Issue

3.9 / Thinker, Sailor, Collector, Thief

February 16 2012

Introduction

February 16, 2012. Renny Pritikin attributes the illicit acquisition of the objects included in Illegitimate Business to "human frailty, of succumbing to minor temptations and the love of art." They are also acts of transgression that irrevocably alter the identities of both the possessor and object possessed. However impulsive the gesture, it is impossible to return an object so borrowed without some trace of the act on provenance or conscience. Not so in Ship of Fools, Allan Sekula's photographic series of crew members who sail under flags to which they have no national allegiance and whose cargo ship may change owners and name mid-route. He documents a constant state of transience in which identity and politics slip from grasp. Meanwhile, Kodwo Eshun confronts the alien form "as arriving at the limit of comprehension of what it means to be human." Oppressive social and economic conditions, warfare, and violence disorient us until we no longer recognize ourselves. —PM

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