In the second issue of View, we look at the conditions of history’s becoming visible and ask ourselves what is the possible meaning of various modes of involvement into the flow of events: violent breaks, acts of terror, utopian drives. We bring together cultural images of 1970s left-wing terrorism in Europe and the most recent discussions on global terrorism. We look for and at the traces of radical politicisation of social life, imprinted in the material and the visual. With Klaus Theweleit, Svea Bräunert and Karen Beckman among others, we search archives and invoke ghosts, we return to histories that remained unvoiced in their time, examine what their claim on us would be today and what we could do with their help today and tomorrow.
The most extensive constellation of original essays and translations is organised around the Close-up section. All of them touch upon questions of violence, terror, ideology, memory, archive and time, reaching towards different places and sites, as well as poetics of description and research tools. We have tried to present a rich and multilayered image of the relationship between political terror, the production of imagery and the work of memory. Some of the articles assume a microscale perspective, concentrating on particular works and digging deep into their matter, others, on the other hand, gather various facts and processes to provide a comparative analysis.
Perspectives provide a unique record of two engaged and engaging critical practices: one artistic, the other curatorial. Martha Rosler in conversation with Krzysztof Pijarski gives an account of her long involvement in a critique of late capitalism that employs various means and channels of communication. Joanna Sokołowska talks about the backstage of her curatorial endeavours and proves that ambitious research and cultural critique can be pursued in numerous ways, especially by adopting for ones own use means hitherto excluded from the realm of discussion. It was her enthusiasm for the work of Brazilian psychoanalyst, cultural critic and curator, Suely Rolnik, that mobilised us to translate her Archival Mania into Polish.
In Viewpoint one encounters three artists whose work concentrates on violence, fear, surveillance, memory and revolution. They represent different disciplines, sensibilities and styles thus proving that in the art world not only the strategies vary, but also modes of engagement and meaning of the political. Snapshots comprise the record of critical encounters with theories and practices of visual culture which range from New York exhibition halls and the presentations of the classics of Modernism, to the revision of the originality of the avant-garde and the dialogue with a sociological take on visual culture and the practices of looking.
At the very end we share with you our recent readings, accounting for the abundance of current research on visual culture, its methodological diversity as well as the growing number of people involved in the development of the field who ceaselessly design new tools and create and recreate our image of the world in a vigilant manner.
How to remain nearest to most recent phenomena and at the same time master the flow of time and images? How to notice and record change, not losing track of hope for better times and more hospitable places? How to look at violence and not let one’s imagination to be abused? How, finally, not to condemn images and trust one’s own recognitions? These and other questions recur in the works of various practitioners of visual culture, collected in our second issue.