What Would It Mean To Win

A film by Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler

40 min., HD, AT/AU 2008

“What Would It Mean To Win?” was filmed on the blockades at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany in June 2007. In their first collaborative film Zanny Begg and Oliver Ressler focus on the current state of the counter-globalisation movement in a project which grows out of both artists’ preoccupation with globalisation and its discontents. The film, which combines documentary footage, interviews, and animation sequences, is structured around three questions pertinent to the movement: Who are we? What is our power? What would it mean to win?

“What Would It Mean to Win?”. Installation view: “Risk”, Kunsthalle Luzern, Luzern, 2008

Almost ten years after “Seattle” this film explores the impact this movement has had on contemporary politics. Seattle has been described as the birthplace for the “movement of movements” and marked a time when resistance to capitalist globalisation emerged in industrialised nations. In many senses it has been regarded as the time when a new social subject – the multitude – entered the political landscape. Recently the counter-globalisation movement has gone through a certain malaise accentuated by the shifts in global politics in the post 911 context.

“What Would It Mean to Win?”. Installation view: Taipei Biennial, Taipei, 2008

The protests in Heiligendamm seemed to re-assert the confidence, inventiveness and creativity of the counter-globalisation movement. In particular the five finger tactic – where protesters spread out across the fields of Rostock slipping around police lines – proved successful in establishing blockades in all roads into Heiligendamm. Staff working for the G8 summit were forced to enter and leave the meeting by helicopter or boat thus providing a symbolic victory to the movement.

“What Would It Mean to Win?”, still

“What Would It Mean To Win?”, as the title implies, addresses this central question for the movement. During the Seattle demonstrations “we are winning” was a popular graffiti slogan that captured the sense of euphoria that came with the birth of a new movement. Since that time however this slogan has been regarded in a much more speculative manner. This film aims to move beyond the question of whether we are “winning” or not by addressing what would it actually mean to win.

“What Would It Mean to Win?”, still
“What Would It Mean to Win?”, still
“What Would It Mean to Win?”, still

When addressing the question “what would it mean to win?” John Holloway quotes Subcomandante Marcos who once described “winning” as the ability to live an “infinite film program” where participants could re-invent themselves each day, each hour, each minute. The animated sequences take this as their starting point to explore how ideas of social agency, struggle and winning are incorporated into our imagination of politics.

“What Would It Mean to Win?”, 40 min., HD, AT/AU 2008 {with Zanny Begg}

Concept, Interviews, Film Editing, Production: Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler
Interviewees: Emma Dowling, John Holloway, Adam Idrissou, Tadzio Mueller, Michal Osterweil, Sarah
Camera: Oliver Ressler
Animation: Zanny Begg
Musik: Kate Carr
Image Editing: Markus Koessl
Sound Editing: Rudi Gottsberger
Special thanks to Turbulence, Holy Damn It, Conrad Barrett Grants: Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur; College of Fine Art Research Grants Scheme, Sydney