Anthony Downey

Anthony Downey is Professor of Visual Culture in the Middle East and North Africa within the Faculty of Arts, Design, and Media at Birmingham City University. He sits on the editorial boards of Third Text and Digital War, and is the series editor for Research/Practice (Sternberg Press).

  • Roy Samaha

    Roy Samaha


    Anthony Downey

    Artist Roy Samaha's examination of the uses of digital technology in the face of untimely disappearances and ghostly returns.

    In June 2014, Roy Samaha embarked on a journey to the Aegean Sea that included a trip to Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. Scouting potential locations for a feature film, he encountered a folkloric tale about revenants and their perceived inability to travel across saltwater. A year later, having since returned to Beirut to continue work on his film, Samaha was confronted with images of refugees' capsized boats and the stories of their drowning in the Mediterranean. Recalling the earlier tale about Lesbos's revenants, Samaha submerged the smartphone that he had used during his trip to Mytilene in saltwater for forty days. As a result, the pictures, videos and messages that were stored in its memory were destroyed. Just as saltwater discouraged the passage of revenants and refugees, it likewise denied access to the images and information previously contained on Samaha's smartphone.

    Focusing on the research that emerged from Samaha's initial journey, this volume enquires into how we represent historical events through digital means, especially if those events concern untimely disappearances and ghostly returns. Can the digital as a conduit negotiate the ephemerality or ghostliness of present-day forms of transmigration? What happens when we are left with an object of commemoration that speaks not only of an absence of images but the perennial ineffectiveness of digital technologies in the face of profound loss?

    • Paperback $20.00
  • Nida Sinnokrot

    Nida Sinnokrot

    Palestine Is Not a Garden

    Anthony Downey

    On the potential for practice-based research to decolonize the social, political, economic, and agricultural structures that govern the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

    The ideal of the garden conjures conflicting imaginaries of security and abundance, disobedience and control, inside and outside, and the specters of exile and return. These binaries have ontologically distinguished the garden from untamed wilderness. The ideal of the garden in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) delineates a further series of genealogies that range from the Ottoman-era and subsequent British privatization of commonly-owned land and the commons more broadly.

    Presenting research and material relating to an evolving series of projects, including the agriculture research platform Sakiya, this volume explores how Nida Sinnokrot's practice, operating as it does through interdisciplinary research methods, agricultural and architectural projects, and collaborative processes, reveals and anticipates a potential future for the Palestinian garden.

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  • Shona Illingworth

    Shona Illingworth

    Topologies of Air

    Anthony Downey

    Can practice-led research in the arts develop legal frameworks for understanding the future of digital technologies and their relationship to airspace?

    Topologies of Air and Lesions in the Landscape are two major bodies of work by Shona Illingworth. Informed by the artist's long-term investigations into individual and societal amnesia, these projects critically examine the devastating psychological and environmental impacts of military, industrial, and corporate transformations of airspace and outer space.

    Employing interdisciplinary research and collaborative processes, Illingworth's practice uses creative methodologies to visualize and interrogate this proliferating exploitation of airspace. Through the development of a proposed new human right, Topologies of Air and Lesions in the Landscape connect diverse cosmologies, knowledges, and lived experiences to counter the colonization of the sky and protect individuals, communities, and ecologies from ever-increasing threats from above.

    ContributorsCaterina Albano, Amin Alsaden, Jill Bennett, Giuliana Bruno, Martin A. Conway, Anthony Downey, Conor Gearty, Derek Gregory, Nick Grief, Andrew Hoskins, Catherine Loveday, Issie Macphail, William Merrin, Renata Salecl, Gabriele Schwab, Gaëtane Verna

    • Paperback $32.00
  • Heba Y. Amin

    Heba Y. Amin

    The General's Stork

    Anthony Downey

    Documenting the development of a multidimensional and ongoing work on the politics of aerial surveillance.

    In 2013, Egyptian authorities detained a migratory stork for espionage. This incident is the focus of Heba Y. Amin's The General's Stork, an ongoing project that investigates the politics of aerial surveillance—against the backdrop of biblical prophecies, drone warfare, and colonial narratives—from a bird's-eye view. The research that informs The General's Stork looks at how conquest from the sky—through land surveying, mapping, bombing, and drone technologies—has effectively transformed Western power into a spectacle of high-tech weaponry. Through the lens of paranoia that can lead to a bird being accused of spying, this volume reveals, with the indispensable work of contributors Adam Harvey, Adel Iskandar, Haitham Mossad, and Laura Poitras, the extent to which military techniques of visualization define and ultimately delimit the topography of the Middle East.

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  • Michael Rakowitz

    Michael Rakowitz

    I'm good at love, I'm good at hate, it's in between I freeze

    Anthony Downey

    An artist charts the historical context and aftermath of a concert—by Leonard Cohen at the Ramallah Cultural Palace in Palestine—that never happened.

    Michael Rakowitz's project I'm good at love, I'm good at hate, it's in between I freeze (2009–ongoing) charts the historical context and aftermath of a concert that never happened. In 2009 Leonard Cohen was scheduled to perform in Israel. Because of increasing pressure from pro-Palestinian voices to dissuade Cohen from performing in Israel, a twin event in Palestine was organized. Amid protests and claims that the latter concert was a token show of solidarity and a hollow attempt to appease demonstrators, the concert was boycotted and eventually canceled. But the story, as Rakowitz's work demonstrates, did not end there. Conjoining the cultural histories of Palestine and Israel with the ethical dilemmas faced by performers under the conditions of a boycott, this volume, the first in the Research/Practice series, brings to light the research that went into this multifaceted work and plots the future arc of its trajectory.

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  • Larissa Sansour

    Larissa Sansour


    Anthony Downey

    The development of the artistic research for Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour's project for the Danish Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale

    Heirloom documents the development of the artistic research for Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour's project for the Danish Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. It explores how recurrent notions in Sansour's oeuvre, such as memory, trauma, identity, and belonging, intertwine with the discourses of science fiction and environmental disaster narratives. It also explores what it means to produce work from within contested geographies, specifically considering how, through research and the process of production, the artist grapples with complex issues of national representation.

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  • Critique in Practice

    Critique in Practice

    Renzo Martens' Episode III (Enjoy Poverty)

    Anthony Downey

    Essays on the provocative 2008 film by Renzo Martens, Episode III (Enjoy Poverty).

    Investigating the economic value of one of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's most lucrative exports (namely, poverty), Renzo Martens' provocative film Episode III: Enjoy Poverty (2008) remains a landmark intervention into debates about contemporary art's relationship to exploitative economies. Throughout Critique in Practice, contributors explore the work's legacy and how it relates to the politics of representation, uses of the documentary form, art criticism, the deployment of humanitarian aid, the impact of extractive forms of globalized capital, and the neoliberal politics of decolonization. The unconventional representation of acute immiseration throughout Enjoy Poverty generated far-from-resolved disputes about how deprivation is portrayed within Western mainstream media and throughout global cultural institutions. Using a range of approaches, this volume reconsiders that portrayal and how the film's reception led Martens to found a long-term program, Human Activities.


    Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, Eva Barois De Caevel, Pieter Van Bogaert, Jelle Bouwhuis, JJ Charlesworth, T.J. Demos, Angela Dimitrakaki, Anthony Downey, Charles Esche, Dan Fox, Matthias De Groof, Xander Karskens, J. A. Koster, Kyveli Lignou-Tsamantani, Suhail Malik, Renzo Martens, Nina Möntmann, René Ngongo, Paul O'Kane, Laurens Otto, Nikolaus Perneczky, Kolja Reichert, Els Roelandt, Ruben De Roo, ka˛rî'ka˛chä seid'ou, Gregory Sholette, Sanne Sinnige, Ana Teixeira Pinto, Emilia Terracciano, Nato Thompson, Niels Van Tomme, Frank Vande Veire, Eyal Weizman, Vivian Ziherl, and Artur Z˙mijewski.

    • Paperback $30.00
  • Future Imperfect

    Future Imperfect

    Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East

    Anthony Downey

    Future Imperfect critically examines the role played by cultural institutions in producing present-day and future contexts for the production, dissemination, and reception of contemporary art in the Middle East and North Africa. It offers historical contexts for discussions that have become increasingly urgent in recent years—the role of culture in a time of conflict and globalization—and an in-depth critique of the state of cultural institutions in an age of political upheaval, social unrest, exuberant cultural activity, ascendant neoliberal forms of privatization, social activism, and regional uncertainty. Based on collective input from numerous contributors and interlocutors, this volume brings together internationally renowned academics, critics, activists, filmmakers, artists, and other independent cultural practitioners to consider how new infrastructures and institutions can effectively emerge within such fraught and dynamic contexts. What is needed in terms of infrastructure for cultural production today, and how, crucially, can we speculatively propose new infrastructures and institutions in the context of present realities?

    Visual Culture in the Middle East Vol. 3Supported by the Kamel Lazaar Foundation

    ContributorsLeila Al-Shami*, Monira Al Qadiri, Hoor Al-Qasimi, Anahi Alviso-Marino, AMBS Architects, Stephanie Bailey, Eray Çaylı, Rachel Dedman, Elizabeth Derderian, Anthony Downey, Karen Exell, Reema Salha Fadda, Wafa Gabsi, Hadia Gana, Adalet R. Garmiany, Baha Jubeh, Suhair Jubeh, Amal Khalaf, Kamel Lazaar, Jens Maier-Rothe, Guy Mannes-Abbott, Doreen Mende, Lea Morin, Jack Persekian, Wided Rihana Khadraoui*, Rijin Sahakian, Gregory Sholette, Tom Snow, Lois Stonock*, Nile Sunset Annex*, Ania Szremski, Christine Tohme, Toleen Touq, Williams Wells, Ala Younis, Yasmine Zidane (*online projects)

    • Paperback $32.00




    Archival Imaginaries, War, and Contemporary Art

    Daniela Agostinho, Solveig Gade, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, and Kristin Veel

    An investigation of digital archiving as an integral technology of warfare and how artists respond to these changes.

    Digital and data technologies are actively transforming the archives of contemporary warfare. Bringing together a range of scholarly perspectives and artistic practices, (W)ARCHIVES investigates digital archiving as an integral technology of warfare and how artists respond to these changes. Throughout the book, the (w)archive emerges as a term to grasp the extended materiality of war today, wherein digital archiving intersects with images, bodies, senses, infrastructures, environments, memories, and emotions. The essays explore how this new digital materiality of war reconfigures the archival impulses that have shaped artistic practices over the last decades, and how archives can be mobilized to articulate political demands, conjure new forms of evidence, and make palpable the experience of living with war.

    • Paperback $29.95
  • Institution as Praxis

    Institution as Praxis

    New Curatorial Directions for Collaborative Research

    Carolina Rito and Bill Balaskas

    How creative practices are modifying the ways we think about knowledge production and research in the cultural sector and in academia.

    Institution as Praxis: New Curatorial Directions for Collaborative Research explores new curatorial and artistic practices that contribute to the expansion of institutional, practice-based, and collaborative research methods. Offering an overview of how creative practices are modifying the ways we think about both knowledge production and research in the cultural sector and in academia, this publication outlines new research methodologies and strategies for de-universalizing and de-neutralizing the rigid epistemic schemata of inherited disciplines.

    Designed as a platform of aesthetic and intellectual exchange, the speculative interface of cultural practices has radically changed the way we consider how research qualities in curatorial and artistic practices have developed. Institution as Praxis aims to identify and advocate for a multiplicity of practices taking place across the cultural sector that not only engage with the quest to deliver cultural activities (e.g. exhibitions, events), but generate new modes of knowledge production and research in the field of visual culture, art, and the curatorial.


    Bill Balaskas, Michael Birchall, Mélanie Bouteloup, Carolina Cerón, Anthony Downey, Pujita Guha and Abhijan Toto for the Forest Curriculum, Joasia Krysa, Vali Mahlouji, Je Yun Moon, Andrea Phillips, Emily Pringle, Carolina Rito, ruangrupa (farid rakun and Leonhard Bartolomeus), Nora Sternfeld, Sian Vaughan

    • Paperback $24.95