OFFICE FOR INNER IMMIGRATION
Installation - Performance / 2019
with Alfredo Colöma, Yul Koh, Valentin Pfenninger, and Sophie Stadler
concept: Sophie Stadler
First you have to wait. That is essential. Then you can fill in the form. The form validates your status as residing in inner emigrationì which means you have not left the country, yet you have absolutely nothing to do with its politics. The OFFICE FOR INNER EMIGRATION is a state service for moral insurance in the case of future emergency, and is especially attuned to the needs of artists and cultural workers.
The OFFICE FOR INNER EMIGRATION is a work concerned with the position of the artist in relation the state. In it, the spectator is a participant, held in loops of bureaucratic exhaustion, confronted with civil workers who know that their job is to make as little effort as possible. The term INNER EMIGRATION stems from a post WWII feud between the exiled Thomas Mann and his colleagues Frank Thiess and Walter von Molo, who stayed put during the Nazi- regime, yet claimed later on that they had been in a state of mind that left them completely unaffected by the propaganda that surrounded them. As a result of the last Austrian election, with its right wing government and a party in the seat that notoriously denied the crimes of the Nazi-regime, this work is born out of crisis. How can we make art in this situation without being ignorant of it but also without being moralizing and finger pointing? Maybe trauma is best approached through humour, and satire allows a kind of back entrance into the heart of the matter.
The OFFICE FOR INNER EMIGRATION is the anachronistic installation of an 1940s civil service office-including a waiting area-that provides people with the chance to morally get away without actually having to act out resistance of any kind. You can get a passport stating your new status and take part in a housing programme that moves you to a remote location in rural Austria, so you can maintain your peace of mind.This is an ambiguous situation: the OFIE is a place to validate your subversive tendencies against the state, through the state, in order to gain status and future security. It is a parallel reality, in which the state has found the citizens need to oppose as a lucrative business that it needs to control.
One of the most pressing questions was: how can we assume a completely detached “inner realm” that it made up of pure intention and never leads to any form of action as really there? Is signing a form enough to bring it into existence?
photo credits: Alfredo Colöma