Ish bin ein

Waypoints Like Sharon's Stone,
Kunsthalle Exnergasse,
Vienna, Austria, 2007


curated by Andrea Börner and Bärbel Müller


Performers: Charles Ambrose, Louise Deininger, Alain Neche, Israel Ribeiro da Sousa

Photo credits: Patrizia Wiesner

How to be visible? transparadiso's "ish bin ein ..." is equally a deconstruction, dramatisation and performation of the familiar image of "The African in Vienna". The departure point is John F. Kennedy's reknown 1963 declaration of solidarity "Ich bin ein Berliner" with the people of Berlin following the construction of the Wall. "ish bin ein ..." is a "retrofiction", a utopian reference to a historical "image" and at the same time sets a suggestive act of the possible. transparadiso creates the scenario of a "State visit" to Vienna by African-American Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle who drive along the Ringstraße in a Cadillac Fleetwood from the 1960ies which amongst other things marks the time of the Black Panther Movement. In front of the history pregnant and state symbolic Hofburg, the fictional and "actually possible" US President Barack Obama, who simultaneously is not him but wears his mask, announces "Ich bin ein Wiener". Kennedy said in his speech, "All free people, where ever they might live, are citizens of Berlin". With this he expressed not only a utopian wish rather did nothing less than allow this utopia to become a piece of reality through a performative act of speaking. Only through the invocation is the subject constituted: in the case of "ish bin ein ...", it is – in analogy to Kennedy's speech and beyond the myths or attributes of political correctness – the African as free and autonomous citizen of Vienna.

Ines Gebetsroither