FIRE AND FORGET. ON VIOLENCE – KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Written by Roberta Coletto

In her essay “On Violence”, Hannah Arendt considered the difference that exists between power and violence. She surmised that these concepts actually exist in opposition: “…where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.”
For Arendt violence is an instrument, therefore a way of achieving something.
How is violence used and what is violence, then?
FIRE AND FORGET. ON VIOLENCE takes us through to a diversified definition of this. Ellen Blumenstein and Daniel Tyradellis, the curators, chose to depict it using  four  thematic collections: the diagnosis of Border, Affect, Memory/Remembrance and Event.
The exhibition begins with Border, mainly because to talk about “violence”, a border, a line must be crossed: either intentionally or unintentionally; on a political, spiritual or personal level.
In Affect, we are shown the consequences of weapons as the most common means of massacres. Used in combat, these are directly linked to the concept of violence as aggression and shows us the repercussions that these can have on the human psyche. Both the emotional impact as well as  the impressions left behind are primarily considered here.
The role of memory in the history of violence, the rituals of commemoration and occasions in which the recognition of forgiveness plays a role are addressed in Memory/Remembrance.
Finally, the Event section of the exhibition reflects upon actual situations of physical, public and military brutality.
When all of this is taken into consideration, we can conclude that the use and abuse of fear continues to be used as a political tool today, with violence serving as a common army practice. In a seeming contradiction, the exhibit demonstrates that violence is also used to prevent the occurrence of additional acts of violence.
The eponymous term “Fire and forget” is taken directly from military slang, referring to weaponry that does not need to be directed or monitored after firing, rendering it autonomous.

KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Auguststr. 69, 10117 Berlin
June 14 – August 30, 2015

Photo Credits: James Bridle, DRONE SHADOW, ongoing project, Road-marking paint,Realization following a drone shadow, Installation view, Photo: Timo Ohler