A preoccupation with questions of communality has both distinguished this year’s exhibition program at Camera Austria and left its mark on the magazine. Next to contributions by Yael Bartana, Heidrun Holzfeind, Sanja Iveković, and Martin Beck, we are publishing works by Sven Augustijnen, Michael Mrakitsch, and Maryam Jafri in the context of discourses on politics of identity and representation, thus questioning the role of photographic pictures in the fixation of “ images”. “Independence Day” (since 2009) by Maryam Jafri shows independence day ceremonies in former Asian and North African colonies. They are presented as transition in the phrasing of a new representation for nation and for “own” culture, one that draws on rituals of the former colonial powers to the same extent that they remain obligated to a globalising semiotic language of “democracy”.
Here, the question of the constitution of community is positioned, so to say, at the meta-level of the nation-state. The protagonist of the film “Spectres” (2011), Jacques Brassinne de La Buissière, reproduces—by restaging the political murder of Patrice Lumumba, which still today remains unsolved—hegemonic patterns through which history is both exposed and assessed. Our discomfort at witnessing solidarity with the wrong side—Brassinne was employed by the Belgian consulate in Katanga at the time of Lumumba’s execution—is in fact a constitutive element of Sven Augustijnen’s film and photographs. He confronts us with the tenacity of a normative historical construction before it self-destructs under the pressure of a plentitude of contradictory evidence.