Globalizing ProtestMarco Scotini
“Globalizing Protest”, the exhibition due to open on Wednesday, 23rd November at the Galleria Artra in Milan, marks the first personal show in Italy by the Viennese artist Oliver Ressler (born in 1970). Ressler’s new project has been specifically designed for the Milan space and brings together his different conceptual and visual artistic strategies.
Ressler is one of the new generation of artists operating in the “grey area” that exists between art and politics who develop projects on a variety of social themes using different media. But what particularly distinguishes Ressler’s work compared to others and has led to his international renown is the role of policy activist he assumes through his documentary and social inquiries, through the production of slogans and publicizing campaigns that serve many and various types of political agitation and social conflict, and finally through conferences, publications, counter-information campaigns and exhibitions that gather together the results of his investigations.
In this respect, one of the fundamental aspects of Oliver Ressler’s work is his collaboration with political activists, anti-racist groups, immigrant organizations, student groups and so forth. Two examples of the complex nature of Ressler’s work are projects such as “European Corrections Corporation” on the privatization of prisons, created with Martin Krenn as a container installation in the centres of Graz, Linz and Munich, and the current project “Boom!” with David Thorne, dealing with the contradictions inherent in global capitalism.
Already renowned for his participation in shows such as “Making Things Public” at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, “The Interventionists” at the MASSMOCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art), and “Attack!” at Vienna’s Kunsthalle, Ressler has been working since 2003 on one of his most important projects: “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies”, an itinerant and ongoing show presented so far in eighteen different exhibition spaces, from Madrid’s Centro Cultural Conde Duque to the Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center in Istanbul. The scope of the work is to present a variety of alternative ways of thinking, from Zapatist self-government to Ralf Burnicki’s ‘Anarchist Consensual Democracy’.
The “Globalizing Protest” exhibition at the Artra Gallery focuses on different strategies and ideas that point the way towards a less hierarchical, self-determining society – one that can definitely not be a capitalist society. The term “globalizing” also refers to the different sources for the exhibition material. Two photographic works deal with the Geneva G8 summit in 2003 and the Edinburgh G8 in 2005. The Genoa G8 is the subject of the video “Disobbedienti” (2002), filmed in Italy with Dario Azzellini, while other works have been conceived for no-global demonstrations of various kinds.
Videos, photographs, photographic and text montages and banners are just some of the material that will be on show in Milan. At times they assume the character of an appeal, of counter-propaganda, accusation, testimony and critical reflection. One example is the photomontage “Politics Thwarting the Logic of Rule”, referring to Rancière’s book “La Mèsentente” (The Disagreement), which shows a perfectly mirrored, superimposed image of demonstrators and a line-up of police.
Curatorial text for the exhibition “Globalizing Protest” at the Artra Gallery, Milano, 2005