an ongoingvideo archive

a project by Marco Scotini


From reaching Heiligendamm

An Interview with Oliver Ressler - Marc James Léger

Oliver Ressler lives and works in Vienna, Austria.  His projects for public spaces and videos address issues such as racism, genetic engineering, global capitalism, forms of political resistance and social alternatives.  His ongoing project Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies (2003-2007) was produced 21 times, including solo-exhibitions in Ljubljana, Lüneburg, Istanbul, Madrid and Belgrade.
Many of Ressler's works are realized as collaborations.  Among these are European Corrections Corporation (2003-2004) with Martin Krenn and Boom! (2001-2006) with David Thorne.  Together with the political analyst Dario Azzellini he produced the films Venezuela from Below (2004) and 5 Factories–Worker Control in Venezuela (2006), a 6-channel video installation that was presented at the Berkeley Art Museum, USA.  Ressler's films are presented in cinemas, art exhibitions and film festivals.  In 2002 his video This is what democracy looks like! (2002) won the first prize of the International Media Art Award of the ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe.  His project Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies is soon to be published in book form by the Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk, Poland.
In 2007 Ressler was a participant in the International Art Project HOLY DAMN IT: 50,000 posters against G8.  This affinity group assembled ten artists and artist groups who produced posters to be distributed for free among groups mobilizing against the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany (June 6-8, 2007), and for lead-up demonstrations in Hamburg and Rostock.  Proceeds from the sale of a limited number of copies were reserved for legal aid to arrested demonstrators.  On this same occasion, artists committed to the de-escalation of antagonism between protesters and police participated in a group exhibition titled Art Goes Heiligendamm, Art Goes Public, a curatorial project organized by Adrienne Goehler for the city of Rostock (May 24-June 9, 2007).  In the context of increased police intimidation and defamation campaigns against global resistance movements in Germany, HOLY DAMN IT refused to participate in this exhibition and publicly criticized its legitimization of G8 politics.  I interviewed Oliver Ressler about his collaboration with HOLY DAMN IT in June of 2007.

Marc James Léger:  How did the artists and artist groups come together for this collaboration?  Did you form in response to Art Goes Heiligendamm?

Oliver Ressler:  The initial idea for HOLY DAMN IT came from Petra Gerschner and Michael Backmund.  They proposed the production of a series of posters as an artistic intervention to be used in the course of the mobilization against the G8.  The first meeting took place in September 2006 in Graz, Austria, on the occasion of an exhibition in the Forum Stadtpark.  Five of the ten artists/groups who would eventually produce one poster each participated in this meeting.  From that point on we were all of us invested in making the project possible.  We proposed other participants, raised some money, created the webpage and tried to build a network of exhibition and presentation sites in order to distribute the posters as widely as possible with our limited budget.
When we started organizing HOLY DAMN IT there was no information available about Art Goes Heiligendamm – neither on my part nor from any other person involved.  We had a dispute after dissatisfying email conversations with the organizers of Art Goes Heiligendamm, who offered to present the ten posters.  When we realized that they were not interested in discussing the problematic political aims of their project with us, we decided to make our contrasting political agendas public.

ML:  Art Goes Heiligendamm's proposed “third way,” not to mention its stated motifs of “intercultural communication” and “cultural translation” seem like laudable goals.  At the same time, these themes, which are very academically respectable, seemed to almost naively return to a moralistic argument that the two sides do not represent good and evil, black and white, thus setting up a simple dichotomy to "deconstruct" as one wishes.  But the problem is not so simple considering that the conditions in which the questions themselves can be posed are so heavily weighted by the discourse of neoliberal global capitalism.  Tell me more about your collective response to the premises of Art Goes Heiligendamm.

OR:  The project description on the Art Goes Heiligendamm webpage and the interviews with the curator Adrienne Goehler make it obvious that they seek to functionalize art in order to mediate between the conflicting parties gathered around the G8 summit.  The instrumentalization of art is nothing particular new, but what really disturbed me was the number of interesting politicized artists who accepted the invitation to participate in such a project.  While in Rostock and Heiligendamm, I spent my time at the blockades and demonstrations against the G8, which are a great example of collective intelligence.  My experiences were so intense and rich during the week I was there that I did not want to spend my time visiting a show like Art Goes Heiligendamm.
While my knowledge about the exhibition mainly comes from the webpage, I assumed that there was no real need to see a show whose subtitle, “Art interventions on the occasion of the G8 summit 2007,” already brings the failure of the curatorial concept to the point.  How can you talk about an intervention when your show is located in an old shipyard building, which is 30 or 40 kilometers away from the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, and while at the same time more than 10,000 activists managed to delegitimize the official summit directly with three days of blockades in the banned “red zone”?
Sometimes I think it is necessary to express precisely what side you are on.  Concerning the struggle between the movement and the G8 and their neoliberal politics of exclusion, I think that the majority of cultural workers are on the side of the movement and don’t have to look for “third ways.”  I think that in certain cases polarization is necessary in order to make visible different political viewpoints and ideals.  Those people who don’t want to express “yes” or “no” – to the G8 in particular or the hegemonic system of power in general – de facto contribute to the continuation of the present conditions.

ML:  I want to get back to some of these points, but first I would like to know more about your critique of Art Goes Heiligendamm.  It was proposed that participants in HOLY DAMN IT would give presentations at various institutions that “operate in between art and politics.”  Aside from the poster project, which you could not show in the context of an exhibition dedicated to “de-escalating” oppositionality, it seems that this was the way that you decided to respond to the contradictions that became apparent between these two art-based initiatives.  What points did you discuss concerning the motifs of artistic intervention?  What kinds of response did you get?

OR:  You really over-estimate the role of Art Goes Heiligendamm in the unfolding of HOLY DAMN IT.  The parameters of our project were already defined before we got their invitation.  The 50,000 HOLY DAMN IT posters were presented and distributed for free in a variety of different places like museums, non-profit art spaces, cultural centers, youth centers, universities, bookshops, bars and at political events in several European cities.  Where it was possible someone from the team gave a presentation, and when it was not possible the posters were simply presented with an invitation to the audience to take them away for free.  In many cases we contacted these places in order to present the posters, but as soon as the project was better known we also received invitations to present the project in specific cities.  The format of the poster made it possible to reach many different people; all ten posters also indicated the webpage which is linked to the most important web pages mobilizing against the G8.  Of course a project such as HOLY DAMN IT has interventionist aspects.  For example, Marina Grzinic used one of the central slogans of “Block G8” for her poster: Move. Block. Remain.  Such a piece of art directly supports the blockades, which is of course a completely different approach from the de-escalation concept of Art Goes Heiligendamm.

ML:  Among other things, the HOLY DAMN IT website mentions that “the project deals with the power of global image (re-)production within capitalism.”  What were your specific concerns here?

OR:  I didn’t write this sentence, but I assume it means that some artists relate their posters to existing images, which are being used with a very particular intention by corporate media.  For example Petra Gerschner’s poster is based on a well-known image from a burning police car from the G8 protests in Genoa, a category of images that are typically used by mainstream media as evidence for the violence of the protestors and therefore of the illegitimacy of the protests in general.  Petra frames this photographic image in a very interesting way, first with a golden picture frame, which presents the image like a valuable painting, and second through the presentation of the framed image on the wall of a run-down living room.  At the bottom of the poster the sentence “history is a work in process” can be read.  Petra not only transfers the existing image into another presentation context, freeing it from the reactionary media discourse of violence it is usually related to, but also suggests a critical reading of the events in Genoa 2001 as a possible step towards a new society – and not evidence of violence.

ML:  Tell me about the poster distribution campaign itself.  Were you in close contact with other affinity groups?

OR:  Individuals and groups had the possibility to order the posters for free form our webpage.  Petra Gerschner and Michael Backmund were in very close contact with a variety of different organizations and affinity groups.  They participated in several coordinating meetings for the mobilization and political conferences against the G8 summit, and also used these opportunities to spread information about our project and to make the posters available to thousands of people.  I think that HOLY DAMN IT can really be seen as a kind of embedded art project, a part of the mobilization, and not as a project that simply deals with the issues.  The widespread awareness of our project within the movement also led to the use of our poster images in many of the left magazines and leaflets mobilizing against the G8.  They used the HOLY DAMN IT posters as images to be printed along with texts.  Many activists and groups ordered posters from our webpage and distributed them.  Through these different strategies, we reached a circulation of more than 100,000.  In addition there were numerous publications of our posters in left or liberal daily, weekly and monthly magazines, for example, PUBLIK, the largest union newspaper of the German union ver.di.

ML:  You previously mentioned that you think that the majority of cultural workers are on the side of the movement.  I think that is maybe true.  I would say that the field is highly hegemonized, with all of the ambivalence and over-determinations that that entails – you know, the Althusserian view that the division of labor is structured like a language.  Many cultural workers, especially those who have been reared on postmodern discourse, identity politics and poststructuralism, consider themselves to be “beyond left and right,” beyond notions of political unity.  It seems to me that many art world people do support the goals of the movement, and just as many react to the kinds of identification that are associated with protest activity.  In many cases, intellectuals are more concerned with sign value and symbolic exchange.  It's like the idea that Courbet sides with the worker by working as a painter; the “creative intellectual class” sides with the movement, but by doing their cultural work.
Also, the kind of oppositionality that you are talking about is clearly anti-capitalist. While many are against militarization, human rights abuses, environmental degradation, the attack on civil liberties, the excesses of the consumerist economy, they may remain liberal democrats or something as seemingly innocuous as that.  Sometimes they do so because the institutions they work for enforce capitalist ideology: art that sells, production for the sake of the GNP, corporation grants, students as consumers, etc.  For more theoretically educated workers and for people who experience kinds of oppression that are based on race, gender or sexuality, the worry is that something like the Marxist critique of political economy or the labor theory of value will surreptitiously come to supplant all other modes of critique.  Of course what we're dealing with here is the distribution of knowledge, perceptions and fantasies among participants and onlookers.

OR:  That is for sure a more precise description of the relation between cultural workers and protest movements than the one I gave.  I totally agree.  The majority of the highly-educated cultural workers are aware of all the major global problems and know that some kind of change is necessary, but would probably not sympathize with a real systemic change.  They would rather advocate and support minor reforms within the capitalist system and take the classical reformist approach to change some parameters – for example, the improvement of working conditions or the reduced emission of greenhouse gases – but not question the system as a whole.  But still, I think that under certain circumstances these liberal people can be considered allies.  The field of art provides many possibilities for expressing viewpoints with no direct censorship and therefore can play an important role in our society as a space for debate and dissent.

ML:  I would like to ask you more about the conjuncture of art and activism and how this relates to what we could hesitantly call contemporary avant-garde practice.  To my mind, what makes HOLY DAMN IT and your work avant-garde is its interventionist character.  Many years ago, Krzysztof Wodiczko identified some 60s and 70s interventionist work as “Situationist Cultural Avant-Garde” and 80s artists like Barbara Kruger, Alfredo Jaar and Dennis Adams as “Critical Public Art.”  He further defined this type of work as “critical-affirmative action on everyday life and its institutions ... critical collaboration with institutions of mass and public media, design and education in order to raise consciousness ... to win time and space in information, advertising, billboards, lightboards, subways, public monuments and buildings, television cable and public channels, etc.” (I)
In many ways the work that you do is similar to some of these artists and we could also find some precursors among the historical avant-gardes, in particular the agitational work of the Russian constructivists.  But the situation has changed dramatically.  In the eighties it was possible to imagine reversing the effects of the first wave of neoconservatism, but now, after 30 years of neoconservative policy changes and neoliberal globalization, the situation within capitalist democratic countries has been exacerbated.  Yet the discourse on public art sometimes seems to have become increasingly relativistic, with the emphasis being placed on community art in a way that is compatible with corporate interests, or at least non-threatening to them.  In contrast, when you make interventionist work, you are categorically oppositional and you assume the responsibility of dealing with and presenting confrontational work and ideas.  How do you see your work, or the kind of work that is represented by HOLY DAMN IT, in relation to critical art practice in general?

OR:  Of course my artistic practice is influenced by the kind of political art you describe.  There are several different artists I am interested in, at least with regard to certain aspects of their work.  Often it happens that I appreciate the formal presentation of a project but don’t agree with the way it addresses its message – or the other way around.  I see my work as operating differently from certain types of work that are usually labelled “political.”  For instance, I think that the pathos of Alfredo Jaar’s work is absolutely unbearable, in particular his aestheticized presentation of suffering in works related to the genocide in Rwanda.  The form of Barbara Kruger’s work interested me a great deal when I was still a student.  I liked the way she combined short messages in huge fonts with images, but most of her projects since the late 1980s, at least the ones that I have seen, seem to repeat and alter the visual language she is already famous for.  Besides that, her critical potential does not seem to go beyond a critique of mass culture.  I think that Barbara Kruger is probably already too much involved in the commercial art market since she does not even reject doing an advertising campaign for a company like Selfridges Department Stores.
So “critical public art” can even lead towards “incorporated advertisement art.”  Martha Rosler has made the distinction between a general criticism, around which the art world and the criticized institutions have learned to collude over the years, and a concrete criticism that is more difficult to absorb.  The majority of political artists seem to prefer the concept of a general criticism; the artist gets bestowed the prestigious attribute of being an art world rebel, while at the same time the way s/he expresses criticism does not hurt the art market, private collectors and major museums.  So the show can go on.
The early works of Hans Haacke have some importance for me.  Haacke always tried to keep a distance from his subject, which is significant for the classical approach of criticism.  In comparison, several of my projects are not carried out from the position of a neutral observer, but by someone who is personally involved in the struggles or clearly positions himself on one side.  In my artistic practice in the last few years I have tried to avoid focusing too much on criticism and have focused more on alternative economic models and modes of organization.  Maybe this also fits in with what you call “categorically oppositional” in my work.  At least it has to be clear that I don’t work in order to be oppositional, but to highlight some of the important ideas and experiences that take place in our world.  For example, I realized two films in collaboration with Dario Azzellini on the political changes in Venezuela.  One of them, 5 Factories – Worker Control in Venezuela, was also presented as part of the film program at the recent G8 counter-summit.  The largest project I have been working on so far is the ongoing exhibition project Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies.  At this stage, it now consists of 16 video interviews with political analysts, economists and historians, and deals with proposals for the organization of alternative societies.
The poster I made for HOLY DAMN IT could also be seen in this way – using art to address and support political struggles that represent alternative ways of organizing that could one day lead to the existence of alternative societies on a larger level.  The poster not only points to the possibility and capacity of the multitude to block a summit, to show the media and those in power that they are ready to fight against militarized neoliberalism, it also addresses positive things that are worth fighting for.  The text proposes “a democratization of society, social welfare, dismantling [of] capitalism and the creation of free space.”  The poster uses direct language that can easily be read.  For a piece of art it is pretty anti-elitist since the content is not hidden somewhere behind aesthetically designed surfaces.  The extremely successful blockades at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm will also be the starting point for a new video on the movement of the movements, which I am currently working on in collaboration with the Australian artist Zanny Begg.  We hope to publish this new video in about half a year.

ML:  I'm interested in this anti-elitist aspect of what you are talking about.  Victor Burgin mentions in his book In/Different Spaces the fact that the term elite relates to the idea of elections and democracy. (II) In this way, elite cannot be opposed to popular or populist in a simple way.  This relates too to the idea of oppositionality, which can imply leadership as well as solidarity.  Precisely on this issue, Georg Schöllhammer has suggested that your work does not require theoretical introduction and that its didactic means are self-explanatory.  Gerald Raunig and others, and you yourself seem to agree with this, the idea that the issues speak for themselves, almost as though too much focus on culture could come to obviate from the task at hand. (III)
It's interesting that you mention Haacke since his approach to critical autonomy has always made use of the most minimal of “classical criticism,” as you call it.  Other approaches, let's call them anti-aesthetic, are more mistrustful of the way that the aesthetic frame might neutralize the political effectiveness of a communication.  How do you negotiate this older question of form and content, or is this displaced when one begins to address issues in terms of communications and activism?

OR:  I don’t know in what context Victor Burgin wrote about this notion of an elite, but as far as I understand it through your description it does not convince me.  I think too that elections and the system of representative democracy are dominated by people who are part of the elite, understood in terms of power and wealth.  Perhaps a better term would be “oligarchy.”  What I wanted to express was simply the fact that much of what is labelled “art” uses visual concepts that are not understood by the majority of people.  Of course I wouldn’t say that I reject using complex visual strategies and some of my projects are also based on forms that probably exclude many people from the possibility of understanding these projects.  What I wanted to point to in the case of the poster for HOLY DAMN IT is that I chose the form of straight talk in order to make the poster as accessible as possible to a large range of different people.  The poster does not require many explanations, which is probably nothing unusual for a poster by an activist, but to some people related with the art scene it may appear strange when they hear that it is a poster by an artist.
When I start with a new project it is important for me to think precisely about the framework in which the project will be presented and then to choose the kind of content I would like to address, define the position of the speakers and choose a visual strategy that supports the concept.  I don't have a predetermined form or strategy; all of these aspects of the work go hand in hand.  I'm interested in trying out different strategies.  In the last few years I've had the chance to try out different ways of working in public space, in art institutions, and in the format of video.

ML:  In a recent article about your work, Yates McKee mentions that the protest banner that you and David Thorne designed for Boom! was made to “disturb the unproblematic functionality of protest art ... the immediacy of its claims, the identifications it elicits, the responses it activates.” (IV) But he also criticizes the work at the same time for its relative unintelligibility on the part of those for whom it was intended.  We find this strategy used in the posters for This is what democracy looks like (Liberalitas Bavariae) (2002) as well.  Would you agree with this description?  Do you see this aesthetic “resistance to signification” as Jacques Rancière puts it as part of how you deal with protest art?

OR:  I think the banners that we carried out under the title Boom! can be seen as a trial run in the production of atypical banners that are based on complicated text and that are to be used in counter-globalization demonstrations.  Having made two videos on the counter-globalization movement that are mainly based on what activists have to say about their political activities and that are visually dominated by the material that can be found in a demonstration context, I was interested in thinking about ways to complicate the visual and verbal languages of protest.
As you know, in a demonstration you can really see many different languages of protest, some of them being really great and very inspiring, and others that really suck, like “One Solution – Revolution.”  This slogan can be heard in almost every demonstration in the world and completely contradicts my understanding of revolution, which is influenced by the sociologist John Holloway, who argues that revolution should not be seen as a predefined singular event, but should be based in day-to-day refusals of capitalist power.  And you can find even worse slogans, some of them working with anti-Semitic stereotypes.  So David and I decided to create very long texts in the format of dysfunctional web addresses in order to say something about global capitalism.
The series of posters I produced for the project This is what democracy looks like (Liberalitas Bavariae) took place in a different context.  The posters were not presented in a demonstration context but as a city-light series that related to the banned demonstrations against the NATO security conference in Munich in 2002.  In this series of posters the idea was to use an already existing visual reference – the posters of the election campaign of the governing social democrats in Munich – and to alter the text so that it says something about the reduction of democratic rights and police violence that thousands of demonstrators experienced some weeks before the local elections.  The social democrats, who supported the police repression of the demonstrators, were re-elected.  So this piece was a critical intervention into the existing order of signs designed to make visible the repressive politics of a ruling party regarded to be liberal by the majority of people.  It led people to think that the social democrats were proudly advertising some of the major political decisions the party was recently responsible for: bans on demonstrations and political events, police encirclements, mass arrests, and the restriction of democratic rights.
I think that in particular situations it can be more effective to hack an existing graphic design in order to attack a party or another institution, intervening in the order of the predominating discourse and causing some confusion.  This can sometimes be more productive than using a clear message that will come across as moralizing rather than critical.

ML:  How do you see yourself opposing neoliberalism in its cultural aspects?  In other words, how do you take the modes and relations of production/consumption into account in a way that does not leave people comfortable with the idea of art on one side and politics on the other?  Can politics become the general category that subsumes the specific artistic aspect of a work and do you think this be done from within the art world?

OR:  Even when they are presented in major shows, as we have seen in recent years, political artistic practices are still marginalized to some extent.  If you visit the major art fairs, political art is almost invisible.  This may not be the worst obstacle, but it can become a problem when it comes to funding the production of new work.  Funding in Europe very often comes from the state, region or from foundations, and is usually only available for a few artists.  I think that funding is the aspect that most directly influences a political art project.  To supply only certain artists with production funds functions as a form of invisible censorship within neoliberal capitalism.
Ignoring this problematic dependency for a moment, I really think that art has the potential to intervene in the political sphere.  I am really interested in dissolving this artificial barrier between art and politics and I think that art can be used as a tool to intervene in political debates.  It is clear that such a practice cannot be undertaken only within the usual sites for the presentation of art, but also has to consider other means such as performance, art in inner-city spaces, posters, video activism or magazine editing.

ML:  Allan Sekula's photographs in 5 Days That Shook the World were important images for me at the time that this book came out. (V) Who are the artists that you see yourself in dialogue with in terms of counter-globalization?

OR:  Allan for sure is one of the really important artists working on these issues. I only met him twice in person, but got to know his work through several exhibitions that had a considerable impact on my work.  There are a few artists dealing with counter-globalization with whom I am in touch: the Bernadette Corporation, a collective that produced a fantastic film called Get Rid Of Yourself (2002) – my favorite film about Genoa; the Russian artist Dmitry Vilensky, who produced a fantastic short film about the repression of demonstrators at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg called Protest Match – Kirov Stadium (2006); and Marcelo Expósito, whose very thoughtful and critical film First of May (the city-factory) (2004) deals with post-Fordist working conditions and May Day actions.  And finally there is my new collaborator Zanny Begg, a writer, curator, artist and activist based in Sydney, who made a great effort to bring the movement of the movements to Australia.  I know all of these artists personally and also presented their work in different contexts.

ML:  I'm interested in the fact that you make and show your work in contexts other than art world contexts.  For example, you showed 5 Factories – Worker Control in Venezuela at the G8 counter-summit.  Hardt and Negri have talked about the concept of “immaterial labor” in contemporary cultural production, the manipulation of symbols and information.  They also mention as part of this the “affective labor” of human contact and interaction.  Protest organizing and protest space itself – with the usual police confrontations – is an important site in your work.  On these occasions, people who are normally involved in very different kinds of activity get to see each other in larger numbers, with signs and costumes, listen to speeches, affect public space.  What do you think of protest space as a space of representation?

OR:  The medium of the film really makes it easy to present work in different contexts.  In the case of my two films on Venezuela and the two films on the counter-globalization movement [Disobbedienti (2002) and This is what democracy looks like! (2002)], I assume that probably 50 per cent of all requests to present the films come from organizations and groups that are not connected to the field of art.  I think this is one of the main reasons why the medium of film is so interesting to me.  I am of course interested in the classical art audience, but increasingly have the wish to address a broader audience and develop different strategies in order to do so.
Being at the demonstrations and blockades around Heiligendamm was really amazing because of the variety of individual and collective singularities that had come together: video activists, clown army, individual clowns, pink block, naked block, black block, Marxists, Trotskyists, members of ATTAC, etc.  Many activists even switch among these identities.  I saw a whole pink block become a naked block at one of the blockades close to the fence around Heiligendamm.  All of 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, which is a space of representation, but even more a space for action that will hopefully spread to different areas of our society.

ML:  It seems that we have regained momentum after the dramatic setback that came after 9/11.  But militarization is still high on the agenda, with the U.S. now planning the “liberation” of other countries, such as Syria and Iran.  Within an increasingly militarized situation, it's more difficult for us to focus on policy alternatives with regard to trade, environment, and public services.  What do you think of black block tactics?  How do you feel about strategic actions that automatically produce police repression?  Obviously a major success of the recent protest was the blocking of access routes to Heiligendamm.

OR:  It's interesting to see how the media and the police try to construct a violent militant identity that they label “black block” and that they seem to regard as an organization.  I rather believe in the existence of several activists around the world who like to wear black clothes and prefer the tactic of a direct confrontation with the police.  I can understand it on a personal level that people are interested in a direct confrontation with the police, but I think the results of these actions after all seem to have more advantages for the police than for the 99 per cent of all other people in demonstrations who perform actions based on different strategies and become directly or indirectly endangered through “black block” actions.  The actions by the people who are summed up as “black block” become a good excuse for the police to transfer the level of confrontation to the military level, where they can of course predominate.
After the violent demonstration in Rostock on Saturday, June 2, before the G8 meeting, the corporate media and also the local residents were – as expected – extremely hostile towards the whole movement of the movements.  This changed to some extent when the blockades happened.  Many journalists writing for the corporate media could not deny that the blockades were very effective; they had to recognize the excellent organization of the blockades.  These activities even produced a new category of images: thousands of activists walking from all directions through the fields to the fence around Heiligendamm – which did not exist before.  For one or two days the media were so fascinated by this that they almost forgot to be in opposition to these people.  The peaceful activists stood on the streets for more that 48 hours.  Many residents supported the blockades by supplying the activists with food and water.  These were unexpected events that really surprised and delighted me.

ML:  Thank you for this interview.



  1. Krzysztof Wodiczko, “Strategies of Public Address: Which Media, Which Publics?,” in Hal Foster, ed., Discussions in Contemporary Culture #1 (Seattle: Bay Press, 1987), 44-45.
  2. Victor Burgin, In/Different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture (Berkeley: University of California, 1996), 17-18.
  3. Georg Schöllhammer's "Art in the Era of Globalization" (1999) and Gerald Raunig's "Double Service: Border Crossing as Political Action and Art Practice" (2001) are available at www.ressler.at.  Consulted June 21, 2007.
  4. Yates McKee, "Reactivating Productivism" The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest 1:2 (August 2003); also at www.ressler.at.  Consulted June 15, 2007.
  5. Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair and Allan Sekula, 5 Days That Shook the World: Seattle and Beyond (London: Verso, 2000).  See also Allan Sekula, "TITANIC's wake," Art Journal 60, no. 2 (summer 2001): 26-37. 

From: Art Journal, Vol. 67, No. 1, 2008