Lives on Hold: Searching for Agency and Identity in a Changing World

September 9, 2011—September 23, 2011

Electromediascope Series

7-9 p.m., Fridays, Sept. 9, 16 and 23

Atkins Auditorium | Free Admission

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The works included in Lives on Hold examine different cultural, social-ecological and political instances where the socially determined rights of agency and mobility that exist between individuals, institutions and governments are increasingly challenged, systematized and withheld.

Today’s pervasive and protracted conditions of warfare, diasporas, and displacement coupled with the ubiquity and emptiness of non-place are woven into the fabric of all places and countries. Urban street culture, gated communities and suburban “safety” enclaves have conflicting cultural connotations and meanings depending on differing desires, expectations and social mores. Empty nightscapes of surveillance, remote sensing, capture and control are pervasive topics that the news media does not discuss, but instead exploit in their nightly theaters of attraction and fear.

The video works in Lives on Hold present examples of successful revolution and the continuing struggle between the forces of stasis and change. They document escalating political and cultural contention that questions limits to mobility and cultural expression. Their works cause us to think about the celebrations and also the losses of human potential, self-actualization and creativity, and what it means to be human in today’s worldwide social-ecological context.

Program details:
Sept. 9

Joan Braderman’s THE HERETICS is the inside story of the New York feminist art collective that produced HERESIES: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics (1977–92). Joan Braderman, who joined the group in 1975 as an aspiring filmmaker, reconnects with 25 group members including writers, architects and visual artists.

Sept. 16

Lighthouse, by Chi Jang Yin, is about the labor system and how individualism is influenced by the social and political infrastructure.

X-Mission, by Ursula Biemann, explores the logic of the refugee camp as one of the oldest extra-territorial zones. Taking the Palestinian refugee camp as a case in point, the video engages with the different discourses – legal, symbolic, urban, mythological, historical – that give meaning to this exceptional space.

Sahara Chronicle, by Ursula Biemann, documents the present sub-Saharan exodus toward Europe. Taking a close look at the migration system in the Sahara, the project examines the politics of mobility, visibility and containment, which lie at the heart of current global geopolitics.

Sept. 23

Deborah Stratman’s In Order Not to Be Here gives an uncompromising look at the ways privacy, safety, convenience and surveillance determine our environment. Shot entirely at night, the film confronts the hermetic nature of white-collar communities, dissecting the fear behind contemporary suburban design.


In Stranger Comes to Town, Jacqueline Gross anonymously interviews six people about their experiences of coming into the United States. Goss focuses on the questions and examinations used to establish identity at the border, and how these processes in turn affect one’s own sense of self and view of the world.



Image: Sahara Chronicle image stills courtesy of the artists and Video Data Bank (VDB), Chicago.



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