Nº 4 — To ask/To Answer/To refuse. Introducing THE ICONOMIST’s latest thematic dossier. For the edition that closes the first of four editions of the magazine, we embarked on the world of interviews and questionnaires. What is a photograph? What is photography? What is an image? In addition to these questions, we also took inspiration from Proust’s questionnaire and JG Ballard’s short story “Answers to a Questionnaire”, a list made up only of answers to unknown questions. In addition, we also present selected texts by Lucas Samaras and his 1978 Auto-Interview, Marlene Dumas, Thomas Hirschhorn and others.
A SELECTION OF FILMS CURATED BY THE ICONOMIST
Concrete Vache (2010)
Leckey has created two new films about Milton Keynes Gallery. The first, Concrete Vache makes use of the Gallery’s extensive documentation, splicing together footage from numerous past exhibitions and events to create a continuous narrative which will be presented alongside a number of 3D models. The second film combines images of the empty Gallery itself, and is shown with imaginary drawings made from descriptions of the site by Viz cartoonist Lee Healey. There will also be a wall-based installation comprising hundreds of thumbnail images from past Milton Keynes Gallery exhibitions.
A film composed of images from prisons. Quotes from fiction films and documentaries as well as footage from surveillance cameras. A look at the new control technologies, at personal identification devices, electronic ankle bracelets, electronic tracking devices. The cinema has always been attracted to prisons. Today’s prisons are full of video surveillance cameras. These images are unedited and monotonous; as neither time nor space is compressed, they are particularly well-suited to conveying the state of inactivity into which prisoners are placed as a punitive measure. The surveillance cameras show the norm and reckon with deviations from it. Clips from films by Genet and Bresson. Here the prison appears as a site of sexual infraction, a site where human beings must create themselves as people and as a workers. In Un Chant d’amour by Jean Genet, the guard looks in on inmates in their cells and sees them masturbating. The inmates are aware that they are being watched and thus become performers in a peep show. The protagonist in Bresson’s Un Condamné à mort s’est échappé turns the objects of imprisonment into the tools of his escape. These topoi appear in many prison films. In newer prisons, in contrast, contemporary video surveillance technology aims at demystification.
Television Delivers People (1973)
Television Delivers People is a seminal work in the now well-established critique of popular media as an instrument of social control that asserts itself subtly on the populace through “entertainments,” for the benefit of those in power-the corporations that mantain and profit from the status quo. While canned Muzak plays, a scrolling text denounces the corporate masquerade of commercial television to reveal the structure of profit that greases the wheels of the media industry. Television emerges as little more than a insidious sponsor for the corporate engines of the world. By appropriating the medium he is criticizing-using television, in effect, against itself-Serra employs a characteristic strategy of early, counter-corporate video collectives-a strategy that remains integral to video artists committed to a critical dismantling of the media’s political and ideological stranglehold.
THE ICONOMIST is an independent artist-run magazine, a research, an agency of images, an observatory and a process of collection. Since 2021.