Solidarity, 2011
video, SD, color, 6’, OF/ Newsreel Front

The film is a re-shoot of Solidarity, a film made by Joyce Wieland in 1973. It “documents” the protest of workers at Dare Cookie, which took place in 1973 in Kitchener, Ontario. Instead of the expected document of the protests (the images of faces, the broader happening, demands of the protestors, images of banners…), Wieland pointed the camera downwards and filmed the close-ups of the workers’ shoes marching, walking, even running. The sound is indefinite; it could be coming from an amusement park or a larger sports event. The commotion of bodies is occasionally mixed with the sound of the protestors’ demands. The artist fixes the word “solidarity” in the centre of the frame, which in the shot of the steps running into the off-screen space starts to float and move. The director thereby raises the question of how to think solidarity at the moment of unjust settings. The image of the shoes replaces the conventional vocabulary used in the representation of protest. The shoe becomes a signifier of the universal demand of those who, in the broader geopolitical context, fight against the expanding unjust conditions of the social environment. Their step becomes an emancipating step, a political step, a step in class struggle.
Almost 40 years later in Ljubljana the demonstrations against the exploitation of migrant workers took place. At one point during the walk along the “protest route”, with the presence of numerous photographic and video cameras and other media recorders, I squinted my eyes for no real reason. In my ears, there reverberated the commotion, music mixed with demands that indeterminately and discontinuously came from the loudspeakers; I listened to the conversations of my friends, family, acquaintances. When I opened my eyes again, I saw a cameraman and a journalist standing in front of me. The latter was giving the first the following instructions: “We need a striking shot of the banner, film a mother with a child and film the migrants, we need faces.” That’s when I remembered Wieland; it seemed to me that the perspective of the visible needed to be withdrawn from voracious eyes and the appetite of stereotypical pathos. We needed squinted eyes so that we could again sharpen our gaze. That is why I, too, turned the camera downwards, to the step. This is how the reshot of Joyce Wieland’s film was made. It does not document the protest in Ljubljana, but attempts to think the question of solidarity today. It attempts to think what remains in the frame and what escapes it. The idea of rediscovering historical traces and references, looking back, near, by and with contains the possibility of a new experience, a new image. It documents the workers’ protests in Ljubljana. It raises questions such as: what is solidarity today, who is showing solidarity, with whom and when? The re-shooting of the film was motivated by the current situation of mass unemployment, exploitative work conditions, and the increasingly more exploitative restructuring of the labour market, in which the question of solidarity is undermined by structures of domination.