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Terra Infirma: Geography's Visual Culture [Paperback]

Irit Rogoff
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

October 13, 2000 0415096162 978-0415096164
In an age of 'ethnic cleansing' and forced migration, of contested borders and nations in turmoil, how have issues of place and identity, and of belonging and exclusion, been represented in visual culture? In Terra Infirma, Irit Rogoff examines geography's truth claims and signifying practices, arguing that geography is a language in crisis, unable to represent the immense changes that have taken place in a post-colonial, post-communist, post-migratory world. She uses the work of international contemporary artists to explore how art in the twentieth century has confronted and challenged issues of identity and belonging.
Rogoff's dazzling and richly-illustrated study takes in painting, installation art, film and video by a wide range of artists including Charlotte Salomon, Ana Mendieta, Joshua Neustein, Yehoshua Glotman, Mona Hatoum, Hans Haacke, Ashley Bickerton, Alfredo Jaar and Guillermo Gomez-Pena. Structuring her argument through themes of luggage, mapping, borders and bodies, Rogoff explores how artists have confronted twentieth century phenomena such as the horror of the Holocaust, the experience of diaspora at New York's Ellis Island, and, in the present day, disputed and fraught boundaries in the Middle East, the two Germanies, the Balkan states and the US-Mexican border.

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Terra Infirma: Geography's Visual Culture + The Migrant's Time: Rethinking Art History and Diaspora (Clark Studies in the Visual Arts)
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About the Author

Irit Rogoff is Chair of Art History and Visual Culture at Goldsmiths College, University of London

Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (October 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415096162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415096164
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,350,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seismic catapult May 23, 2001
Format:Paperback
'terra Infirma' mercillessly assails the fortifications that are built up around geography and art and their epistemelogical certainties. Yet there is so much more to this book than a long and noisy siege of old Jerichos. It refuses to be infiltrated by art that merely illustrates its arguments and goes beyond mapping out a ground for understanding identity, belonging and cultural geography. What makes for its content is what Rogoff calls an "interlocution" with a type of art that "constitutes" the viewing subject and engages with "geography in crisis". For me, the chapter on 'luggage' and its attendant sign systems is the most brilliantly argued and the journalistic approach to Ana Mendieta's 'silueta' series, in a chapter on 'borders', the most evocative of the violence inherent in contemporary art. There are also a ruthless deconstruction of 'mapping' and a sensitive historicisation of 'bodies' in Palestine/Israel. One can tell from this that 'terra infirma' does not neglect politics and is particularly attentive to feminist discourses. The 'terra firma' of this work is its skillful deployment of critical theory and art historical analyses amongst the chaos and devastation of the geographies that she has undone. But this is a love-hate affair with geography. One senses that she has chosen a "geographical arena" in which to play out her games of "unlearning" and "unframing" because geography is such a fascinating and multifaceted spectacle but also because as an estabished old gladiator school of traditional learning it is ripe to be torn apart and remade over and over. As a journey it never arrives, which is as the author intends, but get shaken up by it along the way, it is a seismic trip.
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