Unless you’re using it as in the very inclusionary context of “my brother from another mother”, most of the time signaling someone out as coming from somewhere else than where you come from becomes, to some degree or another, a confrontational act. Let’s face it, people like to belong, and so much so that even if it’s an idea that isn’t working out all of the time, most also like to believe in the growing global community. The current cultural currency of that ideal of global community is never more evident than in recent telecommunications ads, and if you take their message at face value, buying that new phone or switching provider isn’t just going to put you in touch with people in every corner of the globe, that virtual net is the very fabric of a new and better world. Certainly owning these products won’t do anything to further the cause unless you actually use them to communicate with people in every corner of the globe, and not many will, but there’s still one question left hanging unanswered: is there any sincerity to it, or is all the “brother from another mother”-style inclusionary rhetoric just covering up the truly exclusionary nature of our times?
To some extent this is a question tackled in Communitas: Among Others, the current exhibition at Graz’s Camera Austria. Acknowledging that the now immeasurable number of names for groups and sub-groups of people, intended to empower and inform, has severely diminished the space of acceptance between the concepts of self and other, the exhibition seeks to find what sense of community remains. Can any exclusions be made without creating an other? Can you call something other without excluding? If these utopias fail, will there be any room left to negotiate? These are a few more questions you’ll find floating around the air in the exhibition, alongside all of those wireless signals that are bringing us closer together, of course.
Modern telecommunications are awesome, but they will never replace real physical travel for building global ties. If it’s been awhile since you got out of your comfort zone, why not start with a visit to Communitas: Among Others — it’s on until the 1st of January at Camera Austria next door to Kunsthaus Graz – and round out your journey to Graz at the thoroughly local, and thoroughly inviting, White Line Hotels Edit Schlossberghotel?
Contributing Writer: Melissa Frost
Photos © Ortweinschule, Graz / Courtesy: Camera Austria
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