is a media-activist network which focuses on political, social and economical restructuration of EUrope in the context of globalisation processes. While doing this it pays special attention to the issues regarding borders, migration and asylum politics.
How do you understand the notion of the political today and where and how do you see the position and role of arts and culture in relation to the possible and/or needed political actions, especially with regards to the possible political implications and consequences which could improve, i.e. change the existing situations and not merely satisfy on a symbolical, manifestive level?

Nowadays the notion of politics as an absolute 'power' and 'greatness' has changed and split into numerous political actions and actors. (You can obtain a good idea on the notion of the political today, if you take a look at, for example, how heterogeneous the composition of the
anti-globalisation movement is, at all the different groups and the different ways they fight in.)
Being an artist or working in the cultural field you have to make the same choice like every other person working in any other field; on the basis of your ideals and believes you have to choose which role do you wish to play in your society. So, it happens that if you are concerned about what is going on around you, you will try to work on that, to change reality with the instruments and the knowledge you have at your disposal.
However, working on a micro-political level (as we do) it is difficult to speak about concrete results and consequences, about changes and improvements you can make with your work. Of course we see the results of our work: discussions are going on, new productions of videos and publications are happening, people are coming together, they are collaborating, exchanging, but still it is difficult to say in which direction and to which result this will lead. We are trying to find out new forms, new ways of acting and resistance.


I agree with Susanna, as I think that the notion of the political went through several transformations during the last centuries. Today completely different groups in society use the term political to signify their specific strategies. In the more general understanding the political seems to be the tool to govern people. This is mostly what state politics and political parties represent. This politics of governing the 'Other' and to be the representative of the 'Other' is what one could still call the mainstream politics. But when we talk about politics in the sense of self-articulation we have to keep in mind the history of micro-politics: the gay and lesbian movement, feminism, housing projects, the peace movement, the struggle of the 'Sans Papiers', etc. These micro-political movements - instead of representatives speaking for/in the name of 'Them' - build up networks, places and discourses of self- representation, which have a great effect on the notion of the political today. We can see that politics today are to be viewed also as everyday life practices - like the Birmingham School of Contemporary Cultural Studies did for example. They took a close look on youth and pop culture in order to understand how these practices have been productive for the reformulation and transformation of marginality. This means that today the political is not an universal category anymore, but a practice which can build up (temporary) spaces for (self)articulation, beyond normative concepts of identity. These particular (instead of universalising) articulations changed also the modernist concept of the Left, which tried to empower and govern most of the working class.
But still, all political (mainstream or micro-political) movements and strategies teach us the lesson that political articulations on the one hand speak about something specific (exploitation, inequality, marginalisation) and on the other hand create a fiction of the political, of the political actions and of the political subjects. For example, the proletarian was conceptualised, constructed (especially in Engel's translation of Marx) as a white male, muscle power (industrial) worker even though this notion/image spoke only for a few people in the society (not for woman or non-white people i.e.), still this image has been a signifier, a code for the political subject.
This process of fictionalising the political subject (a construction of a common, normative image of the political subject) is also a part of the micro-political struggles and movements. And this is a closure I have always been interested in; is a practice, which can go beyond this closure of categorising, possible?
To make this point clearer: identity politics speaks for a specific group of people and it also creates a collective identity which can very quickly switch into a normative category - like, for example, the feminist movement in the West which fought for equal woman rights and created a specific notion of a Woman (white middle class woman) as a pre-given notion. Black feminism and post-structuralist feminism brought into discussion that this is normative, because there are as well black, lesbian, working class, house wives, exploited, rich, etc. woman and not just one category. But even this list which ends with 'etc.' shows how constructed particularity is in itself. You will never name them all. As a feminist today you definitely identify more with the particular narrations of the movement as a differentiated whole and you re-contextualise these events, theories and actions into nowadays experiences. But even in this act of re-contextualising - to quote Rosi Braidotti - you can not take equality as your political aim. You can only take it as a strategy. What Braidotti describes is that we, i.e. women of all ages, should fight for equal opportunity, we should stop being raped, we should have women in every sphere of life, but that this is only the strategy. This can not be the goal because in order to really achieve this you need to change the system: the system of representation, the notion of political, the theoretical apparatus, the sexist logic of work, etc. 'You can not simply hope that you can put women in the club and not change the rules of the club', Braidotti argues (and I agree with her completely).
So, I do believe that the practice of merely showing injustice or inequality in the society (for example in a movie, video or in an exhibition) might represent a strategy, but this will not change something structurally.
To conclude, for me exhibiting political practices or issues in an art space is not a consequence of them being dependent on and inscribed into the representational, but the other way around. The art space as a stage can be productive for a political debate, as the political can be addressed in the ambiguity of being symbolic and real, fiction and every day life practice at the same time (before or even without it obtains a press text or a petition). And in this way the political might help to restructure the notion and structure of the stage, as well as the Art Spaces. So, for me the good thing about the shift of the notion of the political is, that it does not easily offer answers but it is more inclined to map questions of what in fact is a political action. Is it real, is it symbolic, what is the strategy, what is the aim, where are we going with it and why?

In my view traditional political institutions such as the national state and parties are no longer central in the notion about the political. Neither are certain rituals or formats which are closely connected to them - like public debating, arguing, voting, demonstrating or 'classical' (street) forms of political fights. I think that today the political within the society is much closer linked to the social itself, with the rituals of communication and interaction, everyday behaviour; taste, distinction, consumer commodities, knowledge are all also notions of the political. In that sense the processes of introducing hierarchies and normalisation often have a very strong anti-political gesture, while the act of self-legitimation often turns out as a heavy political act. Those cultural or artistic projects which are of interest to me, always have a certain political relevance in a sense that they provide the tools of self-empowerment for specific individuals, scenes and situations, they introduce partially and/or temporary new values and become relevant tools of identification for a specific community.

I think it is very dangerous to talk about the political as connected with the social self, with culture, everyday and self-articulation practices, etc. without any connection to the economy and global capital(ism). This view (as cultural studies in general) which underlines the importance of the politicisation of the fights for particularities, cultural differences, for self-articulation, everyday practices which reformulate marginality, etc. does not make transparent and does not question to the right extent the frame within which these acts are taking place in - the overall presence, homogeneity of the capitalistic system - (as that it is something unquestionable, unchangeable and therefore not worthwhile bothering with) and it also does not stress enough how much those phenomena are rooted in global capital/ism and in its fast commodification and neutralisation, the de-politicisation processes.


To a certain degree I completely agree with your comment. On the other hand your question somehow implies that capitalism is the main determinator for social and cultural structures, relations; for sure it is a very heavy determinator, but definitely not the only one.
Before this background EuroVision2000 received a critique (in Bonn at the Videonale 9) that our political arguments have a much too strong attitude against late capitalism and neo-liberalism, instead of focusing more on the cultural and social production of power relations. We were also criticised that the project performs merely a very pure critique of capitalism, and to some extent we had to agree.
You can not throw the baby out with the bath water; not today when an anti-capital, anti-neo-liberal movement is in the making. You still need to reflect upon the power relations and the construction of subjects before the background of social, cultural and economical aspects.
One will never understand the success of the financial market if you do not see that a very specific subjectivity (which is heavily culturally coded) is needed in this business. And this subjectivity (the broker) has its narrative as a very important (male) performer, who is addicted to numbers, to white shirts, ties, hard core sex or viagra. Sure, you can say, he is only acting for money and he is not guilty for that is the capitalist system, but that will not say a lot, will it?
And to make a short remark on cultural studies, as you are criticising it - I would even say that this critique which I hear very often is a kind of a gossip of the Left, just like the Birmingham Cultural Studies had been guilty for the commodification of subcultures or their de-politicisation. If you read the texts by Stuart Hall or Angela McRobbie you see that in the past as well as today they always make the class issue in relation to the race and gender issue the issue. Their interest is to make the production of hierarchies through political marginalisation and economical inequality a central question and they kept referring to Marx and Althusser even at times when it was not very much 'en vogue' in the German and French theoretical world. So, in that way I would argue against the critique on cultural studies and say that it has been much more down to the post-modern philosophical schools in the 80's, who argued against the subversive in capitalist societies and who prayed that as a consequence of it a huge mega capitalist society will develop in the future in which we will all be friendly and dance with the enemy. We should be very careful with such unproductive and pessimistic cultural statements and try harder to analyse what is really happening in the global south as well as in our neighbouring surroundings.
I understand your question in a way, that (for sure) there had been some culturalists in the past and that are still today influenced by surface post-modern thinking (everything is fluid, possible etc.) which spoke about 'the end of politics', the end of social movements, etc. And these are the people who are telling me, for example, that one would not use 'capitalism' anymore in a text, the way I do. As if it would be just about a trend or fashion to name power relations. This is plain stupid.
As we can see today there are critical movements all over the world. So, my thesis is that, the pessimism of post-modern thinking was grounded in its lack of taking into account the fights and struggles in the so called Third World; the globe in general. (But these were not fights and struggles in the notion of an INTERNATIONALE.) In this way the so called post-modern crisis represents a very western view; a view that is concerned with the loss of the universality of European thought. Today, political movements are no longer mainly situated in Europe and U.S.A., but in completely different parts of the world, continents and places all across the globe. And I am very lucky that at the present Europe has to open up its eyes.

Maybe one of the ways how to overcome the manifestive, symbolical level can also be to use work in progress and a continuity in ones work as regards the issues one deals with. For a number of years you have already been engaged (while involved in projects such as: MoneyNationTV, Zurich,1998; EuroVision2000; MoneyNation2, Vienna, 2000) in the issues of restructuring EUrope, in the processes of globalisation and specially in the issues of borders and migration. Can you tell me more about all of this; what was your starting point, how did you become involved in these issues?


On my part there were different levels of getting engaged in these issues. One part is linked to the changes of the traditional notion of the political as Peter has already described before. My perception from the beginning of the 90's was that the economically-based decision power, economical transformations, neo-liberalism and globalisation, had much greater influence on our everyday life than the 'national-political' resolutions. So, for me it seemed to make sense to work on these issues. The other point which touches me even more personally is connected with the migration issue as this is determined with my personal story. I come from a family of emigrants; several of my family members were economical emigrants - in the 20's from several European countries and in the 50's from various different continents (Australia, Latin America, Canada). Seeing how the conditions of emigrants changed as a consequence of the Schengen agreement came as a great shock to me. Coming together with Marion and Peter (in 1999) who were already engaged in these issues gave me even more tools and a greater motivation to focus on these issues in my work.

I would say, that the continuity of this debate is not merely a result of our collaborative format (that is true only to a certain extent). First of all: it is also a part of the collective consciousness; namely the awareness and critical discourse have been a side effect of neo-liberal politics which affirm the ideology of being the 'fittest' - personally and economically. Secondly: closing the EU-borders, the Schengen agreement produced a shock also in the Western European societies, as we have just been invited to perceive the opening of the former 'block states' and the borders. I like this image of turning the state structure of Europe before '89 upside down; just the sides changed. You have the EU 'block state' in the West today instead of the 'East block' which existed before '89 and national entities in the East now, just like before in the Western European reality. However something did not change at all: this idiotic rigid border line. On the other hand there has been a collective desire (in both parts, East and West, if I use this stupid dualism) for merging, exchange, opening, curiosity. This is what I experienced when I moved to Berlin in 1991. I have been very curious and I engaged myself in numerous cultural activities, where I got into close contact with cultural actors and theoreticians from Leipzig, Dresden and East-Berlin. But to my astonishment the so called (cultural) Left in the western part of Germany and in Switzerland was not really interested in these transitional, transformational processes. This is why a few years later (1998) I organised the MoneyNations project in the Shedhalle in Zurich as there was still a huge blind spot in the perception of these very specific processes. For Moneynations 2 the situation became much more complicated, as two years later we have been confronted with the NATO bombardment and Haider being elected in Austria. This changed the whole attitude and focus of the project in the terms of state-racism, hegemony, every day discrimination practice inside and outside the Schengen border.

In connection to the questions dealing with the possible political implications which could overcome the symbolical level, I would also like to refer to the notion of a ghetto or even a 'safe pool' which is often a critique of socially and politically concerned cultural or artistic projects and which came up also in the discussion which followed your presentation in Ljubljana, mainly because of your standpoint that you are not interested in reaching a broader public and that you are not interested in presenting the videos in the mass media.
How do you perceive the notion of a ghetto - especially in relation to your project?

Yes, I agree that this question is to be seen in connection to that issue, but first of all I must state that I do not agree with the negative notion of the ghetto in general, but I will come back to this point later on.
I would say that EuroVision2000 is not the best example for talking about the ghetto in a negative sense, as a closure (i.e. as a symbolical act only within the art world). A closure, an exclusion neither by the process of building up the producers network nor by distributing the material took place in the case of EuroVision2000. One of the aims of the project was for video producers from all over Europe to get involved in an exchange, to form a network of friendships of those who are concerned (beyond the Schengen Borders) about racist and reactionary practices in the EU-transformation process and to initiate local and specific inventions - artistically and politically. The videos which have been produced or send to us for screening, have been used to create a climate for discussions and debates. In Prague (just before the WTO demonstrations started in October 2000) we tried to establish a dialogue between leftist and autonomous scenes from the West and critical intellectuals from the local scene. Such dialogues do usually not take place and during the entire Anti-WTO Campaign this proved to be the case, for most of the Westerners were of the opinion that the political means are the same wherever you go. In Brussels we organised a regularisation campaign with the Sans Papiers Office Antwerp, as this was rated highly on the political agenda in Belgium at that time. We used places on very different symbolic levels for this positioning, places that have not been art spaces, but media spaces, spaces for screenings and cultural events. (For instance the regularisation campaign took place in the Brussels 2000 main hall, while a discussion on the production conditions of cultural producers was placed in an unemployment office in Saint Josse.)
But concerning the ghetto in another sense I would agree with the connection of the notion of a ghetto with EuroVision2000. I just read a wonderful article by my friend Marc Siegel, a gay film critic from Los Angeles, now living in Berlin, about the homosexual ghetto. From the perspective of homosexual life and its subculture the ghetto has always been a possibility to exist and survive. The knowledge and codes of localities and events (clubs, bars, parks), people's sexual desires, dress codes and styles are shared in the ghetto and establish temporary spaces of articulation. I do believe that self-expression can not be understood without the specificity and particularity of a scene and individual desires that are articulated in it. In this understanding of a ghetto social activity maps the urban space as a temporary experience, as well as a productive space for none-normative living conditions. In this way the ghetto can also be understood as a cumulating point which can construct a local surrounding in which a broader community (of minorities) is able to communicate and where one can live without total control. For EuroVision2000 it was our aim to construct a heterogeneous space of exchange and interests, sharing problems and even having fun; i.e. in constructing a community which is not closed, but specific.

Saying that I am not interested in presenting videos in the mass media does not mean that some of the videos and reports which are part of the EuroVision2000 programme would not be a good fit for such a context. But I am personally no longer interested in making deals and compromises, convincing - or what happens more often these days - giving advice and coaching mass media people how to become politically correct. My intention is not a kind of a media reform or institutional improvement. I would like to concentrate my energy more on the side of production and invention, creating new situations, connections and networks among cultural activists and of course also for ourselves, which empowers new constellations of work and exchange, our own ways of looking at reality, experimental crossovers of disciplines and knowledge. As far as I can see almost every cultural, critical and theoretical content which is sooner or later successfully distributed and in the end mainly commercialised as mainstream in the mass media or in a broader context of society, was in one way or the other developed in a 'kind of a ghetto', often temporary zones of specific interests and social constellation, often in connection with some kind of alternative economical structures. So, in that sense I see broader distribution as a very different project from initiating or cultivating cultural productive contexts. And it seems to me that it is very difficult to mix the two.

The way in which we reached our decisions for EuroVision2000 - showing different aspects of the same phenomena (through videos by different authors), a complex image of reality and providing inputs, starting points for the following discussions - does not fit in the TV 'news-documentary-reports' language. In opposition to the mass media which pretends to give you the 'real, objective information', but in the end hides the related effects, we chose the complexity and effects. I do not have the impression of working in a ghetto, because we are acting and moving in numerous different cities, contexts and situations. I would feel like I was in a ghetto only if I were working merely in art spaces, inter-acting solely with other artists. Together with artists, activists and theoreticians we are acting in the art and cultural field as well as the political. Of course we have a same or at least a similar ideology.


It is interesting that in your answers you made the division between an art and independent media space on a couple of occasions while you were talking about the notion of the ghetto - it sounded as if the notion of the ghetto is for you applicable only within an art context. In my opinion not just an art space or if I am more precise - an art system, but also an alternative media space can function as a ghetto in a negative sense, but on the other side independent media can function also in a positive sense as a ghetto, because they can be constitutive or of survival importance for some communities, minorities.
In connection to the ghetto problem how do you see the view that the task of an 'alternative' or 'independent' media is to form 'a new' audience by spreading 'independent, right' information which functions as enlightenment because of which a change within the consciousness will appear in the audience and this will result in a social-political action and a broader change in existing situation?


My answer derives from many intensive conversations, cultural and artistic collaborations and is against the so called objective reporting. Personally, as an artist and also within the EuroVision2000 project we were arguing for a dialogue instead of monologues, for inter-culturality instead of multi-culturality. In that way, as I mentioned already above, I do not have a problem with the ghetto in the way I described it and not even in an alternative media scene. The ghetto I am talking about is about connecting and not always about the same group of people; it is about communication between people, if you like - even all over the world, but not with everyone. I really have a problem with a ghetto as people usually ask about it - as something negative. It is just too easy to say that a ghetto is bad and the broader public is good; as if when the videos would have been broadcast broadly the problem of the political or the question of the public and the resulting action would have been solved. Our point has been a different one. Most of the EuroVision2000 more classical documentary films were broadcast or even made by the money from Channel 4. So, a lot of EuroVision2000 videos have already been shown on TV or in other public spaces. The videos in general are distributed by the artists and film makers themselves or by galleries as they do not belong to us. They are not our property. Nowadays the whole collection of EuroVision2000 films is distributed by FilmCoopi Vienna and the Pompidou Centre in Paris might take some of them and place them in their collection. But for me this is not the most interesting point of the project, this common idea of success. What we did is, we used the videos for debates, discussion rounds about socio-political issues in three complete different political surroundings: Prague, Brussels and Bologna. We tried to find people that are locally involved, affected, influenced with questions about the globalisation process, but never because they would merely have the same opinion about these complex questions. Our work has been to start a dialogue, an intervention and to try to find collaborators in the political and cultural field. That is, as I witness, in the media as well as in the art scene already a lot, as the documentary film maker and artist, or alternative media people and film makers have not so much to do with each other. From my long experience I know that one has achieved a lot, if one has made people listen to each other and clarify their standpoints, in one has achieved that the issues of representation are debated and negotiated, that the political instead of the aesthetic gets to be the topic, that we question our strategies, that we criticise our works, that we are not competitive, that we can articulate even small things not only large productions, etc. And this is the good thing about EuroVision2000. But the project never had the idea to be an ideal or an institution. It is a temporary, provisory, transit space. And that is again a good thing as new things can emerge through the project and can be put under questioning (also in our own activities).

As a consequence of my remarks above I would no longer believe in the positive effect of enlightenment or the self explanation of the better, more perfect truth, and therefore more effective information. In the Western media the idea of improved information or bringing the objective truth has become a kind of an ideology. Counter-information alone will not change any principal power structures in society as long as the position of the enlightened owner of true information and the right knowledge is based on a hierarchical and paternalistic pattern. Talking for (or in the name of) the suppressed and marginalised others, the victims of the system, who are without a chance of formulating their own positions, is a very problematical approach, because the proposed solutions often represent projections or even the interests of the speakers and introduce new power structures. While organising EuroVision 2000 we were aware of this fact, so we tried to find positions and perspectives that are no longer translated or mediated by any 'objective' third party, but which are more subjective and out of the position of being personally involved.
The idea of participation or an engagement is a better description of the disposition where I would expect some effects on the existing situations to take place; something like the appearance of a critical political spectator who is also it's own activist. Namely, in neo-liberalism everything is participative and everybody should participate, of course mainly in a commercial sense and with the final consequence of buying something. Participation in a project like EuroVision2000 means something totally different and might be better described with the term 'personal engagement'. The engagement in such a project includes for example not only the producers of videos, but also critical spectators who become their own activists instead of just being passive viewers. Therefore projects like EuroVision2000 will never address the mass public and that is not negative as far as 'reaching the mass public' and 'initiating personal engagement' are two very different approaches.

If I understand you correctly - we can notice the same approaches as used by the power structures (talking for the suppressed and marginalised other) also in the so called alternative or independent media, just from another point of view. This was actually one point of my fifth question - that the so called independent media often act with the same structure, patterns (enlightenment, talking for the suppressed other, etc) as the mainstream does, just from another angle.


Yes I agree, there is also this structural similarity I am talking about. However, it is clear that the mainstream media have a different motivation and different interests than any alternative media, as they are normally commercial enterprises with investors in the background who need a profit to be made for them. So they will only report about the 'marginalised others' in a popular manner, in the spirit of a scandal, if there is a chance to attract viewers and raise the quote of spectators, and this is very often performed in a very racist way. On the other hand, the so called alternative media have always defined themselves as the distributors of 'suppressed' information and here there is, as you say, a real danger to traditionally reproduce the power structures (the West and the rest) by talking about the suppressed 'Other' even if it happens in the belief of doing good. What I am trying to point out is, that in our view an alternative approach to information is more than just a more precise or objective report. It is a question of the position of the speakers and those who we are speaking about. For us, alternative use of media means finding ways to speak up, to share opinions and to enable locally adapted forms of distribution.

Will you place your videos also on the Internet (in a sense of an open archive) so that people could use and contribute materials even more freely than they are at the present?

Yes, we are looking for finances to do so.

For EuroVision2000 our statement has been that when we talk about different forms of racism, we actually discuss the complexity of questions and viewpoints on racism and not about the propagandistic use of terms in order to enlighten others. The question of a critical cultural production begins somewhere else. The question begins at how we are used to represent the knowledge about the 'Other'. One part of the enlightenment practices has been that they brought the 'world' to us; in the end also over TV sets! For what price? Most definitely for the price of colonialism, if nothing else. Enlightenment itself drew the rational mastermind against the naivete of the 'rest of the world', the so called natives, the 'naturkinder'. It is my opinion that if we want to understand how racism is structurally coded in our society today, we can not focus on one story told by some Westerners, who are trying to bring the 'right' light to the case, which will then be shown on broadcasts. I am a greater believer in the subjectification of objectivity and in the specifity of narrations, localities and voices: to let speak and to listen, to answer, intervene and to question, to fight and to understand, instead of aiming at making 'voice-overs' and believing in straightness. I believe this would actually be a broader change in an existing situation, with even revolutionary aspects in it, as it would change our notion from abstract, objective information to a relational understanding of it.