[-empyre-] Vor dem Gesetz/Before the Law, hoveringly

Monika Weiss gniewna at monika-weiss.com
Wed Nov 19 15:37:44 EST 2014

Leila Sadat, a scholar of international crime and law, with whom I collaborated two years ago, has invited me to perform a new project, silent lamentation shared with dozens of participants in my Sustenazo series, and with choral sound composition. It opened the 10th anniversary of ICC, held at the Whitney Harris International Law Institute which she directs. She told me that none of her many important books, in which she collected data, and which contain highly reliable information, including numbers, facts and testimonies as well as other documents of genocides and atrocities committed by entire nations—none of this can ever replace, she said, a kind of ‘shortcut’, an emotional and affective  immediacy that she perceived in the work that I do. Only recently there were first trials in Rwanda. In general, only some of the perpetrators are ever tried, or, as Rustom writes, in some/many other places none of them are ever tried at all. Leila would travel around the globe, she would see and meet the communities, the individuals, the whole generations and nations affected, mourning, in suspension of trauma, but not fully mourning. What voice do they have, she asked me. Where does it live, the voice… http://www.artisttalk.eu/monika-weiss-us/  When we met for the second time, I gave her “Frames of War”, the importance of asking over and over, after J. Butler, the question ‘who is worthy of mourning’. I feel there is a need for both grass-root organizing (as Rustom
writes) and activism but also the actions or enactments within public space that are artifacts (at artifacts as the connecting tissue) — which provide the “shortcut” or the immediacy through the symbolic language or site, or through transferring/imprinting—giving voice. The two types of engaging of public space are sometimes overlapping (activism and artifact). What Krzysztof (Wodiczko) did with his projection of veterans and their voices onto Lincoln monument. What I hope to do in Delihi, around India Gate.  The practice we are engaged in comes with response-ability and this goes for philosophers and artists alike, I believe. The public nature or public (polis) potential of our activities should not be relegated into simply the space of flowerings, the ‘roses’ that have no place during the  burning times of wars. Baczyński saved several identical manuscripts of his poems, burred deep under the ground, under the floors of his home’s cellar, under layers of later collapsed buildings of Warsaw (exploded and burned one by one), as he knew there was no way of survival. But why saving poetry? Why Avanza under Pinochet?  Baczyński’s poem ‘Rains’ saved so many lives under the harsh grip of communist regime, years after his death. It in—formed my life. Yes, this is a defense of poetry, writing in the hour of terror and of horror, the defense of the ponos and the poinoi, both are hidden and exposed, shared and painfully solitary. Why burning of books (including music sheets), what danger can arise from words, notes and images? The powerlessness of poetry is not so powerless (as in John Berger’s Hour of Poetry). p.s. On the subject of ecstatic cinema and its violence (frame) and Butler’s framing of war — the question is how we frame, what and how, for whom, towards whom, towards what. The possibility of political community of another order, that of our own shared reframing.


More information about the empyre mailing list