Michael Taussig will write a book on Walter Benjamin’s concept of the dialectical image and images of the sun in an age of global warming. Taussig’s book will focus on sleep, twilight, and the ambiguous concept of “awakening” as it emerges in the theories of culture and revolution in the Arcades Project, noting that the idea of the dialectical image is central to Benjamin’s theory of history as well as to his prose. He will also concentrate on myths—old and new—concerning the sun and the relation of mood to the diurnal cycle. To this end, he will analyze visual art including Dan Torop’s recent photographs of fireflies in Pennsylvania, Tracy Moffat’s film Night Cries, Nancy Goldring’s photographic projections, Brion Gysin’s Dream Machine, Akira Kurosawa’s film Dreams, Karthik Pandian’s Before the Sun (focused on Mississippi mounds near St. Louis), and Marielle Nitoslawska’s photograph of “magic hour” through a frost-laden Montreal window.
Michael Taussig is a professor of anthropology at Columbia University, where he teaches graduate seminars on Walter Benjamin and the art of fieldwork. He is the author of several books, including What Color is the Sacred? (University of Chicago Press, 2009), Walter Benjamin’s Grave (University of Chicago Press, 2006); Mimesis and Alterity (Routledge, 1992); Defacement (Stanford University Press, 1999); and Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man (University of Chicago Press, 1991). He has written essays about the work of such visual artists as Jimmie Durham, Aernaut Mik, Juan Downey, Michael Stevenson, and Nancy Goldring, and has recently given talks at Tate Britain, the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art (NY), the New Museum (NY), the Banff Center for the Arts (Canada), and the Sydney Biennale. He was a keynote speaker and advisory board member for Documenta 13.