Front, Field, Line, Plane – Researching the Militant Image

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»Front, Field, Line, Plane: Researching the Militant Image« questions how political and social struggles – and state violence – are represented, mediated, and circulated through images. These particular struggles develop out of historical and place-based contexts, yet moments of protestation are often framed by what media analysts have identified as »the protest paradigm«1 – a paradigm which foregrounds the clash with the police rather than the issues of the protestors. Given the present protest image impulse in artistic practices, has a similar paradigm developed? Have artistic practices approached the image of protests and images of militancy as militant images themselves? In the exhibition »Front, Field, Line, Plane: Researching the Militant Image«, Bitter and Weber reframe images drawn from the archive of Der Spiegel in Hamburg through the textual descriptions and archival markings of the images.
The exhibition also refers to the vibrant history of anti-nuclear protests and militant struggles in Brokdorf, Grohnde, and Gorleben (Free Republic of Wendland) in the region near Lueneburg and the military history of the campus of Leuphana University. The campus and the sites of protest are conceptually joined through the notion of militancy (and the search for the militant image): the campus as former site of the military of the state (a militancy which is no longer visible other than in residual architectural details) and the other as site of militancy against the state, in the name of a civic society that cohered around environmental issues.
Through this research-based project, the exhibition proposes that the militant image is not, in itself, an image of protest nor of moments of vital social upheaval, but an image that is a complex of relations and that imagines links from the present to future social actors, or, in the words of Simon Critchley, imagines »the multiplication of social actors«.2

This exhibition is based on »Filling the Weak Points«, a research project by Urban Subjects (Sabine Bitter/Jeff Derksen/Helmut Weber) with students of Leuphana University of Lueneburg and in cooperation with Kunstraum of Leuphana University of Lueneburg and Leuphana Arts Program which started in October 2012.

[1] The notion of protest paradigm has been coined in 1984 by Joseph Chan & Chin-Chuan Lee in their text »Journalistic Paradigms on Civil Protests: A Case Study in Hong Kong«, in: Andrew Arno & Wimal Dissanayake (Eds.), The News Media in National and International Conflict, Westview Press, Boulder, CO 1984, pp. 183–202.
[2] Simon Critchley, Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance, Verso, London & New York 2007, p. 91.

more: Kunstraum of Leuphana University of Lüneburg