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Title: Crisis as Critical Practice in the MENA
Authors: Gaafar, Rania
Keywords: Crisis
Artistic Practices
Digital activism
Revolutions/ Uprising in Middle East and North Africa
collective intelligence
Issue Date: 18-Oct-2017
Abstract: The awakening civil dissent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2010/2011 has been attended by forms of artistic as well as user-generated and cultural strategies that reflect critical dissonant practices in the midst of perpetual crises. The political, social as well as cultural predicaments in the aftermath of the uprisings in the MENA have disclosed the ramifications of civil resistance and autocratic governing. Media technologies, mobile media and their crowdsourcing capacities in particular – virtual counterspaces that are accessed and employed through geo-mobile devices–, interventions by (digital) media artists, and the formation of digital archives have produced performative cultural platforms of the contemporary historical moment. These forms of political and social participation and mediatization constitute new cultural topographies of critique as well as belonging in times of crisis. Contemporary media art, video activism, the archive, and the civic web have emerged as media of a ‘collective intelligence’ that materialize the structural issues of crises as much as bringing forth transformative artistic practices in a political setting. Digital platforms and infrastructures, artistic collectives, contemporary media art, (trans-)cultural networks, and other collectivities are emerging by the second and shaping ‘new modes of existence’ as well as epistemologies of connectivity. This allegedly new public sphere in the Arab-speaking world is being constituted in analogy to novel (often activist) understandings of the social web and moving images in the 21st century by (performative) practices of interaction and cooperation between human and non-human actors and the regulations of socio-political life in, among others, repressive socio-political systems. The paper hopes to elaborate on the critical artistic and aesthetic practices of different media actors / agents in the MENA in the contemporary moment of crisis by focusing on emerging digital platforms, developments in media art and activist visual cultures of the MENA. These mediations of life, politics, and crisis disclose novel affective and socio-political practices of collectivities in post-revolutionary times.
Appears in Collections:1. Re:Trace Conference - Keynotes, Papers & Posters

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