Contemporary art historian, critic, and theorist Georges Didi-Huberman thinks of images not as static objects, but as movements, passages, and gestures of memory and/or desire. For the French “historian of passing images,” as he has been called, “all images are migrants. Images are migrations. They are never simply local” (D2017). His book, Passer, quoi qu'il en coûte ("To Pass at Any Price"), co-written with the Greek poet and director Niki Giannari, takes on precisely the visual dynamics of passages, passengers, and passageways in the context of contemporary migration flows. In April 2018, only several months after the launching of the book, the Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, engage in a series of events and exhibitions celebrating and investigating the contemporary process of “becoming a migrant” in America. The challenging title of the series, What moves you?, points not only to the experiences of loss, encounter, and transformation that occur between the departure and the arrival of the migrant, but also to the presence of absence of an empathic affective response from the host culture. For the individuals whose identity becomes defined by their passage (homo migrans, to use a term coined by Didi-Huberman), passing over the American border may be a matter of survival. Their desire to pass through a wall of interdictions and restrictions moves not only the image in which it is reflected, and – obviously – the migrants themselves; through its visual embodiments, this desire also ‘moves’ some of the witnesses of this passage. My paper aims to present Didi-Huberman’s most recent thoughts on the intrinsic nomadic character of the image (in general) and of photography (in particular), in the context of a photographic project that stands out among those proposed by Carnegie Museums. Entitled “Out of Many,” the project consists of migration-related shots taken as recently as 2017 by a group of 5 photographers living and working in Pennsylvania: Brian Cohen, Scott Goldsmith, Nate Guidry, Lynn Johnson, and Annie O’Neill. Their selection of migration images, seen through the lens of Didi-Huberman’s “nomadic image,” have a strong potential to rekindle discussions on how art history deals with contemporary phenomena of American migration as reflected into photographic production.
The article draws up an inventory of, and compares strategies for, the theoretical and critical treatment of the absence–presence interplay at stake in the literary and visual representations of absence. This brings to our attention a multiplicity of heterogeneous and, to a greater or lesser degree, marginal signify-ing phenomena that have in common patterns of disrupting and deviating from the standard conventions of creating and conveying meaning through figures of absence. Lacking a name for these disparate yet similar instances where meaning is created from empty signifiers, we have chosen to call them figural voids. This attempt to produce a critical inventory focuses on modern and contemporary approaches to the analysis of figures and figurations of absence in literature, visual arts, and cinema, relying on the works of Anne Cauquelin, Jean-Pierre Mourey, Philippe Le Roux, Maurice Frechuret, Bruno Duborgel, and Marc Vernet. Their theoretical positions stand in a variety of literary and artistic contexts that are seemingly disconnected yet can be brought together on the basis of their common affinity to figural voids. This calls for a comparative standpoint and can be illustrated with examples ranging across historical periods and disciplines: from Stoic writings to Alberto Moravia’s Boredom, from Mallarmé’s blank page to the controversial curatorial practices espoused by Yves Klein.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) emerged to bring attention to the overrepresentation of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. It has raised awareness about systemic racism and sexism as well as social and economic conditions experienced by Canada's Indigenous population. Yet, research shows that Indigenous males are the most likely to be murdered in Canada (Mulligan, Axford, & Soecki, 2016). Since Indigenous men are going missing and are murdered in disturbing numbers, and they are fathers, brothers, and sons to Indigenous women and girls, it is understandable that many in the Indigenous community wanted to include them in the inquiry. Our analysis explores how the MMIWG and discourses about inclusion and exclusion have been framed in ways that limit interpretations about the root causes of problems experienced by Indigenous people, especially when they exclude an important part of the Indigenous population—Indigenous males. We draw upon Indigenous perceptions of the inquiry and analyses of social norms and stereotypes in order to explore the conflicting positions and experiences associated with missing and murdered Indigenous people in Canada. We conclude by exploring the need for a more comprehensive inquiry. We recognize that a holistic model of inquiry that honours the voices of Indigenous communities is crucial to a proper investigation into missing and murdered Indigenous people in Canada.
The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 challenged the hegemony that Western, archaeological methodologies has held over Indigenous cultural heritage in Australia. By choosing to relinquish state control and authority over cultural heritage in favour of the expertise of Indigenous people, the Act created a unique and innovative heritage policy. Over the 10 years the Act has been in force, it has seen a variety of approaches adopted as part of myriad projects. This has created a mature field of practice for investigation and analysis. This article examines and critiques the Act to determine its successes and weaknesses. In doing so, it offers opportunities for other policy-makers to consider as part of policy review.