The Art of the Deal, the Deal of the Art: Setting a Pictorial Mise-en-scène

In these unsettled and unsettling times, it is tempting to ask: how did we get into such a situation? But posing the question in this fatalistic manner suggests that the predicament we find ourselves in has arisen without warning, as if the present moment has taken us by surprise. Of course, moments of significant change can be abrupt culminations of historical trajectories, and they can be brutal in their evolving consequences. One need only reflect on the morning of 9 September 2001 to acknowledge how a calamity of global scale can be wrought within barely a few hours in one block of Lower Manhattan. Yet this dramatic event cannot be considered without historical impetus, nor without precedents, however minor they might be regarded. Each trauma posits a foundation for future trauma, for every victory begets some later vengeance.

 

Image: Hito Steyerl, How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational.MOV File, 2013, HD Video, single screen in architectural environment, 15:52 mins, Image CC 4.0 Hito Steyerl, Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York. 

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Mark Feary is Artistic Director, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne. He has worked in curatorial and programming roles at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney; Artspace, Sydney; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne; and West Space, Melbourne.

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