[-empyre-] Mother Courage, Antigone's bones

Ana Valdes agora158 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 11 04:13:02 EST 2014

Johannes a quick answer to your direct question. I left Sweden when one million people voted for Sverigedemokraterna now the third party in Sweden. A xenophob party wanting forbid the begging and stop the immigration. 
I came back to Uruguay not because I am born here, where my Spaniard and Italian grandfathers found a good place to raise their families but because the Uruguayan melting pot felt now energetic and vital.  In jail we woke up six in the morning to see the flag being up and six in the afternoon the flag were down. 
We were tortured with the Uruguayan anthem sounding in the loudspeakers. 
No fosterland or country for me, thanks. 

Enviado desde Samsung Mobile

-------- Mensaje original --------
De: Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> 
Fecha:10/11/2014  14:50  (GMT-03:00) 
A: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au> 
Asunto: Re: [-empyre-] Mother Courage, Antigone's bones 

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

small mix tape, with collected impressions, organized as a sounding board (inspired by Plastic Art Foundation).

-  Trashman 

Ana - just watched the first part of your friend Cecelia's documentary interviews with "Maria" begging on the streets of Gothenburg, thinking that Sweden is rich and blessed, and God looks after Sweden, and people there smile at beggars and are friendly. The Roma, she says, can make a living there and then return to Rumania for a while, support family there. Maria seems most pleased that her young children can learn how to read and write.

Olga writes that "the current events in my home country Ukraine are a good case study of patriotism" and evoke the possibility that you are "out of frame if you are not a patriot in Ukraine nowadays", and then responds to my question about the re-appearance of the Cossacks, the mythic figure coming alive and real again in the 21st century. My reference to the Samurai and Mishima may be forgiven. 

Olga also mentions the images (spectacle of the scaffold): < I came across the issue of beheading when I investigated representations of Chechen war. There were videos uploaded by Chechen fighters of beheading young Russian conscripts  with knives that were circulating on the net. It caused an ethical outrage of the internet community, especially when Belorussian female blogger posted video on her website under the title: Chechen kill Russian soldies as pigs. She obviously supported Chechen fight for independence as the rest of democratic world ( but at what price?). To mock the morbid curiosity of internet users the false links were created that linked to porn sites instead of videos.>

John cautions and asks: " What is terror that is not seen except by perpetrator and victim? that is not discovered and written, talked about. Is it still terror? The media 'observer' changes things profoundly, but how?
  And in a sense I see this powerful question gain traction after Pia's response to Ana, about whether the observer was close (enough)  to actual killings, or whether the violations of human rights as ongoing intimidation, humiliation and degradation are not the terror we speak about, the real violence dealt out to all?

Sonja interjected:  "News desk is where Mother Courage is busy nowadays, trading, eating her children alive".

-  Glutmut

The odour of the burning flesh, evoked by Sonja's reference to concentration camps, resonates with several accounts we heard last week, also regarding the complex sublime threat manifested in the September 11 attacks. I walked to Ground Zero about 3 weeks later, and the stench was ghastly, and it sticks in one's body and clothes and mind for some time.  Carolee Schneemann, the well known body/performance artist, later exhibited her "Terminal Velocity," photographs as a kind of (she says)  "'In Memorium' -- an attempt to get closer and closer and closer to the representative figures who were either jumping or thrown out of the windows by the extensive heat and falling to their deaths [on September 11]. I wanted to study them and try to understand aspects of falling and what the absolute dynamic of gravity was going to do. I was not commenting on the social construction of information." [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/11/carolee-schneemann_n_4415261.html]

Then what courage, mother.

Agreeing with Fereshteh, I would also ask about identification with victims - nosotros somos x -  , "how to put myself in their place, to imagine their situation, but it is not so easy. The psychological pressure is so immense that no one can bear it"? 

Pia speaks of design, and the not-newsdesk patterns, "of some aspects you might not have realized, even if you heard about the bombing and blockade of Gaza, the “targeted” assassinations and demolitions of the houses of suspects and their families." The victimization (more secret, indirect, not public horror show). You answered my question of what you mean by kitsch

Threads of resistance are also mentioned by both Pia and Ana.

-  Alaska

Then the homeland, where do you go back to?  Olga's views on patriotism seem diametrically opposed to Ana's (Ana, why would patriotism or nostalgia seem foreign to you, what made you return to Uruguay? and how do you experience the militant fanatic believer, the one that, as Fereshteh mentioned, may stand quietly on the street corner to pass out reading material)?

Can we talk about knowledge or performance other than knowing, and Pia you raised a comparison, that we may want to address:
....<kitsch --  working in the most trite way on basic emotions. (And what is the difference to art aiming at evoking emotions? The difference might lie in the kind of emotions: Expected ones by a public execution are false, art means to generate genuine feeling. At least it is to be hoped that there is a difference.)>

Erik and several others spoke of "clichés" of terror and violence.  

Having attended the "Networked Bodies" exhibition at Watermans Art Center (London) yesterday, I could not help being distracted by the media art and performances there. Ka Fai Choy exhibited a mind boggling and disturbing series of movement experiments (filmed) that show him testing 'digital muscle memory movement design', learning movement through memory-muscle mapping and muscle memory transfer (shock stimulators, electrodes attached to arms and hands). On the first LCD screen, Choy is seen learning the radical butoh artist Tatsumi Hijikata's  1973 dance 'Eternal Summer Storm.'   Choy's work is titled "Prospectus for a Future Body".  
[ http://issuu.com/mirena/docs/networked_bodies_programme_a2c24d4f34fbef ]

On the way home, I also read a dance review, of South African choreographer Dada Masilo's production of "Carmen" in Lyon, apparently severely criticized by French and Spanish critics as having "played too dangerously with
clichés of flamenco."  

Danger play, or "serious games" as Olga called them, seems to aggravate a sense of patrimony ("our" flamenco, how dare this black artist from South Africa show this kind of sexual violence against women through the sacred flamenco?).  The stink of property, degraded, of propriety violated.

   - Limited Hang-out

"I sacrificed myself for God" [Murat]

Reinhold writes: <A phantasm is anything beyond, it is part of history. But in form of trauma. It repeats itself but does not change and it does not get a form of public expression or of actualization which would be symbolic and unique at the same time. Art and the juridical take part in this kind of actualization......     Antigone buries Polyneices saying that his life was unique (and therefore more important than the law).>

"There is a balm in Gilead"  (traditional African American spiritual).

I thought about the testimonies heard here, and also the writing, the literary references many of us seem to make, references to so-called sacred texts, too. Is this not disturbing (Alan suggested there is no God, but that does not seem to hold true for many) ?  does our creative work, or our teaching or working life, "stray" into politics? can one "discourse" on terror for a month on a fictitious round table do anything, say on the level of working together? And how come the labyrinths of solitudes and other novels tend to seem inextricable mix ups of fiction and history, genealogies (family plots) and faith/betrayal, theological parables all?  Do these parables and psalms have a limited life span or are they design, según las lettras  [after the Word]?

Lastly, what part do art and the juridical take, as Reinhold suggests, in the ethical dilemma we have here, namely the talking (which has not stopped the terror, just as political summits have not reached agreements on action regarding climate change, hunger, economic inequality, wars on terror, wars on drugs)?

Johannes Birringer

(listening to tracks on "Massauu" by PAF)

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