At its heart, solidarity is about united action in support of a community or communities. To stand in solidarity with a community means that one’s commitment to that community also translates into political expression and organisation. The articles in our special section #Solidarity investigate how media can support such efforts at solidarity and strengthen social bonds more generally. In his article ‘Live-streaming for frontline and distant witnessing’ Samuel Gregory looks at Brazilian human rights organisation WITNESS and their long-term project of live-streaming social inequity in two favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Gregory’s study highlights key activist media strategies implemented to ensure that distant streamers act in support of the activists and victims on the ground. Gregory’s article will be a valuable resource to researchers and activists alike. Shweta Khilnani’s article continues in that vein by providing a detailed analysis of the activist literary practices on social media. Khilnani studies blog posts on the Indian microblogging platform Terribly Tiny Tales (TTT) as forms of digital literary micro-narratives. Focusing on TTT narratives that deal with gender discrimination and particularly sexualised violence against women in India, Khilnani shows how these micro-narratives quickly circulate as parts of a larger hypertext to constitute an ambient and affective political discourse. Such discursive modes on social media can raise awareness and foster solidarity in a time of shortened attention spans and distracted consumption. Brianna Wiens and Shana Macdonald provide a critical assessment of postfeminist enactments of self-care on Instagram. Expanding on arguments that highlight the neoliberal slant of postfeminist practices in a post-postfeminist moment, they show that calls for self-care as self-improvement both obscure and reproduce a white worldview as well as the violent structural inequities that result from it. The authors contrast this understanding of self-care with the liberating principles of Black and intersectional femininst discourses of self-care. In ‘Co-creation as im/mediate/d caring and sharing in times of crises’, Sandra Gaudenzi, Jasmin Kermanchi, and Anna Wiehl look at the social media project Corona Haikus to propose that co-creative practices of poetically documenting everyday life during the pandemic strengthens social bonds of care and expresses solidarity. Finally, we feature a conversation with the Care Collective led by Linda Kopitz. Formed by Andreas Chatzidakis, Jamie Hakim, Jo Littler, Catherine Rottenberg, and Lynne Segal, the Care Collective is the author of The Care Manifesto, an interdisciplinary work that addresses the multiple crises of care and aims to challenge and expand our understanding of this notion.
In our Features section Faye Mercier looks at the reality television programme Terrace House and shows how the programme presents and normalises a precarious mode of neoliberal subjectivity that Mercier calls drifting. Drifting requires the young Japanese participants to ‘master precarity’ by flexibly adjusting to shifting conditions and requirements. In a consideration of three romantic comedies that take place in Berlin, Kim Wilkins offers a political take on the popular form. The essay investigates how genre and gentrification reinforce each other and whether this genre, which has often been dismissed as conservative, has the potential for critical positioning vis-à-vis larger social transformations. Temenuga Trifonova also looks at cinematic treatments of the urban, but focuses on Rome as presented in La Dolce Vita and La Grande Bellezza. Trifonova’s piece shows that Fellini and Sorrentino use the figure of the flâneur to articulate heterogeneous urban spaces that are fraught with the directors’ social critique. Then we have two very different pieces that both deal with videographic criticism. Alan O’Leary advocates a framework on videographic criticism that can better reflect the creative potential of this mode of scholarship. Going back to the legacy of the OuLiPo group and their surrealist take on literary creation, O’Leary proposes an OuScholPo school of videographic writing: a speculative approach to critical practice that operates as a corrective to the instrumentalisation of knowledge production. Innovative in form as well as content, this piece fuses the traditional critical essay with a manifesto-like interpellation to the reader. Miklós Kiss studies desktop documentaries and emphasises their singular potential to convey an argument by simulating the maker’s process of exploring and tinkering in insightful ways. The piece makes an important contribution to the study of a relatively new audiovisual form and its particular affordances for persuasion. To round off the section, Jonathan Larcher approaches the materiality of film culture from an ethnographic point of view. His article looks at the culture of circulating video in the former Eastern European block and its afterlife by positioning itself at a fascinating intersection between media archaeology, infrastructure studies, and amateur film.
The book reviews include Chris Berry’s piece on two volumes on queer film festival culture, one by Stuart James Richards and the other by Antoine Damiens. Melinda Blos Jani reviews two books on experimental film practices: Kim Knowles’ book on photochemical practices and Gregory Zinman’s monograph on handmade cinema. And Alena Strohmeier provides a review of two volumes dedicated to image resolution and HD: Elisa Linseisen’s German monograph High Definition and the French volume La haute et la basse définition des images edited by Francesco Casetti and Antonio Somaini.
Our section of exhibition reviews contains pieces on the cinematic virtual-reality experience Queerkins: Ark by Illya Szilak and Cyril Tsiboulski, the (online) Daata Fair for digital art, as well as an interview with Paula Albuquerque on the occasion of her exhibition ‘Enter the Ghost: Haunted Media Ecologies’. In the festival reviews you will find the second part of the section editors’ focus on how festivals have responded to the Covid pandemic and the resulting challenges for organisers as well as audiences. The reviews in this section discuss the 2020 Boston Latino International Film Festival, the Festival International du Film Documentaire de Saint-Louis, the Human Rights Film Network Festival, the One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, as well as the San Francisco PornFilmFestival and UNCENSORED.
In Autumn 2021 we celebrate the ten-year anniversary of NECSUS with a special issue composed of short texts from a wide array of authors and editors who have been involved with the journal and the wider NECS community at one point or another during its history. The theme of this special anniversary issue is #Futures, and we have asked the authors to contemplate the state of the field of media studies and its various sub-disciplines. We look forward to the next ten years of NECSUS with a whole new range of authors and editors who will help to shape and define this field for the next generation.