Curating, Documenting and Political Engagement

Israa Ismaeil

When coming to discuss images, we use the term ‘visualization’ to highlight both pictures and mental states. Images contrast with other communicative devices, such as words, both through what they represent with the focus on the kinds of content they express, as well as how one chooses to represent it through the means by which they express those contents. Similarly, we might think, mental images contrast with thoughts, at least through the kind of content that is involved. In the mental realm, however, another contrast looms, between mental imagery and perception. Here the difference looks to lie, not in content, but in the attitude born to it. Perhaps there is a loosely parallel contrast within ‘external’ images, between photographs and handmade pictures both through curatorial as well as documentary practices. While documenting to curate through a vision that is politically charged, there are factors that deserve to be taken into account during the entirety of the production process. Documenting to properly transition from imaginative thoughts to visualized image content, is a pivotal start to the start of the curating process. Documenting theories of imaginative expression through communicative devices, such as pictures, or any means of visual expression, assists in allowing the thought process to become tangible.

          Political engagement through the arts is equatable to striking against art to liberate art from itself. Not to end art, but to unleash its powers of direct action and radical imagination. Art does not dissolve into so-called “real life. It revitalizes real life by making it surreal. Political engagement through art defamiliarizes life, asking us how we live, and why we live this way. It also challenges us to respond to this question through research, aesthetics, and action, acknowledging that we ourselves are responsible for freedom, rather than any pre-existing institution, or ideology. It is a never-ending process of experimentation, learning, and undoing, resisting and building in the unexplored terrain of a historic rupture.