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Archive for April, 2014

Lebanon001

War machines are polymorphous; diffuse organizations characterized by their capacity for metamorphosis. They are made up of small groups that split up or merge with one another, depending on contingency and circumstances.
Eyal Weizman 1.

Axiom 1: The war machine is exterior to the State apparatus.
*Proposition 1: This exteriority is first attested to in mythology, epic, drama and games.
Deleuze and Guattari 2.

In June of the year 2000, a few weeks after the Israeli army withdrew from southern Lebanon, I flew into Beirut airport with my friend Anthony. We had been invited by a mutual acquaintance, K., an Irish army officer who was stationed there as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force. We arrived in Beirut at night and K. immediately drove us to a club in Achrafieh, a formerly well-to-do Christian part of the city. The nightclub was in a deconsecrated church but inside it differed little from similarly slick establishments in less troubled European capitals. The crowd was young, stylish and well-heeled, dancing enthusiastically to a mixture of European techno and Arab beats, and knocking back drinks from the fully-stocked bar. When we finally stumbled outside at 4AM I remarked that so far Beirut didn’t seem to be the desolate war-torn ruin we had been expecting. K. smirked and pointed across the street towards a huge dark hulking building. As our eyes gradually adjusted to the lack of light we saw that it was a bombed out shell. Entire floors had collapsed and what remained of the walls were splattered with bullet holes. As we drove back to our hotel in West Beirut we saw that the whole city seemed to randomly pockmarked with these wrecks, with no discernible pattern or sense to their distribution. (more…)

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2013-03-23 13.50.48The following is a text that was written after attending the Former West congress in Berlin in 2013. Former West was an event that sought to examine the status of art production, particularly politically engaged art production, in the context of a post-1989 Europe. In the piece below I discuss one particular strand of the congress. This was led by Irit Rogoff and was based around the theme of infrastructure. I mainly discuss Rogoff’s contribution but also briefly allude to some of the others as well.

Rogoff started by noting how we in the so-called West tend to pride ourselves on a functioning and superior infrastructure. This takes many forms: a logistical infrastructure that includes transportation elements such as roads and railways; a technological infrastructure consisting of various forms of communication networks; a financial infrastructure dedicated to the movement and circulation of capital; as well other infrastructures dedicated to the facilitation of activities in specific fields of endeavour such as education, law, and all the myriad forms of cultural practice, including of course, art. While infrastructure takes many forms, its defining characteristic is a focus on delivery – delivery of material things such as goods, services, cash, people – or delivery of immaterial things such as credit, data, information, thoughts, ideas. One way or another it moves things from place to place. It facilitates connections between things. It allows things to enter into various forms of relations with each other. Rogoff’s proposition is that infrastructure is a defining characteristic of the contemporary condition, and that therefore we need to think it critically. We need to be alert to both the problems and the possibilities that it presents, in order to figure out how we should operate effectively within it. (more…)

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