Thursday 10 September, 6 pm, CAC Reading Room
Making art politically?
Joanne Richardson

Joanne Richardson will present 2 recent videos – In Transit (30 min, 2008) and Letter from Moldova (28 min, 2009) – and discuss some of the questions raised by them, focusing in particular on the difference between political art (art that represents a political struggle) and making art politically. Today, when a lot of activist art has become a kind of propaganda in reverse that is devoid of self-reflection, the task is to discover forms of expression that can question the automatisms that have become part of both art and activism.

In Transit is a diary of a journey through space and time, composed of subjective impressions of the present and childhood memories of the past. While traveling across Romania in the year of its EU accession, the narrative reflects on the meaning of transition, the re-writing of history and the relation between images and memory. Although the video uses childhood stories and family photographs, which usually provoke sentimental responses, it simultaneously frustrates the possibility of identification through estrangement devices that create a sense of distance. It is only from this critical distance that it becomes possible to dig through the ruins left by the erasure of history and uncover the traces of things that have been lost.

Letter from Moldova inhabits two different levels: on the surface, it is a story about a trip to the Republic of Moldova told through ten letters that reflect on the collapse of the Soviet Union, the contradictory aspect of the current power of the communist party, and the uneasy proximity between post-colonialism and nationalism. On another level the video reveals the problematic nature of travel discourse and the limits of the tourist gaze through the narrator’s own misunderstandings and inherited prejudices about the Russians, which have been a commonplace of Romanian culture since the 1960s.

Joanne Richardson is living and working in Cluj, Romania as a theorist, video artist and director of D Media (, a media art NGO. She is the editor of a webzine on activist art and media theory ( and of two books on digital culture. She has written essays on experimental film, video activism, tactical media, the myth of authorship and copyleft. Her videos reflect an ongoing interest in globalization, nationalism and post-communism, and manifest a critical perspective toward the status of documents, history and memory.

For descriptions, stills and download links see: