Performance GIFs 1: Curator's Introduction

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Over the next few weeks, Rhizome will present a series of performance GIFs curated by Jesse Darling. Darling's introduction is below; the first work (by Maja Cule) will be on view from Thursday May 16. 

2012. The year of the doomsday apocalypse. The world didn’t end, though some of us thought it might, and perhaps we even hoped it would, if only to give us something to look forward to. Žižek, paraphrasing Jameson, famously said that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism—and this was in a speech given at Zucotti Park during Occupy Wall Street, in which we tried, and failed, to imagine the beginning of something else.  

But following the natural order of events, as well as what Jameson called “the temporal paradox” (in which history stops but time grinds remorselessly onward in a continuous, cyclical production of “newness”), 2012 came and went and we all kept on doing what we were doing. A perky 25-year-old acronym beat the competition – teeth-grindingly zeitgeisty notables such as YOLO, superstorm and Eurogeddon – to become the Oxford Dictionary’s US Word of the year. You probably know that. What you may not know is that the OUP award went to a verb, rather than a noun: not to the name of a file format, but to the act of making one. To GIF.

To GIF is defined, somewhat redundantly, as “to create a GIF file,” but what would it mean to decouple the verb from its referent? To GIF: to capture a moment on an endless loop.

Now it’s 2013, though nothing has changed. Seeping, soul-level post-Fordism and the precarization of the labor market mean that most of us never stop working: socializing bleeds seamlessly into networking, and meanwhile, each ...

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