Hostile Environments - Visual Cultures Public Programme - Spring 2019

January 14th at 5:31pm

In May 2012, the then UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced in an interview the introduction of new legislation in the field of immigration control aiming to “create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration...Work is under way”, she further explained, “to deny illegal immigrants access to work, housing and services, even bank accounts”.

The aim of this public program is not so much to discuss the horrific effects of that specific piece of legislation (even if we want to touch upon that too), but rather to ask more generally the question of what happens when the environment, understood here more as a political-economic effect rather than a simple ‘natural’ background to human action, starts to become not only a site of power, but rather one of its modes of operation.

Here we are interested, for instance, in how certain terrains are being weaponised by border controllers: not only the space of the city or that of the nation (as in the UK example), but also the deserts, oceans and mountain ranges across which migrants are forced to travel often at the cost of their lives. It is not only that the weather itself is being weaponised, as migrants are made to die of cold or heat; but that forms of racialised violence have become, in a certain sense, as pervasive as the climate.

This atmospheric condition of power affects multiple modes of existence (human as well as more-than-human), particularly those that are classified as alien rather than native. We want to try to attune our senses and sensibilities to forms of suffering and dying that are ordinary rather than catastrophic; forms of violence that are invisible not because they are hidden, but because they are constructed by powerful actors as legitimate through relentless exposure. What forms of radical hospitality might still exist when all refugia are in the process of being destroyed?

Series organised by Lorenzo Pezzani and Nishat Awan Professor Stuart Hall Building LG02, 17:00 - 19:00

17Jan Nadine El-Enany & Yasmine Gunaratnam 31 Jan Nisha Kapoor 7 Feb Film screening with Daniel Mann & Sasha Litvintseva 14 Feb Shahram Khosravi 28 Feb Lindsay Bremner 7 Mar Thom Davies & Arshad Isakjee 14 Mar Film screening with Steffen Köhn 28 Mar Ghassan Hage (starting at 18:30)