|Oliver Ressler on Thu, 20 Sep 2007 19:33:50 +0200 (CEST)|
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. FLY DEMOCRACY
This installation by Oliver Ressler is part of the following exhibitions:
â âWork Fictionâ, Kunstverein Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg (D), till 04.11.07 http://www.kunstverein-wolfsburg.de/ausstellungen
â âReality Crossingsâ, 2. International Photo Festival Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Heidelberg 2007 (D), 22.09. â 21.10.07 For a 2-minute excerpt of the video of the installation please click on âvideoâ at: http://www.fotofestival-ma-lu-hd.de/en/vita/?id=42&cpage=8
â âFly Democracyâ, Protokoll Studio, Cluj (RO), from 23.10.07 on.
Although the real stakes behind the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan had to do primarily with geo-strategic interests and control of the oil deposits, the preferred official line to legitimize the wars in the eyes of the public spoke of their being waged to bring âdemocracyâ to those countries. This political discourse was maintained as long as victory still seemed feasible to the armed forces of the United States and its allies. In the meantime, however, the emphasis has shifted more towards achieving âstabilityâ in Iraq and âpeaceâ in Afghanistan. At the start of the military campaign, the US jet fighters did not drop only bombs: they also showered down leaflets containing messages intended for the population. These called upon the enemy soldiers to desert, warned civilians to keep at a distance from military targets, defined the pattern of behavior in case of contact with the invaders, or else relayed a general political message explaining the alleged reasons and goals of the military attack.
The âFly Democracyâ installation represents a re-enactment of this shower of message-bearing flyers, but symbolically transfers the dropâs target point to the territory of the United States. Specially drawn up for the âFly Democracyâ piece, ten flyers set forth current political arguments on behalf of direct or participatory forms of democracy, all of which stand in contradiction to the model of formal democracy that â embedded in a neo-liberal, capitalistic State â is imposed by the United States. The stance that âFly Democracyâ adopts contrasts with that model by interpreting the term âdemocracyâ more in its original sense, as it was understood in Ancient Greece. At that time, it meant â at least for full age male citizens â more direct involvement in the decision-making processes than what exists in todayâs representative democracies. âPseudo-democraciesâ is how the theorist Paul Cockshott would label the latter, as measured against the wordâs original meaning.
The installation consists of a five-minute video loop showing the flyers on their downward trip from a shining blue sky to the ground, where they are read by people who pick them up. The original English-language flyers are strewn on the floor in front of the video screen, together with the exhibition-destined flyers in German, French or Romanian. Visitors are welcome to pick any of the flyers up, read them and take them home.
Images and German information: http://www.ressler.at/content/view/115/lang,de_DE
The two videos âThis is what democracy looks like!â (38 min, 2002, http://www.ressler.at/democracy) and âDisobbedientiâ (51 min., 2002, http://www.ressler.at/content/view/22/lang,en_GB) by Oliver Ressler will be part of the exhibition:
FORMS OF RESISTANCE. ARTISTS AND THE DESIRE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE FROM 1871 TO THE PRESENT Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven (NL) 22/09/2007- 06/01/2008 http://www.vanabbemuseum.nl/engels/tentoonstellingen/vormen-van-verzet_e.htm
The exhibition âForms of Resistanceâ reflects on art and life and departs from four historical moments: the French Commune in 1871, the Russian Revolution of 1917, May 1968 and our world after the Berlin Wall came down (1989).
Based on these benchmarks it includes works by Manet, Courbet, Lissitzky, Rodchenko, Malevich, Brigada Ramona Parra, Atelier Populaire, Tucuman Arde, Sherk, Haacke, Johannesson, General Idea, Leonard, Piper, Ressler and Superflex amongst others.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication.
The Narrative The exhibition tells the story of art and social change through the lens of resistance and artistic desire. Ambitions for progressive social or political changes in the past 150 years are compared, selecting specific moments at which collaborations between art and activism were at their most pronounced.
The connection between art and social change was a fundamental aspect of modernism. The concept of the avant-garde as the phalanx of a revolutionary movement intended to resist or destroy old habits and produce the new man, was bound up with modernismâs formalist innovations as much as its direct engagement in political action. Artists combined resistance with speculating about the future and support of certain political developments, their critique was propositional as well as severe, and they often made work for a world that did not yet exist â but that they wanted to see come about.
Following the political and social upheavals of 1968 and 1989, this modernist and avant-garde model gradually lost its applicability. Artists developed different ways to resist and speculate. In the 21st century, with ideological struggles beginning to reconstitute themselves, the role of art is once again under pressure. Do resistance and speculation have a place in a world where economy is the instrument of contemporary politics? What does it mean to resist the current political establishment? What can we learn from past models and experiences and what light do they shed on our contemporary ideas of the world?
Artists and Movements Gustave Courbet and Eduard Manet are the key figures from the first period, followed immediately by William Morris, the founder of the British Arts & Crafts movement. Next up is the constructivism of artists such as Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitzky, Liobov Popova and Varvara Stepanova, Bauhaus student demonstrations and the surrealism and actions of Pablo Picasso and Joan Miro during the Spanish Civil War. The San Francisco Diggers, Bonnie Sherk and The Artistsâ Liberation Front precede May â68, the Paris and Prague revolts. We also examine wall paintings from Chile.
The activism and political identity studies of the 1970s can be found in the work of Hans Haacke, the Artworkersâ Coalition, Zoe Leonard, Martha Rosler, General Idea and Adrian Piper. Why some did artists opt to abandon the art world after â68, while others chose to comment on conflict zones within the confinement of the institution? How did art relate to the identity politics and rainbow coalitions of the 1980s and 1990s? âDisobedienceâ, finally, is a small exhibit curated by Marco Scotini, in which Oliver Ressler, Marcelo Esposito and others provide insight into art activism in recent years. The present day is again a time for collectives but also an opportunity to look back on the past utopian century. What went before and what will follow the major ideological shifts of recent years?
Curators The exhibition has been put together by a team of curators: Will Bradley, Phillip van den Bossche and Charles Esche.
Publication Art and Social Change: A critical reader, edited by Will Bradley and Charles Esche, published by Afterall Books and Tate Publishing. ISBN: 978 1 85437 626 8, â 30
This project has been realized in part by a contribution of Mondriaan Foundation. The project has been carried out within the framework of TRANSFORM (http://www.transform.eipcp.net) and with the support of the Culture 2000 programme of the European Union.
Upcoming film (approximately December 2007):
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO WIN? Zanny Begg and Oliver Ressler, approx. 40 min., 2007
âWhat Would It Mean To Win?â is a film based on the most recent counter-globalisation protests in Heiligendamm (June 2007). It is structured around three central questions: Who are we? What is our power? What would it mean to win? This work will be completed in late 2007. It combines documentary footage shot during the blockades against the G8 summit in Germany, interviews and animation sequences.
Recently the counter-globalisation movement has gone through a certain malaise accentuated by the shifts in global politics in the post 9/11 context. The protests in Heiligendamm were able to re-assert the confidence, inventiveness and creativity of the counter-globalisation movement. In particular the five finger tactic â where protests spread out across the fields of Rostock slipping around police lines â proved successful in establishing blockades in all major roads into Heiligendamm. Staff working for the G8 summit were forced to enter and leave the meeting by helicopter or boat thus providing a symbolic victory to the movement.
âWhat Would It Mean To Win?â, as the title implies, addresses this central question for the movement. During the Seattle demonstrations âwe are winningâ was a popular graffiti slogan that captured the sense of euphoria that came with the birth of a new movement. Since that time however this slogan has been regarded in a much more speculative manner. This film aims to move beyond the question of whether we are âwinningâ or not by addressing what would it actually mean to win.
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