This talk presents an ongoing project with the Artistic Lab organized by the Mobile Lives Forum (Paris) based on an ongoing art commission and collaboration between Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, French curator Guillaume Logé, and American social scientist Mimi Sheller. In the midst of the current refugee crisis, Ai Weiwei’s vivid images of people using, charging, and assembling around phones while they cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe’s borders remind us of the fragility of the connections and larger systems we all depend on to make life work every day, but often take for granted. We can use these images to explore urgent issues of humanitarianism and connection in the midst of the global refugee crisis. Mobility seems to always be wedded with communication capacities, almost as if without communication we would cease to be able to move. How would we know our route, our mode of travel, our destination, our options, if we were unable to communicate? How would anyone know where we were? Locating oneself is crucial to being human. Ultimately the refugee is a dis-located person for whom the mobile phone is a locational device that maintains their connection to the world, and in some ways therefore to their own (and to our) humanity.
Mimi Sheller, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology and founding Director of the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Mobile Lives Forum and is President of the International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility. Her recent books include Citizenship from Below (2012); The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities (2014); Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity (2014); Mobility and Locative Media (2015); and L.A. Re.Play: Mobile Network Culture in Place-making (2016). As founding co-editor of the journal Mobilities, Associate Editor of Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, and co-author with John Urry of several influential articles she helped to establish the “new mobilities paradigm.”
CARGC will host a cocktail reception for those attending the lecture in the Forum from 5:15 - 6:00 pm.
Please email Marina Krikorian to RSVP.
Featured photo copyright Ai Weiwei.