re-enactment of a crime

In a historical moment when scientific evidence apparently makes showing the picture of Osama bin Laden’s corpse unnecessary, the scene of the crime becomes more relevant than the body itself. The strategy to make people believe in the events goes through carpets with bloodstains, DNA tests and witnesses reports; but the mansion that he dwelled represents the most terrifying evidence of the events that took place inside.

As part of the lecture held yesterday at Goldsmiths, Milica Tomic presented the project Container (2004-2011) dealing with Forensic Performance and Dislocated Events. Tomic is part of the collaborative Grupa Spomenik, who questions the idea of how to dedicate a “Monument” to the victims of the war in former Yugoslavia, in the context of a society whose members still cohabitate with former killers next door. The work of the group almost applies a psychoanalytical therapy to prepare society before building any absurd sculptural institutionalised memorial: first openly discussing and visualizing massacres from the past to later work on peace, understanding it rather as a possible reconciliation. Once this is hypothetically achieved, I wonder whether there would be still a need for a tangible monument or the memorial has already been constructed during this psychological process.

Tomic linked Container to the three categories in which Alain Badiou classifies images of war: the ones presented by both sides of the conflict, the ones presented by one side and the ones that are never shown. She adds a fourth type dealing with a fictional image of a real event implementing Badiou’s classification. A scenography was produced according to the evidence of a crime in Maazar i Sharif in 2001. The massacre was announced in the media only two years later but no single image appeared.

<Container project is a reconstruction of an atrocity that took place in Northern Afghanistan, the massacre of thousand of Taliban prisoners of war by the Northern Alliance, directed by the American invasion troops. Taliban war prisoners were put into container trucks. They were kept without water and air for several days during their trip through the desert. When they started begging for air, the Northern Alliance troops fired upon the containers “in order to make holes for the air to get in”.>

The simulated conditions produce a non-existing war image. The first re-enactment of the Afghan crime took place in Belgrade, Serbia. Members of a local shooting club were hired to impersonate the role of American soldiers. A container was brought to the sports club where 3 of those professional shooters used Kalashnikovs with special bullets to open holes in it. Then, 100 people of downtown Belgrade were invited to enter the “well-ventilated” container.

The type of bullets used (AK-47/7.62×39 mm) had been produced in Bosnia in 1988 and were also used during the war in Kosovo until 1999. “The same bullets were used when bodies of killed ethnic Albanian civilians in freezer containers were transported from Kosovo to Serbia and later dumped into the Danube river.”

By re-enacting a crime in Afghanistan, another invisible crime in Kosovo came automatically visible.

The reconstruction of Container took also place in Armenia and Sydney revealing each time local connections to the global network of violence.

[source&image> Milica Tomic, Container 2004-2011]

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