We should have been crushed by the pressure of our past. We should have been immobilized by the relics of violence that still float in the air. Covered by ash, too many of the past’s events are simplified, with all their blood and pain forgotten.
Inhaling and exhaling slowly while the seconds past and our eyes were bulging the screen. Amazed and paralyzed, we could not believe our eyes. The camera was moving and the repetition looked artificial. In the age of the CGI and plastic surgery, nothing that appears as such can pass without the doubt of its veracity.
The last scene of Raoul Peck’s four-part documentaries series “Exterminate all the brutes” (2021) starts at 0:54:18 when, through a dissolve transition from the previous scene, enters in the frame the site of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Captured with a drone, the camera moves forward, crossing over too many buildings, some standing, some not. The symmetry of the camera shot and the horrific site is overwhelming. The scene ends at 0:56:00, but until the moment when we wrote this text, we didn’t know that this shot was less than 2 minutes in length. These almost 2 minutes were the largest monument we saw to the horrors of the world. In those passing seconds we were breathless…
Just imagine, that this scene is almost 5 times shorter than the time Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck and back, one year ago, and 76 years and 117 days since the soviet troops entered and liberated the above-mentioned concentration camp.
Protests over protest, all crushed through brutal force, and still nothing. How powerless are the people and how rooted is this establishment? How deep is the foundation on which all this hatred is founded? How thick are the books and how long are the films that produced and reproduced, over and over, this ideology and how to fight them back? Is it useful to use these aesthetic tools when white armed people storm the capitol and defy African-American citizens with their assault rifles? White people everywhere seem more prepared than ever to protect their whiteness (and their Christian belief), without falling as terrorists or extremists in the media’s eye. We’re left breathless… by hatred, but especially by human stupidity.
Breathless, as most of us were, when sick with Covid-19. But our lungs were suffering even years before.
In 2018 one of our favorite writers, Franco “Bifo” Berardi published “Breathing: Chaos and Poetry”, a book that we didn’t read, yet. “The increasingly chaotic rhythm of our respiration, and the sense of suffocation that grows everywhere: an essay on poetical therapy.” His writings have shaped our method of thinking and seeing the world, and through his words we find comfort, even though his lines mirror our depression. When reading him, we feel that the world is as it is and that we are not suffocating alone. The same is the feeling with all of our friends and all the people we meet that share the feeling that something is not right, that the world is sick and that we have to heal it. It is a joy to be suffocating together!
28/05/21. Published 3/06/21.
SABA - Silvia Amancei and Bogdan Armanu (b. 1991, Iași and Timișoara / Romania) is an artist couple working together since 2012. Their artistic practice could be positioned at the border between social studies and visual art, researching for methods and examples where art and artistic means can be instrumentalised in order to overexcite the ability to look beyond capitalism and create a (common) future. Among their recent solo shows are “s.a.b.a 1979-####” (2020, Ljubljana, SI), “It was always in plain sight” (2020, Bucharest, RO), “If Then What After” (2019, Baden, AT), “What Past? What Future?” (2017, Linz, AT), “Depression, Uncertainty and other symptoms of Mortality” (2016, Lodz, Poland), while their works have been present in many group exhibitions among which “Rewriting Our Imaginations” (2020, Basel, CH), “Go, Stop, Stay” (2019, Debrecen, HU), “STRIKE GENTLY AWAY ____” (2019, Salzburg, AT), “Displacement and Togetherness” (2019, Brussels, BE), “Capital’s Time Machine” (2018, Bucharest, RO), “Baywatch” (2018, Berlin, DE), “Alternative Facts” (2018, Stuttgart, DE), “Odessa Biennial” (2017, Odessa, Ukraine), to name just a few.