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Politics

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Gaza

They could be two different images. The backdrop of one is prevalently yellow ochre, with three soldiers in full battle gear clambering diagonally up the steep, sandy incline.  In the other, a composite crowd of children, adolescents, men, and women wave their flags against a predominantly green, grassy background. Separating the two is a barbed wire fence. The photograph was taken Friday March 30 in Gaza, when 16 Palestinian demonstrators were killed and 1,400 wounded. On Saturday there were two more deaths, and the tally of the wounded is not known. A crowd of 30,000 had gathered along the fence that separates Gaza from the State of Israel. They threw stones and rudimentary incendiary devices against the border fence, where over 100 select Israeli Army snipers had been positioned. The Israeli Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, stated that orders were orders, and that if any of the demonstrators approached the fence, his soldiers had been given orders to fire. The inhabitants of the Gaza strip, many of whom are followers of Hamas, have lived segregated lives for years. The living conditions in the territory have been reported by journalists and writers, but it is hard...

Sergei Eisenstein and the Anthropology of Rhythm

The exhibition Sergei Eisenstein: The Anthropology of Rhythm opened on September 19, 2017 at Nomas Foundation, Rome. Numerous documents from Eisenstein’s archives – The Russian State Archive of Literature and Arts (RGALI) and The National Film Foundation of Russian Federation (Gosfilmofond) – are exhibited for the first time, including notebooks, drawings, film footage and photographs. Curated by art and film historians Marie Rebecchi and Elena Vogman, in collaboration with the artist and typographer Till Gathmann, the exhibition will continue through January 19, 2018.   Here below is an excerpt from the introduction of the book Sergei Eisenstein: The Anthropology of Rhythm, published by NERO, Roma.     “Out of poverty, poetry; out of suffering, song.” This is how the anthropologist and writer Anita Brenner describes the unfolding of a corrido, a Mexican ballad. Literally “event of the time,” the corrido is an anonymous poetic genre that musically voices the lament of the day. Whether recounting a political or personal event, a catastrophe or a bad dream, corridos lend rhythm to the sorrows of life, equally “for the servants...

The Nationless Pavilion

Political crisis of today is dictated by outdated nation state model of mapping the world. While all the other systems already spilled over with economy, art, science going global, nation state still draws the lines on the geographical map.   Political power and it’s redistribution is the heart of the issue. Advancement of human civilization, apart of providing technological leaps, also demanded more transparency and visibility from power. It has always been ‘catch and run’ game - with new strategies of mystification of political power into institutional forms of different kinds. Authority redistribution mechanisms always tend to appear impersonal as their function is to communicate idea of being ‘detached’ from the matter of defining good and bad, right and wrong. Ethical, moral and aesthetic judgment seem to appear to naked eye as something defined and proved by centuries of common societal work, where standards of normal are the result of careful, almost Darwinist selection of what is better for all. The mythology of this process was first supported by the narratives of religious dogma and power, while today it’s mostly relies on fear and ignorance. Ulrich Beck[1] rightly...

Guantánamo and the New Concentration Camps

After the terrorist attack on the Parisian satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, some commentators wondered what the consequences of a reaction calling for greater security would be for European legislation. The almost hysterical use of the inclusive “we” in the slogans following the attack (Nous sommes Charlie) provide a linguistic clue to the identity politics in play, just as the 9/11 attacks fueled the rhetoric of a “clash of civilizations”. The reaction to both has been a justification for police interventions on an international scale and so-called ‘surgical’ warfare.   The Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, in an interview in La Repubblica (Jan 15, 2015), invited readers to “stay lucid” and not repeat the mistakes of the past. “The overlapping of the concepts of terrorism and warfare after 9/11 led Bush to wage a war […] that cost tens of thousands of lives. Without that war, the tragic attack France is now reeling from may never have taken place.” Agamben foresaw a slippery slope towards “what politologists call a ‘Security State’, that is a state where a true political presence simply cannot survive.”   The book Guantánamo Diary was published in January 2015 in the...

Arabs, Israel and Terrorism

Given the tensions in the Mediterranean region, how do you see the issue of the relationship between countries on the northern Mediterranean rim, such as Italy, and those with an Islamic culture on the southern rim, such as Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria? What do you think we should do, think, or write in order to avoid exacerbating these tensions as we have done in the past? Finally, do you think there are some areas where our knowledge is incomplete in this regard?   Knowledge is always a good thing, but our knowledge of the Arab world - objectively speaking - is very limited. This limited knowledge is partly our fault and partly theirs, because it is undeniable that very little good news has come out of the Arab world, or Islam in general, for centuries. They use technology but have not contributed to the digital revolution, they are Marxists without having contributed to a renewal of the ideology. They are, in short, on the sidelines of both western civilization and the communist world. My view is quite pessimistic. I wouldn’t trust any of the leaders right now: neither Mubarak, nor Khomeini, nor Gaddafi. They are all unreliable, ready to jump onto any bandwagon out of...

Being #matteorenzi

Claudio Giunta’s new book, Essere #Matteo Renzi (Il Mulino, 2015) is the most recent of a long list of scholarly books about the young Italian Prime Minister–after the earlier pamphlets which were lighter and generally celebratory in tone–which fill the shelves of Italian bookshops and contribute to what could almost be called a new genre. The title of this book hints at the main issue, which each of the eleven chapters deals with to different degrees of depth and explicitness. The title, in fact, paraphrases Negroponte’s Being Digital (Knopf, 1995), a bible for Internet researchers, while parroting ‘Being John Malkovich’, a film which critiques the idea that ordinary people can wrap themselves in a cloak of fame. Giunta analyzes two essential ontological aspects of the Renzi phenomenon. The first is the idea that “things” and “facts” become increasingly evanescent, or evaporate altogether, under the spell of Renzi’s communicative skills  (like Negroponte’s atoms transformed into bytes). The second  is the plastic nature of the political leader’s identity, its ability to mold itself to the identities demanded by those whom some have called the ‘look at me generation’.   The...

Zingonia: Utopia and Reality

In 1964, Renzo Zingone decided to found and build a new town on farmland in the province of Bergamo. Zingone was a wealthy businessman from Rome who owned the Banca Generale di Credito and had made his fortune mining gold and copper in Venezuela. He had already built the Zingone quarter in Trezzano sul Naviglio just outside Milan. In both cases the choice of name – Zingonia – had been dictated by Zingone senior who, in a letter dated 1930, had advised his two sons, Renzo and Corrado, to “always strive to valorize the family name”.   Zingonia, Missile   Both the Zingone quarter and the new town Zingonia, were designed by the architect Franco Negri, born in 1923, who graduated from the Milan Polytechnic in 1956. The foundation of both projects was the prefabricated industrial depots produced by the family company, Zingone Structures, which in Renzo Zingone’s mind were to become the productive heart of the new settlement. There was an essential difference between the two designs, however. The Zingone quarter was to assimilate the already existing industrial and productive businesses in the Milanese hinterland. In the new town, Zingonia, by contrast, the industrial warehouses...

Putin and the Russian Spirit: An Interview with Gian Piero Piretto

The house is filled with books and paintings, but what strikes the eye is the accumulation of objects on the shelves and surfaces: postcards, souvenirs, figurines, gadgets, all from Russia, the country Gian Piero Piretto has studied all his life. Piretto is strictly speaking neither a historian nor a literary critic. His field of inquiry is visual culture, a discipline which has established itself in Italy only very recently.   Throughout the years he has written extensively, and his books are all unusually original. In 2001, Einaudi published Radioso avvenire: Mitologie culturali sovietiche (Radiant Future: Soviet Cultural Myths), which plots the course from the utopian visions of October 1917 to the 1980s. Piretto analyzes images and everyday objects to illustrate Stalin’s famous claim in 1935:“ Life has improved, comrades. Life has become more joyous.” In short, the books provides us with a visual history of the USSR and its accompanying myths. Piretto’s most recent books are published by Sironi: in 2010, Gli occhi di Stalin (Stalin’s Eyes) and in 2012, La vita privata degli oggetti sovietici (The Private Life of Soviet Objects).   Vasilii Efanov, Famous People of the...

Drone Theory

0.45 GMT – 05.15 in Afghanistan. Pilot: Shit, is that a rifle? Operator: Dunno, it’s just a warm spot where he’s sitting, I can’t really say, it looks like an object though. Pilot: I hoped there was a weapon down there. Oh well. 01.45 Operator: That truck would be a good target. It’s a 4 x 4 Chevrolet, a Chevy Suburban. Pilot: Yes. Operator: Oh yes. 01.07 Coordinator: The screener says there’s at least one child near the 4 x 4 Operator: Fuck… where? Operator: Send me a fucking image, but I don’t think there are kids around at this time of night. I know these guys are weird, but… Operator: Dunno, could be a teenager, anyway I haven’t seen anything small and they are all bunched together there.   This is a transcript of part of a conversation between members of a ‘team’ guiding a Predator drone over the Afghan skies on February 20, 2010. They are sitting comfortably in their chairs on the Creech US Army Base. The exchange goes on for several minutes, grows agitated, and then draws to a close when a missile is launched and two Kiowa helicopters arrive on the scene, having been called in to complete the attack against the intercepted Chevy.   The transcript is...

Terrorism and Iconoclasm

There was a time, not that long ago, when the No Logo slogan was all  the rage.  Brand names of factories that were considered –symbolically but no less terribly – responsible for all the evil in the world. Brands were torn down, physically and emblematically, wherever they were found: on billboards, in shop windows, on designer labels.   Some surreptitiously ripped the crocodiles off their Lacoste shirts, while others openly burned gas station signs or fast food chain restaurants hoardings. In a strange economic and cultural commingling, the Enemy was placed under a single umbrella: gas and oil multinationals were bundled together with nauseating hamburger joints, top-end glamor products with the most sought-after sneakers, not to mention the giants of the web with their industrial mentors. The G8 summit in Genoa, Italy, at the beginning of the new millennium was the involuntary funeral of the No Logo movement. Today, protestors gather at the mouths of the tunnels being dug through the Alps so that high-speed trains can race even faster along the new European trade routes.     There is still a deeply held suspicion, however, that those logos that we all display, whether we...

Why Africa?

lettera27 is a non profit foundation born in 2006.  As the name suggests it supports literacy and the right to education.  Its priviledged territory is the African continent. The twenty seventh letter is the missing one, the one that doesn't exist and is stil to be written. We are happy to participate in this project that brings together the analogic and digital culture. It's in the Dna of doppiozero.  With this piece we begin the collaboration with lettera27.   Marco Belpoliti, Stefano Chiodi doppiozero editors-in-chiefi     Why Africa?  For many years lettera27 has been dedicated to exploring various issues and debates around the African continent and with this new editorial column we would like to open a dialogue with cultural protagonists who deal with Africa. This will be the place to express opinions, tell their stories, stimulate the critical debate and suggest ideas to subvert multiple stereotypes surrounding this immense continent.   With this new column we would like to open new perspectives: geographical, cultural, sociological. We would like the column to be a stimulus to learn, re-think, be inspired and share...