– Preface

· Realism! Online Magazine – table of contents


german version

The point of departure for this online magazine of the Realism Working Group // Free Class Frankfurt/M is the question of the present actuality of Realism. More precisely, it is the search for collaborative strategies of Realism that don’t aim at copying reality but at highlighting its material changeability.

Taking into account that collective art practices do not necessarily inhere any critical ends in themeselves and currently even enjoy an increasing degree of institutional attention (cp. Michael Eddy: “Presence and Absence in Crowds”); here the term Realism deserves the note of exclamation. As Claire Fontaine points out in an interview for this newspaper, Realism might not be “an easy category to use”, proposing “historical fiction” as “the form that realism can take today” (cp. Interview with Claire Fontaine: “Historical Fiction as Realism”). Especially in critical film discourse concerned with the representation of minorities the term Realism appears as oppressive. Here a Realism is criticised that pretends to represent things in a neutral way without reflecting on its own means and perspectives. This position suggests, instead, that Realism should be reflexive towards representation in order not to turn into another form of objectivist repression (cp. Martin Kirchner: Realism and its Discontents”).

On the other hand, various debates in the history of Realism define the term as in opposition to idealist or naturalist forms of representation, such as those found in attempts at ‘objective’ documentary (cp. Martin Kirnchner, Siw Umsonst, Jeronimo Voss: “Organising Realism”). Dmitry Vilensky from the ‘Chto delat?’/’What is to be done’ working group points out: “new documentary means of expression in art […] do not give us any understanding of what realism is about (cp. Interview with ‘Chto delat?’: “The Truth of Actuality”). Focusing on art produced in the context of the western AIDS crisis of the 90’s, the text “Monochrome Realities” by Flo Maak shows how relevant the combat over reality became when the art-producer’s own dying was in danger of becoming invisible and unreal.

Reality is produced; and under present conditions one could argue that it is produced by the police, or rather by a “police order of the visible and sayable” that finds its strongest opponent in politics (cp. Lars Schmid and Jeronimo Voss: “All Cops are DJs – Police Sensitivity in the State of Exception”). So, from an artistic perspective the question would be: Which updated form of realism is to be directed against the violent order of the present (cp. Johannes Raether and Kerstin Stakemeier: “The Art of Falling Apart – On the Realism of Romanticism”)? How to oppose the present naturalisation of these conditions with the limited means of artistic practice?

Realism Working Group // Free Class Frankfurt/M., 2008

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