Issue #37 Images of Exhaustion
View. Theories and Practices of Visual Culture academic journal
managing editors: Magda Szcześniak, Krzysztof Świrek
Early in the twentieth century, the bourgeoisie – as described by Thomas Mann – believed that “one must be rich.” Today, being rich is not enough, argue writers like Byung-Chul Han and Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, you also must be self-driven, engaged, innovative, and resilient. Contemporary models of communications require an uninterrupted connection to the information stream, while modern labor involves permanent physical and mental mobilization. The de rigueur transcendence of individual limitation is enabled by pharmaceutical use (insightfully described by Paul B. Preciado), while the media landscape is overflowing with classes and seminars on fitness, mental wellness, and mindfulness.
Still, this capitalist utopia of unbridled productivity stripped of any unwelcome consequences has its limits, manifested not just in the form of the supply chain crisis, but also depression, burnout, and the affective detachment of the labor force. The “immaterial” processes of virtual capitalism extract the material resources of the planet, while ramped up productivity exhausts individuals mentally. Labor trends like antiwork and the Great Resignation have been affecting leading economies around the globe (hitting the U.S. research and higher education sectors, or the Chinese IT industry particularly hard), as burnout and mental exhaustion are being increasingly recognized across the globe as more than just individual maladies. They are fast becoming the hallmarks of contemporary human condition.
We would like to dedicate the final 2023 issue of View to images describing, illustrating and interrogating that condition. We are interested in exhaustion conceived as a mental state, an existential condition of the subject, a theme in modern culture, and a state of material resources that underpin the continued existence of our societies. How does contemporary visual culture imagine these different aspects of exhaustion? How is it pictured, metaphorized, and performed in contemporary social and communication practices? How do broadly conceived artists interpret exhaustion, burnout, and resignation? Does modern visual culture offer any persuasive narratives of resistance against the new normal of relentless (over)productivity, or images exemplifying potential responses to exhaustion? As per our editorial practice at View, we are open to texts penned by scholars and researchers working in fields across broadly defined humanities and social sciences (including culture studies, visual culture studies, sociology, art history, and social anthropology).
Sample areas that the submissions might explore:
depictions of crises of productivity, exhaustion, and burnout in film, performative arts, and the theater,
visual utopias of limitless productivity vs. visual utopias of detachment from labor and constant communication,
myths of 24/7 productivity (Crary), the achievement society (Byung-Chul Han), and ‘liberal communism’ (Žižek), and their visual counterparts (and visual critiques),
depictions of the exploitation of affective, mental, and physical resources transcending the traditional imaginary of work and labor.
Abstracts can be submitted by 30 April 2023. We will contact the authors of selected submissions mid May. The deadline for full paper submission is the end of August 2023. Please read the editorial guidelines posted on the journal’s website: https://www.pismowidok.org/en/about/submissions.