All _Perspectives

10/31/2023 _Perspective

Envisioning Vengeance

Rebellious Indigeneity, Gender and Genre in Jayro Bustamante’s La Llorona

Throughout the western hemisphere in recent years, there has been a notable increase in fictional texts (novels, television, movies) by Black, Indigenous, and artists of color—many of whom identify as queer and/or women—that fall within the category of the “speculative,” i.e. fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Some examples include the novels La Mucama de Oricunlé by the Dominican writer Rita Indiana, and Los Hijos de la Diosa Huracán by the Cuban-American writer Daina Chaviano; the Brazilian film As Boas Maneiras, directed by Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas; the U.S. Black Panther films, directed by Ryan Coogler; the Mexican film Selva Trágica, directed by Yulene Olaizola; and many others. [1] All these examples either directly or indirectly address the legacies of colonialism and slavery, drawing upon genre conventions like time travel, magic, and reanimation, and exploring the possibilities of posthuman bodies like cyborgs, human-animal hybrids, and the undead for expressing these historical phenomena and their resonances in the present. Given its broad impact and cultural importance, film as a medium is unique in its ability to critique essentialist notions of race, gender, sexuality, and social identity through these posthuman representations. Classic horror is a cinematic genre particularly concerned with soliciting strong affective responses from its audience through depictions of monstrous non- and post-humans, making it well equipped to transmit emotional charges based on historical traumas. While these traumas have often been ignored by official narratives, such as those expressed in written documentation and political speech, horror cinemas can provide audiences access to them in ways that circumvent dominant representations. In sociohistorical conditions that seek to negate the histories of certain groups, audiovisual productions can thus function as indispensable tools for recuperating stories that have been silenced. Here I will examine the Guatemalan film La Llorona [2] and its contributions to the horror genre, focusing on how its depiction of monstrosity reworks a global genre into a local context in order to connect more effectively with Guatemalan audiences while also achieving a wider viewership. La Llorona, written and directed by Jayro Bustamante, was strategically marketed as a horror film in order to get audiences to the theater, and it was later released through the online horror media platform Shudder. It reinterprets the myth of La Llorona (well known throughout Central and South America as the vengeful, weeping woman crying for the death of her children) as the motherland of Guatemala crying for…

10/31/2023 _Perspective

Misunderstanding Familiar Objects in an Imagined Future

A Critical Method for Discovery

1_Photo Essay of the Discovery Fig. 1: View of mountain formations surrounding First Mellissaa, where bears have first rights Fig. 2: The peak of First Mellissaa on day 53,084, seen from the access point to the protected zone Fig. 3: View of the side of First Mellissaa, past the midpoint stone where tree cover protects ground-life from the sun Fig. 4: First sighting of the discovery Fig. 5: View two of the discovery Fig. 6: View three of the discovery Fig. 7: View four of the discovery Fig. 8: View five of the discovery 2_Research Journal 3_Misunderstanding Familiar Objects in an Imagined Future: A Critical Method for Discovery Familiarity and habit lead but also limit human understanding of how objects impact people and places. A bottle opener is just a bottle opener. An artificial plant is just an artificial plant if it remains in expected spaces and functions as intended. This tenet forms the foundation of Thing Theory and opens the door for intentional breakage as a method for engaging readers in a deeper understanding of the objects that surround them every day. [30] Moreover, if the production and uses of objects “illuminate their human and social context,” as Arjun Appadurai and contemporary material culture studies theorize, intentional breakage also reveals something about readers themselves. [31] This proposal—that defamiliarization creates new perceptions of objects and humans—underpins this multi-media project that employs deliberate misunderstanding to encourage readers to discover the interaction of design, environment, and society. Through the playful use of time and format, this project crafts a novel perspective on ordinary objects and the society that produced them. It centers around a fictional researcher in the 23rd century who discovers a trove of objects used in the early 21st century in present-day Allgäu, Germany. These objects include a plastic plant, a toilet brush, a clothespin, a clothes hanger, a stuffed animal, a bottle opener, and a bag. The researcher exists in an imagined future where humans respect their limitations and live within a delicate ecosystem without attempting to shape organic entities to their will. This society resulted from rebuilding efforts after a series of catastrophes, most notably a solar flare on August 16, 2055, that ended the memory and utility of digital technology. This history slowly unravels through a fictional research journal and a photo essay. The journal contains notes, sketches, and commentary from the researcher who has discovered and…

05/05/2023 _Perspective

How to Curate a Sexist yet Canonized Artwork?

A Model for Feminist Curating of Collections

Exhibition View (body, self-portrait, vagina (pussy) Exhibition View body Exhibition view vagina (pussy) rape Vagina (Pussy) Section. Photo Credit: Taya Hanauer. rape section exhibition view old woman (cat lady) section self-portrait 1_Introduction P is for Pussy [41] was an exhibition and research project curated by myself in the project space of the artist community The Bookstore in Amsterdam West, in April 2017. It displayed select artworks from the collection of Het Kattenkabinet (The Cat Cabinet) juxtaposed with prints of famous artworks from the canonized, Western history of art as well as textual narrations, and intertwined academic, curatorial, and artistic approaches. Its aim was to re-read the institutionalized art historical narrative of the artistic turn to Modernism as an oppressive turn through representations of women and cats. The combination of these three approaches was curatorially unconventional and uniquely tailored to deal with the subject of sexist [42] representations in the history and tradition of Western art. This _Perspective reflects upon the curatorial methodology employed in the exhibition and how it can be used beyond the particular subject dealt with as a way of working with problematic [43] histories and content as they are manifested in archives, collections, and art histories. The proposed strategy is conceptual rather than a prescriptive step-by-step method. It entails a double perspective in the curatorial approach to artworks as both cultural artefacts of specific histories and subject positions, as well as sensorially provoking objects, which therefore can be analyzed in terms of underlying patterns of cultural values [44] rather than only as unique particularities. The contribution of this methodology is in rendering visible oppressive meanings and power structures naturalized in art in a way which contextualizes them rather than either censors or furthers their representational meanings. In particular, this is accomplished through redirecting the viewer’s attention to frameworks of seeing that influence artistic creation and interpretation. The act of visibilizing in this framework is not equal to a simple revealing of sorts but is rather a constructive act which holds the potential to re-narrate curated histories. The contribution of this _Perspective lies also in positioning authorial curating and determinate arguments as a feminist strategy which is co-existent with aspects of indeterminacy and ambiguity characterizing many other feminist curatorial stances. This proposed curatorial method allows for the coexistence, and furthermore, co-dependence of both determinate arguments and the indeterminate or ambiguous for effective social critique in visual art. As…

04/15/2023 _Perspective

Extended Minds and Instrumentality

On the Role of the Nonhuman in Human Cognition

The Mobilization of Matter Date 05/02/0021; Origin Time 00:42:00; Location E (321.551|223.009); Depth < 0.1km; Magnitude 2ML; Locality: Sector 5; There were 10 events of earthquakes recorded by the PGS seismic monitoring network during the early days of the second period, with nine having magnitudes of 1.75 ML and one having a magnitude of 2 ML. Only the event on the fifth day of the second period was reported felt; accumulating a total of five felt earthquakes at said location. The event of the fifth day was recorded by the local network of seismic sensors (LSN) and occurred during the period from 00:42 until 00:56 hours. I was still drowsy from a dizzying mix of sleep and caffeine induced heartbeats. Slowly, I stepped into the room where my two colleagues had already taken their seats. I reached for a chair, sat down and placed my steaming cup of coffee on the table beside me, exchanging it for the notebook and pen. The seismographs in our middle gave off nothing but a continuous noise, metal needles scraping over a rolling drum of paper. The three devices were similar in type but three different material composites in the needles produced three distinct tones. Together they filled a spectrum of indecipherable noise akin to an untuned radio. A rustling that in its continuity receded into the background of attention. The monotonous noise denoted nothing other than the actively listening sensors and the silence on the other end. The room itself was empty. Four blank walls, no windows. Only ourselves on chairs, enclosing the instruments in a triangular formation. Behind me was a single black painted door, the only opening of this space. This one was one of many containers hauled out to Sector 5. Outside, gusts of wind were breaking on the corners of our observation rooms and gave off a series of forlorn cries. The rush of air that brushed over this flat and desolate land was disrupted only by the white containers posing as observation rooms. One behind another, they were lined up in rows as if beats on a string. By following the natural shape of the shore line, the white containers formed a network of ravines through which air hustled itself at high speeds. From the moment of my arrival, I encountered this place contemptuously. The silence here presented a stark contrast to the environments I was used to.…

12/14/2022 _Perspective

The Aesthetics of Codes in Grounded Theory Research

A Scientific-Literary Essay

1_Introduction As an empirically working sociologist who analyzes her data using Grounded Theory, [100] I often deal with codes. They are a methodological heuristic for reconstructing meaning. Coding, which means the circular process of working out codes and categories in order to analytically ‘break down’ the data, forms the core of the methodology of Grounded Theory. The procedures of coding—open, axial, and selective—aim to structure the data in line with the research question, and to develop a theory that is empirically grounded. The question “What is the main story here?” [101] guides the coding process. The reconstruction of this ‘story’ holds many surprises for the researcher—not only in terms of the story’s outcome, i.e., surprises regarding the narrative content, but also personal surprises regarding one’s self-awareness. Codes emerge in a co-constructive process involving the researcher and the data. Therefore, codes are also the result of a relationship—the relationship between the researcher and the field of research in the form of the data—and are characterized by personal impressions, feelings and bodily-sensory experiences. Codes condense aesthetic experience, rendering it reflexively available and discursive. The affective and bodily subjectivity of the researcher is interwoven in the codes, it affects the production of the knowledge about the field and the object of research alike and if reflected, it can be transformed into methodological knowledge. In the following, I will exemplify this using an example from my research. After a short introduction of the methodology of Grounded Theory (2) and its coding procedures (3), I describe my own affective and bodily-sensory experiences with codes (3) and illustrate them with the example already mentioned (4). 2_The Methodology of Grounded Theory Grounded Theory is a research approach characterized by the interconnectedness of empirical research and theory building. The term Grounded Theory stands for both the specific research methodology and its outcome, namely the development of an empirically based theory that is grounded in the data. Grounded Theory does not aim at the empirical testing of an already existing theory, but instead focuses on generating new knowledge and establishing a new theory about social phenomena. Grounded Theory was developed by Barny G. Glaser and Anselm L. Strauss at a time when social science research and theory building still followed the criteria for scientificity of the natural sciences: a linear and standardized methodological approach, the replicability of results, and the exclusion of subjectivity of the researchers. Glaser and Strauss…