Indeterminacy and Bare Life in Steve McQueen's Western Deep 33 2. "Sabotaging the Future": The Essay-Films of the Otolith Group 54 3. Hito Steyerl's Traveling Images 74 Transit: Politicizing Aesthetics 90 Departure B. Life Full of Holes 95 4. The Art of Emily Jacir: Dislocation and Politicization 103 5. Recognizing the Unrecognized: The Photographs of Ahlam Shibli 124 6. The Right of Opacity: On the Otolith Group's Nervus Rerum 144 Transit: Going Offshore 160 Departure C. Zones of Conflict 169 7. Out of Beirut: Mobile Histories and the Politics of Fiction 177 8. Video's Migrant Geography: Ursula Biemann's Sahara Chronicle 201 9. Means without End: Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri's Camp Campaign 221 Destination: The Politics of Aesthetics during Global Crisis 245 Acknowledgments 251 Notes 255 Bibliography 305 Index 323