I mentioned in a comment over at HomeShop’s blog, that I had fortuitously picked up a copy of Slavoy Žižek’s Violence last night. I only had time to read the Introduction (“THE TYRANT’S BLOODY ROBE”), but the ideas outlined there seemed apposite to the last part of my article on Gentrification on the blog, displaying in themselves strong links to Agamben’s thought. The following are selected quotes, pulling out the parts which relate to my own interests (and undoubtedly doing great violence to Žižek’s overall meaning in the process):
“… we should learn to step back, to disentangle ourselves from the fascinating lure of this directly visible “subjective” violence, violence performed by a dearly identifiable agent. We need to perceive the contours of the background which generates such outbursts. A step back enables us to identify a violence that sustains our very efforts to fight violence and to promote tolerance.
“This is not a description which locates its content in a historical space and time, but a description which creates, as the background of the phenomena it describes, an inexistent (virtual) space of its own, so that what appears in it is not an appearance sustained by the depth of reality behind it, but a decontextualised appearance, an appearance which fully coincides with real being.
“Does this recourse to artistic description imply that we are in danger of regressing to a contemplative attitude that somehow betrays the urgency to ‘do something’ about the depicted horrors?
“There are situations when the only truly ‘practical’ thing to do is to resist the temptation to engage immediately and to ‘wait and see’ by means of a patient, critical analysis.”
Although at first glance an example of the stopgap shows thrown up during Beijing’s slow season of Christmas through Chinese New Year, Pace Beijing have laid on a group show with grander aspirations. Beijing Voices: Together or Isolated addresses recent questions about the development of gallery shows in Beijing and the role of curators in general, but cuts the rug from under its feet with its confused presentation.
RP: […] how does privacy fit in with the context of Sharism?
IM: I think privacy is becoming more important. Sharism gives people a better sense of the social spectrum. Previously, we only had two polar modes: private and public, and of course we don’t like our private things to become public. However, we are now living in a spectrum that we never sensed before. Some things are private at some times, but at others they are not, depending on the context or who we are with. This is a spectrum that we can manage and come to consensus on what kind of information we can share or don’t like to share. Sometimes I share different things to different people. It’s a kind of strategy. We intuitively manage privacy now. Of course sometimes I don’t like to share my private phone number and private address in some places, like perhaps in China. But in other countries it may be different, depending on cultural difference or safety.
But we are seeing changes. In China, many dissidents and activists are open up their personal information. Why? Because previously they just wanted to close it down to protect themselves without being tracked by the government. Someone might want people to know his position so he can do things secretly. But now many are opening up this information because they see the social power. Once they’ve opened up their position, home phone, and travel plans, more people in the cloud know where they are at the same time as the authorities. He is protected even as he is tracked. This has happened over the past two years.
Dan Edwards: I noticed in a lot of the footage in the film [Ou Ning’s Meishi St (2006)], Zhang [Jinli] is filming the police, but the police have cameras too.
Ou Ning: Yeah, it’s very interesting. You can say that digital technology has had a great impact on Chinese political society. You can see at the end of the film during the demolition process, there are so many cameras on the scene. That means that there are some cameras from the police station, some from our team, some from NGO organisations. The digital technology has brought some opportunity to the people to document history by themselves. This is a great change in China. Before that, history only had one version, by the Chinese Communist Party, but now with digital technology history has different versions. History has a Zhang Jinli version, a Security Bureau version… there’s a lot of different versions, not just one version. That is a great progress in the political situation in China.