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Lawrence Alexander

Lawrence Alexander is a Leverhulme Early-Career Research Fellow based at the Ruskin School of Art and an Associate Member of Exeter College.

Lawrence holds a PhD in Film and Screen Studies from the University of Cambridge where he also completed his MPhil and BA degrees in Modern and Medieval Languages (German and French). Before moving to Oxford, Lawrence was a Visiting Researcher at the Free University of Berlin and he has also worked as a teaching assistant on the British Council's Generation UK-India programme. From 2014-20, Lawrence was active as a freelance translator for the Munich-based company Wacker Chemie AG.

His research approaches bodies that simultaneously figure as sites of capture and resistance in contemporary moving image practices. In his doctoral dissertation, Lawrence traced the modulations of ‘face value’ across the essay films and installations of Harun Farocki, the performance and video art of Hito Steyerl, and William Kentridge’s intermedial productions for gallery and stage. A moving target, both aesthetic unit and political construct, facial images lend support to ‘obsolescent’ cinematic media – and their histories – while also offering a pretext for the subordination of marginalized bodies. This study accordingly interrogates these artists’ confrontations with the crimes of European and, in particular, German colonialism and the enduring racial and environmental violence reproduced by contemporary systems of capital and control.

Lawrence’s current research project entitled ‘Still Live? Moving Images Across Contemporary Performance Cultures’ moves on from this topical treatment of the face to call attention, firstly, to the passage of moving images into spaces of performance (alongside and beyond exhibition and art spaces) and secondly, to the reproduction of performance in images moving across networks of circulation and distribution. This approach reconsiders notions of liveness, (re)mediation, and theatricality bound up in the performance and consumption of moving image art in the twenty-first century. In addition to the discourses of media archaeology and critical race theory that inform these projects, Lawrence’s broader research and teaching interests include queer cinema, sound studies, film philosophy, and Weimar cinema and visual culture.

His writing ranging on topics from BoJack Horseman to Wozzeck has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Frames Cinema Journal and Screen Bodies and his first article ‘Facing Off: From Abstraction to Diffraction in Hito Steyerl’s Abstract (2012)’, published in a special issue on ‘The Phone Camera at the Intersection of Technology, Politics, and Transmedia Storytelling’, was named runner-up for the ‘Best Doctoral Student Article or Chapter’ in the 2022 British Association of Film, Television, and Screen Studies (BAFTSS) publication awards.

Lawrence is a co-editor of the Weimar Film Network and co-convenor of the BAFTSS German Screen Studies SIG.

A video of his talk at the recent World Picture conference held in November 2023 at the institute for Critical Inquiry in Berlin is available to watch here.

Email: lawrence.alexander@rsa.ox.ac.uk

Selected Publications:

‘Face, Frevo, and Faz que Vai (2015): Reading Queer and Trans of Colour Performance Between Cosmetic Practice and Stereoscopic Vision’, in The Edinburgh Companion to Queer Reading, edited by Jeremy Chow and Declan Kavanagh (forthcoming 2024: Edinburgh University Press).

‘Excavation and Entstellung: (Media-) Archaeological Activity and Postcolonial Memory Work in William Kentridge’s Wozzeck and The Head & the Load’ in Citational Media: Counter-archives and Technology in Contemporary Visual Culture, edited by Annie Ring and Lucy Bollington (forthcoming 2024: Legenda).

‘Property, Entitlement, Impropriety: Hollywoo(d) Plays Itself at 1475 Luck Hoof Avenue’, in Aren’t You Bojack Horseman? Critical Essays on the Netflix Series, edited by Harriet Earle (forthcoming 2024: McFarland and Co.).

‘Face Value’ in the Moving Image Practices of Harun Farocki, William Kentridge, and Hito Steyerl (Doctoral thesis submitted to the Apollo repository: November 2022), https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.90876.

‘Violent Thresholds: Sights and Sounds of the Cinematic Baroque in Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs’, Screen Bodies 6.2 (December 2021): 38-59, https://doi.org/10.3167/screen.2021.060204.

‘Facing Off: From Abstraction to Diffraction in Hito Steyerl’s Abstract (2012)’, Frames Cinema Journal 18 (June 2021): 2-28, https://doi.org/10.15664/fcj.v18i1.2247