noborder - nonation:
Drei Programme zum Widerstand
Die Kunst der Stunde ist Widerstand heißt dieses Jahr auf der DIAGONALE: noborder nonation. Drei Programme geben Einblick in das aktuelle Widerstandsgeschehen und die Vielfalt politischer, nonkommerzieller Videoarbeiten im Bereich von Gegenöffentlichkeit. Der Slogan und die Forderung noborder nonation waren im vergangenen Jahr ein Fokus, der österreichische Widerstandsformationen mit globalen Protestbewegungen verband. Die Unerträglichkeit der österreichischen Regierung scheint sich zunehmend im globalen Vergleich zu relativieren: Ob Integrationsvertrag, Sozialabbau, ORF-Reform, Temelín-, Sicherheits- oder Außenpolitik, der Rechtspopulismus und die damit einhergehende Law-and-order- Politik sind bedrohlich und widerlich. Die Ursachenforschung, warum der politische Aufstieg eines Rechtspopulisten wie Haider möglich war, beschäftigt Österreich mittlerweile kaum mehr: Der Rechtspopulismus wird globales Problem des Neoliberalismus.
Trotzdem ist die Vernetzung kritischer Menschen und die damit verbundene Politisierung einen Schritt weiter: Antirassistische und antinationale Kulturarbeit realisiert sich zunehmend im internationalen Austausch. Die Inhalte der Kunst der Stunde verlagern sich im Globalisierungskontext: Im vergangenen Jahr verschwanden Protestbilder von Donnerstagsdemos aus den österreichischen Medien. Jedoch zum ersten Mal fand in Österreich eine Antiglobalisierungsdemonstration statt. Die Schaffung von Gegenöffentlichkeit durch Medienprojekte wie Die Kunst der Stunde, indymedia, kanalB, no-racism.net, der VolxTheaterKarawane u.a. meint nicht zuletzt wie das im letzten Jahr die DIAGONALE-Schiene Politik bilden! exemplarisch veranschaulicht hat , daß das Bildermachen und Darstellen der Vorgänge eingebunden ist in ein Handeln, in politische Projekte mit konkreten Forderungen und Zielen. Gleichzeitig sind unabhängige Medien zunehmend ein wichtiger, unzensurierter Informationsfaktor und notwendige Beobachter von staatlichen Übergriffen.
Bilder von globalisierungskritischen Demonstrationen in Göteborg, Genua und Salzburg boten dem lokalen Fernsehen Action: zensurierte Bilder, die oftmals Globalisierungsgegner nur in „Gewalt- und Terrorismusbereitschaft“ inszenierten. Die Bilder von 9/11 (11. September 2001) und diesbezügliche Folgen in der Weltpolitik gaben der Globalisierungskritik eine weitere problematische wahrnehmungspolitische Richtung, denn die Inhalte der Globalisierungskritiker und Bilder von staatlichen Polizeiübergriffen passen nicht in ein seit 9/11 verstärkt zutage tretendes hegemoniales „Empire“- Konzept.
Die Auswahl und Zusammenstellung der dreiteiligen Programmreihe noborder nonation hat sich aus einem konkretem thematischen Interesse innerhalb des Kollektivs abgeleitet. Einen Schwerpunkt bildet der „Summer of Resistance“ 2001: Videos geben Einblick in den Ablauf der ersten Antiglobalisierungsdemonstration in Österreich anläßlich des WEFGipfels in Salzburg, die in der Folge der medial vielbeachteten Demonstrationen in Seattle, Prag, Davos, Quebec und Göteborg stattgefunden hat. Ein weiteres Thema sind das G-8- Treffen in Genua und internationale noborder- Aktionen, in deren Rahmen die VolxTheater- Karawane ein Projekt war. Die diskursive Ebene betont in besonderer Weise ein Beitrag aus Tschechien: Im September 2000 fanden dort Demonstrationen gegen das IWF-Weltbank- Treffen statt unmittelbare Diskussionen im „Global Village Carnival“.
Das Videoprogramm ist die Auswahl eines umfangreicheren Programms zum Themenkomplex „Globalisierung Migration Widerstand“. Und eine Brücke zur gezielten Erweiterung des Rahmens dieses Medienprojekts in den öffentlichen Raum: In einem Medienzelt im Grazer Zentrum werden unabhängige radikal-demokratische Medienprojekte vorgestellt, und es wird über internationale noborder-Kampagnen und Aktionen informiert.
Die noborder-Zone in Graz, die sich in den Folgemonaten durch Europa bewegen wird, ist ein Kollektivprojekt innerhalb des internationalen noborder-Netzwerkes (Vernetzung antirassistischer Gruppen, www.noborder.org) und wird in Graz von der DIAGONALE, dem Forum Stadtpark, Rotor, Radio Helsinki, mayday 2000 und anderen unterstützt.
Ziel des Projekts ist es nach wie vor, (Gegen-) Öffentlichkeiten zu schaffen und dies als politisch wichtige Selbstermächtigung zu begreifen. noborder nonation no one is illegal Für das Recht auf Freiheit von Bewegung! (noborder-Kollektiv)
The task of this text is to define the possibilities and discourses of political culture in the current political situation. What can be political culture now? Who can pretend to be a political artist? Which strategies can be used? It is not so easy to answer these questions and the first problem we come across is, of course, the term “politics” and “political culture” itself. Ha-ha-ha-ha!
Everybody understands that after September 11 the political situation radically changed. At the same time it is true that everything in global politics continues to exist in the same way as before.
On the one hand politics today is still associated with what in liberal Western democracy exists in the form of parliament and political parties. That is routine politics, so to speak: elections, parliamentary debates, diplomacy, administration, management, tempting, manipulation, corruption, mass media spectacles … It is a manipulation, which is styled with the mask of general interest and which is using the state and its institutions to follow specific elitist interests of hegemonic sections of the population. The ‘real existing democracy’ is the mechanism, which serves the mobilization of capital and the political-economic elite in their self-reproduction. This type of politics is always aimed at normalization and is based on a structure of consensus. The so-called post-ideological neo-liberal consensus transfers politics that is the fight for power, into a process of negotiations of interests of predominant social groups, where a compromise of a more or less global order is archived. This is an order of bureaucratic state, of brutal police, transnational corporations, liberal mass media, neo-liberal art system etc.
But on the other hand after the September 11 this type of politics is in a terrible crisis. As one British tabloid put it: We face the end of liberalism! Indeed we face a new ideological change, which, by the way, does not mean the end of neo-liberalism but definitely means a sort of global dictatorship.
Ideological terms and categories always serve as instruments for political power. If the enemies of the capitalist system during the Cold War were called “communists and their agents”, after the collapse of the Soviet Union the label ‘terrorists’ came into fashion. So ‘anti-terrorism’ started to be used instead of ‘anti-communism’ as a new designation for the opponents of globalized world order. But who decides what ‘terrorisms’ is and who ‘terrorists’ are? The white male supremacist monetary elite and their mass media apparatus have the power to define it. So ‘anti-terrorism’ substituted itself for blatant racism, oppression and exploitation of the Third World as well as for destruction of all forms of political and cultural resistance in the First World. It’s no longer chic to say that you should capture Black Panthers and shoot them or imprison them for twenty years, so what is done by power is to declare some Muslim militants ‘terrorists’ and to say: “We smoke the folks who did this and that out of their holes”. And today nearly all regimes of the world agree with this plan of smoking out terrorists. So something has really changed from the time of Cold War when the world was ideologically divided.
The most popular dualistic opposition, which came into use after September 11 is the construct of ‘terrorism’ and ‘innocence’. It goes like that: evil and coward Muslim fundamentalist terrorists destroyed the peaceful World Trade Center and killed thousands of innocent people. Then in the mouth of Tony Blair Muslim terrorism is reduced to terrorism as such. The next step is fulfilled by Berlusconi, who compared the terrorists with the anti-capitalist movement. Meanwhile the American anthem is played in the name of innocent victims and the whole world must be in mourning.
Our only answer to this is: “Terrorism doesn’t exist as well as so-called innocence! Ha-ha-ha-ha!” In the World Trade Center worked of course different people, among others also cleaning, maintenance and catering workers. But all of them were of age. And all these people served certain power structures, more or less consciously. One can call them civilians. But innocence is an inadequate term. In parenthesis we want to mention that on September 11 about 35 000 children died through hunger. There were no newspaper articles and no alarm level because of that fact. But it would be more adequate to call these children innocent.
The same concerns ‘terrorism’. The people who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were definitely very different people and for sure had diverse reasons for this act. One can discuss their ideology, their religious and political views. But when they are all called terrorists it has just one aim: to discredit them, to criminalize them, to hit them, to destroy them totally. And not just them: a global coalition aims to prosecute and persecute all militant liberation groups and movements in Asia, Latin America, Europe and Africa that are threatening the status quo.
Of course ‘terrorism’ is being used because the global conflict is no longer intended to be East versus West. Rather, as many theoreticians claimed, it is a North-South contradiction. Now the United States, the European Union and Russia as well as China have a common basis: they are racists and imperialists in Washington, in Brussels, in Moscow and in Beijing. They have to continue to control the new global Empire in Asia, Europe, Africa and in the Americas. In order to control this territory they have to fight ‘terrorism’. Today under this term are subsumed first of all not so-called rogue states but separatist and clandestine resistance groups, which fight local governments as well as the global superpower. Now we face the first joint military and logistical maneuvers between the US and Russia, which are called ‘war on terrorism’. It is really something new and it is definitely bad news for all people who want to resist global Empire and power structures around the world.
So, speaking about the attacks on New York and Washington, one must make clear, that we are not dealing with ‘terrorism’, and not simply with ‘enemies of America’ as Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent, but with resistance. Yes, with resistance, as described by Michel Foucault. Remember the famous passage in the first volume of ‘The History of Sexuality’: “There is no single locus of great Refusal, no soul of revolt, source of all rebellions, or pure law of the revolutionary. Instead there is a plurality of resistances, each of them a special case: resistances that are possible, necessary, improbable; others that are spontaneous, savage, solitary, concerted, rampant, or violent; still others that are quick to compromise, interested, or sacrificial; by definition, they can only exist in the strategic field of power relations …”
We can call these acts in America monstrous and violent resistance, we can call these acts anti-enlightenment, but what other points of resistance do exist? The anti-capitalist movement? Zapatistas? New anarchist movement? Yes, and it is quite important to mention these self-organized movements. But we also have to remember that institutional or so-called cultural leftists dominated leftist politics for nearly two-decades. And these decades finished in a fiasco, in a complete demoralization, in a degradation of the international left movement. What legacy did we get from cultural leftists? Institutionalized political theory? It doesn’t really work. Contemporary anarchists got their theory from John Zerzan and not from ‘October’. The Tute Bianche make direct use of Foucault’s ideas without any support from industry of discourses. In contrary cultural leftists occupied some art institutions, appropriated the concept of subversion and ended their history at a cocktail party in Tate Modern. They established generations of obedient, cynical, and ignorant artists, which speak a language of a elitist cultural ghetto.
Yes, we want to talk now about the contemporary art system. About all these people: Damien Hirst and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Vanessa Beecroft and Harald Szeeman, Douglas Gordon and Rosalind Kraus … Even about Renee Green and Benjamin Buchloh, ha-ha-ha … All these critics, curators and artists belong to the international art system, which is of course not monolithic, but which undoubtedly is part of the big neo-liberal political system. And this international art system always was and still remains a machine of depoliticization and institutionalization of contemporary culture. In the beginning in the 50ties and 60ties it was serving the interests of the Cold War, and now it continues to serve the interests of transnational capital, neo-liberal institutions and the cultural elite. The industry of discourses of the art system is nothing but a mechanism of consumerist occupation and normalization of the term art. Using the tools of liberal consensus, integrating some agents (artists, critics, curators) while excluding others from actual artistic life, the art system writes a falsified history of contemporary art. This history lies and makes faces. It turns art into a cynical game of ambitions and into a disciplinary vanity fair. The aesthetical canon imposed by the art system forces artists to accept a poor and non-critical language of the fashionable art ghetto. Competition and the longing for an international career make cultural workers slaves of the current conjuncture. Political, economic and cultural exploitation are the old and brutal methods of the cunning and hyper-fast art world.
So-called critical practices inside the art world are very limited. Critique tends to function as just another division in the big institutional art-apparatus. But critical culture must question the economic and social basis of its own existence. However, critique in the global art system exists just as a representation of critique. And political issues often carry a specific function of distinction within the field of art discourses. The empty formulas you can find in art magazines are a conglomerate of hip terms. Behind them are hidden the confusion and fear of curators, critics an artists, their inability to stand on the side of the oppressed and to fight a political battle for new non-discriminatory cultural relations. What can the art-system say about September 11? One of its most prominent agents Maurizio Cattelan spoke about “the evilest sides of humanity, which was shown this day”. Another celebrity not a visual artist but a musician said that the attacks on the World Trade Center are “the greatest work of art”. What high intellectual level! Ha-ha-ha-ha!
But what can we suggest ourselves in contrary to the obedient art system? What kind of political culture do we imagine? How to react on the current crisis? How can we fight oppressive and anti-democratic relations in the field of politics and culture?
To begin with, who are we? Alexander Brener and Barbara Schurz a couple of revolutionary charlatans? Nostalgic idiots? Self-proclaimed resistors? Bohemian adventurers?
First of all we are artists from very different contexts. Alexander Brener is an artist from the so-called former Second World, from Moscow. One can call it Russian artist. But following Lacan, who once said that “Cosmonauts don’t exist”, we would like to say that “Russian artists don’t exist.” Why? Because ‘Russia’, and ‘Russian artists’ are ideological constructs, which pretend to represent an identity that doesn’t exist. We can speak about Russian artists of the 19th century. But now, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is more correct to speak about post-Soviet art, or concretely about art from Moscow, St Petersburg or Novosibirsk. A monolithic phenomenon as ‘Russian art’ doesn’t take place. Some fragmentary practices exist. These are not rhetorical maneuvers but a question of methodology. Ha-ha-ha-ha!
The conditions of art production in that context are not comparable with Western conditions. The lack of art institutions, contemporary art education and financial support for art created a very special atmosphere in Moscow art scene in the decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Contrary to Western artists who work within an industry of discourses inside institutions, post-Soviet artists still deal with self-made mythologies, personal phantasms and use just fragments of contemporary philosophical and aesthetic discourses. However, it doesn’t mean that they are independent or exist in an alternative way. They totally depend on local structures and a couple of curators and critics who have power. At the same time post-Soviet artists recognized that a real art career exists only on an international level. So they try to take their place in international art exhibitions and on the pages of art magazines. But they are very frustrated because their participation in the art world is extremely limited.
In contrary, Barbara Schurz comes from the highly institutionalized Viennese art scene. Austrian art institutions and artists were financially very much supported by the State. At least till recently because Austria was one of the last Social States in Europe. Besides state support there exists of course also art sponsoring. Like all international art world factions the Viennese scene is not monolithic, but consists of different divisions: they are more or less populist, more or less elitist … Austrian artists work within an discourse industry. It does not mean that they are deeply into philosophy or theory but it means that they are informed about theory through art magazines and discussions in art institutions. Of course art magazines and exhibitions just regulate and represent some discourses but do not work with them. Parts of the Viennese art scene also pretend on a critical approach in the tradition of institutional critique. But this critique is very subtle and mostly doesn’t come out of the white walls of galleries and Kunsthalle.
However we both can’t identify with our so-called original contexts. Moreover an essential part of our work was a critique or even an insurrection against these contexts. We simply attacked these contexts with eggs, flowers, bottles of ketchup, slaps, leaflets and graffiti* … Ha-ha-ha-ha! Both contexts force rules of a cultural game upon one, where artists, critics and curators are just functions of an administrative apparatus of cultural consensus. But we need to understand culture politically, as a battlefield, where an alternative political order emerges. In contrary, the art system understands culture as an opinion-, gossip- and information-exchange, which reproduces cultural reflection, playing games with their own reflexive perversions and obsessions. But as one poet said: “Poetry is war!” Ha-ha-ha-ha! Absolutely right. However, that does not mean that culture is reduced to the clash of two national armies, or two street gangs. No, this is about the necessity of a cultural revolution.
Let us start from the beginning. Socio-revolutionary cultural politics always take place outside of institutions. They are not formed and realized in the given apparatus of the capitalist state nor in institutions supporting this state, but rather in self-organized practices, in decentralized consolidations and micro-groups. These groups are autonomous and consciously opposed to all ‘dominant’ structures and mechanisms. It is in these micro-collectives that alternative forms of cultural production and local strategies of resistance against the hegemonic culture are conceived. Freedom from exploitation and oppression cannot take place in a bureaucratic form, not by means of the ruling system or its Power. Direct and practical participation is necessary and not just that of random members of the elite. Cultural revolution means that the people must form their own everyday lives. And even more importantly—a revolutionary politics is directed towards changing all societal structures and the political situation in general, and is not satisfied with partial changes or compromises. (This, by the way, does not mean that we are drivelling on about a ‘universal’ or ‘total’ revolution. We are merely affirming that it is of primary importance not to be satisfied simply with partial changes and personal improvements).
Revolutionary processes must take place especially within the dominant forms of work and divisions of labour as much as in the system of values in social relations and the so-called private sphere. The notion of culture, art and intellectual property must be re-examined, because capital, the state and Power do not behave as something external to subjects (among others to the so-called artists)—everything is saturated by this dynamic. Everything that people produce and reproduce, all of their relationships, intentions and thoughts. For that reason, cultural revolution does not simply mean the radical change of the macro-structure, but rather a revolution on the micro-level of being, on the level of individual wishes and dreams. Marx spoke of ‘changing the world’, Rimbaud of ‘changing life’. Both approaches are necessary now, but we add to that—everything must be changed down to the last atom.
Is that possible? Ha-ha-ha-ha!
However, one should not confuse the cultural revolution with the historic artistic avant-garde. The history of the avant-garde is a patriarchal story of fragmented and contextual attempts to overcome the capitalist logic of artistic production through radical individual or sectarianist gestures. As well a now necessary cultural revolution is not related to the old Maoist cultural revolution. Cultural revolution as we understand it is a self-organized political fight for new forms of existence, new forms of labour. Fight against capital!
Traditional strategies are not possible any more. Everything must be planned and thought out from the beginning. How else? Under the current circumstances of globalisation, exploitation and new global control is much more subtle and at the same time brutal, and social disjunction as well as the political organization of the oppressed has become even worse. Under these circumstances, liberation can not mean ‘modernization’ of the existent situation. Demonstrations against war do not help as well as texts like this one. On the contrary, only a radical and paradoxical activity can make it possible to organize everyday life and the work of the people from anew.
What means paradoxical activity? Not to hit the World Trade Centre, and not other super-spectacular actions, which are produced by power structures and some of their enemies. It is necessary to produce your own technologies of resistance! Ha-ha-ha-ha! Technologies of resistance? What is that? Well, it is the most elementary thing: the usage of methods employed in the struggle against power, the usage of means and techniques of cultural and political resistance. These technologies must be situative, specific and local, because universal situations don’t exist. They must work here and now, in concrete situations. Sometimes peaceful demonstrations are necessary, sometimes the building of barricades, sometimes it is necessary to throw stones and sometimes it is necessary to show your ass. Everyone must work on his or her own technologies or anti-technologies of resistance. This must be the culture and art, art and culture, culture and art, art and culture, culture and art in the current political situation. Now being an artist means nothing. Technologies of resistance are necessary!
Technologies of resistance means exactly the destruction of the ideological space of consensus, the space of the established cultural order, which is officially called art. Resistance in this way does not take place in the framework of existing social relations, but aim to change the given framework of ‘possible’ relations.
Technologies of resistance are therefore always ‘the art of the impossible’, ‘the art of destabilization’, as usual concepts of culture are destroyed and political alternatives become visible. Resistance is a risky moment in the stabile cultural environment, an enemy to the slavish reflex of obedience. It is a practice of de-situating; a refusal to the silent constraint of relations, which pretend to be eternal, necessary, natural facts. It is like speaking, when you are not asked to ... The scandal of the political takes place, when those excluded, reduced to silence the invisible rest beyond recognition stand up and refuse the names and places given to them by power. The public demonstration of their dissent, demands, and refusal are like a signal against the all encompassing logic of power networks, which want to make everybody think that there is no alternative to the existing ‘world order’.
As we are talking about a cultural revolution, it would be logical to assume that it should be created by the hands of today’s ‘cultural workers’—the artists, film-directors, actors, authors, philosophers, theoreticians and critics. But in the course of our search for revolutionary cultural workers, we have mostly only shrugged our shoulders and ground our teeth. Ha-ha-ha-ha! Today’s cultural workers are a herd of vain and coquette farters tamed by Power—and nothing more. At least half of them are in search of success, money and recognition from so-called experts and the mass-media. They dream of one day standing amongst the rows of the neo-liberal elite. They want to appear on the glossy pages of fashion magazines, right next to the models. Of course, it would be unfair to accuse all of these initiatives without exception … We repeat: Today’s cultural field is strongly fragmented … Within it are not only the successful, self-assured winners but also more or less unsatisfied, frustrated, doubting, thrown-out, depressed, lost and bitter and it is to them that we appeal … And not just to them, but also to those who have, through conscious effort, brought themselves into a good position and carefully follow the operations and manipulations from ‘within,’ waiting for the right moment to attack. We appeal to these double agents. And most of all, we appeal to those excluded from the neo-liberal game, to the immigrants, workers and children of the periphery … It is time to instigate and continue the cultural revolution! Instead of becoming capitalists!
And again: Now artists face two possible ways: either they make commodities for the capitalist art saloon or they produce technologies and anti-technologies of resistance. We understand art as a resistant activity. It is necessary to resist here and now, in your professional field, in your personal relations, in everyday life. These are well-known ideas, but nobody wants to realize it because it is extremely uncomfortable. But it is necessary!
Johnny Rotten is already rotten.
And they all fly for fun with a gun
Salman Rushdie is a pike and not writer.
And they all fly for fun with a gun
Raymond Pettibon is a fashionable fellow.
And they all fly for fun with a gun
Rod Stewart is an old donkey.
And they all fly for fun with a gun
Kim Gordon has bought a villa.
And they all fly for fun with a gun
Tom Cruise is a little bastard.
And they all fly for fun with a gun
Another work was an attack of the Belo Russian embassy in Moscow with ketchup bottles. At the time a bullshit international scandal took place. During some sport event American sportsmen entered the Belo Russian air space on a balloon and Byelorussia artillery shot them down. Both Americans died and then the Belo Russian authorities tried to cover this incident.
I’m not a fan of American sportsmen but I took three bottles of ketchup, invited journalists and started to throw the ketchup into the window of the Belo Russian embassy. Then I was beaten by a policemen and there was a trial but I have an Israeli passport and I escaped.
One of our key works was done in 1998 in Berlin. There still exists a part of the former Berlin Wall, which is now called “East Side Gallery”. It is not a simple wall. This wall is decorated with official commissioned graffiti. And it is a cultural memorial. But we don’t like memorials and what they stand for. The “East Side Gallery” symbolises the reunification of Germany. But you have to know that together with the reunification of Germany new borders emerged in Europe. And we wanted to make that visible. So we came to the East Side gallery and started to paint with grey colour over the graffiti. As well we stuck leaflets to the wall with the following content:
“This attempt to paint over the graffiti of the Berlin wall is a political gesture. It illustrates an obvious fact: the Berlin wall exists, not materially but as a symbolic border which separates the innate from the foreign, prosperity from poverty, ‘United Europe‘ from all ‘aliens‘. Still we exist in surroundings of primitive oppositions produced by power, despite all “deconstructions” of intellectual-artistic discourses. We do not believe in the effectiveness of these discourses anymore and therefore place this attempt of a physical action to declare our scepticism, resistance and non-subjection.”
After 15 minutes we were arrested. Later we had to pay a fine.
Another work we want to mention is an intervention at the press conference of Manifesta 3 in Ljubljana. We came to this new European Biennial with leaflets and spray cans. When the press conference started we kind of occupied the panel, sprayed a slogan on the huge screen, made noise and handed out leaflets. The slogan was: “Demolish neo-liberalist multicultural art system now!”
Bodyguards came and dragged us out of the hall. Three hours later we were arrested by Slovenian secret police in the streets. Ha-ha-ha-ha!