Oliver Ressler (austria)


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The Fittest Survive
Oliver Ressler
Camera: Volkmar Geiblinger
Image Editing: Markus Koessl
Sound Editing: Rudi Gottsberger
9 min. excerpt from a 23 min. video

Factors like "danger", "risk" and "wilderness" are no longer considered only in the dark, suppressed underside of the globalisation dream. These possibly deterring factors have become a resistance to be overcome by, apparently, only the best and the strongest. Thus, to a certain extent, mastering these daunting elements have become standards for achievement in the economic discipline. The crisis regions’ growth markets make particularly clear that the law of market economics requires hardness and ruthlessness. This warlike character of market economics transforms life into a fight in which specific individuals face ever-higher demands for better performance.

In order to prepare for this competitive, social Darwinist, pecking order of global capitalism, privately-owned, security enterprises offer their self-developed, civilian training programs that simulate conflict-situations – in varying complexities up to war scenarios. One of these enterprises, the British AKE Group, promises, according to their web page, to provide "...clients the competitive advantage of engaging safely in areas that might otherwise have been closed to opportunity."

The video "The Fittest Survive" is based on filming the five-day course "Surviving Hostile Regions" done in January 2006 in Wales, Great Britain by the AKE Group. The course instructors are British ex-special force soldiers. The participants are businessmen who are preparing for business in Iraq and other dangerous regions, government officials and mainstream journalists who, with their dishonest discourse of democracy and human rights, help to legitimise and secure the ideology of market-economics expansion.
The video, primarily filmed by hand camera, follows the survival-course participants as they experience the staged reality of live shell bombardments, an assault by armed guerrillas, the rescue of accident victims, and moving through mine fields. Above this training camp in Wales, low-flying British fighter planes hold manoeuvres and foreshadow the real war theatres in which the class participants will soon be.

Oliver Ressler lives and works in Vienna. He produces theme-specific exhibitions, projects in the public space and videos on issues such as global capitalism, forms of resistance, social alternatives, racism and global warming. His work constantly tries to blur boundaries between art and activism. The ongoing project "Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies" was shown at 21 different venues, including solo-exhibitions at Galerija Skuc, Ljubljana, 2003; Kunstraum Lueneburg, Germany, 2004; Centro Cultural Conde Duque, MediaLabMadrid, Madrid, 2004; Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul, 2005 and the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade, 2005. A publication on the project was published by the Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk in 2007. Many of Ressler’s works have been realized in collaborations: "Boom!" focuses on the central contradictions of globalized capitalism (with David Thorne), "European Corrections Corporation" on the phenomenon of prison privatization (with Martin Krenn), and "What Would It Mean To Win?" on the protests against the G8-summit in Heiligendamm (with Zanny Begg). Together with Dario Azzellini, Ressler produced the films "Venezuela from Below", 2004 and "5 Factories–Worker Control in Venezuela", 2006, which was presented as a 6-channel video installation at the Berkeley Art Museum, USA. Ressler has participated in more than 150 exhibitions, including the biennials in Prague, 2005; Seville, 2006; Moscow, 2007 and Taipei, 2008. In 2002, Ressler’s video "This is what democracy looks like!" won the 1st prize of the International Media Art Award of the ZKM.