Visualizing Banaba: Art and Research about a Diffracted Pacific Island

Katerina Martina Teaiwa

My book, Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba, about the impact of British, Australian, and, New Zealand phosphate mining on one of my ancestral homelands, felt like a mission to Mars. Prolonged sitting, writing, reading, rewriting, and editing are static embodied processes unnatural to human design. And while I’m so pleased the book has been taken up in several anthropology, history, Pacific studies, and Indigenous studies classrooms, the chapter I love most is the one that reviewers and editors had almost nothing to say about. Titled “Remix: Our Sea of Phosphate,” it consists of textual and visual fragments from books, journal articles, ethnographic film, and archives. Elsewhere, I have written about my interest in Indigenous remix and how apt it is for Banaban lands, choreographies, histories, and displacement. My goal has never been to produce a neat and well-synthesized master narrative of what happened to Banaba, also known as Ocean Island, but to appropriately present our two-and-a-half-square-mile (six-square-kilometer) ancestral island that was broken, crushed, dried, bagged, and hauled off in ships “in pieces.” The remixed forms of research and storytelling about Banaba are in line with the multisited, multisensory, empirical, material, social, and political elements marking the interaction and mutual interference between Banaba and twentieth-century British, Australian, and New Zealand colonial, imperial, agricultural, and food security projects.

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Katerina Martina Teaiwa is Associate Professor of Pacific Studies in the School of Culture, History and Language at the Australian National University. She was born and raised in Fiji and is of Banaban, I-Kiribati and African American descent. She is author of Consuming Ocean Island: stories of people and phosphate from Banaba.

In the Traces: Reflections on Fieldwork in the Region of Ani

Christina Maranci

I study the medieval Armenian monuments—churches, monasteries, fortresses, palaces, and more—in what is now eastern Turkey (what many call western Armenia). For me, this region is at once the most beautiful, and most painful, place on earth. I am the grandchild of survivors of the Armenian Genocide of 1915–22, in which Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire suffered mass deportation and extermination: a crime that still goes unrecognized by the Turkish state. Scholars have characterized the Armenian monuments in Turkey as physical traces of their lost homeland. While my scholarship addresses these sites as historical and architectural/artistic phenomena, that work does not often capture the moods and emotions I feel when I am there. I hope to offer here a sense of the more personal dimensions of firsthand work with the buildings and their landscapes.

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Christina Maranci is the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Professor of Armenian Art and Architecture at Tufts University. She is the author of The Art of Armenia, a critical art history of ancient and medieval Armenia, with a concluding chapter on cultural heritage, forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Mere Image: Caravaggio, Virtuosity, and Medusa’s Averted Eyes

Hana Nikčević

Caravaggio’s Medusa has frequently been commented on with regard to its nature as an image that blurs the line between the real and its representation. I agree with this interpretation, but I would like to suggest that Caravaggio’s execution of that theme in this painting is rooted in one formal quality that has thus far gone unconsidered: the Medusa’s averted eyes. I propose that Caravaggio likely engaged with the concept of Medusa as a metaphor for virtuosic image-making as measured by lifelikeness, and that he was likely aware, too, of Groto’s poem (or simply its conceit, which may precede Groto; we cannot know). I base this suggestion on a number of elements: Caravaggio’s known association with Marino; Marino’s great interest in Medusa’s significance as an allegory of virtuosic image-making, his quotation of Groto’s “Scoltura di Medusa,” and his suggestion that Caravaggio’s Medusa turns its onlookers to “cold marble”; and both men’s thematization of their own virtuosity. I suggest, thus, that the Medusa thematizes Caravaggio’s virtuosity by depicting a Medusa that purports to be equivalent to the real Medusa’s reflection, which, in Groto’s conceit, is equivalent to the real Medusa herself; by averting his Medusa’s eyes, Caravaggio renders it impossible for a viewer to disprove his Gorgon’s—or, rather, his Gorgon-reflection’s—power to stun.

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Hana Nikčević is an art history MA student at McGill University (Montreal, Quebec). Her thesis research considers how contemporary artists address ecological loss, primarily focusing on artists’ disclosure of loss as beyond representation. She has a BA in art history from the University of Toronto and is the recipient of a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS-M award.

The Face of an Empire: Cosmetics and Whiteness in Imperial Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I

Tara Allen-Flanagan

When Queen Elizabeth I entered her fifties, she grew reluctant to sit for any more portraits. The final three portraits that she sat for—the Armada Portrait, The Ditchley Portrait, and the Oliver Miniature—painted between the mid-1580s and her death in 1602, portray the queen with a smooth, white face and bright coral lips and cheeks. The style of painting the queen’s face as seen in these last portraits was canonized as a pattern for future artists to follow when painting the queen during and after the last years of her reign. In the Elizabethan era, the English government often attempted to control how the queen was depicted in artwork; in 1596 the English Privy Council drafted a proclamation that required portraits of the queen to depict her as “beutyfull [sic] and magnanimous” as “God hathe blessed her.” In both art-historical scholarship and popular culture, the queen’s whitened skin and rouged lips and cheeks in her official portraiture are often cited as evidence of her vanity and waning looks. However, as I explore in this essay, the use of cosmetics in the early modern era was associated not only with narcissism but with England’s colonial efforts. By considering discourses about her status as a symbol of natural beauty and the racist associations with makeup application, I argue that the legibility of makeup on the queen’s face in imperial portraits and preservation of this motif as a pattern can be read as a symbol of her imperial and racial domination in the Americas and in England.

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Tara Allen-Flanagan is an MA student in art history working under the supervision of Dr. Mary Hunter. She has a BA in English literature and art history from McGill University and is the recipient of a Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) Master’s research scholarship. Her thesis research considers the influence of Japonisme and consumer culture on paintings of women applying makeup produced by artists Edouard Manet and Berthe Morisot in late nineteenth-century France.