A WARRIOR WITH ART AS HIS WEAPON.
CARMEN HUST | OCTOBER 2015
Taking a longshot of definition as one approaches the works of Rahman Hak-Hagir (based in Vienna, Austria) one finds it difficult to differentiate him between artist and/or activist. He’s definitely true to his projects and outmost hostile to indifference. A warrior with art as his weapon.
It always was the privilege of comedians to illuminate the king and his court by clues and messages camouflaged behind symbols. My conceptual per formative work contributes to all these anonymous jesters who served social evolution and human cohesion across history.
While his projects are censored in social medias, Rahman’s interest in the conflicting priorities between individual and social environment is increasing. Playing with our (self) awareness within the habits, thought and prefixed opinions, so deeply nourished by culture and
heritage. Your work is provoking a reflection upon the
individual in contrast, or should I say context, to the anonymous state. What sort of dialogue are you trying to launch within your audience? - within the world?
RH: Gustav Klimt said art is a line around our thoughts. I try to locate and investigate common connection points and draw such lines. What I am doing is to invite my audience to join me in taking a look behind the curtains of existence and human behavior, and to maybe benefit
from a new multi -perspective holistic awareness of ”self” and society.
Of course, I am focusing on repeating and contemporary conflicting priorities to work on draft models for possible solutions. But not only about the individual and the state, as much about our closest social environment like family, friends and partners. Its
there where human cohesion starts already.
So, to answer your question in just one sentence;
I would say it’s all about self - reflection and an analytic view on it.
Viewing one of your projects, intense and
slightly provocative, one can’t exclude the feeling that you’re trying to guide the spectator onto a certain path of emotion, questioning old traditions and cultural
heritage. Would one of your models for possible solutions be that of cultivating the self - awareness in order to prevent bias?
Virtually yes. And of course, I am persuasive. One of the best things about emotions is that we all agree on them. I think there is not a single person on this planet that wouldn't like to live on a better planet and art had
always served as an exhaustless source of inspiration
or as a tool of manipulation to that matter.
So why there is still so much crap going on? And who keeps starting it? When I was young there was no internet and Europe was divided by an iron curtain.
Our only defense against being kept in philosophical stasis is to self investigate and reflect ourself to learn about how we react as individuals on certain levels of human behavior and to gain kind of an ethically immunity against cultural and political indoctrination
On television, you could watch American and Russian military parades in their capitals, showcasing their nuclear warheads. Chinese people had been strange communists too. And all you knew about Chinese and Russian people was what other people who were aiming with nuclear warheads at them, told you about.
But today you got Chuan and Zhu as friends on Facebook and the Russian who just bought the whole apartment complex where you are living in turned out as a nice guy too. Beside this nothing much has changed. „We“ are the good guys. And who ever disagrees with „us“ - isn ́t. But who is this „We“? And what is this „us“? Of course,
I am Austrian. But I don’t identify myself with those 35% right political party voters. Not every american supports every shit about the „war on terror“ and not every Russian would have had arrested Pussy Riot.
I had been lucky to grow up with two cultural
heritages which gifted me with a special skill that I call „the switch“. It often drives my friends crazy in discussions when I suddenly switch from one cultural viewpoint into another and continue arguing from another philosophical direction. But this makes communication very interesting and leads to reproductive indications. I found out that most of us people basically „agree“ and that most of the political and maybe ecological problems that we face in our times wouldn’t exist anymore, if every one reads Machiavellís Il Principe. Not because the plot is so great. In fact, its pretty boring. You can keep it on your toilet, as I do and read it there. Frequently. Niccolò
Machiavelli was an Italian Renaissance historian,
politician, diplomat, philosopher and writer and served for many years a senior oficial in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic affairs.
When I started reading I became really upset at him. I mean the guy certainly wasn't the type of person I would go on a coffee together. Reading the book is like listening to a conversation of the rulers of the world and their advisors. And it’s all about how to remain in
power and how to keep us - the “masses“ - passive.
Even published in 1513 history always repeats and certain very basic mechanisms steady remain the same. But the more time I spent with the Principle I
learned as our only defense against being kept in philosophical stasis we have to self - investigate and reflect our self to learn about how we react as
individuals on certain levels of human behavior and to gain kind of an ethically immunity against cultural and political indoctrination.
But we simply have to realize that people probably prefer different literature on their toilets. So, let’s teach them “the switch”
In my work I try to offend no one. Offending someone is a very bad way to start a conversation. For example the „grass women“ - how people call them - or PALM HOUSE. When we had another shooting with the Burqa in Milan at Viale Bligny 42, surrounded by Arab and
Muslim immigrants who were watching us, there occurred a short tense situation, when a young Arab guy started to argue with one of my assistants. I asked him: „Where are you from? “. He said he came from Egypt. So, I asked: „So tell me, what kind of clothes do
women wear in Egypt. Do they have arms? “
Of course, they got arms he answered. „And tell me. Can they See?“ Of course, they can see he claimed.
„See? But this is afghan Burqa. No arms. And no eyes. Its shit. So, its not against Islam its against tradition. OK?“ Well, the guy started smiling and went off. And
the rest of our oriental “ audience“ just had fun
and enjoyed the shooting together with the girls
Again, thanks to the Internet and to the guys for
not blowing up the planet in 1980 we are able to
work across the whole world, almost like we ́d be
sitting on the same table together. The founding
members of the Other Society are Julia Wertheimer, Kathleen Luger, Jason Yen, Jon Baker, Asad Khan and myself.
The Other Society is an International artist collective as much as an expanding artistic utopia that sends out clues and messages to the real world, to prosper. Thats the mission. Whatever happens - in the end we want our own building in Vienna too. Like Gustav. I think there is an artist in everyone. Look into an contemporary art fair. Its not so much about "technical talent“ or „skills“ anymore, which for me is a pity - its more about reflecting life. Or reflecting the things around us.
This is not a matter of talent. Or education. Its - again -
merely a matter of self reflection and non - obstructed individual philosophy. Most people think they can consume kind of an “instant“ philosophy via the media in between work, caring about the kids, doing the
laundry, washing the crap ... but this way you just become an easy target as a reflector for the even lightest ways of indoctrination.
To reflect the world and yourself takes time because
it always puts up another question. It’s like Alice in the Wonderland or Hänsel und Gretel following the bred
crumbs. Just without a witch and an oven at the end, hopefully. Time that the common contemporary
European human being simply doesn't have to spend.
Maybe the only different between artists and regular people today is that artist just don't give a crap about regular life. And sane people might do. I try to avoid
being forced to explain my work too much. I like to just trigger something in the head of the viewer. A unique movie directed by the spectators own unconsciousness. The best director you can ever get. Why is the book
usually better than the movie? Well. The director
makes the difference
“We got three refugees - but we can’t take all of them. So please choose one and shoot the other two.“
Unfortunately, the current refugee situation in Europe gains, more and more social impact and the whole sad topic gets more and more misused for cheap political populism. We hope our performance SELEKTION and its captured reflections on the nature of human behavior will trigger some self - reflection about personal beliefs, conformity, persuasion and obedience to authority; and may also provide us with higher sensitivity, when it comes to often just media and system obstructed and therefore negative reactions on the current refugee situation.” The Other Society, August 2015 / Ruden, Austria.
SELEKTION is an integrative live performance that took place on 8th and 9th August 2015 on RUDEN LIVE ART WEEK at MUSEUM AM BACH in Ruden, Carinthia / Austria. SELEKTION investigates the nature of
human behavior; The performance happened on two separate days in front of MUAB. All in all, twenty volunteers out of the audience took part in it.
This article is part of ARTICULATE #5. Check out the full release below