“‘Coming home’ with a vengeance!”: images of/for Stuart Hall
Just as I am thinking of writing on Stuart Hall for this issue, he appears, live, as an image in the front row of the audience in Choreographing Capital, a video installation, by Isaac Julien.
The two-screen “documentary” work is coincidentally installed as part of an exhibition in Sydney as I am writing, and it supports the HD video installation by Julien entitled Playtime, a meditation on global capital.
The smaller two-screen installation is based on an interview between Julien and David Harvey, at the Hayward Gallery, London in 2012, speculating on the place that images increasingly play in depicting capital.
It is arresting to see Stuart Hall, sitting there in the front row of the audience in the video because, as I am watching it, I am aware that he has just died and suddenly there in the image he is reanimated, though it is clear that we are also witnessing the process of his dying, giving the image a special poignancy. This particular power of the moving image to keep alive figures whose work and presence have transformed lives is a key way in which the technical image mediates our very experience of thought and memory, and it gives us a sense of memory as itself a technology.
And thought too has always been embodied in images, so I want to think about Stuart Hall and his work through images and where they take me, remembering the first image I have of him, or rather of an image he invoked of the crisis moment that, as he describes it, began his own intellectual trajectory. It is an image of Soviet tanks in Budapest in 1956, randomly selected, my own random access memory.
Helen Grace established the MA Programme in Visual Culture Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong and was Visiting Professor, National Central University, Taiwan 2012-2014. Her most recent book is Culture, Aesthetics and Affect in Ubiquitous Media: The Prosaic Image (Routledge, 2014). She is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and new media producer.