ASAP/Journal Special Issue: The Forever Crisis
The Forever Crisis
SPECIAL ISSUE EDITORS: Suzanne Enzerink and Claire Gullander-Drolet
ESSAY SUBMISSION DEADLINE: May 1, 2022
This special issue takes up artistic encounters with what we are calling the ‘forever crisis’: articulations of catastrophe that appear singular or locally-situated, but which are in fact part of a much larger network of interrelated crises (climate change, war, pandemic, capitalist extraction) that threaten the long-term viability of the planet and its many inhabitants. “Encounter” is a necessarily ambivalent term, and by wielding it here, we distance ourselves from reflexively redemptive readings that see artistic production as a privileged site of resistance against these violent events. Artistic expressions are, we venture, often complicit in exacerbating the very crises they take as their thematic subject, as with the disproportionate shipping of media waste to countries in the Global South or the carbon footprint posed by art exhibits. And while technological advances have made it possible to document crises in real time, our media climate is one in which a near-constant bombardment of violent images often “threatens to info-whelm us into a state of perpetual distraction”(Nixon 12, 2011). With these uncomfortable realizations in mind, cultural producers must resort to using new representational strategies and modes to make sense of our times and the crises marking them, particularly as they work within a digital landscape that has reprogrammed our capacity for attention and care.
In putting together a theory of the forever crisis aesthetic, then, we ask a set of interrelated questions. What representational and formal strategies have artists developed to rupture the seemingly endless barrage of apocalyptic imagery and rhetoric, either to offer refuge or hold our attention? How have they prompted a reconsideration of the temporality of crisis and its representational challenges, so that we might better recognize its structural causes? How have cultural producers seized existing representational modes and genres—the zombie film, the web show, the participatory collage, to name but a few—and adapted them to their discrete contexts or goals? And what points of transnational connection, intersection, and collaboration emerge out of these new interventions, and to what extent do these help us rethink what it means to practice art in a planetary or global framework? We are also interested here in aesthetic shifts borne out of logistical necessity—with travel bans in effect, close collaboration is not always possible, while at other times financial precarity, migration and / or immigration challenges, and infrastructural damage necessitate creative solutions and strategies.
Finally, how can we rethink the relationship between art and crisis by considering art as (part of) the forever crisis? Between ecological footprints and the global flows of people, labor, and capital that cultural production relies on, the artistic process cannot be seen as separate from these material concerns. We are therefore particularly interested in essays that highlight these transnational or global dimensions and that are attentive to the uneven power structures that mark these relations.
For this issue, we invite essays from 6,000-8,000 words responding to these questions or exploring related subjects that fall into this larger theme. We anticipate that the final shape of the issue will be determined in part by the scope of the essays we receive, and encourage applicants to be bold and creative in their submissions.