Although the city of Berlin was never re-presentative of the German society in its entirety, it has always been a decisive culminating point of distinctive corporate tendencies. The spatial and social manifestations of tolerance and totalitarianism, exclusion and openness, self-realization and destruction resulting from the city´s history have created an urban continuum of motion and steadiness. It is embedded in a stress field of quotidianity and adventure that has made Berlin an adorable laboratory for multiple visions of how one can live and make the terrain inhabitable.
The city, constantly determined and demanded upon by crucial boundaries experiencing collapse, seems to successfully link diverse social, cultural, and political environments and lifestyles. Political and socio-cultural ruptures and upheavals have caused borderlands of happening and reconstruction. Periods of conflict and precariousness have initiated inventive movements, seeking independence and corporate perspectives. The outcomes have an impact far beyond the city´s zones of influence.
But one Never Lives Elsewhere.*
Motion and transition beget a threshold that can offer the possibility of entering new spaces of sociability or corporate attitudes. Movement without a sustainable vision marks a temporary state rather than a future perspective. It even bears the potential for the irrevocable destabilization of important community values that shape individual and social identity – in particular, as permanent mobility and flexibility have become decisive factors of a transnational economy that seeks to expand and dominate by total liberation and exchange.
The most insidious operation of this economy is its ability to project itself as an inevitable and stable development that offers orientation, even though complex societal orders and social bonds have been destroyed by the very same policies. Here, permanent transformation, the absence of community caused by casualization becomes another specification of this total market, as well as its main result. It is essential for the further deregulation and defamation of common public interests.
Precariousness is necessary as a foundation to implement the problematic propaganda of prosperity and growth as the only truth, because it profoundly affects the person who suffers it by making the whole future uncertain. It enervates, prevents all rational anticipation and, in particular, the basic belief in a common future that one needs in order to rebel, especially collectively, against present conditions – even the most intolerable, as Pierre Bourdieu states.
Of course, motion enables encounter by connecting people and mind-sets. But to the same extent, our contemporary ways of commuting and re-locating tear holes into our capacities for coherent social and individual perception and identification. So, the current Berlin hype can also be seen as an aspect of the ongoing scenario of crisis: as an urbanity in transition, ruptures, crisis and transformation in the city of Berlin create open spaces that attract an intercultural, international audience.
As on-sided interests, as well as the increasing struggle for economic resources, and social and cultural participation have made parts of our world barely inhabitable, notably a merely young generation is longing for creative and future perspectives here, what is totally eligible. Nevertheless the spaces of possibility in Berlin accrue more and more high-priced merchandise. Marketing images of hope and opportunity support questionable policies that try to establish precariousness, mobility, and flexibility as something sexy and re-presentative. Coeval for many locals the ongoing movements, often related to the phenomenon of gentrification and segregation, complicate self-concepts, and result in the loss of a familiar pattern of identification.
The Sting of the Other.
But how to organize without destroying what made life a site of inventive social, political, and economic realities? How to live in precarious mobility without losing consistency and coherence but also without becoming exclusive, indifferent, or intolerant?
To learn how we can regard everything that is ours as something strange and that which seems strange as a part of ourselves, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty stresses, might be an opportunity. After creating a context of immaterial field tension that blurs and questions existing boundaries, we tend to formulate relevant concepts of civil disobedience and urban sociability.
The city is a site of collective self-determination. In a globalized universe of floating meaning, fiction, and knowledge, inclusive social values and identity have to be actively built. One does not have to plan it like a monument but re-construct it constantly. It is a process of individual and civil consciousness requiring communication, mental mobility, attitude and the ability to include differences by respecting them.
To maintain that, we definitely need to continue developing a language of aesthetics as a process of subjective and collective investigation that implements the virtual and material realities in its instruments and addresses the individual's needs and desires to live as an entire personality in a community. Ongoing debates about urban sociability in the city of Berlin raise questions on the future of sociability and community life in general.
The selected works are fragments of that debate. Concerning this matter, they explore the meaning of the Self and the Other, the options of Acting and Suffering, the results of Finding and Inventing, the meaning of the Conventional and the Extra-ordinary as essential issues of individual and social identity construction against a background of colliding concepts of reality and the ongoing crisis of re-presentation. Moreover, all selected works testify to an urgent need to reconstruct a personal and social imaginary, mentioning the absence of medial, social or political consistency by addressing distinctive aesthetics as well as narrative layers.
At once, they all recognize the impossibility of doing this without recourse to delegitimized discourses or theories. So, they tend to denaturalize the established strategies of re-presentation, supporting the activity of the audience by encouraging critical reflection on the role of visual art and culture.
As seeing and visualizing can and should no longer be associated with knowledge, most works invariably hesitate at the point of locating their individual studies within a larger, overarching narrative. Individuals or particular images are not easily interpreted as representative of anything broader than themselves, refusing the allegorical impetus of one big picture.
The selection seeks to cross-link works that develop artistic strategies and implement contemporary mindscapes as social labs of global relevance. Nevertheless, it is subjective and fragmented following the framework and possibilities of its exhibition context. It does not aim to be representative.
The Self and the Other highlights works, such as PASSING DOWN, FRAME ONE (2007), ANYTHING BUT MY PICTURES (2010), STREETS OF THE WORLD (2012), IMAGINE THE BORDER BETWEEN US (2012), A PORTRAIT OF THREE COLORS, ALL PINK. PART II (2012), that explore the very basic aspects of an organizing system and its limits, as well as its contingencies that sometimes make it difficult to see any form of identity as definite. In order to define identity, the boundary experience is always essential.
That underlines the relation of Acting and Suffering to expose further video works that address the process of identification and artistic expression as creative forces contributing to the system that one is and wants to be part of, consistently formulating the questions one wants to answer.Nevertheless, any act of identification by expression bears the moment of violence and the potential to cause suffering, in that it excludes or limits in the very moment it creates, as addressed in LAND OF BANALITY (2002-2012), THE NEW MIDDLE (2010), NO PLACE HOME (2010), WHAT YOU DON`T PUT INTO THE SOUP GOES INTO THE LOO (2011), TERRITORY OF BEAUTIES (2012).
Finding and Inventing unites works that discuss the fact that any organizing principle is neither part of the object or subject itself nor exists outside or before an entity, but rather has to be constructed actively from within individual and social context. This regards, in particular, the realm of labor and technology as thematized in THRESHOLD (2006), IN THE WORKS (2012), MAGNETIC EYE BERLIN (2012), BERLIN RECYCLERS (2012), NO MORE WORDS, NO OTHER THOUGHTS. ABOUT THE RITUALS OF SPEAKING (2012).
The Conventional and the Extra-ordinary intimates the borderlands where the common and uncommon are confronted with each other instead of being encapsulated, keeping quotidian life opened up for the exceptional by avoiding a strict separation in THE MAGIC DESK (2008), SLIGHTLY CLOSER/ MV (2010), MÄRKISCHES VIERTEL - FACES OF A NEIGHBOURHOOD (2010) or LYING IN BETWEEN (2011).
AMBIGUOUS BEING is the second curatorial work of the documentarist and media theorist Anett Vietzke. It continues the investigation of visual art as a source of approaches to document and explore concepts of reality in its re- and de-construction. It thereby seeks to empower a productive, community-oriented artistic and cultural practice that understands itself as a laboratory of inclusive socio-culture. Acting productively within this frame means acting in order to consciously contribute to a system one wants to be part of, as well as formulating the questions one has.
On the borderline of art and science Anett Vietzke seeks to reflect contemporary concepts of truth and visualization, discussing them with diverse audiences. In 2011, she co-curated ARGENTINA VICE VERSA, a film cycle and symposium dedicated to the New Argentine Cinema (1999-2011) for Cinemateket Oslo and Bergen, as well as Verdensteatret TromsØ. The film cycle dealt with the aesthetics and artistic strategies of local film-art in the context of the economic breakdown and the resulting crisis of re-presentation in Argentina, which experienced it´s peak in 2001.
Please visit also: http://ambiguous-being.blogspot.de/
* Subtitles and main questions are inspired by the contemplations of the philosopher Bernhard Waldenfels as manifested in his publication DER STACHEL DES FREMDEN/ THE STING OF THE OTHER (suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft, Frankfurt am Main, 1998)