One last question: so for Klub Zwei, the experience you describe of receiving fewer invitations now than in the 1990s and you [Marina Gržinić] also experience the same, what can we do?
Klub Zwei/Jo Schmeiser: Most of the times when I go to an art show it’s completely uninteresting, there are very few things I see these days that I find interesting. Political issues seem to be almost entirely absent in most museums and galleries. There are not so many people in the art field today that deal with political topics let alone share our views and thoughts. But nevertheless there are also differences between the few of us who claim being feminist, antiracist and wanting to change society as it is. I feel we have to take into account and discuss this more. For example, institution or institutionalization is an issue that we need to address. Simone works at the Academy and, you [Marina] are a professor there. I earn my living mostly by working as a freelance graphic designer and lately as a trainer in the educational projects of maiz. Being not part of an institution means living and working precariously. What happens if you are part of the institution? What happens if you are not? What the institution does to us is so strong. But I have no answer to your question what we can do against the marginalization of political work within the art field. I think the only answer is that we always have to think about it and talk about it and criticize it. Or at least we have to criticize these contexts where it makes a little bit of sense, because of course when I go to a big art museum it doesn’t make any sense. I just stop going there because the art is not interesting anymore. I have no influence over it, but I can criticize the people I respect and I know and I like and tell them what happens when they are absorbed in an institution. And I expect the same from my friends and colleagues that they tell me when I start to depoliticize, for example, artworks that came out of a political context with maiz or whatever. And I’m really grateful when people tell me these critical points because this is what we need to talk about.
Emma Hedditch: I had this thought that also came up earlier today; and just thinking about what is happening in the exhibition spaces or these places and this notion of appropriation and absorption but of different practices from activism or from other fields that have been kind of worked on from inside art institutions. So I wonder what these connections are in terms of the transformation of the space; I also like to see how museums are responding to this dematerialization, as it’s called, but which is happening maybe in different ways through technology and more discursive practices that are often blamed for this reduction in the visual materials that we get to see in exhibitions. So I ask this question: what are the working conditions that you see and how that has changed over the years? For me, maybe it hasn’t changed or fluctuated that much for the last fifteen years. To say it has been more or less the same kind of level of trying to keep afloat in the work and in the engagement. So I don’t have the same experience, but the question was also that this idea because of the relationship to the economy and the possibility to survive from working as an artist or from teaching and how this is affected by the kind of practice you have. When you present a work that is made in this kind of collaboration context and when there is this question asked about the ethics of this collaboration, for me, this poses a problem because it simply seems to imply that we shouldn’t make this kind of work and this kind of work shouldn’t be inside of institutions.
So then maybe all these things are coming together in a way, like a kind of censorship, a self-censorship of working within institutional frameworks or a fear of this. Also because they are becoming much more corporately funded and this often implies a kind of fear of these contradictions of how the spaces are operating and for whom the exhibitions spaces are open.
Marina Gržinić: Maybe I can say just two things: One is that in our case (Gržinić and Šmid) again, coming from this specific context because of this strong new re-occidentialization of the whole institution of contemporary art, it is much easier to dispense of positions that are from other parts of, let’s say the European context, from Eastern Europe, and so on. Especially because capitalism works with new blood, they want the new and they have no time for this rethinking of what has been done, what was important, and what we can learn from it. They just say we don’t need this, because we have an enormous quantity of artists in the first capitalist world. And the other thing is actually going back to the question of museums and here I think it’s necessary to criticize museums. So they are working in a certain way, I don’t go to museums either unless it is necessary, but when you go there and see how these histories are re-written, how positions are taken out and get more and more depoliticized, this is very problematic and for us I think it is necessary to react. And one way is really, with all the possibilities that they have, and I really do that but the price is paid, you are even more so not invited – and this is the price. And you are more and more marginalized … and how is this presented, that you are a problematic person? It’s all on the individual level – the brand mark is: She is a trouble maker! And they have thousands of non-trouble-makers. This is also a problem. But it’s important. I mean, if this will be published – which I would like – it would be fantastic, because then somebody will read it and we will know why we are actually put in the grave, in the cemetery.