Essay: “Where to Now? Imminent Impermanence in the Works of Sheela Gowda” (November, 2017)


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“On 2 March 2012, the precincts of the City Civil Court in Bangalore, erupted into mayhem as a pitched battle broke out between members of the judiciary and local media groups. These skirmishes quickly degenerated into acts of vandalism and the local police force waded in with a lathi-charge — or baton charge — to restore order. Three months before these events, the same judicial advocates had staged a boycott of the courts, following an unprovoked attack on one of their members by police. This attack was part of a pattern of intimidation and harassment that, as far as the judiciary were concerned, was impeding their ability to carry out their duties. Infuriated by police harassment and, at the time, the adverse media coverage of their strike (which they considered both legitimate and necessary), the judiciary turned their anger towards the media”.

To read full essay, please click here

“Where to Now: Imminent Impermanence in the Work of Sheela Gowda”, is a catalogue essay published on the occasion of Sheela Gowda, Ikon Gallery, November 2017.

An edited version of this essay, also titled “Where to Now: Imminent Impermanence in the Work of Sheela Gowda”, was included in the exhibition catalogue for Sheela Gowda’s retrospective show, Remains, at Fondazione Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, April 4th to September 15th, 2019, with other critical essays by art historian Geeta Kapur and writer and curator Pablo Lafuente, a text on the show by the curators as well as well as contributions by Roger M. Buergel, Grant Watson, Abhishek Hazra, Jessica Morgan, Zehra Jumabhoy, Marta Kuzma and Tobias Ostrander.

In October 2019 an adapted version of this show will travel to Bombas Gens Centre d’Art, Valencia.


In Conversation: John Akomfrah and Anthony Downey, Barbican Centre, 12 October, 2017.


October 12, 2017

To coincide with new video installation Purple, John Akomfrah will be in conversation with academic, editor and writer, Anthony Downey.

Staged across a variety of disappearing ecological landscapes, from the hinterlands of Alaska to desolate, icy Arctic Greenland and the volcanic Maquesas Islands in theSouth Pacific, Akomfrah’s new film prompts the viewer to meditate on the complex relationship between humans and the planet.

To buy tickets, click here.

To hear an earlier interview between Anthony Downey and John Akomfrah, on the occasion of his solo show at Arnolfini, Bristol, click here.

Chair: On Photography and Politics Today (Ahlam Shibli, Edmund Clark, Nikolaj Larsen), Unseen, Amsterdam, 23 September, 2017.

23 September, 2017

Living Room Unseen

The Barbican Presents: On Photography and Politics Today

Featuring renowned photographers who critically address history, conflict and the issue of representation, this discussion revolves around photography’s role and responsibility within our current political climate. Including artists Edmund Clark, Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen and Ahlam Shibli. Moderated by Anthony Downey (writer, Birmingham City University). Curated by Alona Pardo (The Barbican) in close collaboration with Unseen Amsterdam.

Unseen Amsterdam
Living Room
Klönneplein 1
1014 DD Amsterdam

To buy tickets, click here.

Essay: “Scopic Reflections: Incoming and the Technology of Exceptionalism” (February, 2017)

February 2017

Richard Mosse In Conversation with Anthony Downey


‘I see only from one point, but in my existence am looked at from all sides.’

– Jacques Lacan

“From the opening of Richard Mosse’s film Incoming (2016), it is evident that we are looking at something disturbingly vivid. Abstract images, grounded in a resounding radar-like echo, give way to the supersonic pitch of a strident, purposeful engine. A tenebrous image of a fighter jet strafing a town with laser-like intensity, its nose incandescent with heat as it fires round after round of needle-like missiles, appears almost languid and disconcertingly graceful in its livid ambit. An anti-aircraft gunfires back, no doubt in vain, at this incredibly fast moving object,while explosions are registered as bleached out columns of billowing phosphorescent light. Subsequent images show a ship boarding people from a rubber dinghy, their forms bleached out and spectral. Moments later, we see the irradiated deck of an aircraft carrier complete with fighter jets undergoingpreparation for imminent attack. This could be a video game or hell incarnate – or, potentially, both”.

To read full essay, please click here

To listen to Richard Mosse in conversation with Anthony Downey, Barbican Centre, 2017, please click here.

To purchase a copy of Richard Mosse, click here.

Book Publication: “Future Imperfect: Critical Propositions and Institutional Realities in the Middle East” (December, 2016)

December 2016

Future Imperfect

There is a momentous process happening across the Middle East and North Africa today. It is an insidious development, partly surreptitious but mostly blatant in its operations. It is an evolving phenomenon that affects numerous people and communities, albeit to different degrees, and yet remains, with a few exceptions, unobserved. This development, if allowed ascendancy, will present an insurmountable obstacle to social, political, economic and cultural progress across the region. It will also hinder and obstruct relations between individuals and within communities for generations to come.

Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East launched on 22 February 2017 at Delfina Foundation, London.

Read the full essay and introduction.

To read the introduction to Volume 01 in this series, Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in the Middle East, see here.

To read the introduction to Volume 02 in this series, Dissonant Archives: Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East, see here.

To purchase a copy of Future Imperfect please follow this link.