What is Interpol?
Introduction - The Rashamon hold

What happened in that newly reconstructed old paint factory in the suburb of Stockholm in the far 1996 that deserves to be documented today and captured in this book? No doubt there are many possible views on this event which was initiated by curators Victor Misiano (Moscow) and Ian Äman (Stockholm) already in 1994 as a kind of work-in-progress project that ended as the so-called scandal on the day of the opening of the show in the completely new cultural venue Färgfabriken in Stockholm on February 2 1996.

Today, Interpol is known mostly as the project where Alexander Brener destroyed the work of art of Wenda Gu and where Oleg Kulik performed a dog. And according to his role bit the spectators at the opening and, of course, ended at the police station. Apart from this, Interpol is also famous for an open letter, a document of protest, that some participants of the project, the so-called "Western side," wrote against the atitude of the members of the so-called Eastern side, and sent it to the world's art community. So in the art world Interpol is probably also known as the paradigmatic East-West issue project. How boring! The paradox, however, is that when we, who created this project and participated at it finally leaving aside what came out of it, try to reconstruct the narrative of what happened, inevitably have to conclude that our stories are different, that our memory is unreliable, that we disagree about many details and that therefore our narratives usually take the form of interrogations as if a real crime had been committed, as if we were still searching for the Real Bad Guy. The opening event cut off our previously established communication and we left it aside, in a total polarization and disagreement. Very emotional and very ultimate. Thinking of how to put the existing documents and texts on Interpol in a book, we realized as we are taking this action, that we are only the so-called one side and that even our views are not homogeneous. So who will write an introduction to the book? How to explain to an "innocent" reader what Interpol is all about? We realized that any introduction to this book written by any of us would be too narrow and would inevitably impose one view and one interpretation of the Interpol event. Or at least the so-called Eastern ideological view.

Thinking about this trap, somebody remembered RASHAMON, a masterpiece by Akira Kurosawa from 1950. In this movie four people, who were in different ways (as killer, victim or observer) involved in a murder reconstruct the way the murder took place. Two Buddhist monks are the audience and the judges. The narrative of the film is constructed of four completely different stories and interpretations where each storyteller shapes the story according to what he or she wants to hide. And what they want to hide are completely different things. The only common ground is that the things they want to hide could compromise them, so in order to preserve their own sense of integrity and pride they are rewriting the narrative in accordance with what they want to repress. But in spite of what the characters hide and lie about, the viewer, watching and listening to all four interpretations, somehow has a better chance to derive the elements of truth from the elements of lie, construct his own story and get an insight into the real event.

We decided to borrow the dramaturgy from Kurosawa's Rashamon for the introduction to this book by asking four participants of the Interpol project to answer as simply as possible to the questions of "what happened" and "why it happened as it happened" and to try to reconstruct their own memory and understanding of this project and its consequences.

Ljubljana/Moscow, 2000