On Civility and Academia

Norman Finkelstein gives an unconventional critique of really-existing ‘academic freedom’, recounts the bizarre story of Bertrand Russell’s 1940 dismissal from the College of the City of New York, and examines authors from Marx to Chomsky in his defense of the academic’s right to “break free of the shackles imposed by polite discourse… to speak the impolite and impolitic truth.”

Intimacy, Love, and the Body – Rethinking Helmut Newton’s Photography

Ten years after Helmut Newton’s death, a double exhibition celebrates his work in Berlin’s Museum of Photography. Exciting juxtapositions and breaks characterise both ‘Us and Them’ and ‘Sex and Landscapes’, inviting viewers to reflect on understandings of intimacy, the body, power, and desire. Works by Alice Springs complement his depictions of strong femmes fatales with more refined characters. Their works, as well as their portraits of each other, reveal important issues of representation and authenticity, perhaps particularly relevant for an age marked by proliferating images of naked (female) bodies, argues Jan Bock.

In Pornworld

Is porn making us dumber? More aggressive? More gender-conservative? Or does it liberate the erotic imagination? Porn inhabits an uncanny space between real and pretend, shaping preferences and behaviours beyond the screen. While high-speed internet transforms the production, distribution and regulation of porn, the public discussion about its merits, and its potential for harm, is mired in a decades-old impasse over the value of different forms of evidence. Katrina Zaat asks who sets the terms of the porn debate, and whether it is possible to reframe it.

What form does laughter take? Disturbing Reactions to Kara Walker’s Newest Piece

Kara Walker’s installation at the Domino Sugar Refinery has received a lot of attention, much of it problematic. It is Walker’s ironic enlistment of racist stereotypes that gives her work its power, but this can also lead to inappropriate laughter and racist reactions. Kyle Stoneman explores how we tackle race and female bodies in a museum setting, looking at the installation and its impact.

Why Can’t We Love Like an Albatross?

Certain species devote time to maintaining a relationship with their mate, often at great expense and in ways that seem to transcend basic reproduction. In exploring the wondrous world of animal mating systems, Alison Greggor explains the many parallels, as well as striking discrepancies, that emerge between humans and other species. These comparisons lead to a tantalizing question: are we alone in our capacity for intimacy and love?

Scottish tenements, English terraces

Although Scotland and England have been tumultuous neighbours, not least in the constitutional question Scotland has asked itself on September 18, their divergent residential architectures pose similar challenges and strengths. Andrew Hoolachan argues that our housing problem today is severe, but that we can create sustainable and affordable places to live without turning our backs on the intimacy of urban living.

What does it mean to have a right when you don’t know what a right is?

The Indian state has made significant headway in both welfare policies and neo-liberal economic development. They are well on the way to creating citizens out of the masses of people. In the column ‘Terra Nullius’, Nikita Simpson questions the narrative government officials spin particularly with regards to women and how in everyday life women are often not the empowered ‘nexus of rights’ the officials imagine.

Heroin and the stainless steel plane of the spoon

In the Flummox-column, Johannes Lenhard narrates Michael’s story begging, scoring and shooting heroin on the streets of London. Michael is an addict who cares for his drug, but he has reasons for this: on the stainless steel plane of the spoon, the drug cares back – something that he was denied all his life.

Sex Education – A Wish List

Sex matters: we tend to agree and yet are squeamish about making it matter in the Sex Ed classroom, especially when it comes to acknowledging sexual and gender diversity. A limited focus on danger and disease shows that school curricula are held back by an indecisive attitude towards the positive values of intimate and sexual relations. Ina Linge suggests a wish list for an ethics of intimacy that could inform not only Sex Ed classes but a whole range of human relationships that rely on intimate encounters.

At the Festival of Love

In summer 2014, London’s Southbank Centre hosts the Festival of Love. Visitors can play games and dance, attend exhibitions, or watch performances: they are encouraged to engage with the structures of meaning around exhibitions of intimacy. Anna Blair reflects on the Festival’s nostalgic aesthetic, and on the ways in which engagement with others can be shaped and formed by place.

Jeremy Deller Confronts the William Morris Myth: Problems of Biography and Image

William Morris is celebrated as a British hero, a craftsman who fought for equality. Jeremy Deller’s ‘We Sit Starving Amidst Our Gold’ celebrates and queries this legacy, summoning Morris to throw Roman Abramovich’s yacht into the Venetian lagoon. Kim Clayton-Greene looks at Morris’s biography and popular image, and the ways in which his intent and impact have at times conflicted.

Cinema of Intimacy: Steve McQueen at Espace Louis Vuitton, Tokyo

The 8-metre-high glass-walled space is cocooned in aperture-like darkness; the film is projected on a loop, and we find ourselves at sea in Caribbean sunlight. Ashes is not a film about death. Though its title might evoke cremation, ultimately it celebrates life. We enter the installation, and Ashes’ life, in medias res, with no context to his earlier life or subsequent misfortune: only his buoyancy.

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