"Biopolitics on Screen”: Aernout Mik’s Moving-Image Installations


  • Gabriella Calchi-Novati Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


Giorgio Agamben, Biopolitics, Aernout Mik, Performativity, Video installation


In this paper I propose that the moving-image installations Vacuum Room (2005), Scapegoats (2006), Training Ground (2006), and the most recent Shifting Sitting (2011), produced by Dutch artist Aernout Mik, are performative instances of current biopolitical concerns. These video installations represent what is supposed, and, more crucially, is always expected to be unrepresentable, namely what Zygmunt Bauman calls “constant uncertainty,” which can be considered one of the by-products of biopolitics. It is because of this uncertainty that we feel hopeless in relation to the political status quo and we are made believe, as Bauman contends, “that everything can happen but nothing can be done”. I argue that these works, when considered
“as-philosophy,” or “philosophy-in-motion,” function as a series of conceptual paradigms that illustrate the main thesis of this paper, namely, that these very same installations, seen through Giorgio Agamben’s philosophical lens, are in fact biopolitics on screen.

Author Biography

Gabriella Calchi-Novati, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Gabriella Calchi-Novati received a BA magna cum laude in Letters and Philosophy and an MA with honours in Public Relations and Corporate Communication from Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy. She also received an MPhil in Irish Drama and Film from the Drama Department, Trinity College Dublin, where she is completing her doctoral research, and where she also lectures in Performance Studies and Critical Theory. While her work on contemporary theatre has been published in international journals such as Theatre Research International and About Performance; her more recent work, investigating the interconnections between biopolitics and performance, has appeared in academic publications such as Performance Research and Performance Paradigm; as well as in edited collections.




How to Cite

Calchi-Novati, G. (2011). "Biopolitics on Screen”: Aernout Mik’s Moving-Image Installations. Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image, (2), 116–140. Retrieved from https://cinema.fcsh.unl.pt/index.php/revista/article/view/163