Artists: Boaz Arad and Miki Kratsman, Ariella Azoulay, Oliver Ressler, Lisa Biedlingmaier, Diego Castro, Köken Ergun, Francesco Finizio, Thomas Galler, Orr Herz and Ira Shalit, Hito Steyerl, Roee Rosen, Anna Witt, Hannes Zebedin, and the collection of Rudi Maier “Advertising and Revolt”
Curators: Joshua Simon and Siri Peyer
The premise for ReCoCo: Life Under Representational Regimes is based on the widespread understanding of politics through three key terms: resignation, conspiracy, and corruption (ReCoCo). Under the current state of what-is-called democracy, political agency took its form as resignation, political truths arrived in the shape of conspiracy theories, and governance became synonymous with corruption.
Beginning by asking “why do we have so many conspiracy theories?”, the exhibition focuses on the notion of representational regimes. With representational regimes we can observe a double-bound mechanism in the systems of political representation and the representations of the political system—one is the system of elected representatives by whom we are supposedly represented as “The People”; the other is the system of political representations, through which we are informed as “The Spectators.” The tension between us being viewers and us being the sovereign is expressed in a series of paradoxes. Our passivity under the two systems generates a discursive explosion of conspiracy theories. An outlet for the unresolved tension between our two forms of passivity—as viewers and as citizens—conspiracy theories are a product of hyperactive political passivity.
In the past it was customary to accuse the laymen of being too naïve, of believing in the rulers and those in power. But today it seems we can agree that the layman does not believe anyone any more. Conspiracy theories are common knowledge, they are no longer an esoteric subject of interest specific to those suffering from obsessive paranoia. Today it is mainstream, it is widespread—it is a pathology of the regime we share. Through an analysis of conspiracy theories, we can reevaluate the relation between participation and spectatorship in what-is-called democracy: we read the media—photos, captions, headlines, layout, and news stories—in a paranoid way. Being politically passive through the mechanism of representatives, we are compulsive with decoding representations of politics. TV news broadcasts produce a constant disbelief. Under the regime of representation the same questions constantly arise: “Where did this image come from? Who brought it to my knowledge? Why am I seeing this?” WikiLeaks’ non-representational journalism confronted the demise of journalism after the WMD lie, which allowed for the second American war in Iraq. WikiLeaks’ model of whistleblowing followed the formula of “more democracy through transparency,” which proves to be highly manipulative as a political model. Yet, since it began its operations, WikiLeaks could be regarded as one of the instigators of the world movement for social justice. And since—from Tehran to Cairo, from Tunis to Chile, from Wall Street to Rothschild Boulevard, from Syntagma Square to Puerta del Sol—new models of representation and political participation are being explored.
In what-is-called democracy we take part as spectators in narrating pseudo-events as political events. Our role is to validate the events as they unfold. ReCoCo is a term through which we can look at the construction and organization of different political concepts of representational regimes: transparency and media, spectatorship and sovereignty, citizenry and Nielsenism. Therefore, we should understand that our passivity is part of the deal. We take part in the pseudo-event of elections as sovereign and spectators. Hence, when we consider both meanings of representational regimes, by accepting them as what-is-called democracy, we all become part of the conspiracy. We are the alibi.