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).