Camera Austria international no. 117/2012
Editor-in-chief: Maren Lübbke-Tidow
Publisher: Reinhard Braun
“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.
During preliminary planning for Camera Austria International No. 117, our guest editors Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza repeatedly noted that their work on this issue was not necessarily focused on the Occupy movement itself but rather on—and this perhaps links them to Judith Butler’s perceptions—the physicality of this movement: comprehending Occupy as a form of “social sculpture” and exploring its creative potential as wielded to intervene in present-day politics through a very concrete, physical gesture: a gesture of NO that has taken on corporeal form. But ultimately, the idea behind this issue is also to potentially reactualise—through the images and the words of the Occupy movement, as easy to decipher or read as this may ostensibly be at first—a specific habitus of (also political) artists, to scrutinise their thoughts, their language, even their “being-with-images” and their actions in the role of artistic subject, and to again probe their potential for directly intervening in social reality. For: “At a certain moment, in the face of public events, we know that we must refuse. The refusal is absolute, categorical. It does not argue, nor does it voice its reasons. This is why it is silent and solitary, even when it asserts itself, as it must, in broad daylight. … What they are left with is the irreducible refusal, the friendship of this certain, unshakable, rigorous No that keeps them unified and bound by solidarity” (Maurice Blanchot).
After having worked with Tobias Zielony on the Documentary as Political Practice last year, we have now invited Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza to join us in conceptually drawing the current issue of Camera Austria International as guest editors. As a result, this particular magazine is an accompanying publication to the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art and has been developed in cooperation with the event. It is meant to help readers become attuned to the themes of this large exhibition, which will—in our view—deviate from conventional exhibition formats. Artur Żmijewski and his team of co-curators have dedicated themselves to the task of immersing themselves and us in the profound shifting of democratic systems within society. Rather than thematising these societal fissures on an artistically conveyed level, they are committed to putting forms of direct intervention to the test. Thus, in utilising the scopes of conceptualisation and agency presented by the Biennale institution, the boundaries (or potentials?) presented by the operating system of art are themselves up for renegotiation.