Camera Austria International

117 | 2012

What Can Art Do For Real Politics?
Gastredakteure / Guest-editors: Artur Żmijewski, Joanna Warsza

    What Can Art Do For Real Politics?
    Occupy a Museum Near You!
    Occupy Wall Street, Still Thriving
    Artists in Occupy Amsterdam. Does the Revolution Need Revolutionaries, or Does It Need Artists as Well?
    Image as Witness 1/4 For Your Eyes Only


“It matters that as bodies we arrive together in public. As bodies we suffer. We require food and shelter. And as bodies we require one another in dependency and desire. So this is a politics of the public body, the requirements of the body, its movement and its voice” ­(Judith Butler).
During her speech at New York’s Zuccotti Park on October 23, 2011, Butler emphasised the necessity of proverbial physicality within the Occupy movement: this physicality, having found expression in the urban tent camps last fall that grew into autonomous organisms, signifies a tangible (in the literal sense of the word) interest in becoming involved in the production of politics, in touching it, in becoming part of it, and in changing it—on the far side of a potentially weak or even non-existent collective identity, and in defiance of the prevalent heterogeneity of different voices and groupings that were gathering there.
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Camera Austria International 117 | 2012

The question of how photographic images are involved in the production of politics as a form of organising or reorganising visibilities has, to this day, always remained a central issue for the work on and with our magazine. This debate essentially revolves around the question of the mechanisms and contexts of representation, an issue that warrants continual review and adaptation. The anticipatibility of the images and words of the Occupy movement—which quickly took on a clichéd air and are condensed here in an amalgam of (at times authorless) photographs (and interviews and manifestos)—is threatening to challenge this project with precisely that unwavering and adamant “No” invoked above in the words of Maurice Blanchot. So must not our question or critique involve the form of identity or identification with which we continually “hold captive” photographic images, especially documentary ones, by subjecting them to a regimen of representation, of conveyability, of fundamental inauthenticity? For which forms of agency do we simultaneously assert a form of immediacy, authenticity, and thus also a kind of primary political capacity to act, and based upon which “dispositif”? The “naturalisation of doubt” (Tom Holert) vis-à-vis the documentary must not inevitably lead to a departure from forms of representation and to a related defamation of the photographic image, though it may indeed lead to a reconceptualisation of representation as a political field of agency.
The insert accompanying our magazine, also explores—in this facet of the magazine—a very direct interventionist practice which, to us, seems characteristic for Żmijewski’s work as an artist. And it calls into question the existing structures within our field: those that attempt if not to breach then to radically challenge our access to visual culture and its art-sector-related exploitation mechanisms. We have gladly remained open to also viewing the Occupy movement as an opportunity to ferret out fractures between the institutional conditions set for our work in the field of art and the at times questionable socialisation thereof—to the extent that a politicisation of art by way of actual politics is feasible.
What becomes apparent in the various contributions to this issue is, first of all, the powerful capacity, in terms of very effective publicity, and the imperativeness of “images” taken of the Occupy movement’s tent camps. These have for instance been used to counter the increasing refeudalisation of public space above and beyond a cynical (tourism-oriented) politics of exclusivity: here the proximity of the Occupy movement to the homeless camps in inner-city areas can surely be counted among the most disturbing aspects of the protest situation. One of the topics discussed in an interview with Miguel Robles-Durán and Gabriela Rendón is the image of the tent city as a visible and necessary (and also corporeal) symbol, but also its classification as a nucleus of radicalisation: centres where groups get organised and create their own environment are beginning to identify problems and offer resistance—in short: centres where forms of self-empowerment are being put to the test.
The extent at which the resistive practice of the Occupy movement has impacted art scenes is demonstrated by an interview with Noah Fischer, co-initiator of Occupy Museums. Occupy Museums raises the question: “How can we reconnect our work as artists to the experience of ordinary people—the 99 %? … Actions by Occupy Museums are about opening up a very large, honest, transformative conversation about the presence of money and power in the world of art and culture. … The problem is that, just like on Wall Street, the wealthiest 1 % control nearly everything. They engage in philanthropy, of course, and sit on museum boards, and these are often also the mega-collectors who influence the markets. Actually, the whole arts infrastructure has been organising around these few individuals in the last thirty years. They concentrate political power and social prestige in their hands, perhaps even more than money, if this is possible. But real, essential culture needs distance from this power and influence in order to grow and thrive, otherwise culture becomes a luxury commodity. What will hopefully come out of the Occupy Museums is a re-thinking about the current state of culture, which is very close to a luxury item for the wealthiest” (Noah Fischer).
What Noah Fischer is also getting at here is, considering what has meanwhile become a flagrantly unequal politics of distribution in the field of art and its markets, the necessity of a directly resulting critique of related institutions—a debate that has, tellingly, completely tapered off with the outset of a new age of increased de-regulation starting at the beginning of the present century. 1 Could this circumstance possibly have to do with the fact that those individuals commanding the debate have since moved up in the ranks of the institutions? At any rate, it is with a positive note of surprise that we have discovered how Artur Żmijewski, in a departure from curatorial presumption, will also be radically and decisively questioning the role of institutions in the scope of the Berlin Biennale.
Towards the end of the issue, we are publishing an interview conducted by Artur Żmijewski with artists participating in Occupy Amsterdam. The concurrent seriousness and occasional naivety of the remarks made during the interview highlight clear discrepancies and may for one serve to reflect the already identified weak collective identity of the Occupy movement. Yet at the same time, the distinct and more decisive question arises as to whether the instability, vagueness, and/or ideological emptiness apparent in the remarks might not precisely be a picture of the utopia of being-together beyond a politics of identity, beyond “that pale, absurd, and transient phantasm of a culture of the individual” (Jacques Rancière)—a phantasm that abidingly views being-together as something that we share, to which we belong (together), and which consequently first and foremost differentiates us from all others. This interview in particular, printed in this issue’s insert, by contrast puts up for debate the idea of “being-with”, which can simultaneously be understood as “being-in-between”, “being-separate”, “being-different”, “being-among-others”. As such, we consider this to be an expanded contribution to our focal theme of 2011 on issues related to the unrepresentable community.
The question of democratic representation and political influence—put in a nutshell plainly and (once again) corporeally by the slogan “We are the 99%”—is well-neigh ignored when the Occupy movement becomes infantilised. This infantilisation of the movement is strongly reminiscent of the criticism expressed about the WTO protests in Seattle in 1999. However, Allan Sekula—with his slide series of the time, “Waiting for Tear Gas”—put up for debate the concept of “being-with”, also tangible when applied to the WTO protest scope.2 His photos specifically didn’t show the “climaxes” of the sometimes violent conflicts with police, but rather the moments preceding this teaming up of demonstrators, following or accompanying them—those moments where the collective of demonstrating individuals had not yet set out in an organised manner or where they had once again lost their connection: “the lulls, the waiting and the margins of events” (Sekula). This interpretive slant on Sekula’s photographs may also be applied to Żmijewski’s text. Both artists use their work to also address—both in general and now at present—the question of the role taken by the artist himself in this field of representation, to the extent that each becomes part of the construction of a social reality. The horizon of common affairs, as manifested in the protests in Seattle or currently in the Occupy movement, effectively evolves “only” as subtext, as a possible reconstruction that might become possible through the individual images (as in the case of Sekula) or statements (as in the case of Żmijewski). The community that crystallised while the protests were going on is itself absent as such from the images or texts; it eludes depiction or is considered by the artists—as we interpret the situation—to be beyond representability.
We extend our warm thanks to Joanna Warsza and Artur Żmijewski for the intense and greatly productive collaboration on this issue of Camera Austria International. We are convinced that their work is helping to expand space for discourse about a politics of the image, but that it is also allowing the power of our field to be truly felt, thus prompting us to reevaluate, explore, and utilise our concrete scope of political action. Moreover, we are grateful to have cooperated with Marina Naprushkina, whose artistic contribution flowed into the insert by Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza. We would also like to thank Occupy Berlin, Occupy Dusseldorf, Occupy Frankfurt, Occupy Museums (New York) and the artists of Occupy Amsterdam.
Completing this issue is the first instalment of a new column written by Jan Verwoert which he has titled “Image as Witness”. Paraphrasing the question “What do pictures want?” posed by W. J. T. Mitchell, Verwoert asks “What does a picture want of me?” This touches on how forms of image appropriation work, on those experiences or even traumas which are “forced” upon us by these images that may never actually become our own but which still compel us to acknowledge and foster the doubt at the heart of representation. On this note, the column taps into issues of imagery, authenticity, and politics.
In our Forum section we are showing works by young photographic artists who were called Christine Frisinghelli’s and Manfred Willmann’s attention at the International Portfolio Review in Moscow.
You can also join us in various debates and at upcoming fairs—we’ll be attending the Armory Show in New York, the meeting of independent publishers »It’s a Book, It’s a Stage, It’s a Public Place« at Centraltheater Leipzig, the Swiss fair Europ’Art 2012 in Geneva, and Art Brussels in Belgium—or give us feedback.
Maren Lübbke-Tidow
Reinhard Braun
March 2012



Presented by Christine Frisinghelli and Manfred Willmann:








Sanja Ivekovic: Sweet Violence
MoMA, New York

Zarina Bhimji
Whitechapel Gallery, London

Erschaute Bauten. Architektur im Spiegel zeitgenössischer Kunstfotografie
MAK, Wien

Judith Hopf. End Rhymes and Openings
Grazer Kunstverein, Graz

Bernhard Frue: Phesbuk
Kunsterein Medienturm, Graz

Be Realistic, Demand the Impossible!
< rotor >, Graz.

the Urban Cultures of Global Prayers
Camera Austria, Graz


David Maljković: Exhibitions for Secession
Secession, Wien

Christian Wachter: ABPOPA / AURORA
MUSA, Wien

Heidrun Holzfeind: Strictly Private
BAWAG Contemporary, Wien

John Hililard: Two-Faced
Galerie Raum mit Licht, Wien

Michael Part: 2 {Ag (S2O3) 2}3- + S2O4 + 4OH- -> 2Ag + 4 S2O32- +2SO3-2 + 2H2O
Galerie Andreas Huber, Wien

Friedl vom Gröller
Studio International / Galerie der HGB, Leipzig

Accomplices. The Photographer and the Artist Around 1970
Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie, Warsaw

Goshka Macuga: Untitled
Zachęta Narodowa Galeria Sztuki

Laura Horelli
The Terrace, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin

Cindy Sherman: That´s me – That´s not me.
Frühe Werke 1975-1977
Vertikale Galerie der Verbund-Zentrale, Wien

All the Future Is Gone Socialism and Modernity: Art, Culture and
Politics 1950–1974
Muzej Suvremene Umjetnosti, Zagreb

The Present and Presence
MUSUM Ljubljana, a permanent exhibition

Museum of Affects.
In the Framework of L´ Internationale
MUSUM, Ljubljana

Sharon Lockhart I Noa Eshkol
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Annette Klem – Michaela Meise: Hallo aber
Bonner Kunstverien, Bonn

Parcific Standard Time
Sixty Cultural Institutions, Southern California

Oscar Castellio: Icons of the Invisible
Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles

Identity and Affirmation.
Post War African American Photography
California State University Northridge Art Galleries, Northridge

In Focus. Los Angeles, 1945-1980
J. Paul Getty Museum, Center for Photographs, Los Angeles

Santu Mofokeng: Chasing Shadows
Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen

Eyes on Paris. Paris im Photobuch 1890 bis heute
Haus der Fotografie, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg

Schweizer Fotobücher 1927 bis heute
Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur


Susanne Kriemann: Ashes and Broken Brickwork of a Logical Theory
ROMA Publications, Amsterdam 2010

Susanne Kriemann: One Time One Million
ROMA Publications, Amsterdam 2009

Walter Grasskamp: Hans Haacke
Fotonatizen Documenta 2 / 1959
Duetscher Kunstverlag, München 2011

Timm Rautert: No Photographing
Steidl Verlag, Göttingen 2011

Timm Rautert: New York 1969
only photography, Berlin 2011

Mutations: Perspectives on Photography
Steidl Publishers, Göttingen; ParisPhoto, Paris 2011




Publisher: Reinhard Braun
Owner: Verein CAMERA AUSTRIA. Labor für Fotografie und Theorie. Lendkai 1, 8020 Graz, Österreich

Editor-in-chief: Maren Lübbke-Tidow (V.i.S.d.P.)
Guest editors: Artur Żmijewski, Joanna Warsza
Editors: Tanja Gassler, Margit Neuhold, Rebecca Wilton.

Translators: Dawn Michelle d’Atri, John Doherty, Andy Jelcic, Ewa Kaningowska-Gedroyc, Emilia Ligniti, Wilfried Prantner
German proofreading: Daniela Billner
English proofreading: Dawn Michelle d’Atri, Aileen Derieg

Dank / Acknowledgments:
Artists in Occupy Amsterdam (AiOA), Stephané Bauer, Ernestine Baig, Joost Benthem, Rainer Bellenbaum, Agnieszka Borkiewicz, Doris Denekamp, Katja van Driel, Ulrich Ebli, Eshan Farjadniya, Jesko Fezer, Noah Fischer, Rike Frank, Christine Frisinghelli, David Goldblatt, Klaas van Gorkum, Alexander Gronsky, Anja Groten, Enver Hadzijaj, Jimini Hignett, Gabriele Horn, Emke Idena, Leo Klenin, Robert Kluijver, Verena Kuni, Chris Lee, Tatjana Macić, Florian Malzacher, Karen Mirzoyan, Golrokh Nafisi, Marina Naprushkina, Occupy Berlin, Occupy Düsseldorf, Occupy Museums, Occupy Wall Street, Wouter Osterholt, Merijn Oudenampsen, Margarita Ovcharenko, Walid Raad, Gabriela Rendón, Katja Reichard, Miguel Robles-Durán, Elke Uitentuis, Michaela Schwarz, Urok Shirhan, Jochen Steinhilber, Igor Stofiszweski, André Tchen / KRM Images, Jan Verwoert, Alexey Vanushkin, Denhart von Harling, Nguyen Vu Thuc Linh, Samuel Vriezen, Joanna Warsza, Jan Wenzel, Axel John Wieder, Manfred Willmann, Irina Yulieva, Artur Żmijewski

Copyright © 2012
Alle Rechte vorbehalten. Nachdruck nur mit vorheriger Genehmigung des Verlags. / All rights reserved. No parts of this magazine may be reproduced without publisher’s permission.

Für übermittelte Manuskripte und Originalvorlagen wird keine Haftung übernommen. / Camera Austria International does not assume any responsibility for submitted texts and original materials.

ISBN     978-3-900508-01-2
ISSN         1015 1915
GTIN     4 19 23106 1600 5 00117


Camera Austria International No. 117 | 2012 has been published as part of a media partnership with the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art.