Let us start with a description of the works of Marek Kozera, or better yet: with a description of what they all have in common. Let us pose the theoretical question as a starting point; then consider the female participants, who are invited to a discussion on the subject, and who are filmed in a specific staging arrangement; and at last, the production of a film which is eventually broadcast on television.
There have been three questions raised so far in the debate "Five years after the great upheaval of the end of communism in Europe. What next?“ discussed by an economist and the former Polish finance minister Leszek Balcerowicz, a sociologist Henrik Kreutz, an economist Eckhart Wenger, an entrepreneur and the former Austrian finance minister Hannes Androsch and a philosopher and art theorist Boris Groys. Kozera invited the director of the Wiener Städtische insurance company Siegfried Sellitsch and myself, as a representative of the art theory to the second round, “Let us play Change", dealing with the issue of interdependence of art and economics, and seated us on separate sofas to talk with us being simultaneously observed by the psychoanalyst and psychotherapist August Ruhs. There was a third round with Christina Lämmer, to which Kozera invited a philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek, and a feminist theorist and sociologist Gerburg Treusch-Dieter to the grand ambience of an old Viennese hotel to discuss the ideas and fantasies of technological feasibility under the banner of “Plugged holes" or “The clone of fear” The function or profession of the participants are the key elements in their description. Each participant represents a certain discipline that is perceived in confrontation with another discipline in a specific staging arrangement, and faced with a specific question. In other words, Marek Kozera's work follows up on the idea of an interdisciplinary practice, which he not only incorporates into, but also subordinates to art. In the face of the issues that concern contemporary social, political or cultural situation of our societies, Kozera also attributes to art a critical function, and a necessity which is about speaking one’s mind. His concept to produce films for the television takes account of the outreach of this medium and its efficiency. Conversely, there is softly formulated criticism of the principle of classical exhibition practice, i.e. of a more or less auratical presentation of an artistic work in an institution with all the limitations associated with it. But this is not the place to discuss the institutional critique, and its consequences. We should neither refer to the topics in question as the works themselves do that. The artist's decision to use the voices and opinions of other professions, and indeed use them as a means to make a statement and an intervention in a specific staging arrangement, remains an interesting aspect.
In this sense, we can consider Kozera’s work to be polyphonic, as it cannot be reduced to just one authority. In his productions, the serious theoretical statements mutate out into a drama, even into a theatrical performance, despite the convictions with which they have been formulated. The female participants are faced with the situation of performing the act in this ambience by themselves. Paradoxically, that staging arrangement leads to the respective statements being doubled.
By formulating a statement as a person present in the picture, Zizek formulates something we can call his statement. That is, a statement for which he stands practically, and as a person, and which he embodies as a person. At the same time, Zizek is acting his own self: the well-known and invited Zizek, Zizek the Institution, and Zizek the Model that emancipates itself from its bearer. Even autobiographical elements, personal memories and desires are subject to the representation of a discipline. In this sense, the productions of Kozera not only have the function of conjuring up, against the provocative background of an unusual ambience, discussions and statements that would not have otherwise been formulated under other circumstances, but at the same time they operate as alienation or depersonalization machines. They translate the personal into the principal or the disciplined. Zizek or Androsch, Groys and Treusch-Dieter are not just names but arguments - to be consistent with the language of the film: Attitudes and orders.
In this context, the name Kozera stands for script and direction. What is interesting in the script are the blanks, i.e. the dialogues and statements which the interlocutors need to fill out in the first place. In other words: An artist like Kozera wants to make a statement about a problem without first knowing what the statement is going to be. Next: An artist wants to make a statement and abstains from speaking as an interlocutor or moderator. In his lieu, he lets others speak as advocates or sympathizers, with arguments and attitudes, which have one thing in common: namely, not to lead to a goal.
The topics and participants are selected and arranged in such a way that there can be no final consequence, and no common denominator. What emerges are polyphonic theatre plays on a theme, statements and contradictions, diversifications, incompatibilities, and breaks. In this respect, Kozera differs from his colleagues, the activist artists, however related the questions may be. In his renouncement of theoretical or speculative theses, which he could quite possibly put forward for discussion, there are two perspectives: either he retreats to the staging in order to let the other and more specialized experts speak in his stead, or he puts the staging above anything else in order to reveal all the statements made in this ambience for aestheticisation and thus for an immanent problem of the form. In the first case, this would be some sort of a generous amplification effect which exploits art, and its special status in order to make the necessary discussion of certain issues more resonant with the public; in the second case we would be dealing with a form of the political-theoretical discourse-impressionism. In my opinion, what we are dealing with here is the logic of parallels. This double-entry bookkeeping is the real theme of his artistic practice, if you like: his statement or attitude.
Structurally, participants can be added or exchanged. Structurally, the perspectives change, from an aestheticization of the discursive to a discursive aesthetic and back. Production follows the same ambivalence. If a discussion is the first part of an in camera staging, it inclines at the same time and from the beginning towards the broadest possible publication of this private setting via television.
In this context, his mode of intervention is also ambivalent: For Kozera intervenes in the public debate on a topic by means of discussions which are broadcast on television. To the same extent though, his production intervenes in the meaning of the statements themselves, which are made as part of the staging. In other words: Kozera offers a discursive information scenario, whose informative content he also relativizes at the same time. If you like: what remains of the debate about a theme is the impression that there are certainly different opinions, arguments and attitudes, but no ultimate goal and no solutions. The effect of this ambivalence is to further delegate the actual formation of opinion to the television viewers, that is, to involve them in the process of forming of an opinion. Paradoxically, an artistic work, whose goal is not to arrive at the goal, is the initial moment for a broad, political-discursive practice that breaks away from the work. This way, the flaws or "holes" in the manuscript are not filled or “plugged" by contributions of the interlocutors. What each statement does is only mark these holes, providing a sort of a discursive patch for political and theoretical wounds that cannot close. Kozera thus reaches into the guts of a democratic society. Corresponding to its principle of not allowing to reach the goal, a democratic society works only on the assumption that goals are perceived as ultimately refutable arguments. That means that the most essential consideration of a democratic society must be to escape the realization of its own ideas and thus its ultimate and inverse destiny of totality.
This problem of self-abolition by realizing one's own ideas has already become a question of modernity. The dream of the female artists of modernity was born from the idea of an end of art, and of reaching of a golden age. When everything has become art, art disappears in its own indifference. History has revealed another, not foreseeable cultural logic: although we have not reached the Golden Age and thereby the end of art, the virulence of art has been lifted by being institutionalized and archived purely as art. Once defined as art and institutionally confirmed, it enters into a cycle of discussion, which re-evaluates it depending on the context, but without fundamentally challenging it. Paradoxically, these discussions are based on the principle of the indisputable. The virulence and political dimension of artistic work is therefore based on the uncertainty of its artistic status. It is exactly and only through this confusion and the ensuing discussion that the social inclusion and exclusion forces become apparent. Against this background, a new task for the artistic practice arises: In order to remain virulent, the artistic practice must escape its rise to completeness as a work of art, blurring and confusing its borders. However, should you object that these arguments themselves make use of the deepest of formalisms, you would be right. The demand for certain procedures, for the blurring and confusion of borders, reproduces the actually criticized moment at another level, yet without escaping it.
A correction of that formalism might be to ask about the non-integrable. I would like to once again revisit the attitude of not coming to the goal and combine that with the question of the non-changeability.
Although speculatively, I assume that Marek Kozera's films cannot alter the political situation of the post-communist era, neither can they affect the relationship between art and economics, nor the form of a theoretical discussion of the technical feasibility fantasies. However, that non-changeability does not necessarily mean that the artistic work has failed. The selection of the discussion participants for the various subjects alone suggested from the outset that a final result was not to be achieved. On the other hand, the differences in opinions among the participants indicate that the point is not a conservative fixation, and confirmation of the status quo. Even the interdisciplinary constellation did not shed light on a problem from different perspectives in such a way as to allow the emergence of a fused problem horizon. In this respect, Kozera's work is also diverse from the well-intentioned enlightenment gesture. His stage productions, not quite devoid of irony, undermine and relativize the formulated theses and point out that his goal cannot lie in a television-oriented popularization of a theory. These aspects point solely to the concept of artistic work itself: paradoxically, it changes in the light of a non-changeability of the situations in which it intervenes. In a system that attributes to art as to a critical instance a potential for change and a change of will as a conditio sine qua non, the non-changeability is not possible to be integrated. In a system in which the achievement of certain ideas is affirmed as an imperative of action, that intention of not achieving of the goal cannot be integrated.
When Marek Kozera asked me to write a text about his work, I was happy and uncomfortable at the same time. I was uncomfortable because, in view of this non-inclusive nature, one is automatically confronted with the risk of providing an interpretation that reintroduces one’s practice into art and irons out the crevices that are offered as a topic for discussion. Therefore, I have decided to translate his way of articulating a problem into the form of this text. And this form aims at a principle: at postponement and at delaying. If a discussion leads ultimately to the missing of a common goal, then it articulates undecidedness, if you will, a rationally produced irrationality. If Kozera's works form a dramatic scenario from these undecidables, if the irrational cannot be rationalized and remains evident, then they follow a moment of the descriptive and, ultimately, the realistic, against their staging. Realistic in his descriptions of the status of various problems are the manifest theoretical undecidabilities. This results in a new function of the discussion: in the past, discussions aimed at attempting to reach a solution through the exchange of arguments; now this hope becomes obsolete due to the rationally producible irrationality. But in order to deal with this irrationality, the discussion now offers itself as an instrument to keep the irrational in suspension as a negotiable quantity. As long as the irrational and the undecidable remain under discussion, it can paradoxically be solved as an unresolvable problem. In other words, the undecidable can be dealt with methodically only through a permanent staging of the undecided. Perhaps, that is the testimony of Marek Kozera's works: a culture which, through rationalizable arguments, is suddenly confronted with irrationality, and here again we revisit the thesis of a return of the repressed and can only objectivise irrationality by the postponement of rationality.
I hope that my deferral of a discussion on the artistic aspects of the work of Marek Kozera has left enough room for what exists beyond art.Andreas Spiegl