Academic journal article Centro Journal

Imperial Spatio-Temporal Disarrangements. Beatriz Santiago Muñoz's Performative Documentary and the Emancipative Unseen

Academic journal article Centro Journal

Imperial Spatio-Temporal Disarrangements. Beatriz Santiago Muñoz's Performative Documentary and the Emancipative Unseen

Article excerpt

"The 'zero level' of ideology consists in (mis)perceiving a discursive formation as an extradiscursive fact." (Zizek 1994: 10)

"Las comunidades más cómplices, de hecho, no se forman en última instancia a través del conocimiento de su pasado, ni por el hábito de sus costumbres, sino por la sospecha de que comparten los mismos fantasmas, el mismo ruido residual de una marca que no acaba de cifrarse en la experiencia." (Ríos Ávila 2002: 24)

It is striking how the presence of theoretical configurations on empire and imperialism has exponentially increased in our days. Strongly contested and partial as it is, Toni Negri and Michael Hardt's asseveration that empire practices are nowadays more visible and ubiquitous than ever (2009), somehow responded to the poignancy derived from the persistence of imperial horizons within our present. What is important beyond the questioned and questionable position of Negri and Hardt's contribution (see, for example, Amin 2005), is how the visibility and the concealment of imperial configurations has been reframed and brought back within the last years (Belting 2013; Demos 2013; Downey 2014; Jay and Ramaswamy 2014; Mirzoeff 2011; Pereen 2014). This process implies not only recognizing the open-endedness of contemporary political and ideological frameworks, but also that those frameworks are somehow infused with a disorganized sense of temporality, one in which the mechanism regulating the ways we remember, construct, and imagine our pasts and futures are neither unstable nor self-evident. Indeed, the expectations of our present seem to be permeated by a sense of unawareness, which propels us to conceive those expectations from a conflicting logic, where the cancelation of past and future potentialities (be these named socialism, emancipation, nationalism, etc.) under the excuse of its total defeat arises to a great extent as questioned and problematic.

Linked to those debates, the coming back of issues related to utopia and futurities (Agamben 2007; Jameson 2005), agency and productivity (Lazzaratto 2012; Virno 2004), or collectivism and participative agendas (Laclau 2005) within the horizon of radical politics may not seem awkward. This concern with the ways (heterogeneous temporal and spatial forms of) imperial power manifests itself not so much in a transparent manner, but under a more concealed, contested logic, shaping our post-Fordist, postcolonial present, have opened up a whole terrain for critical and creative inquiry that is being explored by social theorist, political analysts, and creators alike. Particularly, those debates have had the virtue of evidencing the heterogeneity of the (re)articulations and intertwining of imperial and emancipative agendas (Boltanski and Chiapello 2005), leading us to conceive past and present forms of imperialism as something exceeding the conditions of a passive landscape against which human forces stand out. Rather, W.J.T. Mitchell's consideration (2002: 10) of imperial landscape as an ambivalent terrain fitted with its own agency, conceived "[...] as something like the "dreamwork" of imperialism, unfolding its own movement in time and space from a central point of origin and folding back on itself to disclose both utopian fantasies of the perfected imperial prospect and fractured images of unresolved ambivalence and unsuppressed resistance," seems to describe way better the conflicting nature of our present than any allusion to eccentric and totalizing transnational configurations.

In trying to engage with those debates, here I will analyze the documentary production of Beatriz Santiago Muñoz. I will argue that the strategies undertaken by the artist-the dislocation of temporality, the blurring of her authorial voice and her own position within the production of truth, and her "dialogic" and "performative" engagements with deferred-yet-latent political anti-colonial agendas-are specially eloquent in revealing the perseverance of conflict in our supposedly post-ideological present, while opening up a possibility for emancipation. …

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