Video essay by Ben Spatz with Nazlıhan Eda Erçin, Ilona Krawczyk, and Agnieszka Mendel. Published in Performance Philosophy 7 (2): Margins. [HTML] [PDF]

This “illuminated” video essay works through the juxtaposition of textual and audiovisual material to interrogate the cultural and philosophical whiteness of bodies and institutions. It demonstrates a reciprocal and circular relationship between textuality and audiovisuality insofar as the documented practice responds to a textual object — a physical copy of Giorgio Agamben’s book The Open: Man and Animal — while another layer of critical poetic text interrupts, critiques, analyzes, and illuminates the video. Agamben’s treatment of Heidegger is taken as a reference point to deconstruct the racialized human/animal binary, while the productively ambiguous perspective on whiteness found in contemporary Black studies and critical race theory is invoked as a possible alternative. At the same time, the tactile and sensory qualities of the documented practice — hovering between song and speech, gesture and action — emphasize the embodied, material, and affective dimensions of both whiteness and our attempts to escape it. The video asks: Can the white body be decolonized without killing it? Its multimedial form implies that answers to such a question can only be found through forms of thought that displace the tyranny of writing, or logocentrism, as is also suggested by Fred Moten in the video’s closing epigraph.