press release only in german

The silent majority has spoken – so at least the populists would tell you. All over the world,
minorities are being pushed back into place.
new culture wars erupt, as self-proclaimed
national mainstreams reassert their ethnic,
religious and political identities. But what does it really mean when “the people” themselves
suddenly appear in uncountable numbers, as
enigmatic majorities?

In the short films featured in this show, artists
face “the people” in moments when that cat- egory is celebrated or only just constructed,
manifesting itself in uncanny images and bizarre social configurations. c onfused orders of battle replace any clear geometry of left and right.
there is no clear ideological vector; the compass is broken and its arrow can swipe to any side. this is how political theorist Ernesto Laclau
described the notion of “the people” at the
heart of populism: a floating signifier, ready to gravitate this way or that. Laclau insisted that
this openness was something positive. It could supply democracy with truly universal con- cepts of justice and good. But today, we observe quite the opposite: democracy is abolished by
popular demand, majorities become enigmatic, inscrutable, and threatening, while difference is drowned in the silent static of unanimity.

In the European context, it was the great f rench Revolution that created the first images of the
people. One of these is
Liberty Leading the
People by Eugène Delacroix, provocatively read in c ristina Lucas’ video re-enactment La Liberté Raisonnée (2009). It serves as the prologue to the show. In disbelief, we witness the tragic
aftermath of the revolutionary événement. It is in this perverse reversal that the very emptiness of the notion of the “people” reveals itself in its unpredictable oscillation.

Such emptiness is to be found at the very heart of the pageantry invented to reaffirm national iden- tities. A belligerently anti- western popular re- enactment of the fall of c onstantinople in f erhat Özgür’s film on contemporary t urkey ( conquest, 2016) strangely rhymes with the somewhat
boring idyll of t omáš Rafa’s Swiss National Day in Rütli (2011), where “real” Swiss citizens (and no migrants) celebrate a relatively new national holiday, oblivious (or proud) of their “cleansed” ethnic monotony.

Chulayarnnon Siriphol’s
Myth of Modernity, filmed during the t hai political crisis of 2014,
shows the empty signifier of the “people” in
the moment of its emergence. It floats up as a pyramid-shaped modernist abstraction that at
the same time represents traditional Buddhist
forms of worship, as mass experience gives way to idealistic reveries. It is another variety of such enigmatic mass experience that c hinese dancers impart to middle-aged germans in Xiao k e and Zi han’s choreographic piece Republic of Dance (2016), performed and filmed in w eimar.

How to resist these enigmatic majorities, when they are less innocuous, and nationalism and
obscurantism take the upper hand? One answer can be found in Anand Patwardhan’s rousing
fragment from a much longer anti-fascist film
he is currently producing. t he voice of reason
dares religious mercenaries and nationalists to stop the wheel of progress; rational thinking will triumph regardless, even when it finds itself in the minority.

As a postscript, the exhibition features a series of photographs by Anne Arndt that depicts the uncanny phenomenon of individual bunkers
built in g ermany during the Second w orld w ar. the sadness and loneliness of these shelters lost in the middle of nowhere serves a metaphor for contemporary fragmented neoliberal humanity, where there is no longer such a thing as soci- ety. n ew grandiose collective identities, tribal
as well as imperialist, claim to overcome this
fragmentation, when in fact, they only amplify its scale, creating illusory individual discursive bunkers for entire nations.


AnnE ARnDt creates installations integrating photographs, sculptures, and moving images. In her works, she analyzes
political concepts and their relation to architecture and society. She approaches her topics through a multilayered process and
includes the beholder in a, at times, physical way. Anne Arndt lives and works in c ologne.

cRIStInA LUcAS investigates the mechanisms of power in
her performances, happenings, installations and video art. h er
works have been on display in several museums, including Mudam – Musée d’Art Moderne g rand-Duc Jean (Luxemburg), k unstraum Innsbruck, c entre Pompidou (Paris), and kiasma – Museum of
contemporary Art ( helsinki).

fERhAt ÖZgÜR’s artistic works cover a wide spectrum rang- ing from video and photography to installations. his works have been on display in MoMA PS1 n ew York, c entre Pompidou (Paris), haus der k ulturen der w elt (Berlin) and Museum der Moderne
Salzburg, among others. h e is currently participating in the group exhibition Shame: 100 Reasons for Turning Red at Deutsches
hygiene-Museum Dresden. Özgür is currently professor at the
Yeditepe University Istanbul.

AnAnD PAtwARDhAn is a Mumbai-based documentary
filmmaker whose human rights-oriented work is often subject to suppression by the Indian government in power. w hile some of his films explore the rise of religious fundamentalism and casteism in India, others investigate unsustainable development. Many were awarded at international film festivals in Mumbai, Leipzig, Paris and h ong k ong and other venues.

Since 2009, tOMÁŠ RAfA has investigated notions of nation- alism in c entral Europe through his ongoing documentary film
project, New Nationalism in the Heart of Europe. his documen- tary details the creation of conflicts that arise from prejudices,
superstitions, and resentments in the region. Rafa’s film has been screened in museums and galleries across Europe. h e is based in warsaw.

the filmmaker and visual artist chULAYARnnOn SIRIPhOL lives and works in Bangkok. his works have been screened in many film festivals in Asia and Europe, including in the International f ilm festival Rotterdam, h amburg International Short f ilm f estival and the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art. his film Myth of Modernity was honored in 2014 at the t hai Short f ilm & Video festival.

XIAO kE completed a traditional c hinese dance education
and then studied contemporary dance in Shanghai. Since 2002, she has closely collaborated with contemporary artists und has
founded several artists’ collectives. ZI hA n is an audiovisual artist and performer. In their c annot h elp Art c ollective, founded in
2011 and based in Shanghai, both artists engage in interdisciplin- ary investigations of social issues.