Rodriguez Foundation
Marina Griznic
Oliver Ressler
Hito Steyerl
José Carlos Mariategui
Marcus Neustetter
november 5
19:00 >> Fundación Rodriguez
20:00 >> Marina Griznic
november 6
19:00 >> Oliver Ressler
20:00 >> Hito Steyerl
november 7
19:00 >> José Carlos Mariategui
20:00 >> Marcus Neustetter

A summary of Oliver Ressler’s presentation of the Disobbedienti project at the Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea on 6th November 2003, within the framework of the conferences on Artistic Proposals of today, here and there.


According to Fito Rodríguez, Oliver Ressler is participating in TESTER due to his artistic work and style. Oliver lives and works in Vienna and his works deal with socio-political themes. Since 1994 he has specialised in presenting exhibitions, site-specific projects and videos on issues such as racism, economic globalisation, sustainable development, genetic engineering and forms of resistance. One of these videos entitled “This is what democracy looks like” has become a reference point for the anti-globalisation movement.

During his conference Oliver Ressler took us through some of his projects that are directly related to the economy because, according to him, this is a really important sphere of activity in the development of society. These projects try to relate peripheral standpoints to the hegemonic discourse of the economy.

The first project he showed was entitled “The Global five hundred”, which was made in 1999. The starting point was research done on the web sites of the world’s five hundred largest transnational companies. According to Oliver Ressler, these companies are one of the greatest products of globalisation. “I thought it would be very interesting to find out what these companies thought about globalisation”, he declared. The work is divided into three parts: phrases or quotes taken from the web sites, photos taken of the companies’ annual reports and extracts from interviews given to experts who work with this type of company and unionists.

BOOM is a work in progress collaborative project with David Thorne. In the words of Oliver Ressler, it tries to examine the contradictions of global capitalism. “We created some URL addresses and we showed them for the first time on banners in the anti-globalisation demonstration held in New York in 2002”, he explained. After that action, they received an invitation to transform the project into an exhibition. They researched the places where the exhibition was going to be held in order to personalise it and deal with local problems and issues.

Perhaps the work that has had the greatest repercussion of all was “This is what democracy looks like”. This video is based on the first anti-globalisation demonstration that took place in Salzburg in 2002. During this period the mass-media generated a very intense debate on whether or not this demonstration ought to be allowed. It should be remembered that this act had been preceded by the riots occurring in Gothenburg a few days earlier. Finally, the authorities only allowed the discourses and the demonstrators were dispersed around the city. Absolutely nothing happened during the first two hours, but then the demonstrators were encircled by police forces in one of the city’s main streets. Oliver Ressler filmed the tense situation generated when the police retained the demonstrators for several hours. The work “This is what democracy looks like” is based on the images recorded in Salzburg and on several interviews conducted with the demonstrators. It is completed with some images taken from earlier recordings of similar situations.

This project was followed by the “Disobbedienti” project, made in collaboration with Darío Arzelini. This video thematises the origins of the “Disobbedienti”, its political bases and forms of direct action. Oliver Ressler bases his work on seven conversations held with members of the movement. The “Disobbedienti” emerged from the group called Tute Bianche, which acted during the demonstrations against the G-8 summit in Genoa in July 2001. During this summit, the Tute Bianche decided not to use their characteristic white overalls and to merge with the crowd formed by 300.000 anti-globalist protestors present in Genoa. In the opinion of Oliver Ressler, the transition from the Tute Bianche to the “Disobbedienti” also marks the evolution from “civil disobedience” to “social disobedience”.

Finally, Oliver Ressler explained the European Correction Corporation project, the result of an invitation to intervene in the district of Grasz. When research was initiated in order to decide which issue to work on, they realised that the second largest prison in Austria was located in this district. “We decided to base our work on this fact, but we transferred it to one of the greatest commercial avenues in the city”, explained Oliver Ressler. They considered that it was important to treat the prison as an instrument of control and globalisation, like an important pillar of the economy. They installed a container in the middle of the street announcing the privatisation of the prison and presenting the new design it would have. “All the citizens were informed that the private company that would take control of the prison intended to financially benefit from the prisoners’ work, which is something that has been going on in the USA and the UK for some time”, Oliver Ressler declared. The container was open and inside it, as a complement to the work, there was a film of an interview with a person who had been imprisoned for years in English prisons and who has become one of the most active opponents of the prison system, “it was a little like personifying the prison workers’ representative”.

[Arteleku] [Rodriguez Fundazioa] [Eusko Jaularitza] [American Foundation Center] [Casa Asia]