A short visual bibliography around the idea of a Wall
By: Stefano Ruffa
Stefano Ruffa is a photographer, curator, gallery owner, bookseller. His life is spent working between media & cultural studies and photography. Stefano Ruffa is the founder, curator and director for the ONEROOM Lab and Bookstore located in Rome, Italy.
Essay 2 of 4: No man is an island
(Continued from essay 1)
“No man is an island” – or maybe we all are, and our communities are nothing else that more or less extensive archipelagos, drifting micro-continents. But however conservative may be the primordial instinct of every society, nothing is immutable, everything transits and turns; the less permeable we are to change, the lower the time horizon that we will have in front of us (as a social aggregate, not necessarily as a human race).
Life is a constant becoming, and everything moves
through some kind of border or at least
legitimately tries to do so. (18)
Drifting like rafts and boats in the middle of a sea that apparently link everything, yet we continue to build walls instead of bridges, not making those enough that we already have. In Hungary, in the West Bank, between the United States and Mexico. (19 20 21 22 23)
Euronews, September 9, 2015. Accessed April 21, 2021
Forgetting when we were the “newcomers”, and how universal is the dream of a Promised Land in which to escape from our struggles and pains, that offers itself greedy to our glances but surrounded by impassable walls like a medieval fortress, or a castle. (24) Kafkaesque as the wall of bureaucracy that millions of people experience daily to climb from the inside, in search of that dignity and basic rights denied because they do not have a sheet of paper that shows them to the eyes of the system. (25)
In the age of bits, each of us is a record, and if you are not in the database you cannot participate in the great game of life. (26) Thus making other walls terribly precarious. Lost souls on Earth and in the media context as well. (27)
Traveling among these heterogeneous walls that move, transform and drive our lives much more than we are used to thinking, approaching the end of this path there is another fallen border on which to focus attention.
Within 10 years or so, the barrier that divided the public from private spaces, personal activities and professional duties, seems to have dissolved.
We have become so fond of those little personal windows on the world made of plastic, metal and glass, that for most of us controlling the smartphone is the most frequent gesture daily, which begins and ends our days, almost as natural to breathe.
Always connected, always operational, constantly on display.
A symbolic wall that separated Berlin and the world by dividing it between Good and Evil is fallen in 1989; the enemy has been brought down, the Good has triumphed. So, if the evil was the communist ideology that died that day, the good is the undisputed capitalist, the only player in the field since then (and before – obviously always looking for and creating new crusades, and new enemies to fight: without them, there is no Good), in one public discourse passed from the complexities of the Great Narratives to the superficiality of the 160 characters of the Twitter politics of these days.
English author and researcher Mike Fisher coined the term Semio-capitalism (29) to describe this evolutionary phase of the creature that we can call Capital, or Power.
A capital that is no longer generated by Fordist production and factory labor (which yet it exists even today, even if delocalized on the other side of the wall of our perception and our rights, in the various South of the World) or from the post-Fordist and tertiary jobs of the later decades, but a communicative capital of data and information.
The new exploitation is the imperative to communicate, engage in daily product placement of oneself and, becoming ourselves the product for sale, generating traffic and therefore value that flows only in the coffers of the owners of the infrastructures, of the platforms.
Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are among the latest and most powerful incarnations of the Creature, trans-national entities that place themselves above our earthly laws and boundaries, free to circulate well beyond the Sky above Berlin (Wim Wenders , Wings of Desire, 1987 – Der Himmel uber Berlin in the original title, Il Cielo sopra Berlino in the Italian translation] in the clouds of Heavens that was never so earthly.) (31)
18 Justinien Tribillion et al. (eds.), Migrant Journal, 2017-2020 (6 issues magazine)
19,Nicolò Degiorgis, Blue as gold, Rorhof 2015
20. Euronews footage from YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25a5RRh6nXs) (video)
21. a) Josef Koudelka, Wall, Aperture 2013
b) Ad Van Denderen, Stone, Fw:Books 2015
c) Eyal Weizman, A travers les murs : L’architecture de la nouvelle guerre urbaine, Fabrique 2008
22. a) Richard Mischrach & Gulliermo Galindo, Border Cantos, Aperture 2016
b) John Moore, Undocumented, Powerhouse Books 2018
c) Ken Light, To the promised land, Aperture 1988
23. Michael Danner, Migration as Avantgarde, Kettler Verlag 201
24. a) Federico Clavarino, The Castle, Delpine 2015b) Federico Clavarino
b) A companion book to The Castle, Delpine 2015
25. Anoek Steketee, State of being. Documenting Statelessness, Nai010 Publisher 2018
26. Maurizio Ferraris, Documentality: why it is necessary to leave traces, Fordham University Press 2012 Editori Laterza 2009 – 2018
27. a) Studio Defrost, Immorefugee, self published 2015
b) Henk Wildschut, Ville de Calais, self-published, 2017
c)Ismail Einasce, Thomas Roueché (eds.), Lost in media. Migrant Perspectives and the Public Sphere, Valiz 2019
28. Unwired by Jacqueline Hassink, Hatje Cantz 2018
29. Mike Fisher, Il nostro desiderio è senza nome. Scritti politici K-punk/1, Minimum fax 2020
30. Fabrizio Vatieri, Dominare spiritualmente il progresso, self published 2017
31. Gabriele Galimberti & Paolo Woods, The Heavens, Dewi Lewis 2015