— Delphine Bedel

Show: Disobedience

An ongoing  video library. 13 January- 27 February 2005
Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien
& PLAY Gallery, Berlin
Curated by Marco Scotini
Installation views

Delphine Bedel, Franco  Berardi Bifo, Bernadette Corporation, David Best, Black Audio Film Collective,  Jota Castro, Critical Art Ensemble, Alberto Grifi, Guerrillavision, Makrolab,  Gianni Motti, Park Fiction, Radek Community, Oliver Ressler, The Yes  Men, Tute Bianche, Ultra-red, Videoteppisti, Paolo Virno, Wayruro…

Disobedience is an exhibition  and a study on the relationship between artistic practice and civil disobedience.  It developed from a co-operation between PLAY gallery for still and motion pictures, transmediale 05 and the Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien. Conceived  as a heterogeneous and constantly changing archive, the project is understood  as a guide to the geographies of civil disobedience: from the social struggles  in Italy in the year 1977 to the recent globalisation protests before and  after Seattle. The project is also an atlas of the plurality of resistance  tactics: from direct action and counter information to biological disobedience.  By setting different signs and situations in motion, Disobedience is presented  as a network of open topics, brought together by artists, activists, film  producers, philosophers and political groups.

Interventionists, activists and media collectives are all over the world  working through the medium of exhibitions, while artists go out into  the streets and – by betraying the visual for the action – produce public  forums, activist campaigns as well a symbols and mechanisms of protest. Some talk of a return to the political art of the seventies, others of  an “ambiguous” return. Martha Rosler recommends re-reading  Adorno as deterrent against a drift towards a mainstream phenomenon.  Steve Kurtz, of the collective Critical Art Ensemble (CAE), was arrested  by the FBI as a suspected bio-terrorist. Is the post-Seattle-movement  thus only a remake (although in online version) of the past? Can the  problems still be the same, after the socialist framework has disappeared  and we have totally different ways of production in post-Fordian times? … if  it is no longer possible, to retain a clear separation between intellectual  production, political action and culture? … if it is nearly inconceivable  to differentiate work from other human activities?

The goal of Disobedience, to create a common space for artistic production  and for political action, means to grasp that society itself is changing,  and with it the language it produces as a political subject and as a  media object. The construction of images is what defines the strata of social relationships in our societies and, as Debord calls it, what makes  appear as united what already exists in separate form. The direct intervention  of a political grassroots activism – the call for change as well as the  possibility to achieve consent – is always measured for its ability  to break existing political structures, to point out new ways for practicing  the public realm, to create non traditional forms of political intervention  and to configure new antagonisms and forms of disagreement.

The decision for directing the attention towards civil disobedience  has however another reason. Paolo Virno for example defined civil disobedience  as the “basic form of political action by the multitude”. Outside  the liberal tradition, in which this civil disobedience by the multitude  has formed since Thoreau, and also far removed from the will to have  it constitutionalized – as Hannah Arendt wanted it -, civil disobedience  cannot agree with the state, and has to query its authority. If civil  disobedience is not limited to violation, defection demands an affirming  attitude towards our potential to produce images for communication etc.  by generalizing what has traditionally been artistic practice.

Disobedience presents itself as an expanded cartography of conflict  and as a network of contemporary activism. The course of the exhibition  runs through ten rooms in the two spaces of Play Gallery and Kunstraum  Kreuzberg/Bethanien. Each room is the autonomous part of a central platform  with an historic character and contains a collection of original material  from the 77 movements in Italy. An information area contains books, flyers,  magazines and posters from and about the seventies, and inscribed on  a time-line the main events from 1976 to 1978: From the Parco Lambro  demonstration in Milan, filmed by Alberto Grifi, up to the expulsion  from the University of Rome of the trade union leader Luciano Lama and  the events in Bologna, which were documented by Italian video activists.

The exhibition is also concerned with the relationship between art and  activism of the post-communist era in Eastern Europe, with the world-wide  movement against neo-liberalism (from the crisis in Argentina to the  G8-summit), the occupation of public spaces, the calls for a social housing  policy, the struggle for civil rights as well as with culture-jamming  practices. Much attention is paid to those forms, which see the most  important expression of civil disobedience in this time of post-Fordism  in the ‘exodus’ and in the ‘exit’ (according to the definitions of Albert  O. Hirschman): Forms of self organization, alternative production processes,  constituting practices.

Disobedience was conceived as long-term project that therefore can only  be presented as an incomplete and provisional archive.

play_gallery for still and motion pictures
hannoversche strasse 1, D-10115 Berlin. t+49-30-2345 5753
Opening hours: Tue-Sat, 12 – 7pm