...important is the symbiosis between creative freedom and military order, That what we consider freedom today can only be conceived within sets of rules. So when one feels free, it is with reference to certain rules one feels one must not obey, taking for granted that (most) others adhere (slavishly) to these. New media which produces verisimilitudes through rules of computer programming data processing are perfect instruments for modeling the regulating structures which define our freedom.
(from an interview with Dorothee Robrecht)
installation by Baruch Gottlieb, featuring Teo Vadersen as "the soldier"
Contemporary democracy is less 'rule by the people' that a system of laws which operate similar to the laws of physics in an automaton, or the lines of code in a computer program, impervious, autonomous and impartial. The state is built of laws, inside the laws of the state there are only people, no state. Laws are just words, so what we have is a system of people and words. In an era of invisible computer codes made of the same material as the hardware they operate, the persistence of the flesh of the citizen concomitant with acoustic/scribal word of law seems increasingly anachronistic.
Global capital flows unmoored from gold standard or any physical ballast, interface freely with laws and codes, leaving the sorry citizen with its mortal body mass and implacable affections increasingly oblivious to the system in which it lives. Doubly so for the hired hand of the state, the “long arm of the law”, so to speak, the mortal men and women in the uniforms of national order and security, police and soldiers.
Army soldiers and police officers play two sides of the state's normative function. When they don the uniform they are magically transformed. The uniform erases their identity as a citizen of liberal democracy, everything they are taught to identify as themselves is irrelevant, they must act simply as the physical manifestation of the laws of their nation. They are the real presence of laws on earth. But since World War II, the Levinasian injunction has problematised the operative role of the person in uniform.
Though, seemingly antithetical to each other, the executors of policy and creators of freedom are deeply beholden to one another. One element protects and defends, and the other element generates the culture that deserves or redeems the sacrifice of the defenders.
Dienst is an exploration, a manifestation of the problematic symbiosis of the non-democratic, hegemonic command structure of the military or police spheres of any nation, which act as protective shells and a civilization of leisure and creativity, with a thriving market for artistic creations without which it could not persist.
The security forces exist at the liminal point between the Western notion of individuality and the self-sublimation required to function as an appendage of the state apparatus. If the obsolescing figure of a nation persists, it persist in the bodies of its police and soldiers. This portrait series will examine meeting place the personalization of a national agenda and the nationalization of the person inside the face of the uniformed agent of the state.
Dienst features three elements. 3-d computer generated portraits of men in uniform, with audio, a rudimentary barrier modeled after the one that stands at the entrance to Auschwitz, and framed theoretical sketches with graphics, some wooden objects..
In the course of a gradual neutralization of politics and the progressive surrender of traditional tasks of the state, security becomes the basic principle of state activity. What used to be one among several definitive measures of public administration until the first half of the twentieth century, now becomes the sole criterium of political legitimation.
- Georgio Agamben
.... from an interview with Dorothee Robrecht
Warum "new media art" als Darstellungsform dieses Themas?
Because New Media allows us to face the problem in an ambient form. This means I am able to convey the tension of the problem as something in flux, concurrent with the person in the room visiting the work.
My work takes various forms, stage performance, book, art installation, drawings, photography, traditional cinema and video, and in each case the form of communication is hone precisely to fit the context of presentation. When I show work in the art space, I treat the space like an ideal social space where we, as intellectually active citizens can encounter, contemplate and discuss central problems of what it means to be a citizen. The Art installation in the artspace should be provide a meeting place conducive for discussion and exchange.
This is also why I work with generative processes which continuously go over the same material, making ever varying correlations. The questions posed are too complex to be faced all at once. Through the ambient, generative form, people can step back, talk or think and gradually the immensity of the prblem can begin to sink in through the corner of the eye or as a background to a conversation. This form of art encourages the viewer to eschew easy answers and, hopefully, points the way towards other satisfactions in consciousness of the true complexity of our civil existence.
Dorothee Robrecht's Website
Blog Series from the Artist Talks