Necrolandscaping on the Border
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
5:30 PM–6:30 PM
Dear Past Fellows and Friends of the Research and Academic Program,
As I am relatively new in this position, I have not had the opportunity to meet many of you personally. It feels odd to be running a residential fellowship program during a time in which the actions that define a residential fellowship—coming together over lectures and seminars, shared inquiry, meeting new friends—cannot happen. Although all of the public programs and seminars for RAP are cancelled until at least September 1, we would like to share with you past lectures given by our fellows in a new virtual program: RAP in the Archives.
In honor of our regular Tuesday evening lectures, every Tuesday going forward we will share a lecture from a previous season. Typically, we do not make these lectures available on our website as we recognize that they are works in progress, and we want to give our fellows the freedom to intellectually experiment. Many of our past fellows, however, have generously allowed us to share their lecture recordings, accompanied by brief reflections or updates on the project they undertook during their time at the Clark.
I think of this new program as a promise for the future moment when once again we will be able to gather in the Manton auditorium. We share these lectures so that we may remember what fellowship means in this time of fear, uncertainty, and loss.
Jill Casid, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Clark/Oakley Humanities Fellow (Fall 2018/Spring 2019)
“Necrolandscaping on the Border”
Originally presented on November 27, 2018
In recent calls for an ecological aesthetics capable of reckoning with global Anthropocene crisis, landscape's colonial and neo-colonial dreamwork, master-of-all-I-survey perspectives, and distanced way of seeing that reduces nature to object appear under the sign of negation. However, as Jill Casid develops in this lecture based on work-in-progress for the current book project Necrolandscaping that draws on current artistic experimentation that confronts and works through the damage of the landscape form, what Casid terms “necrolandscaping” offers a new ars moriendi that contests and endeavors to transform the necropolitical conditions of settler colonial occupation from the position of the already dead and yet still active through an aesthetic tactics of landscape in the deformative that mines the volatile, strangely resilient powers of death for Necrocene ethics.
An Update from Jill Casid
I have been arguing for some time that tactically mis-hearing the "cene" in Anthropocene promises to attune us to our position not as beholders of an epoch or witnesses to a prospect of distancing projection onto a deep past or lost future, but, rather, as situated within the scene of our undoing, a planetary scene which my current work reframes as the Necrocene. Before what Paul Preciado names the "great mutation" of COVID-19, I came to the Clark to finish the first part of a two-book project on form at the edges of life in the planetary scene of political abandonment and stolen infrastructures in which we are living our dying on a dying planet. If this reframing in terms of the crisis ordinary of life-threatening catastrophe in the everyday had ever seemed hyperbolic, amidst the devastations wrought by the way the Coronavirus tracks its pandemic path along the necropolitical calculus of disposable life, the Necro-scene has irrevocably become ours. And, yet, in confronting the obligation to imagine and act toward formations of livable life beyond hetero-patriarchal racial capitalism, I want to insist there are still ways of doing things with being undone. But this should not be read as some variation on the theme of "shelter at home" and quarantine orders as a climate-change reprieve—which is a lethal mirage. Rather, as I begin to unfold in the Clark lecture made available online and the short preview article for the Journal of Visual Culture
that emerged out of it as well as the seminar conversations at the Clark and the Oakley Humanities Center across the year, this is a pivotal conjuncture that calls for a turn to consider the powers of aesthetic provocation in current art practices that deform the landscape-form to demonstrate how the vulnerability of living our dying also offers a queer material medium to agitate for livable life toward a black, trans* more-than-human commons.
This work owes many debts—intellectual, material, affective—that well exceed what I can account for here. Nevertheless, it is critical to name that no small number of debts are owed to Clark Director Olivier Meslay, former RAP directors Lisa Saltzman and Michael Ann Holly, and current director Caroline Fowler, and former assistant director Lauren Cannady; to my fellow fellows at the Clark (Jennifer Bajorek Doron Bauer, Gülru Çakmak, Kris Cohen, Beatriz Colomina, Philippe Cordez, Frédéric Ogée, Celeste Olalquiaga, Susan Sidlauskas, and Mark Wigley); to former Oakley Humanities Center Director Jana Sawicki and current Oakley director Gage McWeeney, to my fellow fellows at the Oakley (particularly Christophe Koné, Christina Simko, and Emily Vasiliauskas); to the Williams College Grad Program in Art History (particularly Marc Gottlieb, Emmelyn Butterfield-Rosen, and Kailani Polzak as well as my research assistant Jonathan Odden); and to Sterling professors Julia Bryan Wilson and Mel Chen. It is also vital to acknowledge the ongoing reverberations of conversations begun in my spring 2018 graduate seminar, "Necrocene, Necropolitics, Necrolandscaping" and to sustaining dialogue with the co-directors of the IAVC Sara Blaylock and Marija Katalinić and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Visual Culture Marq Smith. I thank Maria Thereza Alves and Tourmaline for the gift of the chance to think with their work. And it is imperative to acknowledge that the lecture took place in unceded Mohawk and Mohican territory and that acknowledgment is not enough.
Jill H. Casid
Professor of Visual Studies
Departments of Art History and Gender and Women's
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Next Up in the Archives
April 21: Spyros Papapetros, “The Prearchitectonic Condition: Architecture Before Architecture”
April 28: Shira Brisman, “The Provisionality of Sixteenth-Century Designs”
May 5: Martha Buskirk, “The Convenient Fiction of Authorship (On the Intertwined Fortunes of Art and Copyright)”