Issue 1/2020



Dear readers, what you have in front of you is the hundredth issue of this magazine, which was founded a quarter of a century ago. Although this may well be a good reason to celebrate, we would like at the same time to mark the occasion by engaging in broader reflections: What constitutes a magazine's identity? What holds together a magazine as a multipartite, often heterogeneous corpus, especially over such a long period of time? What gives rise to its singularity and distinctive character?
Over and above the look of the magazine, which has been repeatedly fine-tuned over the years, there is one parameter that really should be mentioned in this context: the magazine as an interface, even a dynamic area of overlap between the most diverse discourses and approaches. However united and visually compact springerin appears in how it presents to the outside world, its hallmark – at least from an editorial point of view – very much consists in an associated, yet countervailing, factor: for years, and by now even for decades, this medium has managed to absorb the most diverse, often seemingly incompatible approaches. Feminism, cultural studies, globalization discourse, decolonial theory, the rise of digitalization, Eastern European topics, critical ecology, and, and, and – all of these topics and many more form the backdrop to a constantly renegotiable intersection that, we hope, assumes an unmistakable form in each issue. Its decisive identity-defining aspect could be said to lie precisely in the way in which everything is not completely covered or concluded – and instead surpluses, oblique stances, productive disparities come into being.
That is the point at which the hallmarks that characterize springer – admittedly somewhat schematically – run up against a recurring theme in feminist discourse since the 1990s: the intersectionality debate. This addresses the undeniable way in which (feminist) identity only takes shape in interactions with other frames of reference, whether ethnic, class-related, queer, etc. In other words, the caesurae and fractures that run right through identity-defining formations are more decisive than such formative blocks and materials per se. “Identity – it's the crisis, can't you see?”, as an oft-cited punk song proclaimed back in the 1970s.
Intersections, in other words, incomplete, phantasmatic constructs of the “identitary” – that could be the slogan of this ongoing discourse: identities composed of complementary, sometimes even recalcitrant, ingredients; cultural backgrounds likewise based on overlapping fields of reference that never merge smoothly; and, amidst all this, the creative or artistic process, which is still often seen as grounded in the artist's identity and “background”, yet which always eludes these to a considerable degree too. Cuts, overlaps, hybridization, in other words, where backgrounds that have grown complex can no longer be squeezed into a closed frame.
This issue attempts to pursue this dimension whilst engaging in self-reflection. Suzana Milevska thus asks to what extent insisting on unassailable difference can be productive, and whether an approach rooted in a transindividuality that transcends everything “identitary” might be more promising in this respect. Either way, the emphasis on intersectional identity leads to contradictory situations – a point Yvonne Volkart emphasizes in her investigation of the connection between feminism and ecology. Ecofeminism in particular, which does not reject the technological out of hand, assumes a certain pioneering role in dealing with such contradictions or at least not talking them out of existence. Hans-Christian Dany, on the other hand, approaches the problem from the opposite angle and asks whether it is perhaps an error to take identity as our point of departure when such serious matters as saving the world are at stake. After all, a broader symptomatology lies behind this and is difficult to address through any kind of identity politics.
All in all, the debate about identity as a field in which highly diverse factors of influence and discrimination interact forms an overarching context in which to raise questions about the production background of contemporary creative work. To what extent can artistic practice be explained by reference to markers such as class, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, “migration background” etc.? In what way does a concrete visual process transcend or undermine these categories that have become so intrinsic to cultural discourse? Does it make any sense at all to assume an especially “intersectional” identity underlying everything and everyone? And isn't there also a potentially emancipatory dimension to working against any codification of identity, as is still often attempted in certain sectors of the art world?
This issue presents food for thought and illustrative material related to all these questions – from such diverse contexts as an exploration of (colonial) history in Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa (Su-Ran Sichling) or the reappraisal of racist stereotypes in museums in the American South (Cornelia Kogoj and Christian Kravagna).
As a whole, this hundredth issue seeks out effective strategies and means to rise to the strange challenges that contemporary thinking on identity poses to art and in other realms. We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to you, dear readers, for your substantial contributions to these continuing reflections – in many cases for years and decades!