Oliver Ressler

What Is Democracy?

04.09.-29.09.2019 19:00-22:00

Curated by: Katrin Bucher Trantow
Venue: Needle

About the exhibition

In the run-up to the national elections, Kunsthaus Graz is showing the thought-provoking multi-channel video installation "What Is Democracy?" (2007-2009) by the Austrian artist Oliver Ressler (born 1970, in Knittelfeld, Austria), which impressed the audience at the last Documenta and will now be shown at Kunsthaus Graz for the first time in Styria. 

“What is democracy?” is not one question, but is actually two questions. On the one hand, the question relates to conditions of the current, parliamentary representative democracies that are scrutinized critically in this project. On the other hand, the question traces different approaches to what a more democratic system might look like and which organizational forms it could take.

The project asked “What is democracy?” to numerous activists and political analysts in several cities around the world, in Amsterdam, Berkeley, Berlin, Bern, Budapest, Copenhagen, Moscow, New York, Rostock, San Francisco, Sydney, Taipei, Tel Aviv, Thessaloniki and Warsaw. The interviews have been recorded on video since January 2007. Even though all interviewees were asked the same question, the result was a multiplicity of perspectives and viewpoints from people living in states that are usually labeled “democracies”.

More information Expand Box

Concept, interviews, camera and sound recording: Oliver Ressler
Interviewees: Kuan-Hsing Chen, Noortje Marres, Lin Chalozin Dovrat, Thanasis Triaridis, Tone Olaf Nielsen, Jo van der Spek, Cheikh Papa Sakho, Wolf Dieter Narr, Tiny a.k.a. Lisa Gray-Garcia, Joanna Erbel, Yvonne Riano, Trevor Paglen, Tadeusz Kowalik, Adam Ostolski, Boris Kagarlitsky, Michal Kozlowski, Lize Mogel, Rick Ayers, Nikos Panagos, Macha Kurzina, Gabor Csillag, Zachary Running Wolf, Jenny Munroe, David McNeill
Video editing and production: Oliver Ressler
Image editing and subtitles: David Grohe
Animation: Zanny Begg
Composition and sound editing: Rudi Gottsberger
Footage: Sierpien 80 (© Telewizja Polska S.A.)
Special thanks to Louisa Avgita, Kai Bauer, Zanny Begg, Karen Bennett, Christine Boehler, Paul Chatterton, Amy Cheng, Eyal Danon, Hilla Dayan, Miklos Erhardt, Takis Fotopoulos, Frédérique Gautier, Peter Grabher, Hou Hanru, Laila Huber, Manray Hsu, Jens Kastner, Caroline Lensing-Hebben, Geert Lovink, Margarethe Makovec, Davor Miskovic, Nikos Panagos, Ted Purves, Gerald Raunig, Natalia Romik, Walter Seidl, Katharina Schlieben, Gregory Sholette, Kuba Szreder, Nora Theiss, Dmitry Vilensky, Tom Waibel
Translation for English subtitles: Harold Otto
Translation for German subtitles: Otmar Lichtenwörther


ERSTE Foundation, Kulturamt der Steiermärkischen Landesregierung, Kulturamt Stadt Graz, Otto-Mauer-Fonds, Biennale de Lyon, 2009


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