T.J. Demos in conversation with Kodwo Eshun, followed by a reception

27 March, 6.30-8.30pm


Free and open to all, no booking required










The Showroom is pleased to announce the launch of two new books by London-based writer and critic T.J. Demos:

The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Duke University Press, 2013)

Return to the Postcolony: Specters of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press, 2013).

In the wake of failed states, growing economic and political inequality, and the ongoing US- and NATO-led wars for resources, security, and economic dominance worldwide, contemporary artists are critically exploring the image regime of neoliberal capitalism and crisis-globalization. They are also revisiting former European colonies, considering past injustices that haunt the living yet remain repressed in European consciousness.

In The Migrant Image, Demos examines the ways contemporary artists have reinvented documentary practices in their exploration of mobile lives: refugees, migrants, the stateless, and the politically dispossessed. He presents a sophisticated analysis of how artists from the United States, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East depict the often ignored effects of globalization and the ways their works connect viewers to the lived experiences of political and economic crisis. The book features case studies of works by Steve McQueen, The Otolith Group, Hito Steyerl, Emily Jacir, Ahlam Shibli, Ursula Biemann, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Lamia Joreige, Akram Zaatari, Walid Raad, Rabih Mroué, Yto Barrada, Goldin + Senneby, Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, and others, showing the ways these artists creatively propose new possibilities for a politics of equality, social justice, and historical consciousness from within an increasingly post-representational, deterritorialized aesthetic domain.

Return to the Postcolony: Specters of Colonialism in Contemporary Art
continues this investigation, looking at works by artists Sven Augustijnen, Vincent Meessen, Zarina Bhimji, Renzo Martens, and Pieter Hugo that have emerged around the time of the fiftieth anniversary of independence for many African countries. Confronting the hauntings of past and ongoing colonial traumas, Demos describes these artistic journeys as forming a “reverse migration” — a return to the European and African postcolony, which drives an ethico-political as well as an aesthetic set of imperatives: to learn to live with ghosts, but to do so more justly.

Demos will discuss and expand on these themes in conversation with Kodwo Eshun.

T.J. Demos is critic and Reader in the Department of Art History, University College London. He writes widely on modern and contemporary art and politics under globalization, and recently guest edited a special issue of Third Text (no. 120, 2013) on the subject of “Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology.”

Kodwo Eshun is an artist and theorist. As co-founder of The Otolith Group, his videos, including People to be Resembling (2012), The Radiant (2012), I See Infinite Distance Between Any Point and Another (2012), Anathema (2011), Hydra Decapita (2010), Nervus Rerum (2008) and The Otolith Trilogy (2003-2009) have been presented internationally in solo exhibitions at MACBA, Barcelona, MAXXI, Rome and Showroom, London and at group exhibitions including dOCUMENTA(13), the 29th Bienal de Sao Paulo, Manifesta 8 and British Art Show 7. In 2010, The Otolith Group was nominated for The Turner Prize. He is the author of Dan Graham: Rock My Religion (2012) and More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction (1998) and co-editor of Third Text 108: The Militant Image: A Cine Geography (2011),Harun Farocki: Against What? Against Whom? (2009) and The Ghosts of Songs: The Film Art of The Black Audio Film Collective (2007). He is Course Leader of the MA in Aural and Visual Cultures at Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London.