BY MACIEJ TOPOROWICZ
In the early 1960s, having just come over from the GDR, I naturally declined to summon up any sympathy for the aims and methods of the Red Army Faction [RAF]. I was impressed by the terrorists‘ energy, their uncompromising determination and their absolute bravery; but I could not find it in my heart to condemn the State for its harsh response. That is what States are like; and I had known other, more ruthless ones. The deaths of the terrorists, and the related events both before and after, stand for a horror that distressed me and has haunted me as unfinished business ever since, despite all my efforts to suppress it.
My work is like digging, it’s archaeological research among the arid materials of our times. That’s how I understand my first films, and that’s what I’m still doing…
The photographer in Blow-Up, who is not a philosopher, wants to see things closer up. But it so happens that, by enlarging too far, the object itself decomposes and disappears. Hence there’s a moment in which we grasp reality, but then the moment passes. This was in part the meaning of Blow-Up.
© Maciej Toporowicz
We know that under the revealed image there is another one which is more faithful to reality, and under this one there is yet another, and again another under this last one, down to the true image of that absolute, mysterious reality that no one will ever see. Or perhaps, not until the decomposition of every image, of every reality.
In the Germany of the early 70s the collapse of the New Left, and its student protest movement, produced an outgrowth: the Red Army Fraction (the Baader-Meinhof „gang“). Its underlying premise was that the failure of the student movement demonstrated how deeply the masses were immersed in an consumerist apolitical stance: it was not possible to awaken them through standard political education. A more violent intervention was needed to shatter the ideological numbness. Only direct intervention, such as bombing supermarkets, would do the job. At a different level, doesn’t today’s „fundamentalist terror“ hold the same for us? Is this not the goal: to awaken us, Western citizens, from our numbness, from our immersion into our everyday ideological universe?
Hal Foster writes in his seminal text about the artist as ethnographer involved in a “sequence of investigation” leading into “expanded field of culture that anthropology is thought to survey”. The artist also becomes archeologist excavating elements buried in the past. The expanded network such as Internet is indeed an archeological site itself and the biggest window into the past.