Archiv der Kategorie 'Randnotizen 2012'

Fare well to the Sheriff – leaving Alfred,NY.

21. 2. 2013 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2012

We write the 20th, rose early,
departure is set for DC at 5:30 am
and onward to Vienna late in the day.
Took one more seat on the Cohen Center porch,
my favourite late afternoon bench.
The University has ordered four Dodge charged rental wheels,
identical to the black rubber donuts of the Sheriffs cruiser,
they wait darkened on the lot.
The suitcases are loaded, heavy over the rear axle,
holding the wheels to the ground.
Walked off the porch into Alfred´s morning darkness air
and danced onto yellow marked Main,
but the Sheriff would not come.
Waited and inhaled the ragweed that huddles in the meadows about,
their dust has frozen, my nose is clear and takes notice no more.
No noise frome the cruiser,
the Sheriff won´t come.
Reluctant I take to the steering,
sway away,
to discolor the yellow double markers
with a wheelie
the road out of town.

about monuments

1. 1. 2013 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2012

Some weeks ago I visited the museum Topography of Terror in Berlin, built where once were the headquarters of the SS, the secret police and the Reich Security Main Office. I wanted to see the projects of a contest for a new monument, dedicated to the victims of T4, the euthanasic program of the nazis. “The Topography of Terror Foundation, the working group T4 Round Table and the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe are involved in planning the memorial site.” (…) “The classification, selection and murder of these patients made this the first centrally organised and systematic process of mass murder carried out by the National Socialists.” (

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Close to 200,000 or 300,000 persons supposed to have hereditary mental or physical disabilities (Erbkranke was the term in use) were killed between 1939 and 1945 in different hospitals which were adapted to that purpose. One of them was the communist Olga Benario, which particular disability were to be jewish and to fight capitalism. The gas chambers were developped originally by the T4 program and later used in the holocaust. However, we must remind that before killing the Erbkranke, the nazis had already killed thousands of communist and other political enemies. These also massive crimes were the “primitive accumulation of the genocide”, using the term that Juan Carlos Marin applied for the thousands of political crimes in Argentina in the three previous years to the last dictatorship . (Juan Carlos Marn. Los Hechos Armados. Argentina 1973-1976. La acumulacin primitiva del genocidio. Ed. La Rosa Blindada – PICaSo)

Designing a monument, choosing a project between many, building a place for remembering this piece of history and giving it a proper use and legitimacy, seems to be a very hard task.

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The winner of the contest was the project of Ursula Wilms, who also designed Topographie des Terrors… It consists on a semitransparent glass wall over a black granite surface. It will presumably be nicer in a sunny winter day that under the sun of summer. But that would be, in fact, an interesting idea: to make you feel you just cant stand there, that you are not in a safe and comfortable place devoid of conflict. Some instructions may be installed so people do not touch the glass or play volleyball. Just like in the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin (that other monument to abstract art with rect angles) where people can not sit nor jump or play, as the architecture of the place invite them to do, but obbey guardsadmonitions and instructions that are written on the floor.

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Against the subjective safety elicited by the parallelepipeds of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the architect Robert Burghard has proposed an inversed version, in tridimensional terms, where instead of blocks there are holes. There is also a hospital in situ for healing visitors that may fall inside. The location is transfered to the place where the DDR Palace of the Republic stood before its demolition, in order to prevent the rebuilding of the castle of the Hohenzollern, the kings of Prussia, still waiting for their political revival after a century and quite close to come back from their graves. (

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The 2nd prize of the T4 contest was for Yves Dreier, who brought the project for building a robot, a quite close estethic relative of Star Wars’ R2d2, which is able to write “I love you” on the floor once and once again. It may work as a testimony of human failure to face History, in contrast to the digital storage of memory.

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The team of Kapok proposed to use a variegated group of twisted trees as main element, in contrast to a platton of straight trees. The metallic structures that support the trees trigger voices with testimonies. It seems that the comparison of trees and humans was more resisted in the jury than a writing robot or a big glass screen. Elias Canetti thought that forests were the main symbol of mass for the germans, but that was before every natural wood of Germany disappear for making cars.

The common experience for most of us is that monuments are boring and devoid of any significance, just like almost every art exhibition. The social forces tend to make them: 1. part of the machine of reproducing normality and boredom in the surplus cities, 2. a testimony of traffic of influences in public institutions, 3. an exhibition of technoarchitectural power and 4. a double attempt of perennial administrations on forging History and being remembered.

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But it’s not always like that or just like that: the Gleis 17 monument in the train station of Grunewald, Berlin, is a meaningful place. The platform 17 was one of the main points of deportation of Berlin jews to the concentration and extermination camps. The decision was to install all along the railways metallic plates with the dates of deportation, number of deported jews and the place of destination. They are in chronological order, so you can follow the regularity and the rythm of the deportation as a bureaucratic and normalised process, that ended just some weeks before german capitulation. There is no representational nor symbolical expression of the architect ego. Some trees are growing in the railways, serving as a symbolical obstacle for future functional use. The monument was an initiative of the Deutsche Bahn and the project was designed by the team of Hirsch, Lorch & Wandel. The German train, by the way, has been recently sued in US courts, as the french SCNF also, for the key role of its antecessor DRB (Deutsche Reich Bahn) in the holocaust. Jews were forced to pay the tickets to their death to the SS. The SS then paid the DRB, or the SNCF in France, a third class ticket for every passenger. Children paid half price. Now thousands of survivors want the modern and expensive european trains to help them pay their medical bills. I hope they do. Effective monuments are not enough.

The possibilities of monuments are not restrained to designing and visiting them, but also give a chance to more original interactions. This is the monument in the Berlin Hasenheide Park to the memory of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, the founder of german gymnastics and enemy of the aristocracy, priests, Frenchs, Poles, Napoleon and Jews, between other non really germans.

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The degradation of the Buenos Aires Monument to Julio Argentino Roca was initiated in 2004 by the Comision Anti Monumento Roca, via graffities and different interventions.

roca stencil

Roca was a general that became president of Argentina (1880-1886 and 1898-1904) after leading the killings of thousands of mapuche in the south of the country for the expansion of Argentinian borders. His statue is one of the biggest in Buenos Aires and was erected in 1941.


Since the interventions began the monument lost its powerful aura. Its walls are being used since then for gluing posters of every kind. The discussions about this killer of indians and his representation in schoolbooks, monuments and in the 100 pesos banknotes multiplied.

This year Cristina Kirchner announced that his face in the highest argentinian bill will be removed and give place to Evita.


In the last couple of years a group of artists and activists are collecting keys for making an alternative bronze statue and remove the equestrian image of Roca. Their idea is quite platonic: to make a monument to the aboriginal woman. This female figure would represent all the women from mapuche, tehuelche, toba, wichi, guaran, ranculche, pilags and other cultures. The esculptor on charge is Andrs Zerneri who already made super Che Guevaras statue in Rosario. The rejection of classical repressive characters is a positive step in our historical conciousness growth, but we are still lacking a stronger rejection of the formats and the relationships of obedience that make them possible.

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Some people have proposed to go on with the degradation of the monument, but reloaded. They remind us that Roca was part of History and believe that is good to remember him as well as the social class that made the monument and still salute him. But they propose to do it in a more proper and sensitive way.

disarm a hog – rearm them with art

20. 12. 2012 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2012

The Terra Cotta coffee house opens at 7:30 sharp.
The leaves, frost and snow have moved up to the door steps.
The regulars are in their seats by 7:32
and oh so seldom the Sheriff rode in for an extra-large cafe-late to go.


Had to block his path at the counter of condiments
to serve a reprimand to the fellow today.

to serve a reprimand to the fellow today.
“Sir, that 36-shooter side arm of national socialist manufacture,
is hardly suitable for a Sheriff, who conducts his duty on University grounds.
It would be well, to send it back to the little corner of Austria, where it was produced.


Just imagine, the holster around your middle, then vacant, could receive a new host.
One that would ease your burden by providing you and your clients
with an extraordinary tactile and aesthetic sensation.”

The Sheriff while stirring his coffee remarked: “and how do you expect me to do my job?”

“Well Sir, with grandeur, as an enlightened man in the company of art made of wood, held together with rabbit skin glue
and painted in fuchsia and green.


The Sheriff put on a brief smile, replaced the cover to the coffee cup and slid out to his
sliver horse waiting near the parking meter.

missing strategies

30. 11. 2012 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2012

Strategy and tactics are key related concepts that recognise the existence of conflict and the necessity of anticipation for those who take part. Coming from the knowledge of war, they have pervaded all kind of institutional discourses, including those of marketing, art and science, where social confrontations usually remain obscured. Sharing a definition of these concepts and a common understanding of their relationship can be useful to orientate our participation in communication activities that seek for social change.

The concept of ‘strategy’ refers to the development of all the combats all along time and space in a war. For establishing a strategy it must be considered the total force which will be involved in all the confrontations. Each of these it’s a particular composition of forces that enter into a direct exchange. The term ‘tactics’ refers to each singular and direct encounter.

The real development of a war and its combats is not a linear result of the confrontation between two fighting logics, of the strategic lines and the toolbox of tactics defined by those who take decisions in the bands in conflict. To believe soweshould dismiss many facts that escape to the plans and hold a teleologic conception of the belic, the political and economic dimensions of reality, where everythingwould result of the strongest will and the best plan. But in reality, in our most intimate or public struggles,we must deal with both chance and necessity, as well with processes that remain out of reach of our conceptual frames.

“I call a strategy the calculation (or manipulation) of power relationships that becomes possible as soon as a subject with will and power (a business, an army, a city, a scientific institution) can be isolated. It postulates a place that can be delimited as its own and serve as the base from which relations with an exteriority composed of targets or threats (customers or competitors, enemies, the country surrounding the city, objectives and objects or research, etc.) can be managed.”

This is a more extended version of the paragraph of Michel De Certeau quoted during the openning of Steirischer Herbst by Florian Malzacher, who then added:

“Strategies belong to the ones in power. Tactic, on the other hand is the art of the weak, that fights that power: it operates in isolated actions, blow by blow. It takes advantage of opportunities and depends on them, being without any base where it could stockpile its winnings, build up its own position, and plan raids. But we chose the term strategies on purpose, not because we are an institution, and by such perhaps one of the subjects with will and power to which De Certeau refers. But we are also interested in how the consequent use of certain tactics, the combination of certain tactics, the invention of tactics follow strategies or form strategies.”

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If we want to find consistent antihegemonic strategies from the political to the artistic, and viceversa, we can’t wait that these will emerge from the tactics themselves. We can learn many things from collecting and comparing tactics, in order to increase our potential toolbox when new tactics are needed, but we will have to jump to a wider dimension where those tools are also included. Tactics will be there but in relationship to other elements, other social identities and in another scale of time and space. Every tactical action belongs already to a strategy: to a scheme of action that has set his strategic goals. Of course, it may be not your own but other people’s strategy. When we don’t think for ourselves other brains are thinking for us. The weak playing tactic games that can offer a transient resistance or a moment of surprise to the strong, but are devoid of any strategic accumulation, on the long term help the latest to increase their financial, cultural and belic power.

When a bunch of people, weaker or stronger, decide together a specific tactic, they share already a conceptual frame of conflicts and desires that belong to the strategic dimension. Wecan then see strategy and tactics as two different scales of decision in a struggle, which relationship will have someconceptual challenges similar as those present in theproblematics between local and global, abstract and concreteor acting and thinking.


In our development as individuals, which biologists call ontogeny, action is previous to thought. Babies start to explore the world before thinking about the world. The same discovery of having hands need the hands to move previously. The same happens in the microscopic level: hazardous movement of cell structures are a precondition for the occurrence of functional connections. Neurons are active in early stages of brain development before specific synapsis are wired. Though the ontogenic origin of learning through action is an universal experience, once we understand that our actions may have some consequences, thinking becomes an increasingly important action. Thinking is an action too, but it requires other kind of actions to avoid circular compulsions to repetition or the danger of loosing ourselves in the rethorical cauliflowers that Max Ernst so much abhorred. On the other hand, the experiences and lessons we “collect” as knowledge of more complex processes are not just an original product of our own personal actions and reflexions but mainly from others. Our strategic and ideological constructs, then, are not an emergent construction of our tactical experiences and the reflexion and generalisation on them, even when theyhave the chance of enjoyinga consistent totality. They are alsothe result of confrontations in the theoretical field.

The question for being concrete is not to keep just in the tactical dimension, but making a strongerattempt to discuss strategies both for the “inside” of the cultural-artistic field itself and its “outside”, its connections with human and nature exploitation,which means with war.