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The Migrant Image


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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.

Table of Contents

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

About the Author

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.


"The Migrant Image provides an in-depth study of contemporary art in a global context, read through the specific lens of migration. T. J. Demos offers a seamless bridge between a critical and informed art history and an authoritative presentation of the socio-political interests that are essential to contextualizing each artist's practice. The achievement of The Migrant Image is to provide a full and rich justification for our paying attention to these works as multi-layered and probing artistic gestures that also have the capacity to renew a political imagination." -Claire Bishop, author of Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship "T. J. Demos has established himself as a leading critic of politically engaged art, especially as it pertains to the main topic of this book, migration in the more general sense, and migration under late modern, late capitalist globalization. Nowhere else can readers access so many profiles of key works by these artists, or see their work read so deftly and thoroughly from relevant theoretical perspectives." -Terry Smith, author of Contemporary Art: World Currents

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