- BAK: Prospections - https://www.bakonline.org/nl/ -

(Im)possible Realism: A Conversation between James Clifford and Massimiliano (Mao) Mollona

Anthropologist and educator JamesClifford and anthropologist and filmmaker Massimiliano (Mao) Mollona have been sustaining a long-term conversationaround the conceptof “(im)possible realism”:arealism thatacceptsthecontradictions ofmicro and macro scales, local and global, and thus theimpossibility of telling a singular and unifyingcomposite historical story. One of these exchanges was recordedand subsequentlydiscussed in the context of the2021–2022 Fellowship for Situated Practice [1], in connectiontoand as part of the Spectral Infrastructure [2] research trajectory.Discussing several concrete studies from “decolonizing” Western museums, theyargue thatan “(im)possible realist”ethnographic sensibility complicates and multiplies the historical storiesthaturgently need tobe told in the wake of the now-displaced“master narratives.”Reflectingon flexible capitalism and cultural globalization from the 1980s onwards, a neoliberal hegemony which brought into view some cultural and social formations while overshadowing others, Clifford and Mollonadiscuss the emergence of articulated forms of local/global “indigeneity” and the disappearance/transformation of the working class. They advocate a supple ethnographic approach that can understand these two historical trajectories as discrepant elements of a changing conjuncture. (Im)possible realism grasps these, and other components of the present moment, not as functionally-determined, abstract scenarios but as emergent, linked engagements which cannot be subsumed in an overarchinglogic or explanation.