Installations, videos and projects in public space

by Oliver Ressler

The Right of Passage


A film by Zanny Begg and Oliver Ressler, 19 minutes, 2013

“We can’t imagine a global citizenship or any concept of dynamic citizenship if we don’t think about it not only in terms of law but in terms of the political economy of bodies that move. There have to be structures that can receive and host this kind of movement. This is why citizenship is not simply a subjective phenomenon but also an objective phenomenon of hospitality” – Antonio Negri, The Right of Passage.

In their third collaborative film Zanny Begg (Sydney) and Oliver Ressler (Vienna) focus on struggles to obtain citizenship, while at the same time questioning the implicitly exclusionary nature of the concept.

The Right of Passage is partially constructed through a series of interviews with Ariella Azoulay, Antonio Negri and Sandro Mezzadra. These interviews form the starting point for a discussion in Barcelona, one of Europe’s most densely populated and multicultural cities, with a group of people living “without papers”. The film is set at night, against a city skyline, providing a dark void from which those marginalized and excluded can articulate their own relationship to the arbitrary nature of national identity and citizenship. Spain was chosen for this project as it is teetering on the brink of financial meltdown and is testing the limits of European cohesion.

The title, The Right of Passage, refers to the stages, or “rites of passage” that mark important transitions on the path to selfhood. The exchange of “rites” with “rights” suggests that freedom of movement must become a right granted to every person – regardless of his or her place of birth. As the film explores these journeys not only transform those who embark upon them but also the places they inhabit.

In the film, the conversations around citizenship are interwoven with animated sequences.

Concept, film editing and production: Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler
Passport sequences: Zanny Begg
Camera and interviews: Oliver Ressler
Camera in Barcelona: Carlos Chang Cheng, Roberto Martín
Sound recording: Oliver Ressler
Sound design, mix and color correction: Rudi Gottsberger
Original music: Kate Carr
Participants: Ariella Azoulay, Lucía Egaña, Sandro Mezzadra, Antonio Negri, Daniela Ortiz, Will Sands, Katim Sene, César Zúñiga
Production assistance and translation: Daniela Ortiz, Xose Quiroga, Jason Francis Mc Gimsey
The project was funded partly through a grant of BMUKK and the Australian Council for the Arts Barcelona Residency Program
Many thanks to Gerald Raunig

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5-min excerpt from the film