This event, organised by Alberto Danelli, promises to be excellent. He will be showing a series of interviews he made with Haitian artist’s involved in last year’s Ghetto Biennale.

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I will be giving a talk about Undead Uprising at Nottingham Contemporary on Thursday, January 18th. Details can be found here. I will be in conversation with Wendy Asquith, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, University of Nottingham.

The event is free. All welcome.

The Ghetto Biennale catalogue, which showcases work made during first four events and contains a number of supporting essays  – including my own ‘WEIRD Commerce at the Ghetto Biennale‘ – will be launched in London on Saturday 18th November at No.w.here project space in Bethnal Green, between 8 and 11.30 pm. During the evening we will be screening a number of films made during the Ghetto Biennale, including Invisible Mirrors and The Tele Geto Sign Painting Video. Music on the night will be provided by Museum of Trance, Soul Jazz DJ’s and Bill Drummond.

The event is free and there will be beer.

 

Zombies in Der Kultur

September 24, 2017

For those of you who can read German, Dominik Irtenkauf has written a very well-researched extended essay on the zombie figure for the online magazine Telepolis.


 

I was very pleased to have been invited to speak to Erik Davis, author of the hugely inspiring book TechnGnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, for his Expanding Mind podcast. The interview can be found here.

It was nice to be drawn on some of the ideas that led to my interest in Haiti as a particular locus for Euro-American fears and fantasies about the negative consequences of African spirituality and religion in the Americas, and their sublimation into popular horror genres. Most of the theoretical influences that shaped my early understanding of the zombie figure and “voodoo terror'” in popular culture are conspicuously absent from Undead Uprising, which was written primarily for an audience interested in the political-historical roots of these spectacular tropes, rather than one versed in the sophisticated convolutions of contemporary critical  and cultural theory.

Among the less formally “theoretical”, though certainly more influential ideas informing the Undead Uprising, was William Burroughs’ notion of ‘control’, which Erik quickly spotted in the configuration of zombies and somnambulists as remotely-controlled agents-without-autonomy. If we took Burroughs’ idea of ‘control’ and ran it, along with the complementary concepts of ‘autonomy’ and ‘agency’, via the psychoanalytic theories of Freud, Lacan, Klein, Deleuze and Guattari, through Situationism and the Frankfurt School, and back through Marx and Nietzsche, to Hegel and Kant, you would probably have a good overview of the theoretical substratum of the book. Perhaps some day, this too will be unearthed.

Here’s Burrough’s essay The Limits of Control  (originally published in Semiotext(e): Schizo-Culture, vol. III, no. 2, 1978) as a taster:

‘It is highly questionable whether a human organism could survive complete control. There would be nothing there. No persons there. Life is will, motivation and the workers would no longer be alive, perhaps literally.’

 

 

On Thursday May 18 I will be giving a talk entitled ‘Chimerical Optics: Haiti, Colonialism and Voodoo Terror’ at the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. More details can be found here. This will be a fully illustrated 2 hour talk using clips from several of the films discussed in Undead Uprising. It will take place at the legendary venue for all things underground and avant in London, the The Horse Hospital.

I have given an interview with Kat Ellinger about the upcoming talk over at Diabolique magazine. Special thanks to Kier-La Janisse, founder the of Miskatonic Institute, for this fabulous promotional trailer:

Below is the Kreyol translation of a text written for issue 9 of The Happy Hypocrite#ACCUMULATOR_PLUS – edited by Hannah Sawtell and published this month. The English version of the text can be found here. There will be launch for the journal on Thursday November 10th, 10 pm till late at 32 Ormside Street, London SE15 1TR at which Hannah and Jlin will be performing a sonic version of #ACCUMULATOR_PLUS that will be broadcast on NTS Radio on November 11th.

Thanks to Marie-Ange Magloire for the translation.

Komès la dwòl (WEIRD)nan Geto Byenal la (Pwovèb avèk zen ki ekri sou tablo a )

Gen yon ti moun ki di yon blan li grangou epi blan an di li tann li pral dèyè manje. Lè li tounen li tounen ak yon grenn Marinad… (lol!!!!)

A little child says to a white person ‘I’m hungry.’ The white person says ‘Wait for me, I’m going to get you some food.’ The man comes back with one little patty… (lol!!!)

An 2010 twa pwofesè sikoloji nan Inivèsite Bristish Columbia ekri yon atik pou jounal Behavioral and Brain Sciences ki rele “Moun ki pi dwòl nan monn nan? [i] WEIRD ki vle di dwòl an anglè, se yon akwonim pou Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic ki an kreyòl se Oksidantal, Edike, Endistriyalize, Rich epi Demokratik. Yo te ililize akwonim sa pou dekri ki tip de sosyete ke moun reprezante kòm ‘’nòmal” nan majorite etid sou konpòtman yo fè nan inivèsite (majorite Ameriken).

Mwen itilize tèm sa an jeneral pou mwen pale de milye sosyal atis vizitè nan Geto Byenal an Ayiti yo. Baz pwopozisyon an se ke atis WEIRD la genyen ide ki byen defini sou sa yon pyès la vle di, de valè li ak fonksyon sosyal li. Ide sa yo soti nan lekòl boza WEIRD, edikasyon inivèsitè epi inivè boza yo kotwaye WEIRD, men nou pa nesesèman retwouve ide sa yo nan moun ke domèn sa pa enfliyanse. Vizyon WEIRD la jeneralman li itopik, li ideyalis, pwogresif e sosyalman responsab, li konsidere ke la se yon bagay ki an opozisyon ou byen nan yon fason, ki ka konropi, pa pragmatis ou byen objektif komèsyal finansye. Menm jan Hans Abbing poze deba a nan Why are artists poor? (Poukisa atis yo pòv?) Kwayans sa yo plis baze sou yon mit epòk Romantik la ki di ke la se yon bagay ki sanse “sakre” [ii]. Mwen te kapab ajoute ke dominans teyori kritik Maksis nan lekòl avèk inivèsite WEIRD yo ranfòse sans sakre sa. Sa ki transfòme kwayans prèske teyolojik sou finalite sakre la a, an kwayans ki kritik, anti kapitalis epi ki emansipatè sosyalman.

Ti machoun’n a yon dola ou fé sòs

With one dollar we can make a sauce

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This is a draft cover for my forthcoming book Undead Uprising: Haiti, Horror and the Zombie Complex (Strange Attractor Press), which I expect to be on the shelves by the end of the year. It will not be the final design, but I thought I’d share it as it may never see the light of day otherwise.

undead-uprising-cover-mock-up

Ghetto Biennale II

February 25, 2016

Footage from the second Ghetto Biennale in December 2011 shot by Alex Louis from Tele Geto.

In an earlier post (23/12/15) I mentioned an incident that occurred during the penultimate night of the Ghetto Biennale in which a young man from Lakou Cheri, Gerard Masalen, died after a fight with another man. I think it is important to write something here about the circumstances surrounding Gerard’s death within the broader context of GB IV, the political tensions in the streets of Port-au-Prince at the time of the biennale and the experiences of some of the participants and guests that have not been widely discussed or publicly shared. The main issue I’m trying to tease out here has to do with the complex relationship between the actual and perceived risks for artists participating in the biennale, the implicitly economic and often fraught nature of inter-personal relations between visitors and locals, and how the perceptions and realities of such are understood, represented and managed by the GB organization.

My own contribution to this year’s biennale was a “gossip wall” hung within Lakou Cheri, the main site of the biennale, on which local people and visitors were invited to write anonymous stories about what was going on “off-screen” as it were. I would collect any gossip at the end of each day, then wipe the canvas clean ready for the following one. The idea was to create a kind of local gossip column that would potentially give voice to dissenting or critical opinions about the biennale. This was part of a broader project conceived as a means to gather material for an essay in the forthcoming Ghetto Biennale catalogue that would be based, in part, on the opinions of people outside the biennale’s inner circle. I mention this to frame my comments here in terms of the broader project I was involved in during the biennale. That being said, my account of the circumstances leading up to and following the events that night is primarily a personal one, supported by details gleaned from conversations with biennale guests during and after the event, witnesses, members of the organizational team and people who knew Gerard personally.

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