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  • Writer's pictureART HISTORY

Power Institute: Image Complex Lecture Series 2023

Series convened by Nick Croggon and co-presented with MCA Australia

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This series is premised on the idea that vision is not just a product of biology or physics, but of history, politics and technology. Today, images and artworks are part of a vast visual infrastructure – what Meg McLagan and Yates McKee call the “image complex”. The series introduces four international scholars whose work tracks the history of the image complex, cracking open new paths in visual culture research and practice. This year the series is co-presented with the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and two of our speakers – Krista Thompson and Jack Halberstam – will be traveling to Sydney to deliver their talks in person.




27 APRIL / ONLINE NICK MIRZOEFF: THE STRIKE AGAINST WHITE SIGHT IS A FEMINIST STRIKE

In his forthcoming book, White Sight: Visual Politics and Practices of Whiteness (MIT Press, 2023), Nicholas Mirzoeff argues that white supremacy is not only perpetuated by laws and police but also by visual culture and distinctive ways of seeing. The book argues that this form of “white sight” has a history, and by understanding that white sight was not always common practice, we can devise better ways to dismantle it.



11 MAY / ONLINE ORIT HALPERN: SMART POWER

From large scale computer simulations of the weather, to smart cities and infrastructures, to geo-engineering projects, we have arguably transformed the planet into a test-bed and experiment for computational technologies. The penetration of almost every part of life by digital technologies has transformed how we understand nature, culture, and time. But what futures are we imagining, or foreclosing through these planetary “experiments”? How have we come to see human survival as fundamentally dependent on computational networks?



4 AUG / @ MCA AUSTRALIA KRISTA THOMPSON: THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT CAPTURED: CHRISTOPHER "DUDUS" COKE & THE FUGITIVE PHOTOGRAPH IN POSTCOLONIAL JAMAICA

On 24 May 2010, soldiers and police officers—with the aid of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security— entered the West Kingston community of Tivoli Gardens in search of Christopher “Dudus” Coke. Coke became a fugitive after the United States sought his extradition. After almost four days, at the end of this operation Coke remained at large, but at least 69 civilians—mostly young black men— and 3 members of the security forces lay dead and with two others disappeared. The photographs surrounding Dudus and Tivoli Gardens are part of a longer history of how fugitives and the representations surrounding them shaped and were shaped by wider social, political, and cultural forces in Jamaica. Fugitives and their photographic histories since the nineteenth-century informed individual and communal formations in Jamaica that sought to reimagine the existing parameters of the colonial and postcolonial state.


15 DEC / @ MCA AUSTRALIA JACK HALBERSTAM: ALL FALL DOWN: POST-INDUSTRIAL DEMOLITION PROJECTS & THE AESTHETIC OF COLLAPSE

In the 1970s small groups of activists and artists envisioned another kind of city. Gordon Matta Clark built emptiness into abandoned forms, organic shapes into collapses architectures, and he made the demolition site into a monument to the minor, the fallen, the forgotten. Another group of mostly queer Black artists (Alvin Baltrop, Beverly Buchanan and others) also turned to demolition. This talk will lay out an aesthetics of collapse.



The Power Institute is a Foundation based at the University of Sydney dedicated to uderstanding the visual world, through art and visual culture. We support research, publish texts, and organise public programs.

The Power Institute would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners of the land upon which the University of Sydney, and the Power Institute, is built. As we share our own knowledge, teaching, learning and research practices, may we also pay respect to the knowledge embedded forever within the Aboriginal Custodianship of Country.

Images: Claire Fontain, White Sight (Argon) (2022) / Asymptome Architecture, New York Stock Exchange Trading Floor, 1997 / A demonstrator in support of Christopher "Dudus" Coke during a march in Kingston. (AP Photo/The Jamaica Gleaner, Ian Allen) / Beverly Buchanan (American, 1940-2015). Untitled (Slab Works 1), circa 1978 – 80. Black-and-white photograph of cast concrete sculptures with acrylic paint in artist studio, 8 1/2 × 11 inches. Private collection.

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