čtvrtek 11. července 2013

22. 4. 2013
O novém

The man who wears a star, whether he is a figure in the crowd or a major character, has a limited range of responses to situations. The same is the case with men who wear lab coats, carry sawed-off shotguns, or drink their whisky straight. These men are their functions in the plot.
Thomas Sobchack, Genre films: a classical experience 

The members of Rafani invited the former minister of law and representative of right-wing party ODS, Jiri Pospisil, to deliver a lecture preceding their exhibition in Gallery 207. In preamble, the art group disclaimed this lecture as being part of the exhibition; inviting the spectators not to look in the direction of art, they left them as citizens in front of a person who represents them, more or less. Rafanis set a democratic frame while putting aside the prism of their own reading. The host mentioned he did not see clear in the reasons of his presence; he would at least, according to his own words, fulfill Rafani’s ‘scenario’. The term scenario took on a slightly suspicious consonance; it could be a carefully phrased remark in front of a public presumed unfavorable, but above all, Jiri Pospisil underlined the symbolical dimension of his presence, assuming to be a character playing a part and serving an unreadable intention. The lecture itself focused on the general lines of the ODS (its values), did not last on the balance (rather pointing out the prejudices of power changes for sustainable politics). During the debate, the ensemble of citizens appeared more distinctively as a group willing to get answers according to its own concerns. For what comes to the relevance of the ODS values and the answers given, each person present can draw his/her own conclusions. For what comes to a relationship between this lecture and the exhibition, the intervention of Jiri Pospisil set a first direct encounter between the fact and the ideology.
            The exhibition itself encloses two elements: a movie and a performance. The title About the New combines a classical form for the entitlement of an essay (objective and didactic turn) to the idea of the new, then. An immediate shortcut may merge: the new settles for fulfilling preexisting structures. Numerous similar connections can pop up while watching the exhibition, words couple suggesting easy connections (law/punishment/freedom/executive/execution) and echoing each other while at the same time hardly letting any reading line fully develop.
            The movie is installed on the external side of a gallery’s wall. It consists in a short fiction taking over the classical codes of the action movie: cutting out of the main figure on a landscape, solitary progression of the character carrying the moral values (the hero), action of the hero asserting/reestablishing/defending the values of the society. In this very case, the hero leads a punitive raid against a pig. Rafani operates an extreme reduction of a narrative formula, and thereby focuses on an archetypal scheme. The archetype calls for a reading according to known codes. Staging elements as well as the hero’s speeches content are characterized by their ambivalence. The hero heard in voice-over asserts in turns the irreducible violence of democracy (‘despotism of majority’) and an ideological radicalization (conquering universalisation of the most basic individual needs) leading to the exhortation of a preacher, while the anarchist flag plays against cast and the crime weapon could stand for one of the attributes of law, the glaive (sword?), as well as the rebel’s knife (and assimilated).
            The movie plot could tell the taking of power by a force of opposition as well as the solving of a succession matter in shadowed zones of power. It could correspond to a reactionary discourse (the call for a new order being necessarily associated a bloody perspective) like it could point out the repressive dimension of governance, or the dangers of any attempt of governance outside the juridical frames of democracy. However, developing those tracks is vain, given the fact that the movie operates above all an equivalence of power and counter-power equally subsumed under the common indications of force abuse and ideology. The speeches’ solemnity itself is in fine denied by a both severe and derisory act, the pig killing.
            The pig plays its cast of the ‘eternally guilty’ (according to the historian of pigs Michel Pastoureau), and hence the ideal expiatory victim. So, to grab what’s sure in the plot, who killed it? The succession of shots includes a static point around which the movie revolves. Two shots frame the same part of reality. The first one shows a group of men immobilising an invisible being (situation evaluated by the hero’s look), the second one shows the hero transmitting the order of killing and, basically, putting things in order. The pig has been executed by a remote and indistinct underling, who obeyed a porter of flag blind towards this action, who himself served the leader that would not dirty his hands. The repetition between these two shots puts them in relation and the confusion raised by Rafani’s use of symbols (too meaningful to be absurd, too meaningful to make sense) may have cleaned the place for this question: to which extent did the leader merely complete the action or the wish of the group of men (now being retired from an action they initiated)? Whom stands he for?
            The untitled movie stages a man without a name corresponding though to a type of character: the mercenary (vigilante), a darkened version of the upholder of the law (the one who got urbanised, takes advantage of law malfunctions, rationalizes his quest in a manicheic way and finds the shortest way to fulfill his goal (as defined by Pia Pandelakis in her thesis The hero who came undone: Representation of Heroism in American movies). Once the symbols put apart, the context in which the character acts reveals itself as being close and common (contemporary era, muddy landscape, regular clothes), but the expeditious succession of shots does not enable to anchor the plot steps in a temporality.
            Rafani combines an ironic emphasis on ideals at distance to the most down-to-earth realism. Here realism is called up to produce an ‘effect of real’, notion forged by Roland Barthes: an element not aiming to signify in the plot, but to enhance the feeling of verisimilitude. The use of the information thread extends this way of doing. Getting a news-line run on the screen is quite conventional for denouncing the world run or info transmission in general. From the superposition of the movie and the line feed merge some funny associations, but this line above all distracts; it distracts from hearing the speech, it troubles the perception of the film’s duration: the short movie that is remarkably short, probably shorter than some current long feature movie trailers, appears quite long when compared to the rhythm the world run writes itself.
            Besides the screen, a man in black stands in the frame of the gallery repainted in black. Here also, he can embody both a law executive (in his hand: the police officers baton) and a rebel (secrecy of the camouflage). So he’s a potential mercenary too, this figure enabling to stand for both. He represents the force and a potential threat for those who aim to come closer – transgressing him is necessary for getting a beer. His presence soon stops being intimidating, though the code of his action remains unknown (shall he act according to his will, interact with a spectator, or at some point execute some Rafanis secret instruction?). The thirsty spectator has to decide if he’s indeed a threat or a scarecrow: after a while it appears everyone took the same option, and got used to this man’s presence, assuming he won’t act anymore because he did not act so far. The fact that the performer did not move is peculiarly strong considering he daily mimes in the street: one could not have the hands more tied, one could not operate in a higher combination of fleeting noticing and general indifference. The demonstration promised by the exhibition’s title might happen in the relationship to this figure – not in the direction of the look, in the implacable demonstration of the feature movie where elements tend to neutralize each other –, but right besides, in the habituation to this character.
            Rafani’s exhibition functions on the basis of an immediate familiarity for a viewer who’ll soon meet the limits of his identification. Referring to Thomas Sobchack sentence quoted up, the use of symbols and types is intrinsically linked to a restricted significance. Rafanis add to this restriction another level: the impossibility to situate what should merely accomplish its function in the plot opens for the viewer a semantic void, while the direct superposition of the ideology and the facts, the ways back and forth between the abstract and the matter of fact increases his/her speculation. It seems to me that the efficiency of Rafanis exhibition does not lie into subverting symbols by revealing their nature (the jamming of context gets them derealized) than in establishing multiple processes of suggestion raising in the spectator a diffuse feeling of deprivation.

Anne-Claire Barriga

Rafany všichni dobře známe. Možná i proto byl při příležitosti jejich výstupu v galerii 207 použit u předcházejících prezentací již osvědčený model oslovení někoho jiného, aby hovořil. Vernisáži tedy předcházela přednáška o principech a idejích ODS v posluchárně 215, kde vystoupil JUDr. Jiří Pospíšil, místopředseda strany ODS a místopředseda Poslanecké sněmovny PČR. Výběr tohoto politika byl podle Rafanů dílem náhody, tedy losovali mezi parlamentními stranami. Los ukázal na ODS a ze sekretariátu příslušné strany byl pověřen právě tento pomazaný. Podle Rafanů neměla Pospíšilova prezentace s výstavou souviset, a propojím-li ji s následujícím výstupem v galerii, snad ani nesouvisela. Pokud ano, pak přeneseně tím, že byl proveden iniciační akt oslovení politika, aby navštívil akademickou půdu – prostředí, pro jehož autonomii hraje míra svobody důležitou roli. Právě proporce svobody jsou do jisté míry záležitostí politiků – toho, do jaké míry je politici mohou ovlivňovat a určují.
Rafani se dlouhodobě věnují tématu svobody. Ne jinak tomu bylo v Galerii 207, kterou na týden proměnili z white cube na black cube, což také koresponduje s jejich vizuálním stylem a používáním černé barvy. Abych ovšem nepředbíhal, součástí téhož byl taktéž iniciační akt oslovení pouličního mima-herce, který, oděn stejně tak v černém se začerněným obličejem a s předmětem nápadně připomínajícím klacek v ruce držel ve vstupu do galerie stráž. To vytvářelo jisté pnutí, zda se bude něco dít. Po celou dobu vernisáže zůstal však figurant na stejném místě, stejně tak jak jej možná potkáme v Praze na ulici. Kdo však chtěl, mohl do galerie nahlédnout a ověřit si, zda tam není ještě něco kromě černého provedení a běžného vernisážového občerstvení – basy s pivem. Galerie jinak zůstala zcela prázdná, to další podstatné probíhalo vedle vstupu na venkovní zdi galerie, kde Rafani prezentovali skupinové video. To se skládalo ze tří rovin. Prvním byl děj ve smyčce, další mluvené slovo, třetím pak doplňující titulky, které známe z běžného televizního zpravodajství, kdy během pořadů nebo reportáží běží na liště informační text o proběhnuvších událostech.
Slova Rafanů vyjadřujících se k svobodě zní: „Svobodni jsme tehdy, když se můžeme pustit do takového řešení obtíží, jež většina lidstva uznala za nejlepší. Obejde se to s nepatrnou dávkou násilí. A rovněž k svobodě je potřeba, aby se nám právo na ni co nejméně upíralo, abychom tedy byli co nejméně nuceni násilí používat. Každému z nás stačí malý stůl, židle, mísa a lůžko. K obživě chleba a slabý čaj. Ale mimo to potřebujeme všechno jídlo světa pro chudé, všechen čistý vzduch, absolutní moc a veškeré svobody pro celé lidstvo. Tedy úplnou proměnu lidstva.“
Akce děje je zasazena do pošmourné zimní krajiny a jeho finálním aktem je podříznutí prasete, v něčem trochu připomínající rituální popravu. Tyto dvě roviny spolu zdánlivě nesouvisí, nejvíce matoucí mohou však být běžící podtitulky.
Pakliže se Rafani vyjadřují ke svobodě, nedávají v tomto videu jasný návod, jak by měla tato svoboda fakticky fungovat, popřípadě jak jí dosáhnout. To, jak zde o ní mluví, je v praxi neuplatnitelné. Jde spíš o ambivalentní vyjádření. Snímáním obrazu v estetizujicím prostředí krajiny video vyvolává velmi senzuální, až poetický zážitek. Ten může vybízet k otázce po svobodě a odkazovat na ni jako základní a určující hodnotu v chápání a utváření našeho života.
Matouš Lipus

 foto: Matěj Pavlík a Iveta Schovancová

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