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Rebels without regret: Documentary artivism in the digital age

Kara, Selmin (2015) Rebels without regret: Documentary artivism in the digital age. Studies in Documentary Film, 9 (1). pp. 42-54. ISSN 1750-3280


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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17503280.2014.1002250


This article takes up the implications of the blurring of art and politics in two documentary contexts: Ai Weiwei’s art activism in China, as documented in Alison Klayman’s award-winning film Never Sorry, and the Gezi protests in Turkey, documented and disseminated virally through the Internet. Drawing parallels between the self-proclaimed hooliganism of Ai Weiwei and the Turkish protesters, who co-opted the hooligan label that the government used to incriminate them and turned it into a tool for resistance, the article argues that hooliganism is just another incarnation of unruly documentary artivism, which has become prevalent in an era of digitally mediated, global social justice movements. As an interpretive framework for understanding how documentary hooliganism operates, the article proposes Tony D. Sampson’s theory of virality and its application of Dawkins’s neo-Darwinian memetic thought contagion model to the way ideas and political gestures spread in the twenty-first century. Hooliganism, like viruses or memetic thoughts, has a self-spreading tendency; its anarchic affect is contagious and creates volatile yet powerful social encounters. Therefore, the article claims that the foregrounding of hooliganism, which is itself a phenomenon that describes ‘affective contagious encounters’ among anonymous crowds, in the artivist practices of Ai Weiwei and Turkish protesters point to
the potential of unruly forms of documentation to influence and inspire selforganized mobilization.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2016 13:45
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2021 20:16
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/461

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