Tag Archives: Oliver Ressler

A World Where Many Worlds Fit (Sherbrooke, Canada)

A WORLD WHERE MANY WORLDS FIT
An exhibition on the counter-globalization movement

Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop’s University
Sherbrooke, Canada
January 27 to March 20, 2010
http://www.ubishops.ca/foreman/english/exhibitions/2009-2010/worlds/index.html

Artists: ATSA (Canada), Zanny Begg (Australia), Etcétera (Argentina), Petra Gerschner (Germany), John Jordan (England), Oliver Ressler (Austria), ®TMark (United States), Gregory Sholette (United States), Nuria Vila + Marcelo Expósito (Spain), Dmitry Vilensky (Russia)

Curated by Oliver Ressler

The trope “A World Where Many Worlds Fit” goes back to the Subcomandante Marcos, when talking about the Zapatistas’ struggles in the Lacandonian Rainforest in Mexico. Since their uprising in 1994 the Zapatistas have been fighting for a less-hierarchic autonomous world where more options exist for involvement in democratic decision-making processes. They fight against an existing world, which calls itself “democratic,” but should rather be seen as a form of sophisticated oligarchy that functions in favor of the interests of the political and economic elite. While the Mexican army and paramilitary mercenaries are brutally defending this exclusive world of the elite in Chiapas, in the part of the world where I am coming from (Austria/Europe) the stick that punishes people who envision another world is usually not so visible. But this can change suddenly in times when those in power assemble in the framework of the summits of World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, World Economic Forum or the G8. Though the decisions made by the politicians and business leaders at these meetings affect the lives of all people in the world, the negotiations take place hidden from the public gaze behind fences and ten-thousands of riot-police, becoming, therefore, a symbol for the undemocratic and illegitimate formation of global capitalism.

At each of these summits individual and collective singularities from all over the world come together to express that they – we – are opposed to this way of making decisions and ruling the world. These mobilizations against the summits form the movements’ most visible public appearance, movements that according to most narratives, originated at the 1999 protest against the World Trade Organization in Seattle. These articulated forms of resistance and protest in the center of capitalism, were strong enough to shut down the WTO summit in Seattle. Since 1999 this global movement has been showing up at each meeting of World Bank, IMF, WTO, WEF – unless, that is, the scared politicians decided to meet in the mountains, in deserts or in dictatorships in order to avoid the public manifestations of dissent at their summits. Even though this movement is the first that is truly globalized, it is usually being called counter-globalization movement. I prefer calling it the “movement of the movements.”

At the demonstrations, counter-summits and mass blockades many individuals and collectives come together: media activists, clown army, pink block, naked block, black block, anarchists, socialists, Trotskyists, members of ATTAC, human rights activists, feminists, migrants, indigenous people, artists, etc. All these singularities have their own images, banners, different public appearance and slogans, which not only represent something, but contribute to the creation of effective blockades and to the creation of a space. This space of representation is also a space for action that in the best cases spreads to other areas such as the local neighborhoods of the activists. This new social subject, sometimes referred to as “the multitude,” builds horizontally organized networks and has a radial transformation of society in mind.

The exhibition A World Where Many Worlds Fit at the Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke is based on a section I curated for the Taipei Biennial in 2008 that presents the global movement as the brilliant example of collective intelligence it is through a variety of artistic practices. The exhibition features the work of 10 artists that focus directly on the counter-globalization movement. All artists show a strong commitment to the social movement and do not position themselves as “neutral” in relation to the movement. Many of the works focus on one of the cities whose name has become shorthand for demonstrations, counter-summits and/or blockades: Seattle, Prague, Québec City, Genoa, Buenos Aires, Gleneagles, St. Petersburg or Heiligendamm.

For further information on the participating artists and images from the pervious exhibition at the Taipei Biennial 2008 please check:

http://www.ressler.at/a_world_where_many_worlds_fit/

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Filed under activism, art exhibitions, contemporary art, film and video, international affairs, leftist movements, political repression, protests

Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler: Comuna Under Construction (Film)

Comuna Under Construction | Comuna im Aufbau | Comuna en construcción  
A Film by Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler
94 min., 2010

First screenings:

Sala de Batalla Alicia Benitez, Petare (eje de Maca), Caracas (VEN), 18.01., 18:00 (with Dario Azzellini)

Bluestockings, New York (USA), February 1, 7 pm  (with Oliver Ressler) http://bluestockings.com

SEIU Local 1199, 310 West 43rd Street Auditorium (organized by Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle), New York (USA), February 2, 7 pm  (with Oliver Ressler) www.1199seiu.org

In addition, on February 3, 7:30 pm, Oliver Ressler’s film “What Is Democracy?” can be seen at 16 Beaver, New York; www.16beavergroup.org

Lichtblick-Kino, Berlin (D), starting 04.02.10 (exact times can soon be found at www.lichtblick-kino.org)

Check out the film online at:

http://www.ressler.at/comuna_under_construction/

“We have to decide for ourselves what we want. We are the ones who know about our needs and what is happening in our community”, Omayra Peréz explains confidently. She wants to convince her community, located on the hillside of the poor districts of Caracas, to found a Consejo Comunal (community council). In more than 30.000 Consejos Comunales the Venezuelan inhabitants decide on their concerns collectively via assemblies. Omayra is supported by the activists of the nearby shantytown “Emiliano Hernández”, which has had a Consejo Comunal for three years already. The inhabitants there managed to get a doctor from the governmental program “Barrio Adentro”, who treats everyone free of charge. They also got money to renovate their houses and replaced over a dozen of sheet iron huts by new houses. All of these activities and a lot more have been organized via the Consejo Comunal. By local self-organization from below several working groups have been established on self-decided topics and decisions are made in assemblies.

Several Consejos Comunales can form a Comuna and finally a communal town. The film “Comuna Under Construction” follows these developments throughout the hillside of the shantytowns of Caracas and the vast and wet plains of Barinas in the countryside. The councils are built from below and alongside the existing institutions and are supposed to overcome the existing state through self-government. In an assembly for the construction of the communal town “Antonio José de Sucre” Ramon Virigay from the independent peasant’s organization Frente Nacional Campesino Ezequiel Zamora (FNCEZ) reminds the delegates of the participating Consejos Comunales: “Even if we definitely need the government agencies at the moment, we have to be independent tomorrow due to our development. We cannot depend solely on the state forever.” For this reason the councils are to establish own structures of production and distribution in order to achieve autonomy.

The assemblies are a central element of the film “Comuna Under Construction”. The film starts off in the well organized Consejo Comunal Emiliano Hernández located in one of the shantytowns of Caracas. It then shows the intentions of forming Comunas and a communal town in rural Barinas and ends in Petare, a gigantic shantytown of the agglomeration of Caracas where there are 29 Consejos Comunales intending to build the Comuna of Maca.

Is it even possible to bring together state and autonomy? Every one of the Consejos Comunales spokes-persons has positive as well as negative experiences with the institutions in store to talk about. In an assembly in Petare the grass-roots activist Yusmeli Patiño blames a high government representative: “We are losing our credibility because of the incompetence of the state institutions”. But there are also members of the institutions who make a big effort to accompany the basis in making its own decisions. The relation between the basis and the institutions is marked by cooperation as well as conflict. But the Consejos Comunales also have internal difficulties; participation has to be learned.

Progresses as well as setbacks mark the difficult process of people actually taking the power of deciding on their own lives and environment by themselves.

Original Spanish version with German and English subtitles available.

Concept, film editing, production: Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler
Camera: Volkmar Geiblinger, Oliver Ressler
Sound, sound editing, supervisory editor: Rudi Gottsberger
Production assistant: Adriana Rivas
Image editing: Markus Koessl, David Grohe

Grants: Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur; Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien; Stiftung Umverteilen; Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung; Solifond der Hans Böckler Stiftung; Fraktion die Linke im EU-Parlament; Bundestagsfraktion die Linke; Netzwerk e.V.

Information & Contacts: www.azzellini.net | www.ressler.at

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Filed under film and video, urban movements (right to the city)

Blue-Collar Blues (Tallinn)

Blue-Collar Blues

Kunsthalle Tallinn & Gallery of Kunsthalle
December 22, 2009 – January 31, 2010

Exhibition opening: MONDAY, December 21 at 6 pm
Performing at the opening: Paul Cole & The Great Outdoors!!!

Artists: Art Center for Dismissed Employees, Francis Alÿs, Fahim Amir & Krõõt Juurak, Dario Azzellini & Oliver Ressler, Dénes Farkas, Vladan Jeremić & Rena Rädle, Johnson ja Johnson, Olga Jürgenson, Kennedy Browne, Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta, Marge Monko, Eléonore de Montesquiou , Santiago Sierra
Curator: Anders Härm

Give me a job, give me security
give me a chance to survive
I’m just a poor soul in the unemployment line
my god, I’m hardly alive

Styx, “Blue-Collar Man” (Long Nights), 1977

The direct and most immediate motivation for this exhibition is the new “more flexible” Employment Contracts Act that came into force on July 1st of this year, and the disputes revolving around it for the past two years. In the middle of November, the number of unemployed in the country with 1.3 million inhabitants rose above 100,000. At the same time, this law is a result of large-scale global processes, a symptom of systemic global neoliberalization. These processes, which have lasted for the last half century and are the focus of this exhibition, have resulted in changes in work relations, the nature of production and salaried labor as well as the economy as a whole. Labor issues affect everyone – if only indirectly – and therefore a direct relationship exists with them (as opposed to global cash flow movements or the real estate bubble related thereto). This is a topic in which class conflict break through the post-political haze and is articulated fervently, quite uncharacteristically of the administrative-political era. This is also occurring with increasing momentum in Estonia, where we are slowly overcoming the post-Soviet false shame related to trade unions, workers’ rights, etc. The time is ripe to talk about these topics! It’s time for Blue-Collar Blues.

Through symbolic gestures, direct actions, as well as relational projects, the Blue-Collar Blues exhibition attempts to give meaning to labor issues at a time that can rightfully be called global  capitalism’s greatest crisis. In the course of 20 years, we have become aware that we live in a world where attempts at governance are based on a combination of global “free market” dictatorship and neoliberalism as the only possible philosophy of life, where democracy has just become a hollow colloquial phrase. This is a world, where, on the one hand, a fatal end is predicted for work, while an attempt is being made to show the uncertainty and instability of the labor market as a positive challenge. This is a world where initiative and business are equated. Creativity is one of the favorite expressions of this new mutation of capitalism, which is required under conditions where any and all creativity is precluded. This is a world where every employment relationship may develop into something resembling slavery. This is capitalism without part-time work opportunities or social guarantees, where the employer’s expenditures for the workers are minimal, while the profits are maximal. This is a world that, despite resounding slogans and promises, has arrived at the most serious crisis of its existence.

Since labor issues are universal in some sense, being densely integrated under conditions of globalization, the geographic range of this exhibition is also broad, reaching from Latin America to Eastern Europe and from the Balkans to the Nordic countries. Naturally, those participating in the exhibition include great international names like Francis Alÿs and Santiago Sierra, Oliver Ressler and Kennedy Browne, as well as a large number of younger Estonian artists, whose works deal with these topics. All the Estonian artists are producing new works especially for this exhibition, which are motivated by local issues. The exhibition’s focus is on labor relations, the psychological and social changes caused by the changes in these relations, and the more general situation of workers under conditions of neoliberal capitalism.

Several additional events will also take place at the Kunsthalle during the exhibition. On Saturday, January 16th at 9 pm, a performance by Krõõt Juurak and Fahim Amir, entitled Autodomestication, will take place, which deals with the situation of “creative workers” in the labor market. Since Estonian trade unions, politicians and social scientists are involved in the exhibition project, in order to try and better understand labor issues, a seminar entitled “The Position of the Citizens in Labor Relations” will take place at the Kunsthalle on Friday, January 22nd at 12 noon. The main participants are political scientist Oudekki Loone and sociologist Marju Lauristin. The panelists include Harri Taliga, Tarmo Kriis, Eiki Nestor, Raul Eamets, Allar Jõks, and others. Within the framework of the exhibition, another event in the Porotfolio Café series will take on Saturday, January 30th at 12 noon, in which art students will be offered free consultations and feedback from international curators, and some of the artists that are participating in the exhibitions, such as Eleonore de Montesquiou, Tellervo and Oliver Kalleinen, as well as from older colleagues and Estonian specialists.

Press release prepared by:
Anders Härm
More information:
anders@kunstihoone.ee
www.kunstihoone.ee

We express our thanks to the following: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Center for Contemporary Art, Estonia, Art Museum of Estonia, Austrian Embassy in Tallinn, Irish Arts Council, Irish Embassy in Tallinn, Annemarie Reichen and the Peter Kilchmann Gallery in Zurich, Elena Crippa and Lisson Gallery in London, FRAME, Caoimhin Corrigan, Maria-Kristiina Soomre, Marko Stamenkovic.

Seminar is supported by  Open Estonia Foundation

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