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Gabriella Catchi-Novati “Biopolitics on Screen”

March 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Calchi-Novati, Gabriella 2011. „Biopolitics on Screen“: Aernout Mik’s Moving-Image Installations. – Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image 2: 116-140

Bio art, considered as a macro example, is able to show that the means through which biopolitics manifests itself in art and the means through which art manifests itself in biopolitics are always under the cipher of indistinction. Indistinction, thus, is on the one hand what biopolitics employs to perform power, and on the other the powerful result of the implicit performances that happen within and through biopolitical art. (117)

The production of something real from its artificial copy is, in fact, another mechanism of contemporary biopolitics. Think of biometric systems of identification in which it is paradoxically the copy (i.e., my iris scan or my digital finger prints) that identifies (me as) the original, and not vice versa. Think of the fact that nowadays the dynamics of power have substituted human life for the human subject. (118)

By displaying a terminological fusion and (con)fusion of the concepts of bios and politics, biopolitics attempts to eliminate — in a theoretical sense at least — the gap that is always-already present between bios and politics. Bios,11 which is first of all a term that refers to life, is a generic, indeterminable, and indeed vague concept. But as soon as bios appears to be framed by power, a decisive semantic shift from concept to content happens. As if to say that bios becomes life only, and only when, power frames it and so defines it. It is only within the frame of power, then, that life metamorphoses, and from a neutral, cold and somehow impalpable concept becomes something else, namely, a warm and palpable content; something much more specific, much more present, much more subjective, and so much more subjectable. This something so much more is what we call body. (119)

Nuda vita — bare life — is a life that, stripped of its ethical values and meaning, is the prime object of governmental power’s performances. (120)

As I have mentioned at the beginning of this paper, for Groys “art becomes biopolitical’ when it attempts ‘to produce and document life as a pure activity,”27 that is to say, when it attempts to contract life into an event that happens in a time frame that can be controlled and manipulated. (126)

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