A symposium on the silencing of colonialism, anti-Semitism, and contemporary turbo-fascist nationalism in Belgium, Austria, and former Yugoslavia.
The international and interdisciplinary symposium, open to public audiences, is built as a podium for research and exchange, dissemination of knowledge, and discussion.
The two-day-long symposium hosted invited speakers that cover the central topics of our research in the three respective territories: memory and history, archives, and the axis of power and knowledge. The general objective of the symposium was to denote gaps between processes of institutionalized silencing, hegemonic processes of oblivion and amnesia, and processes of instituting power through building counter-memory and counter-history projects, interventions, and resistance. The aim was to demonstrate how processes for the establishment of counter-memory and counter-history can open up spaces for new ways of forming radicalized constituent politics. Collective struggles and oppositionality were investigated as the basis of a possible dismantling of neoliberal and necrocapitalist societies by means of re-empowering history that crushes silences.
organized by Piotr Piotrowski Center for Research on East-Central European Art
The postsocialist and postcolonial conditions as features of a conceptualization of a “new” geography
The proposal is to rethink geography as a process that comes out from the post-1989. Why? At that moment we have the appearance of two conditions, of two posts that coincide largely speaking geographically in Europe and that can subsumed, according to David Harvey writings in the 1980s, as “urbanization of capital and urbanization of consciousness.” This double process is vital to capitalism’s survival as a dominant mode of production and consumption. Let’s state that this urbanization is a perverse cosmopitanism that Piotr Piotrowski (Piotrowski, “From the international to the Cosmopolitan” (2012)), sees as the possible approach to East and Central Europe today. Therefore my proposal claims that geography can better be captured as the joint process of these two conditions postsocialist and postcolonial than divisions we used for the last decades in the former Eastern European context: East-West, center-periphery, etc. As well the question that we will enter is how the postcolonial enters the post-socialist of the East-Central Europe geography of today. My question is how these traumatic nodal points produced, executed and governed by and within Europe transform the perception of art, geography, topography, memory and history in the present moment. The elaboration is based on the new insights provided by the research project I am in charge at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna with the title “Genealogy of Amnesia: Rethinking the Past for a New Future of Conviviality” (funded through the Programme for Arts-based Research (PEEK), inside the FWF, Austrian Science Fund, in the period from 2018 to 2020).
Images with violent content are always historical, as what is seen as violent is constructed and is violently managed; therefore nothing is natural in relation to violence. What will be defined as violent is always an outcome of violent hegemonic processes. Seeing images of killings can provoke our rebellion and our insurgencies, unless we are paralyzed by our normativized occidental lives. Europe and the global neoliberal capitalist system in general are well attuned to the hierarchization, control, and management processes of the present neoliberal capitalist states. Especially under attack are migrants and all those not considered to be “natural” parts of the neoliberal capitalist national body in the West: asylum-seekers and refugees escaping war-torn parts of the global world (the Middle East, Africa), from conflicts induced by capital and imperial management.
On the other side and at the same time, we can see, for example, the last election campaign in Austria, with posters by the Freedom Party (FPÖ) containing blatantly racist and fascist slogans and images. My interest is to connect racism with visual narratives, “trophy” artifacts, and culture. I will look at racism from a historical perspective, showing a horrifying trajectory of structural racism that reproduces itself almost always circularly from a pseudoscientific (biological) racism, “progressing” toward “cultural racism” to “return” again to “scientific racism,” though then coined “intellectual racism.”
Marina Grzinic and Adla Isanovic, Memory and History and the Act of De-Historicisation
June 28, 2018
Three-Day Conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 27-29.6.2018, Ruins, Remains, and Reconstructions
In the time of neoliberal global necrocapitalism we are increasingly confronted with a political and social amnesia that profits from the forced erasure of the past producing more and more processes of de-historicisation and de-politicisation. Central to these processes is the logic of (neoliberal) repetition that produces at least two different procedures of de-historicisation. On one side we have the logic of the neoliberal Western world that works as a pure trans-historical machine, and on the other, in the regions of the (former) East and in the South of Europe as well as in the zone of “Western Balkan,” we detect forced techniques of embracing historicisation as totalization. In both cases the result is a suspension of history that works with a primary intention to dispose of any alternative within it! The idea of the lecture is therefore to provide at first the conceptualization of the main notions, to what will follow the elaboration of some selected examples. Through the analysis of examples these processes will be defined on a much wider scale in order to see their political, social and cultural consequences.
Therefore, after the first part elaborated by Grzinic, Isanovic will continue with critically reflecting on some concrete examples, such as the events organized to mark the centenary of the First World War in Sarajevo in 2014, in order to elaborate not only on silences about the past (such as the WWI, the 1990s’ war crimes and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc.) and the misery of the present, but primarily, to contextualize and repoliticize current practices and forms of knowledge production and of visibility, both in relation to local specificities and global phenomena. This includes also a reflection on tactics of de-historicisation and humanitarianism. Therefore, such “exemplary” acts of remembering / forgetting are approached as a symptom of the effect of the current state of necrocapitalism, its practices of coloniality and racialization. More precisely, the dominant and systematic de-contextualization, de-historicisation and de-politicisation of racism, and cultures of remembrance, are in service of the normalization of death, the ongoing coloniality and growing fascist elements of politics that are at the core of the global neoliberal governmentality today.
The presentation will as well incorporate some new insights provided by the research project at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna with the title “Genealogy of Amnesia: Rethinking the Past for a New Future of Conviviality” (funded through the Programme for Arts-based Research (PEEK), inside the FWF, Austrian Science Fund, in the period from 2018 to 2020). Grzinic is the leading and Adla Isanovic is the affiliated researcher to this research project.
Marina Grzinic is a philosopher, theoretician and artist from Ljubljana, Slovenia. She serves as a professor and research adviser. Since 2003, she is Professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria. She publishes extensively, lectures worldwide, and is involved in videofilm productions since 1982. Selection of books: M. Grzinic and Rosa Reitsamer, New feminism: worlds of feminism, queer and networking conditions, Vienna: Löcker, 2008; M. Grzinic and Sefik Tatlic, Necropolitics, Racialization, and Global Capitalism. Historicization of Biopolitics and Forensics of Politics, Art, and Life, US: Lexington books, 2014; M. Grzinic, ed. Border Thinking, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Sternberg Press, 2018.http://grzinic-smid.si
Adla Isanović, is an artist and researcher who lives and works in Sarajevo. Currently, she is an associate professor at the Academy of Fine Arts of the University in Sarajevo, where she teaches multimedia. She holds a PhD from the Postgraduate School ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana, Slovenia (doctoral program Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures) where she finished her doctoral thesis on the theme of databases and art in the function of knowledge production in the digital age. She completed MA in “New Media” and MA in Research-Based Postgraduate Program “Critical, Curatorial, Cybermedia Studies” at the Geneva University of Arts and Design, Switzerland. She did her undergraduate studies at the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of Sarajevo. Her previous engagements include work as a researcher at Mediacentar Sarajevo, as well as being a visiting lecturer at the International University Sarajevo, the Academy of Performing Arts Sarajevo, the School of Arts of the University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia and Gray’s School of Art of the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.
This workshop is envisioned as a conversation that leads toward consultation and education on the proposed topic. It unites a selected group of theorists, researchers and activists in order to exchange different positions of knowledge and interpretations on the proposed topic. The workshop will elaborate on issues of the construction of national identity in Serbia and “Republika Srpska” in the post-socialist era. These issues are based on several relations: the past and present negation of war crimes committed by the regime of Slobodan Milošević’s; the wider effect of historical revisionism; the link(s) between these processes and the suppression of social struggle based on the class issues in the region. Additionally, the workshop focuses on the analysis of the correlation between these and similar processes that are at work in Western Europe in relation to the negation of the colonial past and the lack of confrontation with the Nazi past. The workshop therefore aims to detect and/or decode those common denominators that are forming institutional, ideological and epistemic paradigms in order to halt or suspend thinking on the future of conviviality in the region and Europe.
Ana Isaković has been the archive editor, project coordinator and theatre production organizer at the Center for Cultural Decontamination since April 2011. She used to work as project coordinator and theatre production organizer of the Heartefact Foundation. She wrote for the web portal e-Novine (articles, theatre and art critique, interviews), she worked as a translator, correspondent and sales manager for the company “Dragačevac promet,” she was assistant project coordinator for the NGO CEDEUM (Center for Drama in Education and Art); from February 2006 until June 2007 she worked as an English teacher at the foreign language school INTRANET. She worked as a theatre critic for the monthly magazine “MAGAZIN 011,” organizer at the puppet theatre “Pinocchio,” secretary of directing in the play „Kuku Todore“ by Dragoslav Todorović; assistant organizer of the Meeting of Professional Puppet Theatres of Serbia. She was also a journalist for the cultural section of the magazine “Beorama.”
Nebojša Milikić is cultural worker and producer, researcher and activist, lives and works in Belgrade, Serbia. Studied and worked at the Institute for Regional Geology and Paleontology in Belgrade, attended The School of History and Theory of Image of the Centre for Contemporary Art Belgrade) and The Queer Studies at The Center for Queer Studies, Belgrade. Since 1995, he is involved in political activism, organizational, artistic and curatorial practice in visual and relational arts. Initiated, realized or co-realized many cultural and artistic programs and projects, in Serbia and abroad. He participated in a number of independent research projects and activist campaigns. Milikić writes about cultural and artistic production, political and ideological topics. From 1999 onward works in Cultural Center Rex in Belgrade, as the initiator and coordinator of the debate programs and the programs of democratization and decentralization of culture. One of the founders of the non-governmental cultural organization ReEX, dedicated to struggle against historical revisionism and negationism.
Aleksandra Sekulić—PhD candidate at Faculty of Media and Communication at the department of Theory of Art and Media. MA in Cultural management and cultural policy in the Balkans, UNESCO Chair, University of Arts, Belgrade and Universite Lumiere Lyon 2. Graduated in General Literature and Theory of Literature in Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade. Program director at the Center for Cultural Decontamination (CZKD) in Belgrade since 2010. Initiator and co-editor (with Lazar Bodroza and Radovan Popović) of the project The Invisible Comics in cooperation with National Library of Serbia and Metaklinika Studio, consisting of the digital archive of alternative comics in Serbia, the publication The Invisible Comics – Alternative comics in Serbia 1980-2010 and the exhibition at Leipzig Book Fair in the Pavillion of Serbia. Together with Branka Benčić, she curated exhibitions “Video, Television, Anticipation” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade (2013) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb (2014). Since 2006, she is member of the archive and program platform Media Archaeology. Since 2001 member of Kosmoplovci group (digital arts, music, film, alternative comics), and with whom she established the online platform Altarchive.org, online archive of alternative film and video. Editor of books: Performing The Museum—A Reader (2016). Co-ed. with Dušan Grlja, Videography of the Region (2009), Media Archaeology: The Nineties (2009), and more.
MONIQUE MBEKA PHOBA will present an overview of her 17 masterclasses on the
subject of the taboo of colonization in the Belgian cinema of the last 40 years. The
masterclasses have been presented from 2015 to 2017 in a quite various places: festivals, training institutes as cultural or associative centers (Brussels African Film Festival / FIFAB, BOZAR, Pier 10, women’s film festival, “They spin,” BE-PAX, Point-Culture, Pianofabriek, Ghent Sint-Luca Art Institute, Mission Local of Molenbeek, ULB, Congolese associations etc.).
LAURA NSENGIYUMVA will talk about her project PeopL. This work addresses the figure of Leopold II in the public space of Brussels. And more generally, she refers to his phantasmagorical presence in the Belgian consciousness: in official celebrations, in folklore, in language (he is seen as the king “Builder”). The figure of the King Leopold II becomes theinstrument of a biased patriotism. The king becomes “Builder,” despite the immense destruction of which he was the author. He is the figure of a cynical patriotism, which cannot function without a cruel but indispensable blindness. The project aims to the decolonization of the public space.
WOMBA KONGA known by his artist name PITCHO will present 2 projects: a multidisciplinary festival “Congolisation” and his latest theater/perfomative play with the title “Kuzikiliza.” The term Congolisation is a contraction of the words “Congo” and “Colonisation.” The idea of the festival is to focus on the contribution of the Congolese diaspora in the Belgium cultural landscape. The theater/performance play “Kuzikiliza” that translates in Swahili as “to be heard”—is a plurilingual and interdisciplinary performance that makes communication and its mechanisms to vacillate. Pitcho Womba Konga in this play departs from Patrice Lumumba’s speech at the ceremony of the Proclamation of the Congo’s Independence on June 30, 1960. Pitcho exposes the actuality of Lumumba’s speech today and questions how to reconcile past and present, while the process of decolonization is still fully underway.
A series of three lectures by Marina Grzinic and Sophie Uitz is held during the summer term 2018 at the Post-Conceptual Art Practices study programme (Vienna Academy of Fine Arts). Each of the lecture includes a screening of documentary film and introduces one of the three research territories of the “Genealogy of Amnesa” to the students.
Part I Belgian Colonialism in the Congo
23 April 2018, 4-7 PM
Presentation of the research project “Genealogy of Amnesia: Rethinking the Past for a New Future of Conviviality”, by Marina Grzinic and Sophie Uitz.
Introduction, screening and discussion of “King Leopold’s Ghost” (2006, 108min, documentary) by Pippa Scott and Oreet Rees – a documentary about the exploitation of the Congo by King Leopold II of Belgium, based on the book by Adam Hochschild King Leopold Ghost from 1998.
Part II The Yugoslavian War
14 May 2018, 4-7 PM
Introduction, screening and discussion of Valentini Areh’s documentary “Radovan Karadzic’s Secret Plans” (2016, 51min, documentary for television).
The TV film shows newly retrieved materials and accounts obtained at the trial of Radovan Daradzic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Hague Tribunal. The documentary was premiered two days before the final sentence to Karadzic at the Haag Tribunal, 24 March 2016. Karadzic was sentenced to fourty years for Srebrenica genocide in BiH, Amont other criminal acts.
Valentin Areh is a Slovenian journalist, war correspondent and writer. He participated in 1991 as a soldier in the short Slovenian war for independence. He subsequently attended Ljubljana University, studying history and sociology. Areh has fiftenn years of experience as a war correspondent in places such as Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was one of the few journalists to remain in Kosovo during the Kosovo War of 1999 and he survived a tortuous escape out of the country during NATO’s war to expel Serbian forces.
Part III Remembrance and oblivion of Nazi crimes in Austria
4 June 2018, 4-7 PM
Screening of “Night and Fog” (French original title: Nuit et brouillard; 1956, 32min, documentary short film). Directed by Alain Resnais, it was made ten years after the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. The title is taken from the notorious “Nacht und Nebel” (German for “Night and Fog”) program of abductions and disappearances decreed by the Nazis on 7 December 1941.
Screening of “East of War” (German original title: Jenseits des Krieges; 1996), a film by Ruth Beckermann (cinematography Peter Roehsler, editing Gertraud Luschützky).
White-tiled rooms, neon lighting; on the walls black and white photographs documenting the atrocities committed by the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front in WW2. Against this background former soldiers talk about their experiences beyond the bounds of “normal” warfare. An uncompromising film on remembrance and oblivion. Ruth Beckermann’s film doesn’t duplicate the exhibition, but begins where it ends: in a commentary. Its subject-matter is less about history than remembering, less about the past than the present.
The images and chronologies in these displayed materials are coming from the catalogue/publication Words Precede Actions with the subtitle The Context of Language, Racism, Economy and Power by Marika Schmiedt published in 2018 that displays racist genealogies of discrimination and the ghettoization of the Roma people in the West and East of Europe.
One part of her analysis consists of the research of racism, linking them to histories of the relationship between race and physical anthropology. As “racist scientific results” are used in sorting and exposing bones and crania collections in the museum. This takes us via Schmiedt to the Natural History Museum (NHM) in Vienna that has one of the biggest crania collections, assembled by the Austrian anthropologist Augustin Weisbach (1837–1914) in the second half of the nineteenth century in Europe. The anthropological collection at the Natural History Museum in Vienna includes 40,000 objects, human remains, including skulls, bones, hair, and body drains. The collection mostly contains relics from historical and prehistoric times, but also problematic chapters of human remains that mark colonial and National Socialist times.
The other part presents a gallery of “skeletons of important Austrian men” falling out of the closet of Austrian history. All these men are not solely vicious racists, having programmatic anti-Romaism agendas, but they are all anti-Semites:
Albert Geßmann (1852–1920)
Karl Lueger (1844–1910),
Josef Weinheber (1892–1945)
Taras Borodajkewycz (1902‒1984)
Josef Weinheber (1892 – 1945) a “respected” Austrian man, poet and essayist, who was largely under the literary influences of Rainer Maria Rilke, Anton Wildgans and Karl Kraus, was a member of the Nazi Party from 1931 until 1933 and from 1944 on. He committed at the time of the advance of the Red Army, leaving behind a clear-sighted parting letter. He was buried in the village of Kirchstetten, Austria, where he had lived since 1936. The municipality and the citizens of Kirchstetten, have honored for years the “great poet” Weinheber by transforming his house into a museum, dedicating a street, a square and a highway bridge in his name, decided to name a kindergarten in his honor. (From the text by Marina Grzinic in Words Precede Actions, 2018).
Lecture and introduction to Marika Schmiedt’s catalogue
by Marina Grzinic
[…] Words precede actions: language, words, and discourses have a powerful impact on concrete social issues, political decisions, media content, knowledge institutions, labor markets, the shaping of histories, memories, and subjectivities and defining of citizenship. Through mass media, public opinions, and widespread anti-Roma graffiti in public space, words have set in motion actions of constant dehumanization of the Roma, leading their conditions of poverty, segregation, and seclusion to become part of another rhetoric – the rhetoric of naturalization of these conditions. We can find at least three forms of displaying these processes of racialization in Schmiedt’s work. The second form that is as well central to the research Genealogies of amnesia displays mechanisms that I will label the gallery of “skeletons of important Austrian men” falling out of the closet of Austrian history. All these men, we are soon to learn, almost dumbstruck, are not solely vicious racists, having programmatic anti-Romaism agendas, but are all anti-Semites. Reviewing this frightening collection of men, which is by no means exclusively historical, but instead, reverberates persistently in present times, identified by generations of critical positions in Austria as the nation’s post-Nazi times. This past is preoccupying as hyper right wing neoliberal necrocapitalism is at its full power here and now.
The catalogue presentation at the VBKÖ was contextualized by an exhibition of Marika Schmiedt’s recent investigations on the Nazi-past of the Vereinigung bildender Künstlerinnen Österreichs (VBKÖ).
In the time of neoliberal global necrocapitalism we are increasingly confronted with a political and social amnesia that profits without the past, producing more and more processes of de-historicization and de-politicisation. Central to these processes is the logic of (neoliberal) repetition that produces at least two different procedures of (de)historicization. On one side we have the logic of the neoliberal Western world that works as a pure trans-historical machine, and on the other, in the East and in the South of Europe, we detect forced techniques of embracing historicization as totalization. In both cases the result is a suspension of history that works with a primary intention to dispose of any alternative within it! My idea is to provide some examples, and, more, to try to define these processes on a much wider scale in order to see their political, social and cultural consequences.
The presentation is based on the new insights provided by the research project I am in charge of at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, with the title “Genealogy of Amnesia: Rethinking the Past for a New Future of Conviviality” (funded through the Programme for Arts-based Research PEEK, by the FWF, Austrian Science Fund, in the period from 2018 to 2020).