A fool’s paradise

    By Adam Kleinman

    Feral African hippos now roam freely in Colombia. Beware of, not one, but a herd of approximately 30-adult specimens found there. Even though these foreign beasts should be a strange sight, locals know not to mess with them. While the animals’ foreboding size and fierce reputation is something to take heed of, many leave the hippos alone because they are mythical creatures. Yet, this reverence is not reli- gious, in fact, they are revered because of their former owner: the noto- rious drug lord, Pablo Escobar (1949–1993).
    Escobar’s reputation should precede him, but for those who do not know, this “King of Cocaine” led a multi-billion dollar drug traffick- ing cartel whose brutal business tactics – not limited to execution, tor- ture, kidnapping, and an ostensible war against the state – became as legendary as his income. Like many kings, El Patrón (“the Boss”) as he is commonly known, demanded a king’s spoils. To such ends, this lord built himself the Hacienda Napoles, a sprawling, 20 km2 luxury estate that featured, not only a mansion, fancy cars and a pool, but a fully functioning zoo, complete with giraffes, ostriches, elephants, ponies, antelope, exotic birds, and – as you might have guessed – our, now feral, hippopotamuses. While it would be difficult to rationalize this zoo as a scientific project – I forgot to mention that the ranch also hosts giant dinosaurs statues engaged in sensationalized movie-like battles such as a triceratops gorging a T-Rex in the groin – its other agenda was clear: to provide a fantasy palace setting wherein deals could be made, while politicians and police were entertained and subsequently bought or shot. According to lore, Escobar once ordered that his donkeys be painted to mimic a lost herd of zebras. Although I often encourage my students – be they artists, historians, writers or curators – to be crea- tive, I never ask for them to take such flights of the imagination. In any case, I have often taken my students to the zoo.
    While questions of aesthetic representation abound, such as what image to use to refer to what idea, artistic representation can become political when the choice of image casts a shadow on living subjects. Even though no one should play the role of a culture cop, discussions on whether images empower or exploit are always necessary. To explore this, I take my students to the zoo – one of the reasons being that eth- ical thinking is easier to stoke while being confronted by living sub- jects. However, even objects have ethical dimensions, such as in the case of national treasures or symbols. Often a proposed trip to the zoo is greeted by two voices: the first excited, the second dismayed, which fortunately provides the two poles needed for a good debate. For the excited, it’s easy to oppose them with the concerns of the dismayed, namely that zoos are cruel. But, as a counter to such argumentation, the discussion grows in complexity when considering how zoos func- tion as both pedagogical tools and as research centres. Not all zoos of course, and certainly not Escobar’s. Take for example the zoo we always visit: New York’s Bronx Zoo.
    With a marketing slogan like “Saving Wildlife and Wild Places”, the Bronx Zoo doesn’t seem intent on simply turning a cheap admission buck. Yes, there are captive animals, but this zoo also wallpapers its exhibits with, not only zoological and botanical didactics, but count- less displays explaining deforestation, global warming, and other grave, and usually unexamined, everyday acts that exploit plants and animals in ways far greater, and far more devastating, than the sum total of cruelty that goes on in all of the world’s zoos combined. And, although most zoos have yet to take on the tricky issue of industrial- ized farming, one might propose that humans are also studied and are also on display. Moreover, humans are made subjects of the zoo itself. While this topic, and others like it (such as how the Bronx Zoo features an activist conservatory that often reintroduces endangered species
    1. The false use of scientific principles to “prove” that various races are superior to others; currently there is no valid scientific evidence that can point to any form of racial superiority. In fact, this idea is completely falsified by the scientific
    record.
    back into environments formerly thought of as lost) are unpacked with my students, such analysis is almost always interrupted by someone spotting and then enthusiastically crying out “panda” or “snow leop- ard” or “polar bear”.
    As I too love these animals, I rush over, just as my students do – even the group of zoo detractors. And right there, right in front of a panda – or next to a polar bear – I stare, not only into the bear’s eyes, but also at the faces of all my human compatriots, who dare to spy the wonder of these amazing creatures. Often people smile or stand open-mouthed. However, these superficial gestures reveal a greater emotion, namely a budding sense of either empathy or admiration for life, no matter the context. Could this awaking subjectivity be the very thing the zoo tries to make instrumental? Instead of simply selling tickets, which in turn fund those research centres, the exhibitions and exits are lined with boxes asking visitors to help save – through charity and advocacy – the very kinds of life trapped inside. Paradoxes aside, the question of how public displays and confrontations can provoke interpersonal and even interspecies understanding is a concern all artists and all socie- ties contend with. Extrapolating from here, in the case of zoos, it is not only the human who is put on display, but a question of how our society shapes the world, and, conversely, how this too can be presented. Sadly, when it comes to the history of how this zoo, the Bronx Zoo, was cre- ated, we must all also revisit the story of one of its founders, the con- servationist and eugenicist Madison Grant (1865–1937).
    Although a great champion of animal protectionism, Grant was also an ardent advocate for scientific racism.1 A key work in this regard is his infamous The Passing of the Great Race (1916), a pseudo-academic rant that warned how the “favourable” Caucasian stock of the then American people was being threatened by miscegenation with the then new immigrant populations – mostly coming to the United States from places beyond Northern Europe. To stem such a tide and prevent ensuing “racial suicide”, Grant proposed a form of racial hygiene – replete with selective breeding rights – that would ensure the alleged “purity” of his preferred bloodline, a lineage he mythologized and termed the “Nordic Race.”
    If some of this ill logic sounds familiar, it could be because Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg counted Grant as an influence, while Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), relied on Grant’s “good” physical attributes, such as blonde hair and blue eyes, as a litmus test of racial purity – not to mention that mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik (1979–) favourably cited Grant’s work several times in his own recent screed, 2083: A European Declaration of Inde- pendence (2011). Not limiting his ideas to text alone, Grant also decided to use his zoo as a means to advance his bogus and perverted notions through a 1906 publicity stunt.
    To do so, Grant duped a young Congolese man, Ota Benga (circa 1883–1916), to be put on public display in one of the Bronx Zoo’s mon- key cages, side-by-side with the primates. Ota was tricked into doing this by being told that he was only coming to the zoo to take care of its elephants. Although being the centre of an exhibit was not a new phe- nomenon for Ota, who was first brought to the United States to be dis- played in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (aka the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair), the exhibition in the Bronx backfired as many, including the New York Times, harshly criticized the show. In a cruel twist of fate, the exhibition led, not to an end of Grant’s feared “racial suicide” but to Ota taking his own life – after the show, Ota fell into a deep depres- sion and was known to walk the streets shouting, “I am a Man”, before shooting himself. And while another writer might here attempt to tie together this horrendous story to the status of zoos today, let’s instead address another question entirely: what is the fate of bodies consid- ered as objects today?
    On my way to a biennale in Ecuador in March 2014, I encountered a frightening poster in Panama’s Tocuman International Airport. The image in question was of a beautiful, young girl dressed in suggestive clothing and seemingly caged by the very borders of the poster, her huddled posture barely contained within the picture frame. Although
    this tight cropping is in line with some of fashion’s current photo-ed- itorial clichés, her pose was to be read against the poster’s text, which demanded: “I am not a toy”. And, while contemporary society might pat itself on its back for ending things like human zoos (maybe eventually all zoos), I wonder: are we ready to confront the hidden jungle that is today’s vast network of human trafficking, itself a market whose stock and trade turns “exotic” persons into readymade entertainment for more “advanced” nations?

    The Norwegian revolution

      By Will Bradley

      Norway celebrates the bicentenary of its constitution on the 17th of May, 2014. This is a time for national rejoicing, and for a heightened display of the traditionally uncomplicated Norwegian patriotism that initially bemuses tourists and immigrants alike. The 17th of May is rivalled only by Bastille Day and the 4th of July as a mass display of flag-waving that turns the main street of every city and town into a tide of red, white and blue. The echo of France and the USA is no accident, of course. In 1814, the constitutions of these two newly revolutionised states were the direct inspiration for the many progressive innovations in the Norwegian text. Nevertheless, the Norwegian document was a product of very different circumstances, equally marked by political exigency and the monarchist compromises necessary to keep potential alliances with Denmark and Britain open to a fragile and threatened state-in-waiting. Before the end of the year, it had also been radically edited to reflect the reality of military defeat and union with Sweden.
      The wholehearted celebration of the bicentenary is predicated on the restoration of the 1814 constitution in 1905, when the State of Norway was, at last, established as an independent, constitutional monarchy. The continuity of the constitution is, in many ways, remarkable; it has survived two centuries and, like the possibly more celebrated US document, continues to underpin the political form of the state. It is, however, particularly worth noting here one of the sev- eral exceptions to this survival, which every Norwegian schoolchild learns. The second paragraph of the 1814 document asserted that The Evangelical-Lutheran religion remains the public religion of the State. Those inhabitants, who confess thereto, are bound to raise their children to the same. Jesuits and monastic orders are not permitted. Jews are still prohibited from entry to the Realm. The prohibition on Jews was rescinded in 1851, after a long public and political campaign. The prohibition on Jesuits survived, in constitutional law, at least, until 1956.
      The 17th of May appears, to the outsider, to be the misplaced celebra- tion of a revolution that never happened. So let us imagine that Norway is not, in fact, celebrating the continuity of its constitution, but its dis- continuity, a slow revolution that has taken two centuries and is today still far from complete. An apparently seamless, but, in fact, dramatic and hard-won development, from the initial conception of a racist pro- to-monarchy-for-sale coupled with a token landowners parliament, to a functioning modern democracy with a universal franchise and a shared concept, if not yet fully realised practice, of universal rights. From this perspective of slow transformation it is also easier to understand how, in 1914, the celebrations of the first centenary of the constitution might have included the presentation of an ersatz “Congo village”, a human zoo.
      The one-hundred-year-anniversary of the Norwegian constitu- tion was marked with an international exhibition in Oslo. Oslo was late when it came to staging such a spectacle, behind even Bergen, which had held an International Fisheries Exhibition in 1898. The Oslo exhi- bition was also atypical in that it primarily celebrated neither indus- try nor colonial expansion, but rather a political moment that must, in practice, have referred more directly to Norway’s recent independence than to its 1814 constitution. Possibly it took the established interna- tional exhibition model as its blueprint in order to belatedly project an image modelled on that of its successful European neighbours. If that was indeed the aim, then the timing could not have been much worse: with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand only two months away, Oslo also gained the dubious distinction of holding the last of the Great Exhibitions of the 19th century.
      The London-based, Hungarian-born impresario Benno Singer was engaged by the Oslo 1914 exhibition committee to produce an amuse- ment park as part of an extensive exhibition in Frogner Park. The Con- golese village was, in turn, part of Singer’s fairground, alongside a roll- ercoaster and a pantomime theatre, among other attractions. Eighty people, allegedly from the Congo but most likely brought from Senegal, performed some version of their supposed daily life for the Oslo public in a setting built to suggest the image of an African village drawn from the popular imagination. The reactions from the Norwegian press were enthusiastic and overtly racist: “exceedingly funny” wrote Norway’s newspaper of record, Aftenposten; “it’s wonderful that we are white!” wrote a now-defunct magazine called Urd. As an attraction, the village was a great success, and it was credited with drawing a significant pro- portion of the 1.4 million reported visitors to the exhibition.
      The primary precursor to the Congolese Village in Oslo was the 1897 exhibition at the Brussels International Exhibition, which explicitly celebrated Belgium’s brutal African conquests. Many of the 267 Con- golese citizens transported to Brussels for the occasion died during the exhibition period, and were buried in a common grave. Despite this early setback, in the following years it seems that the pantomime African village became a regular feature of the international exhibi- tion circuit, a modern extension of the carnival sideshow, married to a colonialist ideology of European domination.
      At this point the situation might seem clear. A naive Norwegian public are faced with an African other, created by Belgian colonialism, and presented as a carnival sideshow by an entrepreneur who knows how to create a sensation that will draw the crowds. And to self-con- sciously re-present this situation now is both to point to historical Norwegian racism, and to ask what has changed since then, or even to suggest that some of these historical racist attitudes have survived.
      This looks like an eminently reasonable conclusion, perfectly com- patible with a contemporary liberal worldview, but it’s also a trap, con- structed, in part, from the racist ideology that framed Singer’s own plans for a European Attraction. Looking at the Congolese Village from a sociological perspective, it is certainly possible to gain a bet- ter understanding of the prevalence and the social and political sig- nificance of racist attitudes in early twentieth-century Norway. Look- ing at the Congolese Village only through the ideological filter of the constructed image of race, however, it is easy to miss the political and economic dimensions connected to its production that might give it greater contemporary significance.
      Even from the very incomplete public records of the exhibition, two things stand out.
      First, it seems that the Congolese Village was initially conceived as a Sami Village. In a Norwegian context, the Sami people are, of course, the proper colonial other, Norway’s unspoken conquest. As such, their representatives might well have played the same uncomfortable role in the Oslo exhibition that the inhabitants of the Congo played in Brus- sels in 1897. But the exhibition committee rejected this idea on polit- ical grounds, since the Sami people, in the new settlement of Norwe- gian independence, were considered Norwegians: “The idea of putting franchised Norwegian citizens on display for money is too distasteful.”
      So already there is a political distinction made between the sup- posedly exotic lifestyles of some Norwegian citizens, which cannot be displayed for money, and the supposedly exotic lifestyles of some peo- ple from the Belgian Congo (most likely played by people from Sene- gal), which can.
      Second, available sources indicate that the group who played the Congolese villagers in Oslo were a travelling troupe. They were not assembled specifically for the Norwegian centenary, but were estab- lished performers on a European circuit. Slavery having been abol- ished in Europe several decades earlier, it seems probable that a sym- bolic contractual relationship existed between the performers and their management, which would have mandated some kind of recom- pense, most likely, but without evidence not necessarily, at an absolute minimum, for their services.
      An additional consideration concerns the way in which the Con- golese Village was established and represented. Though it seems that some small communication was possible across the language bar- rier, the form and means of the Congolese representation in Oslo were determined by the organisers of the exhibition. The villagers were not only on display, but on display within a set regime, obligated to play a passive role in which their interactions were tightly controlled. Though there is no record currently available of the contractual restrictions under which they appeared, the fact that contemporary reports only describe encounters within the Frogner Park exhibition suggests that their freedom of movement was restricted. This fact in itself does not constitute firm evidence, but it seems altogether likely that, although they were resident in Oslo for several months, the “Congolese Villag- ers” were prevented from exploring the daily life of the city.
      With these adjustments to the initial image of the Congolese Vil- lage in mind, we can perhaps begin again to think about its signifi- cance now.
      The power relationships at stake, even in 1914, were not only those of now-supposedly-departed cultural prejudice (a politically manu- factured prejudice that is, of course, still being actively promoted now, by many organised political groups in Europe) or European imperial- ist oppression, but also the political and economic realities of emerg- ing capitalist globalisation. What made Benno Singer’s Congolese Vil- lage possible was not only the correctly-assumed cultural racism of its intended audience, but the formalisation of a profoundly unequal relationship within the structure of global capitalism. National polit- ical determinations, the enactment of human rights in law and prac- tice, were then, and are still, the primary means by which the broken ideology of racism is ultimately either defeated or institutionalised by the power of the state, and by which the result enters into the global political discourse. If not for the political intervention of the exhibi- tion committee on the grounds of Norwegian citizenship, there might have been a Sami village on display in the 1914 exhibition. Similarly, it seems likely that the performers who did populate the Village were what in the contemporary euphemism would be called economic migrants, their subjugation not a matter of pre-modern enslavement, but a rational consequence of the socio-economic relationships estab- lished by force between European capital and African land and labour. The Congolese Village was a profitable attraction because of its per- ceived exoticism, presented in such a way as to manipulate the cul- tural attitudes of the Oslo audience. But its creation was also a con- sequence of the political rights of citizenship, or their absence, and the economic subjugation of a group of performers proletarianized by the imposition of capitalist social relations following their colonial- ist expropriation.
      In other words, it seems possible to map significant elements of the material conditions that made the production of the Congolese Village possible directly onto current conditions in the global capitalist labour market. People dispossessed by the force of capitalist imperialism, people whose unchosen nationality does not give them the same rights accorded to, for example, Norwegian citizens, are remade as unreal- ised potential migrant workers, impelled to leave homes and fami- lies and undertake precarious journeys in search of often-illusory, or at best marginal and purely economic benefit, under working condi- tions which deny them basic human freedoms.
      Given the dearth of historical evidence, it should be noted that this is merely the most plausible of several alternative scenarios. It may be that the inhabitants of the Village were, in fact, violently enslaved or coerced, illegally or with the secret complicity of the Norwegian authorities. Equally, they may have been as free as any contempo- rary theatrical troupe, happy only to have had their temporary visas approved – never a straightforward process for a performer from sub-Saharan Africa, particularly if one’s entire family is part of the production – and saving their touring revenue to spend at home.
      But it seems most likely that, behind the hugely popular and, to cer- tain individuals, profitable image of fake primitive theatre, there were
      dispossessed people forced, by difficult and perhaps extreme condi- tions they had no hand in choosing, to leave behind everything they knew, family and friends. To gamble everything on the outside pos- sibility of gaining a foothold in the supposed economic paradise of Europe, even if that effort were to cost them their dignity, their health, and their very identity.
      With this reading in mind, the significance of Cuzner and Fadlabi’s project is both historical and absolutely contemporary, since it has the potential to raise unresolved and still current questions regarding the political and economic rights of all peoples, not only those colonized and oppressed by the European adventures in Africa. First and fore- most, however, their project is concerned with the relationship between Norwegian history and Norway’s future. If it does no more than add one corrective footnote to the story of the modern state and its constitution, still that work might not be wasted in the hoped-for, ongoing, future unfolding of the Norwegian revolution. Yes, 1914 belongs firmly to the past, and yes, the reconstruction of history and the critique of history is as worthless as the celebration of history – unless it can help to show us how much, in 2014, still remains to be done.

      No one Ever Steps in The Same river Twice

        By Gabi Ngcobo

        A number of readers of this text will recall a legend about one Peter Davies, a then recent graduate from Northwestern University, who, during a bush hike in Kenya in 1986, came across a young distressed bull elephant standing with one leg raised. Peter, as the legend goes, advanced cautiously towards the elephant, got down to inspect its foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. Knife in hand and with all the gentleness he could muster, he managed to work the wood out, much to the elephant’s relief. The elephant turned to face Peter, staring at him intensely for what seemed like the longest time. Peter’s mind could think of nothing but being flattened by the very same foot he had just rescued from anguish. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.
        This experience remained implanted in Peter’s mind. Fast-forward to 2006, twenty years later. Peter, now a father of a teen- age son, named Cameron, walked with the boy through Chicago Zoo. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the elephants turned and walked over near where they were standing. The large bull ele- phant stared intensely at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down – repeating the movement several times – then trumpeted loudly, eyes still fixated upon Peter.
        Remembering the 1986 encounter in Kenya, he could not help but wonder if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and entered the elephant enclosure.
        That is how Peter met his end; I will spare you the details.
        It was not the same elephant. But, had it been, would the story have ended differently?
        Peter, an ego that underwent an unforgettable experience, was more attuned to the laws of memory, which relates to a past that has never been present – a time regained. Had he believed in the nature of repetition, a return that differs from itself, perhaps his life would have been prolonged; his death less dramatic.
        Ghosts aren’t attached to places, but to people – to the living.
        Huay’s ghost in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)
        — a film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
        2.
        In repetition, to quote Jacques Derrida, “one touches there on what one does not touch, one feels there where one does not feel, one even suffers there where suffering does not take place, when at least it does not take place where one suffers…”1 Therefore, in order to be effective, historical reenactments as an artistic strategy should avoid entering history’s enclosures and, rather, opt for moments in history that leave enough room between the Thing and its apparition. Re-en- tering history does not necessitate courage, as such. It is an endeavor that permits us to pursue the past with a blindness that seems virtu- ally impossible to achieve. It is in this blindness through which may surface a newly considered economy of commemorating; one that is stripped of accountability, of ideas of nation-building, and open to moments of surprise, moments that are neither depressive nor awk- wardly hopeful.
        2. Ibid.
        3. Frantz Fanon, “On National Culture” in The
        Strategies of reenactment in recent artistic practices are essen- tially the poetics of confronting ghosts or phantoms. One certainly does not want to tackle a ghost head-on. In Specters of Marx, Derrida emphasizes that the pursuit of ghosts is a paradoxical hunt and a spec- ular circle that “one chases after in order to chase away, one pur- sues, sets off in pursuit of someone to make him flee, but one makes him flee, distances him, expulses him so as to go after him again and remaininpursuit.”2
        Revisiting history in search for meaning in the present is a pursuit of something that can’t even see itself in the mirror, of answers that have no questions, at least not yet. Historical legacies and their rele- vance and impact on contemporary art take the battle scene as a meta- phorical site in which the main concern is not winning or seeing oth- ers suffer. Instead it is an observation into the everyday practices that have been characterized by political legacies that have shaped the pile of history’s debris.
        Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.3
        — Frantz Fanon
        3.
        In South Africa, the rubbles of history are best exemplified by the pre- cariousness of one archive of the late Alf Kumalo, who converted his old house in Diepkloof, Soweto into the Alf Kumalo Museum in 2003. For more than five decades, Kumalo had documented some of the country’svitalmomentsinhistory:theburningofthepasses,pro- tests,massacres,funerals,sports,politicalleadersandallotherindi- cations of the violent apartheid state at work. The countless images he took of Winnie Mandela are astounding, almost obsessive, and depict a woman whose suffering has come to be ridiculed in post-apartheid
        1. Jacques Derrida
        in Specters of Marx,
        Routledge, New (1963 Translation), York, 1993. p. 151. Paris, 1961., p. 145.
        Wretched of the Earth, Grove Press
        South Africa. Kumalo told of his many near-death experiences: more than once he made the same deal with God, “if you spare my life here, now, I will never take another photograph, ever.” He told of many strat- egies he devised in order for the image to be produced and for it to sur- vive. Because of his initials, A.K., the state often raided his house look- ing for AK47s, finding instead photographic equipment and images, confiscating some. His museum, therefore, is evidence of the accu- mulations of Kumalo’s lifetime as a photographer. In July 2011, during our visit at the museum, my colleagues from the Center for Historical Reenactments (CHR) and I were shown around a room, housing his most iconic images, a darkroom that was no longer in function, and a room with heaps of boxes, negatives, prints, personal notes and out- dated photographic equipment. We became curiously absorbed, the spirit and energy that seemed to hover over what was trapped, hidden and covered in dust in this one room appeared about to explode.
        In March 2012, we took a 72-hour, self-initiated residency at the museum. For three days we searched for the inapparent, for everything, cleaned, learned, listened to Kumalo’s narratives, discussed, sorted boxes, bags, images, documents, equipment, people and more people, some we knew, most we didn’t, many dead, many survived, black peo- ple, in agony, in love, at funerals, at rallies. A photograph of a poster on a pole reads: “If you like Idi Amin, you will love Nelson Mandela.” Now they love him, do they love Idi Amin too? We were confused. We pro- test. “Why are we doing this?” Explorers!!! Winnie Mandela, the beau- tiful Nomzamo Winfreda Madikizela Mandela sitting with one of her daughters “after 12 midnight on a story that was to quote her,” reads the caption at the back of the image. Mandela, Tutu, Biko, Ongopotse Tiro – assassinated! Letter bomb, says Mr. Kumalo. It’s all too much! Ali in the Congo. Ali! Bumaye! Kill him! Kill them! The archive is alive; the archive is dead, no! It has all the ingredients that make up a potential bomb. We are alive?4
        “They will never kill us all.” These are words written on a banner carriedina1985protestrallycommemoratingthe25thanniversaryof
        the Sharpville Massacre (21 March 1960). Kumalo was there, in Uiten- hage, Eastern Cape province. The black and white photograph hangs in the room with other iconic images. Seemingly unaware that the gov- ernment had banned the demonstration, the protestors were suddenly faced with police gunfire, in which more that 20 people lost their lives.
        As part of the 72-hour residency project we titled Fr(agile), we recon- structed the banner to make direct reference to the banner in Kuma- lo’s image. To single out this reference was our attempt to reinstate the fact of history lived or destiny foretold. Metaphorically, the banner makes reference to a sort of determinism/determination that char- acterized the apartheid era: it is a single declaration to the state that no amount of physical casualties would extinguish the people’s desire to be free. The statement “They will never kill us all” dramatizes the continuity of polarization (‘they’ versus ‘us’), the banner, leaping out of this historical moment, revives a discursive platform within which the current space(s) of struggle might be critically examined, through its many archives.
        The project Fr(agile) was driven by questions regarding the fragil- ity of memory, of archives – as well the hierarchies – inherent in the memory industry, the franchising of memory.
        The reconstructed banner is not the banner of 1985; the copy does not take the place of the model. It is, at the moment of writing, hanging awkwardly, not completely out of joint, in the exhibition “The Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life”.5

        4. Alf Kumalo died on 21 October 2012 aged 82.
        5. “The Rise and Fall of Apartheid” is a traveling exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor and Rory Bester. At the time of writing it was showing in Johannesburg at
        Museum Africa.

        Looking Back: Zoo as Fair and Fair as Zoo

          By Julia Moritz

          It’s this season again. Sun out. Sea quiet. The ferry to Tangiers huge, and empty, smoking.
          These other boats: small, and packed. The exiled, live on TV.
          The drowned: quiet.
          I – look out, look for, look back

          – And another spring. 100 years down the timeline, 2000 km up the map, north.
          The world in a nutshell, packaged.
          According to recent art historical trends to cover “exhibition histo- ries” – the excavation and lineaging of curatorial artefact – the World Fair is considered to be the decisive progenitor of perennial art exhi- bitions (such as the biennial, most prominently), and their production of large-scale art projects, largely in “public space”. These behemoth events maintain their confidence, leaning on the common principle of exclusion, a.k.a. exclusivity. However, neither World, nor Fair, nor Show of any kind could perform their crucial socio-economic function without the dialectical opposite: means of inclusion, a.k.a. integration.
          Or incarceration. Hence, little surprise that the modern Zoo made its appearance in the context of the great colonial exhibitions of our last century. The zoo then, and now, appears as the progeny of nature. An environment where animals, mostly exotic, are confined within highly art-ificial enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may breed. To cut a potentially long (hi)story short, by way of beginning: in procreative conjunction, both bourgeois devices of mediated/edu- cational experience, ”fair” and “zoo” nurture capital in a vital way. In their mutual legitimization, they manifest exchange value and the capital of knowledge – the control of capital, and the capital of control.
          Addressing these larger logics of exploitation, as well as their pos- sibilities of being expressed and addressed, understood and undone ultimately, the poet Keston Sutherland writes:
          The worker reduced to Gallerte meets with the most horrible fate available in Marx’s satire on wage labor, but he is not the object of that satire. (…) The worker’s suffering is for Marx categorically different from the suffering
          of the bourgeoisie. The worker’s suffering is not injured vanity, not discomfort over a grotesque image of himself, but “dehumanization” and “immiseration.” The object of Marx’s satire on abstract human labor is not the worker reduced to a condiment but the bourgeois consumer who eats him for breakfast, (…) the “vampire which sucks out its [the proletariat’s] blood and brains and throws them into the alchemist’s vessel of capital.” But Marx, surely, is joking with his talk of vampires, and this, surely, is
          a book of theory before us, a “critique of political economy,” from whose scientific perspective the vampire must surely be an impossible person? No, says Marx in the Communist Manifesto, the point is that the vampire is not yet impossible, and it remains the task of revolution to see that he is “made impossible.” Its fetish-character may prevent the bourgeois consumer from seeing in Gallerte the brains, muscles, nerves and hands themselves; (…) Can the bourgeois consumer exit the stage of this satire, protesting his abstinence or his vegetarianism? No, he cannot, because the rendering of human minds and bodies into Gallerte is not, on the terms of Marx’s satire, an abuse of wage labor by the coven of leading unreconstructed vampires but the fundamental law of all wage labor. The satire, abruptly, at the moment when its object might wriggle free of it, is revealed in fact to be “theory.” (…) Social existence under capitalism is thus gruesomely primitivistic, not simply in that we bourgeois moderns
          behave toward commodities in the way that “les anciens peuples…sauvages & grossiers” or “les Noirs & les Caraïbes” of Enlightenment ethnography behaved toward their fetish idols, but in the still more disgusting
          sense that our most routine, unavoidable and everyday act, the act of consumption of use value, that is, first of all, purchase, is in every case an act of cannibalism.
          Keston Sutherland: Marx in Jargon, http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/27796
          Literalising political economy – retrieving its critique along the corporeal lines of life and death – also sheds light onto the peculiar politico-anthropological ramifications of the zoo: the Ancient Greek concept of “zoon politicon”. Developed by, of course, Aristotle via Plato, this reading of the human being as fundamentally inscribed in, and simultaneously scripting, a social situation (a con-text proper), that is defined by the workings of the “polis” – a proto-urban state of civic capacity, responsibility, governance. Ever since, the resulting notions of “demos” and democracy are inextricably tied to “public space”: an arena of agency defined by the right to represent (to display). A right, not given, but to be struggled for. A struggle, not just to be affirmed, but to be defined, once more, via a set of instruments; instructive means of governing knowledge, in order, ultimately, to grant superiority – the main concern of humanism and Enlightenment. To implement uni- versal subordinance – Enlightenment’s liberal guise within the con- fines of nation states, and economies. To, once more, state the obvious.
          Less obvious, perhaps: the intricate relationship of the zoon polit- icon and zoology; the study of animals by the socio-political animal. Basically, mastering its essential Other by way of the logos, by erect- ing boundaries around the animal; systematizing and classificatory boundaries. To confine Outsideness – and keep all inner animality out. Beyond these psycho-epistemological operations, the zoo also provided very real power-knowledge-relations, such as accumulation by collection, public pet property, and extinction as planned obso- lescence, including the surpluses of exoticization. It is not by coinci- dence, if not by outright mutual legitimization (another plane, same story), that the growing popularity of zoology was coupled with the ingermination of industrial metro-polises (smoking); or the prema- ture autopsy of wild life, and loss.
          Today, we express, address, understand and attempt to undo such governance of life, including death, not so much in the zoological reg- ister. The socio-political situation and navigational term of “bio-pol- itics” has entered the arena (with the widespread reception of Fou- cauldian analysis). And yet: zoos are also called “bio-parks” nowadays. So, from the point of view of the political, in terms of the polis (includ- ing its literalization up to the point of neoliberal-urbanisation-no-re- turn), what does bios (Greek too, of course) really mean – and what does it not mean in relation to zoon? It leads, I believe, to the phenomenon of human zoos – a dead end?

          FOOTNOTE
          All my grappling here is based on three footnotes. They are footnotes because they are fundamental. In no sense on equal footing, let alone margins. I stand on them, walk with them, fall over them sometimes too. Here, such indispensable grounding extremity is provided by three wonder-women philosophers whose thought and work I admire and followed in different stages of my positioning within this discourse, that is, the world. I wish to introduce their voices uncommented, in their striking communion of already and amazingly having said everything I could ever wish to say, here:
          – looking out
          “According to Foucault, in the Classical era the figure of the madman combines criminal poverty and idleness with the animal, inhuman principle. Because as you know, the human of the Classical era is one who
          is thinking. The one who doesn’t think is not human. Madness reveals
          the absurdity of the animal nature of man. That’s why, as Foucault says, madness actually acquires the same status as animality. Places of isolation set aside for madmen look like zoos or menageries. The purpose of isolation is to secure the mind against madness and the human against the animal, who now bears no resemblance to the human. And of course, Cartesian exclusion is the theoretical side of this process. (…) At the era of the Cartesian exclusion (not only of madness, but also of animality as of the absence of a reason) the status of animality is absolutely different. Its place is now at the anatomical table of Descartes, or in the butcher shop, or at the plate together with fruits and wine.”
          Oxana Timofeeva: “Animals” and “Animalities”: An Outline of History, http://chtodelat.org/b9-texts-2/timofeeva/oxana-timofeeva-animals-and-animalities-an- outline-of-history/, 2013
          – looking back
          “The word species also structures conversation and environmental discourses, with their “endangered species” that function simultaneously to locate value and to evoke death and extinction in ways familiar in colonial representations of the always vanishing indigene. The discursive tie between the colonized, the enslaved, the noncitizen, and the animal
          – all reduced to type, all Others to rational man, and all essential to his bright constitution – is at the heart of racism and flourishes, lethally, in the entrails of humanism. (…) Looking back in this way takes us to seeing again, to respecere, to the act of respect. To hold in regard, to respond, to look back reciprocally, to notice, to pay attention, to have courteous regard for, to esteem: all of that is tied to polite greeting, to constituting the polis, where and when species meet.”
          Donna Haraway: When Species Meet, 2008, p.18 – looking for
          Minoritarian-fantasy hybridity is futurity without ethics. Acceleration aesthetics attends to the slowness of meditative ethical interaction over the results-based drive for a hybrid human object that self-fulfills its own eye’s desire for itself as a new object. The animal, vegetal cosmic eye is
          an a-human eye that does not see in genus and species, in recognition, in fulfillment of representational criteria, or in a future which is confounding for its own sake. But nor does it homogenize singularities in their rhizomatic interactions. Guattari may offer a possibility of activism in what he calls ‘residual territorial assemblages’: How can we utilize aesthetics
          to activate an ethical configuration of desire that is only defined by its deterritorializing usefulness at any given moment?
          Patricia MacCormack: Futurity and Ethics, e-flux journal, No. 46, 2013

          About European Attraction Limited

            By Fadlabi and Lars Cuzner

            The following is a collection of texts and videos produced in the course of our research for European Attraction Limited. We performed a series of interviews with arts professionals, scholars and curators and the videos below were recorded during the symposium “Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: African in Europe – Europe in Africa” celebrated in the Akademie der Künste, Pariser Platz, Berlin, Germany, February 2-3, 2013

            ___________________________________________

            We held after that a two day conference that attempted to put to the table views on the relevance of a proposed project to recreate a human zoo that occurred in Oslo in 1914.

            Three years ago we stumbled upon information about a human zoo that had taken place in the heart of Oslo in 1914. Not being from this country, naturally, we assumed that this was common knowledge among natives, so, in an interest to learn more about the general consent on the exhibition, we started asking around. As it turned out pretty much no one we talk- ed to had ever heard about it (even if they had heard of human zoos in other countries). Given how popu- lar the exhibition was (1.4 million visitors saw it at a time when the population of Norway was 2 million) the widespread absence of at least a general knowledge was surprising. It is hard to understand the mechanisms of how something could be wiped from the collective memory.

            One explanation may be the discussions around cultural, ethnic and national identity that we have followed during the few years we’ve lived in Norway, the circular patterns in the media have become apparent. The discussions are usually triggered by an incident of one kind or another followed by a series of petulant commentary that tend to provide a set form of arguments, the same questions and the same answers, chewed through and never really digested only to be repeated in the same unresolving manner again. We should really rethink this format, we should consume all the old questions and try to pursue new ones without falling into a trap of bumptiousness.

            Since the 100 year anniversary of the Oslo human zoo was around the corner and because of the impo- tency of looking at archival images; giving a feeling that it has little to do with us today, we suggested the idea that we would re-build the village. The reaction to our suggestion was mixed. Many were for and many were against. The arguments on both sides were familiar. It was the same circular pattern that we wanted to confront in the first place. Still, the question remains; how do we confront a neglected aspect of the past that still contributes to our present? We wanted to investigate the linear or non-linear (whatever the case may be) connection between the messages of racial superiority that lined the intentions of the human zoos in the past to a more contemporary idea of superiority of goodness.

            Human zoos were in general seen as giving important educational experiences and the Oslo human zoo in particular played a key role in an exhibition that marked an important stage in the building of the national identity.
            The specific Nordic national branding has come to include the promotion of a people that are not only naturally good but also more tolerant and liberal than most. When quantifying humanitarian goodness the paradox is inherent in the advancement, how can anyone be equal to the most equal? Certainly, the neo right uses humanitarian bravado and liberal tolerance as an argument for cultural and racial exclusion.

            “New forms of social Apartheid and structural destitution
have replaced the old colonial divisions. As a result of global processes of accumulation by dispossession, deep inequities are being entrenched by an ever more brutal economic system. The ability of many to remain masters of their own lives is once again tested to the limits.”

            Achille Mbembe,
The Year of Frantz Fanon, 2011

            In an attempt to break from the circularity of these discussions, it might help to distinguish between two understandings of racism: a modern racism and a post- modern racism. The former is based on arguments of inequality and the existence of inferior or superior eth- nicities and races. Postmodern racism emphasizes the impossibility of equitable dialogue among different races and ethnicities to establish common rules for liv- ing together.

            Europe is becoming increasingly xenophobic, clos- ing its borders and utilizing draconian law. We need new perspectives and approaches. We can’t discuss racism without discussing global economy and structural racism embedded within the system.

            We should also discuss racism among minorities and how that inherent racism is turned into oneness when confronted by Norwegian homogenous racism as a possible defense mechanism generated by the fear of being exposed to xenophobia or Islamophobia.

            In the scope of this project we need to discuss what purpose a reenactment can serve, how it is made relevant for us today in order to gain new knowledge that addresses the issue of spectatorship both in 1914 and in 2014.

            “No doubt, historical constructions play essential, almost central roles in the formation of the apparatus and what has been taken for granted as a given in
the dominant world order. Therefore within the scope of emancipatory artistic productions, historical reenactments can, and do play a significant role.”

            Centre for Historical Reenactment, Johannesburg

            We are instigating a discussion that we hope leads to new
 questions. To do this we can’t 
dictate the terms of the discussion. The more we provide the
 less we get. To simplify an un-derstanding of why we have taken a fairly passive role in this discussion we have come to explain our role as quasi-national therapists. It’s a simplification, that is because, for now at least, the content is more important than the form.

            Historical Reenactment

              By Elvira Dyangani Ose

              Elvira Dyangani Ose is currently curator of international art at Tate Modern, London, UK. She is a Ph.D candidate in the History of Art and Visual Studies programme at Cornell University, New York, NY, USA.

              In the course of their research for European Attraction Limited, Fadlabi and Lars Cuzner performed a series of interviews with arts professionals, scholars and curators. The video above was recorded during the symposium “Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: African in Europe – Europe in Africa” celebrated in the Akademie der Künste, Pariser Platz, Berlin, Germany, February 2-3, 2013

              Video: Ayman Alazraq