Mood for Opposition
March 13, 2020 – Present
"It’s not going to end well," a friend’s crackling voice whispered over the phone after I had just downloaded Christian Petzold's Transit (2018). This was not a spoiler on the state of exception narrated in Transit but, as the bodiless speech quickly clarified, a reference to the ominous life expectancy of the Google Drive from where I had sourced the film in the first place and which offers an ever-growing collection of thousands of films across its four categorical folders: "Indie"/Cult. Arthouse. Documentary. Hollywood/Industry.
So, when I watched Georg’s escape from Paris to Marseille, chased by the swift unfolding of a police state and its measures of enclosure, I found myself wrapped up in a somewhat melancholic prophecy of defeat: reminiscing about the Diggers in 17th-century Britain who struggled to circumvent the regulations of private property by cultivating common land; the Conceptual Art bred by Seth Siegelaub distributing art across the page; the pirate radio stations in London’s 1980s diverting black music cultures of the U.S. and the Caribbean into the working-class mainstream of southeast England; the utopias that emerged around video in the ’60s and ’70s and its promise to not be “together alone like in the cinema but alone together,” as one filmmaker pronounced its collective aspirations enthusiastically at the time; the internet in the early 2000s with its abundance of filesharing websites hosting 20th-century cinema that never made it into official distribution. It was one of those soft and melancholic quar moments where I was snuggling with my blanket, remembering these struggles for equality and redistribution as one long story of defeat.
Going online two days after the WHO had officially declared the global pandemic, the project has entered its fifth month, indicating clear ambitions of becoming something of an organization at the fringes of private property even if every day could be its last. And there is something about operating in spite of these conditions that turns it into something in between a medicine for the mind and the illicit candy before going to bed after already having brushed your teeth.
I don’t understand, however, why it doesn't inhabit the rhetoric of the public more forcefully. Sure, the systems protecting private property make it necessary not to publicize the project in any form and to rely on silent sharing (the reason I cannot provide its official name). But as the project “opens the domestic up to what could be called anybody,” as the README on the Google Drive proclaims, it delegates its aspirations to the very enclosed intimacy I’m already confined to anyway. Why not take the current evacuation of the public as a chance to remodel it? Maybe that’s what it should be: a kind of prescription for our public deprivation.