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Photography in Vanishing Landscape: An Interview with Yazan Khalili

by Nayrouz Abu Hatoum, York University

A landscape is not on the verge of collapse, unless a vanishing landscape is a collapsing one. I came to this realization during my fieldwork in Palestine (2012), when I spent a year travelling between different cities and landscapes. I was trying to capture the visual presence and absence of the separation wall in Palestine and how The Wall’s presence and absence was mirrored in Israeli national discourse. I interviewed several Palestinian and Israeli photographers and artists, but was particularly struck by the photographic work of Palestinian artist Yazan Khalili. In Landscape of Darkness (2010) and On Love and Other Landscapes (2011) we see reflections on love, memory, pain and vanishing landscapes, which bring to the surface Khalili’s hesitation of capturing The Wall in photographic frames. His hesitation is coming from a place of resisting The Wall through shifting Palestinians’ gaze onward towards themselves, in a way that removes the catastrophe from their self-representation.

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DBCP in Nicaragua

by Alberto Guevara

A wide variety of health problems are attributed to nemagón also called DBCP or debromochloropropane. This pesticide, banned in the U.S. in the 1960s but used throughout many parts of the Global South into the 1980s, is associated with sterility in men, menstrual disruptions and miscarriages in women, discoloration of the skin, various cancers, and renal failure.

All agricultural workers I met in Nicaragua who had been exposed to nemagón over the course of years working on banana plantations complained of chronic bone and muscle pains, sensations of burning, migraines, sleeplessness and loss of motor control. These Nicaraguans, camped in protest across from the National Assembly in downtown Managua from 2000-2010, deployed their naked flesh as mirrors of the violent indifference with which they were treated by Dow chemical and the banana business that allowed their exposure to the dangerous nemagón. Many have lifted shirts and leg pants, or in the case of men even stripped down to nothing to expose their dying flesh in protests, to the government, the media, various courts, and other Nicaraguans. I took this and other close-up photos of protesters’ bodies, with the nemagoneros’ explicit encouragement and consent, as a way of bearing witness to their situation but also wanting to document these Nicaraguans’ tragic but politically powerful use of their dying/diseased bodies as rhetorical and political weapons.

Alberto Guevara (aguevara@yorku.ca) is an Associate Professor of Performance Studies in the Department of Theatre at York University, Toronto, Canada. 
Photo location: Managua, Nicaragua