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Art is Power Slideshow
Józef Robakowski

The ritual transmission of a military parade from Moscow’s Red Square: On every anniversary of the October Revolution, this was loyally broadcast by all the television stations in the so-called people’s democracies.  In Robakowski’s work, this material is used to reconstruct and deconstruct public spectacle.  The substitution of the original  television commentary with a song sung in German by Laibach (a group from what was then Yugoslavia and is now Slovenia) removes the spectacle from its pompous temporal context and reveals the absolutism of its alluring power.  The totalitarian display is in itself art – politically active art, the art of all-out pathos – even if we call it only “quote art unquote”.  The treatment Robakowski gives it elevates the loftiness and drama of the show still higher, oscillating between the great totalitarianisms of Communism and Fascism; at the same time he injects it with a certain uneasiness.  Years later, political analysts concluded that the Soviet military industry was at that time no longer capable of producing missiles, and that those on display in military parades must have been merely dummies – great big harmless cylinders “made up” to look like deadly missiles safeguarding the world order – and adding another layer of meaning to the title Art Is Power!


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