CONTRADICTORY FORCES < video installation > < 2D animation >
In 2019 people took the streets in Latin America, Hong Kong, the Arab world, India, Italy, France and Russia to protest against their governments. Many of the protests share certain similarities such as their fight against inequality, corruption, repression and poverty but also methods and tactics against the police forces. Hong Kong protesters were the first to use lasers against authorities which was quickly adopted by Chilean and Lebanese protesters.
On the other hand, the reactions towards the protests by many politicians also show significant similarities. Driven by an initial anger and a fear of losing privileges, protesters are labelled criminals, who are destroying public property and disturbing the public order. After a rough treatment their language gets more diplomatic towards the people on the streets. A call at arms turns into a superficial ceasefire proposal while actually still being repressive against the protesters. The best example for this turn is the reaction of Sebastian Piñera, the president of Chile. When the protests broke out on October 14th, symbolic after a raise of the subway fare, the confrontations with the police forces escalated. President Piñera called the state of emergency and demanded a curfew for the Greater Santiago area, not seen since the dictatorship of Pinochet era. His public statement after all is more than contradictory:
“We are at war against a powerful enemy, who is willing to use violence without any limits. Tomorrow we will have a difficult day. We are very aware that they have a degree of organization, logistics, typical of a criminal organization. Today is not the time for ambiguities. I call on all my compatriots to unite in this battle against violence and delinquency.”
On the d-day without “time for ambiguities”, the president calls for a heroic “battle” against violence and civil unrest. The obscure enemy he points at is actually a majority of the Chilean population, including many underprivileged young people without perspectives, covered in debts as their elders. The amount of Piñera’s supporters reached a historic low in early 2020 (6% approx.). On the other hand, the number of injured, sexually harassed or even dead protesters went up dramatically. Eye injuries due to police rubber bullets increased, reaching almost 400 cases. The brutality of the Chilean police forces caught the attention of Amnesty International and the bandaged eye became a symbol of Chilean resistance.
With the ongoing protests, governments all over the globe tried similar techniques, patronizingly offering something similar to peace to the protesting country, but not without blaming them for the continuity of the chaos. The former administrations are all to blame for their bad decisions. It seems like everything said in this context, needs to be contradictory and is unable of not being a cliché.
Inspired by Hannah Arendt’s description of Adolf Eichmann who “was genuinely incapable of uttering a single sentence that was not a cliché” (Hannah Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil), this video project exposes political statements that are juggling with striking words such as nation, family, peace and war.
Composed like a daily news broadcast and inspired by its aesthetics and symbols the video installation deconstructs the surface, taking the content out of the flat screen. Bluntly projected on four levels the image allows a look behind the scenes by stepping beside the screens. Eerie illustrations replacing the video footage of the tv anchorpersons, protests and press conferences, represent the chaos of information overload which makes us think through sensation-seeking images. This new composition of images and words allows a different examination on the actual content. The quotes are spoken by a female voice and are therefore taken away from the all-male statesmen.