Tony Wood on David Craven, Art and Revolution in Latin America, 1910–1990. Painters, writers and political upheavals in Mexico, Cuba and Nicaragua.
The formative events of Latin America’s twentieth century were the revolutions in Mexico and Cuba—the former marking the first stage in the unravelling of the continent’s liberal oligarchies, the latter opening a phase of renewed resistance to us imperialism. Though the Mexican Revolution was gradually domesticated, as the social conflicts unleashed in 1910 were absorbed into what would be a remarkably durable corporative structure, the debates it sparked had a tremendous impact in the Western Hemisphere and beyond; over the course of the next few decades Mexico City became a cultural centre to rival Buenos Aires or São Paulo. The overthrow of Batista in 1959 had a comparable galvanizing effect, with Havana now the focal point for urgent discussions on questions of national identity and international solidarity. The success of the Cuban revolution also provided oppositional forces in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua with a template for insurrection that met with resounding success in 1979, with the toppling of Somoza.
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Reserve Armies of the Imagination
Tony Wood on Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen. Dilemmas of representation—aesthetic and political—in the age of the super-abundant image.
Collapse as Crucible
While Russia’s anti-Putin demonstrations have prompted talk of a civic awakening—led by a flat-pack middle class—the country’s overall social landscape remains largely unmapped. Tony Wood surveys its shifting structures since the Soviet collapse, and the consequences of marketization’s advance through the USSR’s ruins.
Silver and Lead
Tony Wood on Anabel Hernández, Los señores del narco. The structures of political complicity and corruption that have fuelled Mexico’s drug wars.
Good Riddance to New Labour
As the British general election approaches, a balance-sheet of New Labour’s thirteen years in office. The record of Blair and Brown—imperial wars abroad, subservience to the City at home—as so many reasons to cheer their downfall.
Latin America Tamed?
Tony Wood on Michael Reid, Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul. A revised neoliberal gospel for the region, courtesy of the Economist.
Contours of the Putin Era
Responding to Vladimir Popov, Tony Wood examines the geographical and social distribution of Russia’s recent economic growth. What are the priorities and outlook of the emerging business-state elite—and whom will Putin’s ‘stabilization’ benefit?
Celluloid and Plasma
Tony Wood on Laura Mulvey, Death 24x a Second. How has the digital era changed the cinematic viewing experience—and the spectator? Freeze-frame fetishism and narrative disruption from Lumière to Kiarostami, via Hitchcock and Rossellini.
Annals of Utopia
Tony Wood on Andrey Platonov, Happy Moscow and Soul. Recently discovered works by the neglected giant of twentieth-century Russian letters. The singular language and multiple ambiguities of Platonov’s style, and heroic impasses of his life and times.
The Case for Chechnya
Eager to embrace Putin, Western rulers and pundits continue to connive at the Russian occupation of Chechnya, as Moscow’s second murderous war in the Caucasus enters its sixth year. Traditions of resistance, popular demands for sovereignty and Russia’s brutal military response, in Europe’s forgotten colony.
Tony Wood on Corinne Diserens, ed., Gordon Matta-Clark. Dissections of architectural space in the 60s and 70s, and their meaning in contemporary criticism. Did Matta-Clark’s disappearing art works leave behind a radical grin?
A Futurist Ark
Tony Wood on John Bowlt et al., eds, Nikolai Khardzhiev, A Legacy Regained. Matchless archive of art and writings from avant-garde Russia, and an old man at the mercy of the West.