Allan deSouza – “Avatar Syndrome: Past Imperative, Future Conditional”

ThumbnailAvatar Syndrome has come to refer to the intense longings experienced by fans of the 2009 James Cameron film for the depicted planetary moon Pandora and its Na’vi humanoids. Fans report subsequent depression and even suicidal tendencies because, as one online post declared, “you know you can never actually go to Pandora, as it exists only in our imagination… sigh… :(”

Avatar represents a current apex of imaging technologies, even as it depicts a colonial fantasy of sublime nature and noble savages that is closer to that of the mythologized Pocahontas, whose 1614 marriage to John Rolfe was the first recorded inter-racial marriage in America.

This talk will consider deSouza’s own art and text works in relation to similar intersections of future-making technologies and past-reproducing fantasies, nostalgias for authenticity and disciplinary cross-contaminations.

Allan deSouza recently joined the faculty of the UC Berkeley Department of Art Practices. Previously he was Chair of New Genres at the San Francisco Art Institute. His photography, mixed-media installation, text and performance works restage historical evidence through counter-strategies of fiction, erasure, and (mis)translation. DeSouza has exhibited extensively in the United States and internationally, including at the Gwangju Biennale, Korea; 3rd Guangzhou Triennale, China; the Pompidou Centre, Paris; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; with recent solo exhibitions at Talwar Gallery, Delhi; SF Camerawork; the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF; and the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. His fiction and critical writings have appeared in various catalogues, journals and anthologies, including Shifter Journal, NY; Earth Matters (National Museum of African Art), Washington, DC; Third Text, London; and X-TRA, Los Angeles. He is the recipient of a recent Rockefeller Foundation Residency at Bellagio, Italy; a San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist’s Grant; and a California Community Foundation/Getty Fellowship Artist’s Award.