04 January 2008

Art & Politics (or Not) Again

A group of young Czech artists called Ztohoven seem to have gotten themselves hot water for injecting (in June 07) a mushroom cloud into a Television broadcast. The story is here at the BBC and here at The International Herald Tribune. And you can find a clip from the original news broadcast on the group's MySpace page. Here is a somewhat rambling statement (translated into English from the Czech; I cannot vouch for the accuracy or subtlety of the translation) that the group issued:

"Statement made by art group ZTOHOVEN ~ We are neither a terrorist organization nor a political group, our aim is not to intimidate the society or manipulate it, which is something we witness on daily basis both in real world and in the world created by the media. Whether the reasons are political interests, market interests, financial interests or interests of supranational companies – we meet hidden manipulation and attempt to invade the subconscious mind of citizens with specific products or ideology, using all available means. We do not think that a subtle distortion of such system or an appeal to pure common sense of people and their ability to remain unaffected are harmful, not even in a democratic society. That is why, several years ago, the art group “Ztohoven” penetrated the public sphere of Prague, questioned the space given to advertisement generally and the space given to specific adverts. On the 17th of June 2007 this group attacked the space of TV broadcasting. It distorted it, questioned its truthfulness and its credibility. It drew attention to the possibility of using images of the world created by the media in place of the existing, real world.Is everything we see daily on our TV screens real? Is everything presented to us by the media, newspapers, television, Internet actually real? This is the concept our project would like to introduce and remind of. We believe that even the free space of public service broadcaster is able to endure such action and such impeachment. We hope our action will become an appeal for the future and remind the media of their duty to bring out the truth. Thank you for independent media and free space for our society."

Note that the group denies it is "political" (the obvious question then being, 'why insert a mushroom cloud instead of, say, a rainbow or a dinosaur into the broadcast?') thereby allowing the BBC to refer to this as a "publicity stunt" (the same language used in the press to describe the work of grafitti artists on the Israeli "separation wall" in Bethlehem last month).
P.S.: Thanks Natalie!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you can catch it anywhere, John Lucaites' discourse on the portrayal of the mushroom cloud is unmissable.

HNY, Jim. Thanks for all you do.


04 January, 2008 15:45  
Anonymous Natalie said...

I'm flattered. I figured that you would have seen this anyhow, but as soon as I read the article, I thought of how appropriate it was to your blog (and to my brother's academic and personal interests).

05 January, 2008 02:17  
Blogger mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Yes, this seems very clearly political, and kind of hilarious and subversive -- I find it annoying when obviously political/politicized activist groups feel the necessity to describe themselves as nonpolitical. Although, since this is a translation, perhaps they mean that they are not attached to the political process, which is a very different thing indeed...

07 January, 2008 04:45  

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