bankleer (Berlin)

bankleer* is karin kasböck and christoph leitner. using both documentary and fictional techniques we produce films, installations, performances and exhibitions on urbanity, the media, the economy and the politics of labor. through contextualized artistic interventions, we try to create an awareness of the growing influence of economic processes on public life. we have consistently worked the parallel between economic, political and media structures and physical games, athletics and fitness as a way to engage the 'body' in social critique. we integrate humor and empathy into the often heavy-handed and conceptually handicapped discourse of political art. in this way strong images, participation, and social awareness form an easily understood nexus of dissent.  www.bankleer.org

 

Performance:  „Sad Block Brass Band"

Saturday, 23.9., 11 a.m.

bankleer (Berlin)

Starting point: Hauptplatz around the fountain

4 hours funeral procession through the inner city of Graz

Finale: ca. 3 p.m, Forum Stadtpark

On the opening day a funeral procession accompanied by a professional brass band is marching through the City of Graz. The procession stops in front of places and institutions that stand for the failure of a utopia, where exclusion is being produced at the moment. A roadmap with information about the individual stations is published in the local media and handed out to passers-by during the procession.

 

>> Exhibition 23.09. - 15.10.2006

 

>> Lectures/ Presentations/ Panel

Sunday, 24.9., 12a.m. – 7 p.m.

Moderation: Marina Gržinić (Vienna /Ljubljana)

5.45 p.m. -7 p.m. Panel

NO SPACE IS INNOCENT!

bankleer (Berlin), Michal Blum (Vienna), Ursula Mayer (London/ Vienna), Artists Without Walls (Israel/ Palestine)

Starting from their own works the artists presented in the exhibition discuss whether there are still places which are surrounded by an aura of innocence.

 

Contribution in MALMOE 34

Reale Reste/ Real Remnants

The horror of the first zombie films, which consistently referred to the “voodoo cult”, differs from the one evoked by traditional creatures of horror such as witches, vampires and werewolves in that that zombies manifest a collective. Zombies always appear in groups and everybody runs the risk of becoming a zombie him- or herself. The appearance of the zombified in the western societies is a basic horror scenario: the return of non-functional barbarianism introduced by African slaves. In most of the zombie movies the colonial slave economy is only rarely directly addressed yet it is always present in the background in the creation of myths.

William Seabrock’s autobiographical Haiti travelogue The Magic Island, which was published in 1929, contributed to the propagation of the zombie myth. The book emerged in the sunset of the US occupation of Haiti and the film White Zombie (1932; directed by Victor Halprin) was based on it, the first zombie film of American cinema. The genre’s success in its early years is closely linked to the exotic cultural atmosphere of the Caribbean. Tropical islands, the jungle and the apparently pre-civilized enigmatic rites of voodoo generated suspense in the North American and European movie theaters. A magic-religious culture with dance rituals, demonic forces, human sacrifices and dark knowledge that was deemed overcome for ages. This zombie horror touches upon all the fears that can be repressed by enlightened and rational western thinking but can never be disposed of and opens up a fantastic, irrational and uncontrollable space. In White Zombie the zombies are held captive as working slaves from the netherworld by a white colonial exploiter and have to spend their days in endless drudgery – they touch upon the American fears of the time: the country found itself in the midst of the Great Depression with an unemployment rate of almost 25%. The zombies appeared as a startling vision from hell and an ironical reversal of the American hope for a job.

The zombie – an empty body envelope that acts like an automaton and is beyond all human appeal – is an outstandingly suitable materialization of collective horror. As a monstrous phenomenon the zombie is one of the young representatives of fictional horror and a mirror reflecting collective fantasies and fears. Its raw cadaver can be filled at one’s pleasure with various different manifestations of the monstrous. Whether personifying a nuclear worst case scenario, science-fiction horror, a bio weapon, workers reduced to objects or the excluded within the social texture – the zombie is always organized around an empty core. What it lacks is a soul/agalma, the innermost aspect of its being, and it is unable to fill this blank space without access. Driven by the blind authority of an endless instinct it turns into a monster that is not committed to any human laws anymore. The zombie represents the unintegratable, immortal rest, a perfect projection screen for the return of the repressed.

With the emergence of the zombie the uncanny field of the undead opens up. Here we have to deal with a zone “between the two deaths”, the zone between the symbolic and the real death: “The utmost antithesis of horror is this sudden emergence of life beyond death …”1 In this nightmarish in-between zone real contexts of meaning dissolve and new ones come into being, spaces split and borders shift. Fragments of the real blend with the ones of illusion and new fictions emanate from this. According to Lacan, the crossing of and making oneself familiar with this zone is an essential step to subjectivication and allows for the fundamental rearrangement of ones experience. As a “wiedergänger”[someone who raises from the dead] from this zone, the zombie introduces a virus, new meanings, fragments etc. to reality, which, in their turn, trigger off direct interventions into the real with which we have to deal with.

Western capitalist politics make every endeavor to avoid any encounter with this in-between zone, to mask it by means of idealization or to incorporate it into the unrestrained global capitalism. As the illusion of infinite growth is the main motor of all political economy, the obsession of all political and economical endeavors lies in the attempt to sustain this phantasm by hook or by crook. Death – as the signifier of the dirty/undemocratic downside of production – invalidates the smooth functioning of this illusion. It represents the absolute negation of infinite accumulation.

Today’s ‘postpolitics’ – where, rather than public debate and politicization, ideology-free ideas that work in the frame of global capitalism are in great demand – are even about the complete exclusion of such “wiedergängers of the repressed”. Yet, according to Jacques Rancière, real politics are the exact opposite of this, i.e. they have to include the political discourse on exclusion: “This identification of the non-part with the whole, the part of society that has no exactly determined place in it with the general public, is the elemental gesture of politicization.”2

But if the excluded without a fixed place in society indeed remain excluded, then, according to Žižek/Lacan, “the political returns to the Real in the shape of new nonfunctional atrocities.”3 Here Žižek speaks of the social excretion of a “ghostlike and insubstantial appearance on an interface and the raw body-residue of the Real.”4 This return to the Real with excessive and “nonfunctional” outbursts of violence is an integral part of the social condition of capitalism and shows its otherwise covered true colors.

Among current examples for this there are migrants, who try to reach Europe under perilous circumstances, disenfranchised workers in special economic zones outside state control, prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo held captive in a zone between the laws, or middle class youths freaking out. Here is one example: ”Police have solved the enigma of the corpse that has been found in the so called ‘Frühlinger Hölzl’ near Traunreut. It was no murder but an unbelievably brutal act of desecration of a dead body. A group of ten youths celebrated Walpurgis night in that forest and found the corpse of a suicide. Being considerably drunk at the late hour, they dragged the corpse away from the thicket where they had found him, bound it to a tree and blew upon the dead body with an iron bar and other objects.” (Traunreut, May 1, 2006, Passauer Neue Presse)

Our project REALE RESTE features the zombie as a “wiedergänger of the repressed”. It guides us through the phantasm of a functioning global capitalism and familiarizes us with its excessive/dirty downside. The footage was shot in the urban rubble and waste architecture of a derelict house in the center of Halle (D), in an estate of prefabricated houses ready for demolition and in a tropical leisure resort that had moved into a colossal investment ruin.

 

1 Slavoj Žižek, The Ticklish Subject, 2001.

2 Slavoj Žižek, The Puppet and the Dwarf, 2003.

3 Slavoj Žižek, The Ticklish Subject, 2001.

4 Slavoj Žižek, ibid.

 

Literature:

bankleer, reale reste. Berlin, 2005.

Rancière, Jacques, Disagreement: Politics And Philosophy. Minneapolis, 1998.