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The Incurable-Image

Curating Post-Mexican Film and Media Arts

Tarek Elhaik

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An inquiry into the convergences of avant-garde film, trans-cultural media arts, experimental ethnography and curatorial practice in contemporary Mexico

From the 1990s onwards the ‘ethnographic turn in contemporary art’ has generated intense dialogues between anthropologists, artists and curators. While ethnography has been both generously and problematically re-appropriated by the art world, curation has seldom caught the conceptual attention of anthropologists.

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Introduction: States of Curation
1: Curatorial Work
2: The Incurable-Image
3: Roger Bartra: Intrusion & Melancholia
4: Post-Mexican Fugue (Farewell to ¡Que Viva Mexico!)
5: The Incurable Park: Fundidora
6: Untimely Futures

About the Author

Tarek Elhaik is assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis and a film curator. His writings have appeared in books and journals and he has curated several programs and symposia on avant-garde cinema from Latin America and the Arab World. He is also part of a collaborative team of researchers, hosted by the Los Angeles Film Forum and funded by the Getty Foundation, currently curating an anthology and various platforms on experimental media in Latin America.


'For those tired of preachy and essentialist accounts of anthropologists and artists as handmaidens to other people's authentic, "bare" culture, Tarek Elhaik's book will be a shot in the arm. Elhaik agues that anthropology and art, by succumbing to the trope of radical alterity, have lost their speculative edge, while the international art market renders their sincere efforts irrelevant. His vivid and mordant analysis of the dramatic power dynamics of rivalry, complicity, contamination, and diagnosis among artists, curators, and anthropologists in Mexico will stimulate all who seek a bold new understanding of art-anthropology relations.'
- Prof Laura U. Marks, Simon Fraser University

'This is a path-breaking book. Drawing on intensive and innovative participant-observation as well as a deep background in curatorial practice, Elhaik opens the way for a deterritorialization into new spaces and modes of thought and practice. As a result, the book takes the anthropological study of images beyond method into new sites of inquiry.'

- Prof Paul Rabinow, University of California, Berkeley

'Tarek Elhaik’s first book—an ethnographic examination of multi-media artists, curators, and fellow anthropologists loosely centered around Mexico City—is a bold, highly theoretical… sophisticated book, steeped in an eclectic blend of cutting-edge anthropology, continental philosophy, and contemporary art theory.'

- Christopher Fraga, Somatosphere

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