Situating Screen Bodies

in Screen Bodies
Brian Bergen-AurandBellevue College screenbodies@berghahnjournals.com

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On the Cover

Figure 1
Figure 1

Love Has No Gender, Race or Sexuality. Boitumelo and Collen. (August 2017).

Citation: Screen Bodies 2, 2; 10.3167/screen.2017.020201

This cover of Screen Bodies features a photograph by Collen Mfazwe entitled “Love Has No Gender, Race or Sexuality. Boitumelo and Collen. (August 2017).” Mfazwe lives in Benoni, Gauteng, South Africa, and is a photographer at the South African platform Inkanyiso (Zulu for “the one who brings light”). In “Love Has No Gender,” we find a summary of Mfazwe’s response to South Africa’s drastically high rate of violent crime against womxn, lesbians, and bisexual and trans folk, a long-running pattern of gender-based violence that she confronts in a series she has been developing since 2017 called Imizimba (Bodies).

In 2006, the visual activist Zanele Muholi first conceptualized Inkanyiso as “a flexible and unique source of information for art advocacy” where queer activism = queer media. In 2009, Muholi registered the platform with the Department of Social Services “in response to the lack of visual histories and skills training produced by and for LGBTI persons, especially artists” interested in “photography, film, visual art, and multimedia.” Since its inception, Inkanyiso has featured the work of many artists and collaborators who through visual activism projects have challenged the binarization of gender, race, and sexuality. According to its website, these artists “Produce. Educate. Disseminate information … to many audiences especially those who are often marginalized or sensationalized by the mainstream media.” Following this mandate, Inkanyiso has facilitated the production and publication of hundreds of queer visual activist pieces that have documented and celebrated the lives of queer folk who have been beaten or murdered, told the stories of lesbians who have been subjected to “corrective rape,” and served to alter so many misconceptions about the queer community in South Africa and the surrounding region. Collen Mfazwe’s current project—Imizimba (Bodies)—echoes and extends Inkanyiso’s work in its call for more inclusive views on race, gender, and sexuality and its rallying cry against gender-based violence in South Africa and around the world.

Figure 2
Figure 2

Collen Mfazwe: We Live in Fear.

Citation: Screen Bodies 2, 2; 10.3167/screen.2017.020201

I first encountered “Love Has No Gender, Race or Sexuality. Boitumelo and Collen. (August 2017)” on 12 September 2017 after Mfazwe had posted it on her Facebook wall. I commented, “Love it!” and discussed the photograph with her for several days. Months later, I asked whether my fellow editors and I may use it as a cover image for Screen Bodies. At first, though, I only asked her for permission to use the “self-portrait she had posted,” a request that caused us some confusion because she thought I had meant a different image—one of herself sitting alone, knees tucked against her chest, ankles crossed, with her looking out of frame (see Figure 2). After I clarified that I was interested in the image of Boitumelo and Collen together, she replied, “You mean this one. My favorite as well.” (See Figure 1.) Mfazwe’s enthusiastic response inspired me to ask more about the photograph’s place and purpose in her larger body of work, especially the currently evolving project entitled Imizimba (Bodies).

As I compare the two photographs, the difference is in the looks of the subjects in both images. While the self-portrait conveys the quiet strength of the photographer with a contemplative attitude toward her work and the situation to which it speaks, it remains contemplative and detached—abstractly concerned/worried—even with the presence of Mfazwe’s flesh clearly centered in the frame. This photograph may well address how Mfazwe has situated herself in addressing the situation in South Africa through her photography as an act of contemplation. In “Love Has No Gender,” though, Mfazwe has situated herself otherwise than in this isolation and perhaps intellectualization precisely because the image deploys and addresses two relationships simultaneously through its form and content: Collen’s relationship with Boitumelo and their relationship with the camera/viewer. Rather than their bodies filling the frame, then, their relationships to each other and to the world around them does—the line between their bodies, the touch of their flesh, the contented looks on their faces, the irrepressible looks in/of their eyes. While “Collen Mfazwe: We Live in Fear” portrays the situation of the artist, “Love Has No Gender” portrays the situations of the relationships that she touches and that touch her.

Collen Mfazwe and I met when we both participated in the “Art + Resistance: Visual Acts, Queer Interventions, and Activism” workshop at the Institute for Queer Theory in Berlin in 2015.1 Since that time, we have grown to become friends through extended conversations about social media, race, and gender in different global settings, among screen bodies, and in her image activism. These images and the overall Imizimba (Bodies) project appeared to be a consistent continuation of her work in Berlin and the next stage in the evolution of her work over the past three years.

Mfazwe describes Imizimba (Bodies) thusly:

This is a photographic project that engages with experiences of embodiment in contemporary South Africa. In particular, my work explores the ways in which multiple forms of violence shape and mark bodies. The photographs depict physical, spiritual, emotional, and sexual violence as well as death. This work forms part of my visual response to the violence that has affected queer individuals and communities in South Africa and will first be shown in my township, Daveyton, and then in other townships around the country.

Figure 3
Figure 3

Palesa Mlangeni: We Not Free.

Citation: Screen Bodies 2, 2; 10.3167/screen.2017.020201

These images are bound up with and convey stories of gender-based violence among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people. My work responds to the violence around me and aims to educate viewers who encounter these images. I am using the human body as my starting point because the body is what we all can relate to as humans; we all possess one, and my hopes are that instead of imagining these bodies being violated and disrespected, people will empathize with survivors and those who have lost their lives as a result of abuse, rape, and murder. My series includes images of dead creatures surrounded by living creatures to convey how people are brutally killed and the perpetrators of this violence and others in society continue with their lives as if nothing has changed.

The Situation in South Africa

Figure 4
Figure 4

Ukufa (Death).

Citation: Screen Bodies 2, 2; 10.3167/screen.2017.020201

In recent years, crime across South Africa seems to have been on the decrease, with the latest rates falling in almost every category—except in the area of gender-based violence. According to the June 2018 report from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) entitled “Crime against Women in South Africa: An In-Depth Analysis of the Victims of Crime Survey Data 2018,” despite the crime rate in general decreasing “between 2013/14 and 2016/17, violent crimes against women such as sexual assault and murder increased drastically between 2015/16 and 2016/17” (2). And the perception as well as the realization of that drastic increase has had significant effects on how womxn, lesbians, and bisexual and trans folk see themselves and their situations within South Africa.

The Stats SA report begins by asserting that “a society that is free from fear of crime is essential not only as a basic human right but also as the foundation of economic development of a country” and that “evidence in this report shows that the fear of crime limit[s] women’s engagement in various economic activities” (ii). To this end, Stats SA collated information from the Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS), “some administrative data,” and, “to a lesser extent,” the World Health Organization (WHO). Their goal was “to highlight the gender impact of crime in South Africa, with particular emphasis on the impact of crime on women,” including the impact of crime on households headed by women (ii). They prepared this report in the hope of presenting statistical evidence of “some types of crime perpetrated against women in South Africa to provide an assessment of the trends in, and extent of [the] victimisation of women” (2), in order to “assist policy makers, law enforcement agencies and civil society to gauge progress and plan interventions for protecting women as a vulnerable group” (ii) and to address human rights and economic development with regard to crime and fear of crime.

The last two years have been especially important to this South African campaign. While murder rates for men continue to exceed murder rates for women, recent years have seen a significant rise in such rates with regard to women. Stats SA reports that “the murder rates of both men and women declined steadily between 2000 and 2015” (1).2 However, despite the fact that “the murder rate for men … continued to decline between 2015 and 2016/17 … the murder rate for women increased drastically by 117% between 2015 and 2016/17” (1). The report continues, indicating that “the number of women who experienced sexual offences also jumped from 31 665 in 2015/16 to 70 813 in 2016/17,” which is an increase of 39,148 or 123%. The report reiterates that “these are drastic increases in less than twenty-four months” (1).

Whether or not one accepts the report’s assertion that “crime in general does not have gender preference with the exception of sexual offence which often targets females,” it is crucial here to acknowledge its special focus on “gender-based violence” and its citation of “Chapter 12 of the National Development Plan (NDP),” which “stipulates that ‘gender-based violence in South Africa is unacceptably high’” and that action is necessary with regard to the safety of women. According to the report, the case of Eudy Simelane is an example of the type of gender-based violence that it targets (3). Simelane was a midfielder on the South African women’s national soccer team and a vocal LGBT-rights activist who was gang-raped and murdered in her hometown of KwaThema, Springs, Gauteng, in 2008. Many groups have argued that Simelane’s case was an example of the use of “corrective rape” to “cure” her lesbianism that then turned into an incidence of threatening members of the LBT community when she was stabbed twenty-five times and left half-naked in a ditch. The report admits that “rape targeting women and girls is a serious problem in South Africa,” where the rate continues to hover around 138 per 100,000 women. “This figure is among the highest in the world,” according to the report. “For this reason, some have labelled South Africa as the ‘rape capital of the world’” (4).

The effects and affects of cases such as Simelane’s, the perceptions of such cases, and the incredible prevalence of rape, corrective rape, femicide, and lesbicide are at the core of Collen Mfazwe’s work. As the Stats SA report emphasizes, it is not only the realization of crime in South Africa, but also the perception of crime that detrimentally affects the lives of women across the country—the lives of womxn, lesbians, and bisexual and trans folk in particular, as Mfazwe stresses in her statements and in her photography. The report talks about the fear of crime:

In 2016/17, people refrained from ordinary daily activities due to fear of crime. Women are more affected by this compared to men, as they felt they were not free to express their sexual orientation or walk to fetch firewood or water. The pattern of feelings of safety for men is the same as that of women, but women felt more unsafe than men. Women felt more unsafe than men walking in their neighbourhoods alone both during the day and when it is dark.

Mfazwe’s visual activism aims precisely at this inhibition of expression and the ramifications that it has for South African society. The report continues, “Perceptions are so important that the first half of the NDP Vision 2030 on crime and safety is stated in terms of perceptions and feelings of safety rather than the actual experience of crime” (2). Mfazwe’s visual activism confronts the perceptions and the reality of South Africa’s gender-based violence in an effort to alter the latter by changing the former. It is as if she is directly responding to the Stats SA report’s claims:

We start where it all begins, that is, in the human mind. Attitudes and perceptions play a very important role in shaping human behaviour, including criminal activity and vulnerability to crime. Attitudes towards women, driven mostly by cultural and religious beliefs, determine how women are treated in society. This includes attitudes of women about themselves.

It is no surprise, then, that her work addresses “attitudes” and beliefs.

Here and Now

The focus on embodiment and the juxtaposition of living and dead bodies in Collen Mfazwe’s visual art confronts directly the situation in South Africa. It confronts the fact that “people are brutally killed and the perpetrators of this violence and others in society continue with their lives as if nothing has changed” by focusing on two impulses, two affects at once. By deploying the bodies of womxn, lesbians, and bisexual and trans folk so openly, these images transgress attempts to erase the very carnality of transgressive embodiment. These images put womxn, lesbians, and bisexual and trans folk fully on display, but they refuse to let that display fix them into easily determined visages. Simply locating two mostly nude female bodies in such proximity without any (possibly proper?) social context is challenge enough. Yet, by showing them in relaxed or contented poses and embraces, with smiles or satisfied looks on their faces, these images further refuse attempts to intimidate their subjects or dictate the boundaries of the relationships in play—relationships between and among exposed/unexposed, vulnerability/safety, masculinity/femininity, heteronormativity/queerness, and hegemony/counter-hegemony. They are, of course, not “shiny, happy people” oblivious to their environment, but rather smiling in relation to their situation, despite the threats to their happiness. These images, then, invoke a series of dynamics that refuses to acquiesce to attempts to eradicate any such subject positions or to mandate that such subjects maintain any individual, recognizable subject positions at all.

Then, to complicate the situation even further, the entire project of Imizimba (Bodies) works to amplify these internal dualities through the situations of the distinct images themselves. Another accumulation of impulses and affects come into play between and among as well as within the images.

In “Palesa Mlangeni: We Not Free,” for example, while the subject’s nude torso and head fill most of the frame, the visual focus is drawn to the belt that forms an X across the subject’s breasts. Does the belt signal some act of violence, literally a crossing out or delegitimizing? Does it signal being fearful of such violence? Is it simply a sartorial choice used to cover the subject’s nipples? Does it stand in for S & M practices? For resistance to such practices? Does it signal some combination of these situations? Who owns the belt? Who uses the belt? For what? On whom? All of these questions come from within the frame of the photograph. However, this accumulation then shifts as we encounter the fourth image here, of the dead, eviscerated bird being eaten by ants—“Ukufa (Death)” (see above, Figure 4). Is this a visual metaphor for the violence threatening the subject of the previous image? Is this what lies in wait for every womxn, lesbian, bisexual person, and trans person who refuses to satisfy the demands put upon their bodies and their subjectivities? Does the shift from human to bird, from mammalia to aves imply something as well about the devaluation of the lives of every womxn, lesbian, bisexual person, and trans person? The dry earth, the swarm of life engulfing the bird’s carcass, the imagined movement throughout the frame: what might they all imply in the context of the relationship to the previous image and in the context of contemporary South Africa and the surrounding region? These are just some of the provocations of Imizimba (Bodies).

In a conversation we had as I prepared to draft this editorial, Mfazwe told me: “When I took that photograph [“Love Has No Gender”] it was not part of Imizimba (Bodies). But when I kept looking at the picture, I wanted to include it in the series because that picture says ‘We live in fear because of our sexuality, but we are here. We are not going anywhere.’ They will never kill us all.” When I asked her about the present state of the project and why she was posting the images online, she replied, “The series is still at a starting point so there is no website for it yet until the exhibition. The reason I keep putting them up on Facebook is because I want to see people’s reaction in terms of the series, and it’s also my way of targeting new participants.”

The evolution of gender-based violence in South Africa is precisely the situation Collen Mfazwe’s visual activism addresses. “Imizimba (Bodies) is specifically related to young lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender womxn who experience violence because of their sexual orientation,” explains Mfazwe:

This project addresses the high level of gender-based and sexual violence in post-Apartheid South Africa. Many men in South Africa perceive womxn as sex objects, and whenever they come across a [LBT] womxn they have nasty comments about their body or how they are dressed. Many [LBT] womxn who are experiencing this do not know how to deal with this issue, and we also have womxn who are facing such issues in their own homes. My project involves working closely with lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender womxn to create a visual representation that portrays their experience of violence. South Africa has an extremely high rate of rape and intimate partner femicide, and has a very high murder rate. Hate crimes against queer people are often extremely brutal, and these forms of violence are normatized and not enough is done to combat stigma and discrimination.

Imizimba (Bodies), in general, and “Love Has No Gender, Race or Sexuality. Boitumelo and Collen. (August 2017),” in particular, confront this stigma and discrimination through their simple presentation of this controversial subject matter. They provoke through their simple statement, “We are here.” As Mfazwe explains, “My project aims to intervene in this field through the medium of photography and will open a way for people to engage critically with these issues. This work forms part of my visual response to the violence that has affected queer individuals and communities in South Africa.” Yet, it is clear from these images that her response simply says, “Look. A Womxn.” Or, “Look. An Embrace.” And in that simplicity comes their force. They are declarative photographs in the sense that they declare something or make a statement about what is, was, or will be true. They do not ask or demand. Rather, they assert, and, here and now, they assert that in South African society these womxn have existed, do exist, and will exist in the future. They address, then, attempts to exterminate and remove the traces of these bodies from society. To this end, then, Collen Mfazwe has created visual art that insists on saying, “We persist.” She has put her images, her body, her life on display (and in jeopardy) against this violent situation so that we might all refuse to look the other way.

In This Issue

Issue 2.2 of Screen Bodies features three research articles taking comparative approaches to situating the experience of screened bodies in relation to history, genre, and technology.

In “Handover Bodies in a Feminist Frame: Two Hong Kong Women Filmmakers’ Perspectives on Sex after 1997,” Gina Marchetti examines the role that two female filmmakers have played in redefining images of women, their sex, and their sexuality in Hong Kong since the return of the Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to the control of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997. “Linking the depiction of the gendered body with the demand for women’s rights as sexual citizens, several directors have examined changing attitudes toward women’s sexuality” since the change in sovereignty of the territory, argues Marchetti. Two such directors are Yau Ching (Hong Kong, 1966–) and Barbara Wong (British Hong Kong, 1972–). Through a comparative analysis of these directors—and two of their films in particular—Marchetti demonstrates how the area’s political transition continues “to have an impact on all aspects of life in the territory, including the sex lives of its citizens” and how the “outward appearances, physical locations, erotic expressions, and sexual identities” of these “handover bodies” reveals the effects and affects of this geopolitical transition. Yau Ching’s experimental feature film Ho Yuk: Let’s Love Hong Kong (2002) interrogates issues of sex work, the internet, and lesbian desire, and diverges drastically from Barbara Wong’s more staid documentary, Women’s Private Parts (2001), which relies on the televisual talking head interview and observational camera to highlight the way women view their bodies within contemporary Chinese culture on both sides of the Hong Kong border. Yet, both films (and filmmakers) “take advantage of the intimacy and spontaneity associated with the small-screen televisual aesthetic” to examine women’s bodies as the location of the convergence of certain forces of sexuality, gender, and geopolitics “associated with the territory’s change in sovereignty.” Comparing and contrasting these two filmmakers by way of these two films, Marchetti demonstrates how “a vision of women’s sexuality emerges that highlights Hong Kong women’s struggle for full sexual citizenship” in a territory itself now marked by semi-autonomy and the tensions between being a world city and part of the global economy and yet having to answer to local demands and the central state authority.

Dewey Musante also deploys a comparative analysis in “Objet a(ffect) and Che(www) Vuoi: The Fleshy Horror of the Unknowable Other in Spring and Honeymoon” in his analysis of these films directed by Justin Benson (USA, 1983–) and Aaron Moorhead (USA, 1987–) and by Leigh Janiak (USA, 1980–). Rather than focus on the geopolitical ramification of these films, though, Musante adopts this methodology to revise our understanding of the relation between psychoanalytic theory and affect theory in an effort to reinterpret our responses to Spring (2014) and Honeymoon (2014). In this article, he explains that while the two films seem to fit easily into the genre of “horror films birthed in the spirit of classical psychoanalytic film criticism,” seen through a different lens, they challenge both this classification and the grounds on which it is based. According to Musante, although the films do “deal with a monstrous female, a fearful, castrated male, and the ‘otherness’ of sexual relationships,” a closer analysis of each suggests that they “‘think’ through problems of the gendered other, sexual politics, and cinematic affect outside the bounds of contemporary psychoanalytic or affect theory alone.” Thus, by his account, they do not call for a negation of one another but, rather, for a rethinking in relation to one another. To pursue this rethinking, Musante coins and analyzes “two neologisms that blend the insights of psychoanalytic and affective film theory—objet a(ffect) and che(www) vuoi”—in order to demonstrate “that both films not only complicate typical readings of horror films ‘about’ gender and sex,” but also “that each film performs its own type of philosophical thought about gender and ‘otherness’ through its very form and content.” In the end, these performances open the productive potential at the intersection of “these two paradigms of film theory in tandem” to point toward what one might describe as a feminist affect theory or affective theory of feminism that takes up the generic effects of horror films (the prevalence of shadow and opacity, use of scare cuts, exposure of bodily fluids) and reads their filmic sensual affects (desire, disgust, attraction, repulsion) in relation to a broader gendered political economy.

Instead of comparing individual filmmakers or texts, Michele Barker, in “A Cinema of Movement,” analyzes cinematic movement across a number of technological platforms from several periods of film history. As she explains, “In this article, I consider some of the aesthetic and temporal forces that give us the opportunity to rethink the relationship between movement and perception in cinema and new media practice.” Beginning with a surprising moment accidentally captured by her GoPro camera when she lost control of it while surfing, Barker reconsiders the dynamic between screen movement and stillness and our experience of/in/with this dynamic as felt in Auguste Lumière and Louis Lumière’s early classic L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat (The arrival of a train at La Ciotat station, France, 1895), Andrei Tarkovsky’s modernist masterpiece Solaris (Russia, 1972), electronic artist Jim Campbell’s Fundamental Interval video series (USA, 2010), Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s experimental GoPro documentary Leviathan (USA, 2012), Ilya Naishuller’s Hardcore Henry (Russia, 2016)—the first feature film shot entirely on GoPro from a first-person perspective, and, finally, the multichannel moving image and responsive audio installation that she created with Anna Munster, évasion (Australia, 2014). Placing her own media arts practice, in which she uses movement and stillness within a field of relational moving images, in the context of these other images and following on the thought of Henri Bergson and Gilles Deleuze on duration, Barker offers “an idea of the moving image that considers how we can move with the image’s movement” and suggests that we need “a new approach to the creation of images that create movement, one where we feel rather than see imperceptibility.” When considered broadly, “in relation to other artistic and scientific deployments of imperceptibility revealed in the use of slow motion in contemporary moving images, this ‘feeling’ of movement summons a kind of time,” one which, concludes Barker, is neither “atemporal nor a subdivision of time but rather a time of moving-with images.”

In this issue, we also introduce our first SCREEN SHOTS section, where we present together a number of short response articles on the same or similar topics. This issue’s SCREEN SHOTS section features two articles discussing the Middle East on screen from two different perspectives. In “Transitions within Queer North African Cinema: Nouri Bouzid, Abdellah Taïa, and the Transnational Tourist,” Walter S. Temple responds to what he describes as the rise of a new “global awareness of queer identities in contemporary Maghrebi cinema” brought about by several factors, “including the dissemination of films through social media outlets and during international film festivals.” This new experience of these “tout contemporain representations of queer sexuality characterize” our encounters with “a robust wave of films in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region,” a new wave that incites “a new focus on the condition of the marginalized traveler struggling to locate new forms of self and being—both at home and abroad.” At the same time, at the other end of the Mediterranean, Ira Allen in “Falling Apart Together: On Viewing Ali Atassi’s Our Terrible Country from Beirut” describes a significantly different experience in relation to a screening of the Syrian director’s film “scarcely seventy-five miles from a Damascus whose dying and lost flowed continuously into Lebanon even as we watched for Syrian hope on the screen,” an experience that “was to be swept up in the civil war’s terrible pull of collective suffering and loss.” Responding to the collective situation of that experience of falling apart, Allen explains how “we had confronted together a loss of revolutionary possibility and a refusal of that same loss that touched nearly everybody in the theater,” and he reminds us, in the end, that “we need, exactly there where we have fallen apart together, to find ever renewed the possibility of building something better, the idea of revolution.”

Issue 2.2 concludes with another robust Reviews section, including a review essay comparing Star Bodies and the Erotics of Suffering by Rebecca Bell-Metereau and Colleen Glenn and Celebricities: Media Culture and the Phenomenology of Gadget Commodity Life by Anthony Curtis Adler and single-volume reviews of books by Scott C. Richmond, David Church, Grant Bollmer, and April Kalogeropoulos Householder and Adrienne Trier-Bieniek.


Volume three of Screen Bodies looks forward to several research articles reframing classical and contemporary disability on large and small screens; a number of articles on film sound, musicality, and embodied screen experience; examinations of films by Michael Haneke, Barbara Hammer, Darren Aronofsky, Lars von Trier, Jim Chuchu, and Naomi Kawase; and speculative articles on constructions of the medical tourist as film tourist, the relationship between European art film and the archive of the black body, new ways of describing the filmic experience through Baruch Spinoza and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, the pornographic body under state surveillance, rereadings of science journal illustrations, and tactical video art metatexts that strive to subvert the internet’s open-context feedback loop.

It will also feature reports from two South East Asian film festivals and an East Asian video installation as well as a guest-edited SCREEN SHOTS section on trans screen bodies, where five authors look closely at experiences of televisual, cinematic, vlog, mobile, surveillance, and artistic images of bodies inside and outside the gender binary. Acknowledging the ways in which experiencing trans bodies can violate and disrupt established paradigms for responding to embodiment, this section employs a multitude of divergent and sometimes contradictory perspectives toward the understanding and description of these experiences.

Finally, over the next year Screen Bodies will feature reviews of such texts as On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space by Soraya Murray; Film Bodies: Queer Feminist Encounters with Gender and Sexuality in Cinema by Katharina Lindner; Cinema’s Baroque Flesh: Film, Phenomenology and the Art of Entanglement by Saige Walton; A Capsule Aesthetic: Feminist Materialisms in New Media Art by Kate Mondloch; Chinese Surplus: Biopolitical Aesthetics and the Medically Commodified Body by Ari Larissa Heinrich; Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility edited by Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton; and Affective Images: Post-Apartheid Documentary Perspectives by Marietta Kesting.

This final book returns us to the concerns with which we began in its examination of lesser-known films and photographs addressing the struggle against apartheid and the new struggles that arose in its wake. In this interdisciplinary study of affect, images, and belonging, Kesting argues for an intervisual methodology of seeing through embodied experience that intersects with feminist and queer studies, the history of photography, media theory, and cultural studies. In the end, she situates this seeing in larger historical contexts and the cultural history of black, gendered subjectivity. In this way, Kesting is able to reengage with the recurrence of affective images while reconsidering experiences of flashbacks, trauma, “white noise,” witnessing and testimony, and the return of the repressed. Alongside other contemporary work, such as that of Collen Mfazwe, the other artists associated with Inkanyiso, and several other authors in this issue of Screen Bodies, Kesting’s work represents not just an application of accepted methodologies to new texts but more so the development of new approaches toward and dynamic reassessments of previously neglected experiences and situations through the comingling of theories, responses, and subjectivities.



Screen Bodies 1.2 featured the work of two other artists from the Institute for Queer Theory workshop on its cover, a photograph of “Genital Call,” which is an audiovisual installation by Giegold & Weiß (nGbK: Berlin, 2014). I have continued to consult with many participants from that workshop, including Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, graffiti artist Mook Lion and researcher Tessa Lewin of the Institute of Development Studies. In 2016, Antke Engel, the director of the Institute for Queer Theory joined the editorial board of Screen Bodies.


The Stats SA report maintains a gender binary by considering only men and women.


  • Crime against Women in South Africa: An In-Depth Analysis of the Victims of Crime Survey Data 2018.” Crime Statistics Series Volume V. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA). Risenga Maluleke, Statistician-General. Report No. 03-40-05 (June 2018).

  • Inkanyiso.org. 2018. https://inkanyiso.org/ (accessed 1 July 2018).

Contributor Notes

Brian Bergen-Aurand teaches in the English Department at Bellevue College, Washington, where he specializes in film, ethics, embodiment, and humor studies. He is the founder and editor of Screen Bodies journal, editor of Comedy Begins with Our Simplest Gestures: Levinas, Ethics, and Humor (2017) and Transnational Chinese Cinema, Corporeality, Desire, and the Ethics of Failure (2014, with Mary Mazzilli and Hee Wai Siam), and the author of Cinematic Provocations: Ethics, Justice, Embodiment, and Global Film (forthcoming 2018). Currently, he is developing (with Andrew Grossman) an encyclopedia of global queer cinema. Email: screenbodies@berghahnjournals.com

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Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

  • Crime against Women in South Africa: An In-Depth Analysis of the Victims of Crime Survey Data 2018.” Crime Statistics Series Volume V. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA). Risenga Maluleke, Statistician-General. Report No. 03-40-05 (June 2018).

  • Inkanyiso.org. 2018. https://inkanyiso.org/ (accessed 1 July 2018).


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