OPEN THEORY LECTURES – International Symposium 2016

Open Theory Lectures explored how artists, curators and theoreticians work with Roma art, what their aesthetic priorities are, how they design their projects, and what initiatives, archives and network structures they create. This raises the important question of how they deal with the contradiction in the arts that call themselves global and how they take into account the fact that art continues to produce national portraits of artists and create national pavilions as exhibition spaces for artworks.
So what does this mean for the Romni artist? Are concepts of origin and national belonging relevant to transnational Roma?
Which concepts would be meaningful for transnational contemporary life and work?
Has the situation of the Roma – as a minority without state borders – changed in a globalized art world where the majority operates transnationally?
How do the Roma position themselves in the transnational circuits of ideas, images, objects and people?

Morphing Portraits 2014 – 16

An attack by masked artists* on a Zurich offspace. The scene is garishly illuminated by two car headlights that stop just outside the shop window. In addition, a furious track of the Urban Dance Squad of loud boxes. The surroundings startle. The white walls are fully sprayed, and “on the catwalk of glam” large areas of the walls and floor are covered. “Glam” stands for the institutions of cultural knowledge, for galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The intervention is understood as hacking the code inscribed in the glam. A furious rebellion of a Roma activism that is to be understood as deeply connected with other minority struggles. The collective acts and intervenes in the art field from a position in the middle of it; it is about nothing less than transformation, about rewriting the white cube. (excerpt of the full text Morphing Portraits by Michael F. Grieder in Morphing The Roma Label, publication launched previously end of 2020).

Performance at the Launch of the publication ” The Air Will Not Deny You – Zurich in the sign of a different globality” curated by Daniel Kurjacovic at Johann Jacobs Museum, June 2016

Decolonization is in one way or another always a “phenomenon of violence,” writes the physician Frantz Fanon shortly before his death. The minimal demand of the colonized is the tabula rasa, a “fundamentally changed social panorama”. Fanon speaks of the colonized as a world divided in two, whose boundaries are shown, for example, in police stations. The parallels to antiziganist policies in Europe are not self-explanatory, but they are impressive enough. In taking up Silvia Federici’s thoughts, one must also speak of colonization within the centuries of European expansion, which on the one hand took shape as a “war against women” and on the other hand was directed against several minorities. (Excerpt of the full text written by Michael F. Grieder in the publication Morphing The Roma Label 2020).

Performance and following Discussion on forms of artistic and social de-colonial interventions with invited guests curated by RJSaK & Stefan Wagner at Corner College, December 2014

Tableaux Très Vivants 2013

The first intervention of the Roma Jam Session art collective is based on two historical situations in the history of photography. On the one hand, the title “Tableaux très vivants” speaks of the fashion phenomenon of the bourgeoisie in the 19th century, to re-enact situations or paintings in expensive photographs, artistic alienations by means of disguise, staging and precisely the new technology of photography. Tableaux vivants, images that have come to life, an existential trip, visual transgression, exemplified by the omnipresent orientalist motifs. On the other hand, as is well known, the 19th century is characterized by class struggles. The emergence of the disciplinary society, as Michel Foucault describes it in lectures and works, served on the one hand to drive the masses into the factory, and on the other hand, and this is characteristic, this system is structurally dependent on the existence of unemployed people, the Marxist “reserve army”. Unemployed people were used as a potentially available labour force, so the disciplining did not only affect the workers in the factories, but especially those working differently: debauchery, refusal, nomadism or vagabondage are the cornerstones of what capitalism feared most at this stage. It is against this background that the “homeless question” takes place, which settled Switzerland sought to solve “once and for all” in the middle of the 19th century. The “gens sans feu et sans aveux” were hunted through forests and meadows, arrested en masse and interned, the aim being to be forced to settle or expelled. As the “homeless” showed some skill in going underground, covering their tracks and reappearing under a new name, thus escaping the bourgeois grid, the authorities were faced with the question of a secure identification technique. Here the history of criminology meets the history of photography. (excerpt of the full text by Michael Felix Grieder, publication Morphing The Roma Label 2020).