Clio Nicastro is a VW/ICI Visiting Fellow at ICI Berlin and adjunct faculty member at Bard College Berlin. She studied philosophy at the University of Palermo, where she completed her PhD in aesthetics and theory of art in 2014. In 2015 she moved to Berlin on a DAAD postdoctoral fellowship, working on the German filmmaker Harun Farocki. From 2016 to 2018 she was a postdoctoral fellow at the ICI Berlin. Her current research focuses on cinematic representations of eating disorders. Her work on Harun Farocki, Philip Scheffner and Merle Kröger, and Adelina Pintilie has appeared in academic publications as well as in film and art journals.

From 2018 onwards she has been co-organizing with Hannah Proctor and Nadine Hartmann the series ‘Spellbound’ (hosted by diffrakt|centre for theoretical periphery, Berlin), which explored experiences of collective mental contagion such as fainting fits, possession, mimetic aspects of both hysteria, eating disorders as well as the regimentation of gesture and trances. She is the author of La Dialettica del Denkraum in Aby Warburg (Palermo University Press, 2022) as well as the co-editor with Cristina Baldacci and Arianna Sforzini of Over and Over and Over again. Reenactment Strategies in Contemporary Arts and Theory (ICI Berlin Press, 2022). Since 2022 she is a member of the board of directors of the Harun Farocki Institut.

Contagious Images? Visual Representations of Eating Disorders

VW-ICI Visiting Project 2021-22

Nicastro’s project focuses on the intricate connection between anorexia, bulimia, and other forms of food consumption deemed ‘disordered’ and their visual representations. Eating disorders are inherently linked to images through fantasies and bodily symptoms, which are generally considered to be triggered by mass media representations involving shame and identification. Despite ongoing debates on the negative influence of media on the proliferation of eating disorders, little research has been done about the influence of cultural representations, particularly given the dramatic increase of active participation in the production of images through social media. Can one look at visual representations of eating disorders beyond the familiar pathological frame? What do those representations and the processes incvolved in their creation reveal about the obsessions and contradictions of a society that strongly promotes self-optimization and the introjection of control?

This project will analyse photos posted by members of ‘pro-ana’ online communities promoting anorexia under the hashtag #thinspiration. Is it possible to retrace the history of gestures, forms, and affects that are being featured in those images? Why are these images considered viral and contagious? By engaging Aby Warburg’s conception of Pathosformel within a feminist inquiry of eating disorders, Nicastro will examine those pictures and compare them to other visual narratives of eating disorders, such as documentary, fiction films, and film series. 

Sensing the Other:
Empathic Temporality in Aby Warburg and Donna Haraway

ICI Project 2016-18

Today, showing empathy takes pride of place among social duties, all the more so due to the direct, simultaneous, and nonstop contact with stories and experiences of distant events and people promised by new media. This favoriting of empathy puts a focus on the fusional relation between subject and object, often without taking into account the distance and conflict implicit in sensing the other. On the other hand, the empathically experienced rhythm/time of another can convery that not all people exist in the same now and that sharing an affective temporality is the result of the hard work of demontage and decontextualization.

Filmmakers such as Harun Farocki and Philipp Scheffner offer challenging and emblematic cinematic devices to explore other kinds of empathic relations with the spectator, focusing on an erratic temporality that avoids frantic actions and takes position against the idea of a unique, adequate image to represent reality. Analyzing these cinematic approaches that question the opposition of empathic closeness and reflective distance points out the risky yet crucial practice of dismantling and redefining the borders between subject and object.

Harun Farocki: The Invisible World of Work

ICI Affiliate Project 2015-16

The project is a theoretical investigation of ‘labour’ as a subject in Harun Farocki’s texts and filmography. It consists of a detailed analysis of one of his last projects (with frequent collaborator Antje Ehmann) Eine Einstellung zur Arbeit / Labour in a single shot, but will also include Italian translations of selected texts by Farocki addressing this subject. This research will be compiled and published with a critical introduction presenting the main aspects of Farocki’s interest in the function of labour in today’s society.

In addition, Clio Nicastro intends to research the notion of ‘distance’ understood as a methodological approach, which has been a recurrent subject in all of her research, but once applied to a selection of Farocki’s works, will reveal his use of the ‘long shot’ and what he termed soft montage to be of both technical and symbolic significance.