In geopolitical terms, the phantasm currently experiencing a strong revival is the nation state. Is this visible in the 2016 works?
SSS: Many of the works deal with this very intensively. James T Hong explicitly addresses this subject matter in Terra Nullius or: How to be a Nationalist. It is about the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea which are claimed by Japan, Taiwan and China. The conflict dates from time immemorial and has in the meantime been reduced to purely nationalistic stances which mean there is no longer any rational reasoning.
In The Illinois Parables, Deborah Stratmann works through the history of this American state and, in eleven parables, singles out moments in its local history which shed light on the phantasms deriving from the idea of a nation state and reveal their absurdity.
UZ: The examinations of ideology and mythology run in various directions. Some works pursue these issues historically. For example, Abu Ammar is Coming, Naeem Mohaiemen’s work about the solidarity uniting freedom fighters in Bangladesh and the PLO. Legend has it that combatants from Bangladesh fought on the PLO’s side in Lebanon. With the aid of a photo, Mohaiemen tries to establish the verisimilitude of this legend.
Bunker Drama by Mike Crane shows the slaving away on one’s own national history. In Lithuania, an actor puts on history shows in a former Soviet bunker. People sent there include unemployed youths, courtesy of EU funding. They go through a simulated Soviet military training to make them fit for the job market – complete with a yelling Red Army general and a strongly biased image of Soviet times.
Egypt has undergone a lot as a nation state in recent years. Is there evidence of the political upheavals in the Egyptian films in the programme?
SSS: Of the four Egyptian films in the programme, three refer explicitly to the history of the country’s film and media. The films have become more experimental and personal and deal rather indirectly with the situation in their country. They are an expression of turning towards individual subjectivity and yet, at the same time, the experiences of recent years shine through because in Egypt the political permeates every aspect of life. The artists want to position themselves and discover different ways of expression, an individual visual language.