Nicholas D. Mirzoeff F'20

Nicholas D. Mirzoeff
Professor
Media, Culture and Communication
New York University

Mellon/ACLS Scholars & Society 2020
Professor
Media, Culture and Communication
New York University
The Visual Politics and Practices of Whiteness: Antiracist Visual Activism in a Hostile Environment
Magnum Foundation

This project was devised as a response to the events at Charlottesville in 2017 around the statue of Robert E. Lee, which made apparent a resurgence of white supremacy directed toward visual culture, using monuments and statues as its symbols, and aestheticizing borders. It will seek to configure an antiracist visual activism in the context of the pandemic in New York City, specifically focused on whiteness, inspired by, and dedicated to, the late Maurice Berger. The project follows the logic that connects the border to the monument and museum as what Frantz Fanon called the “aesthetics of respect for the established order.” Together, these infrastructures form a hostile visual environment organized around whiteness at the interface of the state and social media. This hostility has been directed at the post-2008 young, urban, non-white and online global majority. Committed to an expanded and diverse concept of photography, Magnum Foundation partners with socially-engaged imagemakers. As part of this project, Magnum Foundation will help host a series of workshops with activists, curators, practitioners, and scholars on the practices of antiracist visual activism in this unforeseen moment of crisis, in which the invisible virus makes visible racialized segregation and marginalization. Anticipated research outputs will include an academic book, an exhibit, online interventions, and an international event in 2021.