Academic journal article Afterimage

Uncompromising Hostility: An Interview with Lanfranco Aceti

Academic journal article Afterimage

Uncompromising Hostility: An Interview with Lanfranco Aceti

Article excerpt

Lanfranco Aceti holds a PhD in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, United Kingdom. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and a researcher and Leverhulme artist-in-residence at the Department of Computer Science, Virtual Reality Environments, University College London. Aceti is an interactive integrated media artist who deals with issues of globalization, hybridization between humans and machines, posthumanism, and cross-representations between media. The following conversation focuses on the engagement of the artist with society during the current war on terror. In particular, the issues of multiculturalism, transnationalism, and interfaith dialogues are addressed within an artistic journey.

Gulsen Bal: For fairly obvious and empirically convincing reasons in the new political understanding of globalism, concepts of "political engagement" are emerging everywhere. In this multiplication of political changes, particularly in reference to post-September 11, 2001, what kind of new political strategies are being brought to the aesthetic developments of contemporary art practice?

Lanfranco Aceti: I would start by saying that the real issues have been censored. I was shocked by some of the images of 9/11. [Images of] people holding hands and jumping off the Twin Towers were probably some of the most desperate representations of this tragedy--the impossibility of escape. This brought memories of family history from World War II and the comment of my father who said: "Cowards, they didn't leave them a route to escape ... At least during the bombings we could run to the mountains." I believe that there is no escape and that the "clash" between secularism and fascist applications of multiculturalism has generated an "emergence," as Paul Virilio would say, of a "rediscovery of civic and civilized engagements." For this reason, I created a series of works and one of them was titled Bloody Falling Rain (2002), made with digital media, blood, and glass. The idea was to cover the surface of the image with real blood to represent the impossibility of escape from the visual and psychological imprisonment of the tragedy itself. The images remained private until now and were only presented at the Harvard Divinity School as part of a paper on aesthetics I delivered at the annual meeting of the International Society for Phenomenology for Aesthetics and Fine Arts at Harvard University, May 16-18, 2003. Certainly the rules of engagement have changed. There are no other alternatives, no escape route is left but to face the present political times.


GB: What do you mean by present political times? Do you think that this is a conflict of civilizations? That the religious conflict, like in the events unleashed by the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, is a political one?

LA: One should have civilizations to have a conflict with ... I don't think that we are so lucky in this instance. This is a conflict between idiocies and that is my principal worry. Yes, I believe that it is a political issue, inasmuch as there is a confrontation between a weakened and decadent western political system and a rising violently fundamentalist Middle East. But the issue is not of "decadence" based on sinful behaviors; the issue for me is that of ignorance and idiocy. Please [stress those] two words. Let's take again the 9/11 issue. Were [the people killed in the Twin Towers] responsible for the political strategy of the United States? If your answer is yes, as I have heard from way too many people exclusive of the terrorists' propaganda, then accordingly people in the Middle East are responsible for their political elites and, following this form of reasoning, deserve to die. This to me is a very important issue: the masses that we have seen expressing their fascist religious sentiments are similar to the masses that followed [Adolf] Hitler and [Benito] Mussolini. …

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