Breaking into Business
9 min. video, silent, color, 2011
Breaking into Business was created on the occasion of the Open City festival in Lublin, Poland, 2011. It was produced during its preceding week and was presented at the opening day as a video projection on the side of a building in Lublin’s old town (Plac po Farze). In the video, the main subject uses a scaffolding-on-wheels unit to move through town in search of opportunities to break into various types of businesses. The title of the piece provides a literal description of such opportunities and makes a twisted reference to the notion of a successful entry in a field of industry. Taken together, these actions suggest a more direct route of access into a desirable space.
Historically, the Open City declaration was used during times of war when a city was about to be captured, announcing that it had abandoned its defensive efforts. It was essentially a preemptive measure to avoid a brutal takeover. The attacking forces were supposed to march in without destroying landmarks or attacking the local citizens. This was done in several cases in the past, notably in Manila in 1942 and Rome in ‘43. But there is another meaning conveyed by the same expression. Open City is also the name given to an autonomous city-state that gives equal access and status to residents and visitors of all faiths, races, and nationalities. Copenhagen’s Christiania is an example of this definition. While in the first case the one who approaches the gates of the city is clearly an enemy, in the second case, that person is expected to be a friend. But ultimately, as the historical record can tell, one can never be completely sure of what such openness may bring, which accounts for the ambivalence that often surrounds open invitations.
Breaking into Business, installation project for the Notice of Public Hearing exhibition at the Scultpure Center in New York, 2011.
In the contemporary city, there are experiences in which the trespassing of a boundary can be similarly ambivalent. Think for example of the practice of urban exploration, in which the practitioner treats the city and its buildings as an Open City of sorts and proceeds to gain access to mostly vacant buildings and abandoned industrial properties, but also to infiltrate or hack inhabited properties. Again, there is a range of meanings at play. And once more a conclusive assessment of the practitioner’s intentions cannot be done prior to the actual relations that come to constitute the experience. In some cases these actions are declared criminal and subjected to prosecution while in others they are tolerated as a form of urban tourism. Between the legality or illegality of such trespassing situations, as well as between the benevolent or malicious intent of the characters embodying these actions, there exists a gray area, indeed a zone of indiscernibility, within which a definite characterization of the subject performing the action is suspended, or at least deferred. At this point, distinct things loose their distinctive particularities and what was once impossible may acquire a conceivable potentiality.
Strolls through the city and ‘visited’ sites include: Miejska Biblioteka Publiczna, Prezydent Miasta Lublin, Centrum Szkolen i Innowacji, Centrum Kultury w Lublinie, Wyddzial Politogii, Uniwersitet Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej w Lublinie, Kurier Lubelski, Crossroads Center, Urzad Marszalkowski Wojewodztwa Lubelskiego w Lublinie, Voyevodeship. Video Crew (last image): Marcin Moszyński (photographer), Alex Villar (artist), Agata Kopycka (assistant, translator), Wojciech Wojciechowski (videographer), Anna Łukasik (assistant, producer, translator), Lublin, 2011.
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