[node:title]
05-12-2018 11:40

L’Intrus Redux

 

 

“Just to put it bluntly,” she says, “should I be reading this exhibition as a diagnosis of what is happening in the world right now? And am I to understand that such a diagnosis primarily concerns what is happening to Europe? Isn’t what is happening to Europe ultimately a consequence of that which Europe refuses to address, except symptomatically? Where is the ‘real’ crisis in this crisis? From where does the ‘real’ violence originate, and who is the ‘real’ stranger?” 

I pause. Though numerous artists in L’Intrus are not European, it is indeed an exhibition about the problem created by Europe and its impossible imperial offspring, the United States. L’Intrus stages a range of responses to the process of fantasizing strangeness as something external to the body, at an individual level or at a collective socio-political level. I do assume that this problem originated in Europe, in the Cartesian split between body and mind, and in the evolution of that split in the form of a wish for some universal form of humanism. I say “wish” because to insist on sameness by virtue of an abstraction—the idea of the human—can and does frequently entail a disavowal of structural violence and its effects on the body. The rebuttal that “all lives matter” to the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States is the evil step-child of this idea.

If there is such a thing as “real” violence, I locate its origin in the projection of strangeness proper to oneself onto another. The splitting off from, the rejection of whatever is unacceptable to the (social) body inaugurates violence. I borrow this view, in part, from Jean-Luc Nancy, who is explicit on this point in “L’Intrus,” the essay after which the exhibition is conceptually framed and titled:

My heart was becoming my own foreigner—a stranger precisely because it was inside. Yet this strangeness could only come from outside for having first emerged inside. A void suddenly opened in my chest or my soul—it’s the same thing—when it was said to me: “You must have a heart transplant.” (Jean-Luc Nancy and Susan Hanson, L'intrus. Cr: the New Centennial Review. 2.3 (2002): 4.)  

Nancy’s treatise on the heart transplant provides a counter-model for representations of “strangers” by Europe, and by its ideological avatars elsewhere. Images of people in boats, in refugee camps, in shelters, in line to receive aid: these solidify a political understanding of the pictured people’s “strangeness” and their “intrusion” onto the European territory. They establish such people’s existence outside the established social order first, as the primary foundation of their identity vis-à-vis the viewer.  

Prevailing images of migrants also displace the heart of the problem, projecting its cause onto the arrival of people, rather than locating it in a process internal to Europe, which incited Europeans to leave that territory for centuries in order to devour resources elsewhere. Nancy suggests that the intrusion of l’intrus begins with the gradual alienation of a heart from its “proper” physical body, and I am borrowing this metaphor to suggest that the “intrusion” of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, tourists, seasonal laborers, and so on, begins with an analogous alienation within the political body.

Read more

  • Cine flúor
    05-06-2018

    Cinema without prejudice. Fluoride cinema

      There is an unclassifiable category of cinema for which you have to invent new definitions. Fluoride cinema is a state of mind and spirit: cinema that mixes genres and plays with humour and the idea of metacinema, with films that are very aware both...

    Read more
  • Sehnsucht, Valeska Grisenbach
    10-05-2018

    Double series, double discovery

    We celebrate with this double series a double discovery. On the on hand, the frontwoman (yes, we talk about her as a rock band) of the French cinema, Valérie Massadian. On the other hand, one of the key names of the new German cinema movement, known...

    Read more
  • Jone San Martin Astigarraga
    08-05-2018

    A body that other bodies pass through

    I am one of those people who, from a very early age, know for sure that they want to dance their lives. I regarded dedicating myself to dance as a serious decision, but it is a decision that is often taken lightly by those around you. Luckily, this...

    Read more
  • Artis's Space - Artist Residencies
    13-03-2018

    Fabric

    Cultural fabric is, without a doubt, an essential aspect of constructing a healthy society. Culture (in any of its forms) can provide the tools for taking a critical view of our world, and therefore represents a shared space for uniting the multiple...

    Read more
  • Stimulants: circulation and euphoria
    12-01-2018

    Here's to a cultural 2018. Stay tuned!

    We started 2018 with the same momentum as 2017, a year in which Tabakalera evolved across its three dimensions and, following the year of capital status, continued to attract the interest of visitors who came in greater numbers: an average of 20,000...

    Read more