Annotation: Beyond the World’s End
Chapter three, The Visual Politics of Climate Refugees, II
T.J. Demos continues the chapter by discussing three approaches he argues are better executed with regards to the deficits mentioned in the annotation from the first section.
“I consider three diverse approaches that challenge the terms of photography’s familiar spectacle of misery, voyeuristic imagery, and commercialized figures of decontextualization. By exploring the entanglements of socioecological genealogies of migration, these modelings also provide a compelling visual culture of causes.” 1
The first example is, Syria’s Climate Conflict, a nonfiction web-based comic from 2014 written by Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche. In this extremely accessible work, the New York-based journalist and media artist narrates a story that tells how Syria was afflicted by a multiyear drought between 2006 and 2009, creating entanglements with agricultural disaster, urbanization and impoverishment. 2
The second example is “Liquid Traces: The Left-to-Die-Boat Case,” a 2012 video, eighteen minutes in length, put together by Charles Heller, Lorenzo Pezzani, and SITU Research.3
The video reconstructs the route the migrants took on the Mediterranean in 2011, while trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa. Created by collecting data to chart the vessel describing circumstances and investigate other ships they came across. Forensic Oceanography’s report has been used in a series of criminal legal cases filed in France, Italy, Belgium, and Spain, led by a coalition of NGOs attempting to hold NATO members accountable for the policies and practices that have contributed to thousands of deaths at sea.
Third example is Cross-Border Commons (2018), a six minute video and part of a larger urban research project of architect Teddy Cruz and political scientist Fonna Forman, who co-head the University of California, San Diego-based Cross-Border Initiative.
Cruz and Forman worked in 2011 in collaboration with the NGO Alter Terra in transforming one of the normally secured border wall drains between San Diego and Tijuana into an official port of entry for twenty-four hours. Secondly, as part of their video, they created a “cross-border community station” on the Tijuana side with knowledge and community based resource sharing, providing the infrastructure for youth empowerment and collaborative education across San Diego and Tijuana.
“Moving away from a society that is anti tax, anti-immigration, prison obsessed, and ultimately antipublic, Cruz and Forman’s idea is to initiate “a bottom-up public” through architecture and design via everyday acts of resistance in marginalized communities everywhere”. 4 & 5
1. Demos, T. J. (2020). Beyond the world’s end : arts of living at the crossing. Durham ; London Duke University Press, page 89.
2. Audrey Quinn, Syria’s Climate Conflict, Years of Living Dangerously, February 2011, accessed December 15, 2016, http://yearsoflivingdangerously.tumblr.com/post/86898140738/this-comic-was-produced-in-partnership-by-years-of.
3. Forensic Oceanography, Liquid Traces: The Left-to-Die Boat Case,” April 11, 2012, http://www.forensic-architecture.org/case/left-die-boat/.
4. Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, “The Cross-Border Public,” in Public Space? Lost and Found, ed. Gediminas Urbonas, Ann Lui, and Lucas Freeman (Cambridge, MA: SA+P Press and MIT School of Architecture and Planning, 2017), 169-85
5. Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman, “A New Public Imagination!,” Metropolis, September 27, 2017, https://www.metropolismag.com/cities/teddy-cruz-fonna-forman-manifesto/.