The Online Journal of Contour biennale

The Moon Will Teach You
By Pedro Gómez-Egaña

  Some of the most prominent music produced in Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was linked to the spread of polyphonic choral compositions. This music was usually interpreted from handwritten parts in the form of choir books with music and lyrics laid out for individual voices (typically soprano and tenor on the left-hand […]

May 15

By Rossella Biscotti

Introduction Other began as an ongoing project initiated for the exhibition 10 x 10 (2014), which was presented at Haus Esters in Krefeld, a modernist villa designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the silk manufacturer Josef Esters. In an exploration of how institutional structures are imposed on individuals, the first textile series combines […]

May 15

By Arjuna Neuman

The notion of “bad hombres” threatening the polis echoes a much older fear, that of bad blood threatening the body. Conflations like this, of the body-natural and the body-politic, are often called on through political rhetoric to leverage questionable policies. The rhetoric works well for two reasons: firstly, the two-body analogy is ingrained in the […]

April 13

Speculations on a Transformative Theory of Justice
By Denise Ferreira da Silva

Scene 1—International Airport, Departure area: the writer, the only black person in the scene, is waiting to board a plane to KL on her way to Melbourne. Two security officers, one black and one colored, approach her and ask for her passport, then ask what she was doing in Cape Town, she answers, they ask […]

April 11

Video Temporality and Hindsight Evidence
By Judy Radul

Since 1991, when Rodney King’s beating was captured on video by a civilian named George Holliday, the medium’s use as legal evidence has increased immensely. Understanding the functions and consequences of this shift demands a deep consideration of video’s relationship to temporality and memory. For years, artists and media theorists have been pursuing this question. […]

February 23

L for Lai Teck
By Ho Tzu Nyen

A fleet of illegible and nameless specters haunts the political landscapes of early and mid-twentieth-century Southeast Asia. British Special Branch reports from this period tended to present its Communist enemies as faceless statistical digits, revealing few personal details about them. The abstraction of these reports is further exacerbated by the fact that the most frequent […]

February 23

Legal Forms, Value-Forms, Forms of Resistance
By Sven Lütticken

It is far from coincidental that the authors of key early works of aesthetic philosophy, such as Immanuel Kant and G. W. F. Hegel, also published major works on the philosophy of law. Modern philosophy tried to found itself on reason alone, on the subject as pure cogito; in the process, it cut itself off […]

January 12

Diaoptasia – Our Future Will Be
By Otobong Nkanga

Fractures can sometimes be identified As light falls on its aching path How do you see the cracks that appear? Would it be rough and irregular? Maybe shell like, smooth and curved? Or maybe jagged and sharp edged like broken metal Forming elongated splinters Breaking like clay or chalk?   Our future is to live […]

January 12

I Will Burn Myself Again and Again: Notes on the Self-Immolations in Tibet
By Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam

I am walking thus on the path of light, to become the living proof of truth I am sacrificing myself thus on the face of actuality All my brothers and sisters, young and old, living in misery and sorrow All people throughout the world who love freedom and peace And to you, tyrants of violence, […]

November 30

Visual Script: Vietnam the Movie
By Trinh Thi Nguyen

—Did you see her? —The lobby was full of people. Police, security, barriers. I realized how ridiculous the situation was. I pictured myself jumping on an Indo-Chinese woman, yelling: “Mama!” So I thought a miracle had to happen. I hoped one of the women would shout: “Etienne, my son!” I waited. A long time. Nothing […]

November 30

A Graphic 1994 & A Graphic 1995
By Ghassan Zaqtan

A Graphic 1994 All this wasn’t intended wasn’t clear amid the suspicion when we descended, with merchants and dead and survivors and memorizers and divers and wily characters of the night, on some winding dirt paths.   The lightning that lit up the hills sketched bending ghosts and heads of anxious animals   behind and […]

November 4

The Dreams of Cynthia: Dispatches From a Dead Book / Preparing a Scenario
By Pallavi Paul & Anish Ahluwalia

Pallavi Paul: “In the old days there were several ways of murdering a book,” he said. One of them was to publish it, but ensure that no one got a copy. It had to be known that there was a paper object somewhere, but not anyone who could claim to have seen it. Soon a […]

November 4

A Tragedy in Two Acts
By Ana Torfs

This is a slightly adapted version of a conversation that took place over e-mail in 2006 between art historian Els Roelandt and visual artist Ana Torfs, on the occasion of the first exhibition of Torfs’ installation Anatomy at daadgalerie in Berlin. Els Roelandt: Can you say something about the title you chose for this new […]

September 30

The Littoral
By Beatriz Santiago Muñoz

The year 2160 is the last year of the legacy-management activities under the Puerto Rico Power Authority and the now-defunct United States Atomic Energy Commission. The decommissioned reactor has been closed for fifty years. It was a model thermonuclear plant for seven years, between 1960 and 1967, but it required too many modifications to work […]

September 29

Wine Dark Plastic Sea
By Anand Pandian

Plastic substances are now a ubiquitous planetary presence, far beyond the human places for which they were meant. At this point, 90 percent of global seabirds have probably ingested plastic fragments, while oceanographers write of the plastic debris teeming in the world’s oceans as a “plastisphere” habitat for microbial communities. For those who would identify the […]

September 1

Fragments of Living Knowledge and Neuro-Mutations: The Mutating Relation Between the Conscious Organism and the Inorganic Sphere of Technology
By Susanne M. Winterling & Franco “Bifo” Berardi

Susanne M. Winterling: Technology seems to mystify the gap between nature and culture, body and object. On the one hand, it creates the illusion that none of it needs material or is material, but, on the other, only in the material does there seem to be possibility, sensuality, and interaction/communication. Is this not a contradiction? […]

August 31

America, de Bry 1590-1634
By Louis Henderson

Whilst sitting in the rare book division of the New York Public Library in Manhattan, awaiting the arrival of an original 1724 edition of Le Code Noir, I picked up another book: America, de Bry 1590-1634. As I moved through the pages, looking at Theodor de Bry’s coloured engravings, I was witnessing documents from history that reported apparent truths about the colonisation of the Americas […]

August 5

To See is to Remember. Agency and Peter Paul Rubens’ Justice of Cambyses
By Samuel Mareel

1. The Neues Palais in Potsdam houses a small panel painting by or after Peter Paul Rubens depicting a young man seated on a throne and closely surrounded by a dense group of figures, mainly soldiers and men in oriental dress. One of the bystanders seems to be taking what looks like a branch from […]

August 5

Assembly (Hearings)
By Agency

For Assembly (Hearings), Agency calls forth a selection from its list of things, speculating on the question: “How can non-human things become mutually included within artistic practices?”. For example Thing 001652 (Monkey’s Selfies) concerns a controversy between Naruto, a Sulawesi crested macaque, and David Slater, a wildlife photographer, around the selfies of Naruto.

June 30

Rubber Coated Steel
By Lawrence Abu Hamdan

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a forensic audio analyst as well as an artist, and in 2014 he was asked to analyse audio files that recorded the shots that killed Nadeem Nawara and Mohamed Abu Daher in the West Bank of Palestine.[…]

June 30

Image Notes
By Inhabitants

In a set of short contributions Inhabitants will present a series of loose notes behind “an online channel for exploratory video and documentary reporting.” Inhabitants produces and streams short-form videos intended for online distribution, with each episode focusing on a different issue.

May 19

Dear Attorney General So-and-So, Correspondence Series #2
By Elizabeth A. Povinelli

Dear Madame So-and-So,
I am writing in reference to your inquiries apropos of my letter (15 September 2015) in which I responded to your colleague in Lands, Planning and the Environment. As you may be aware, he wished to know the genre of the Karrabing Film Collective’s film, […]

May 19