How would you describe the specific contribution of artistic strategies or artistic interventions within broader feminist and anti-racist struggles?
Emma Hedditch: I think it is like you [=Klub Zwei/Jo Schmeiser] were saying that it is in the way of this specific notion of the relationship to materials, the way of working with images, and a contribution within this specific field of knowledge. I think for me it’s important to claim the space, but to be cautious about also claiming that it is a space where these things can take place and that there are no other places for this discussion to happen, other spaces are disappearing. And simultaneously we can’t ignore the culture around artistic production and the history of the kind of embedded relationship with colonialism and capitalism that is really perpetuated within artistic spheres. Of course it is very complicated, but I do claim that we have the job as artist to not only remain stuck in the artistic field, but to also bring these skills and knowledge into other fields.
Klub Zwei/Jo Schmeiser: I wanted to react to you because what I enjoyed so much in your lecture was that you made perfectly clear that the whole vocabulary — you were talking about modernism — is defined or even contaminated by our histories of colonialism, racism, and in a German speaking context also of national socialism. Where do we take our visual vocabulary from? We have been to art academies; we have travelled internationally and looked at art shows and what people produce, but what is encased in and transmitted by this visual and textual vocabulary that we are using? […] When we cooperated with maiz for the very first time we thought that we had a better idea of what the result of our collaboration should look like. Today I don’t have this universalist view any more, I have learned from the criticisms of maiz. But back then I thought that I had been trained to know what a certain aesthetic expresses. I was not aware that this very much depends on the geographical and social position of the person who is looking. When, for example, at maiz they look at artistic production, they interpret it in other ways than I do. They have not been to an art academy but to university and have studied philosophy or liberation theology there, or they are using means like theater, performance, etc. in their political practice. So I learned a lot from maiz in terms of questioning the aesthetics I like and use: Which aesthetics do I consider good and why do I do that? Which views of the world are linked to it?
Marina Gržinić: I would like to say two things that I think are really important: One thing is looking at [my] personal history, listening to the debates about modernism I think it’s also important that although we who are discussing here are all white, there is a big difference in the constitution and the histories behind us, so we are all children of modernism. And the other side of the modernist paradigm is coloniality. So modernity cannot be thought of without coloniality. And this is, I think, the big lesson that comes from different postcolonial, and even more from de-colonial theories. If we simply look at the European context, though, we now speak about one space, although there have been differences historically. Because coming from a socialist context — it’s not important to say that you are “the Other”, but that there were other ideological prerogatives for the constitution of contemporary art. The demands were not connected so much to the market, but to the political discourse. Every move in art had the intention of radicalizing the work of art, and so especially in my case, or in the case of Aina Šmid, we were never thinking about these parameters of art, we were always thinking about the political and militant dispositive. Art worked as a place where you really put together critical practice […]. This is one thing, and the other is: We have to be very clear and very careful; in making a relation to Araba E. Johnston-Arthur, she is a theoretician and artist, but most of the time theoretician and activist from a research group for Black history and presence in Austria, so from a Black Diaspora group that is very active in Austria: She said that we have to be very careful when all these anti-racist discourses that are promoted are not once again used by leftist white positions who are also appropriating them in a way. […] She was very clear that this cannot be a new kind of genre, in the sense that we are now engaged in this and then in two or three years in something else.
Because the issue remains that those who are actually at the center of this, who actually ask for self-determination, are still excluded; they only can speak in very specific situations and are still considered an object that the dialogue is about and this is really an important matter that we all have to bear in mind when speaking about these topics.