Thursday, June 07, 2007

Hate the Game



'In 1963 Michele Bernstein produced a series of works in plaster with toy soldiers, cars, tanks, etc. With such titles as 'the Victory of the Bonnot gang', 'The Victory of the Paris Commune', 'The Victory of the Budapest workers' Councils of 1956', these works sought to de-reify historical events, to rescue them from artificial entombment in the past. They tended at once towards two goals: the rectification of the history of the workers' movement and the realisation of art.'
Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life

This couldn't help but put me in mind of Mark Sinker's typically tortuous and/or brilliant defence of the Re-Enactment from a few months ago, Your Own Private Quatre Bras. It's arguable that what Bernstein was doing here is a historically revisionist version of the Waterloo games Sinker writes about here, and it also points to the poverty of this notion of re-enactment: without dissenting from the valid point that this kind of practice or game could offer insights into history through the mimetic movements, the physical presence, that would be lost in text, in these re-enactments, whether of Ziggy, Neubauten or Waterloo, isn't it the case that the same thing always happens? A re-enactment of the aftermath of the Civil War, say, in which the Levellers beat Cromwell, would have a different meaning entirely - suddenly we have possibility. Perhaps there's something of this in The Battle of Orgreave re-enactment, where the wounds still being open were capable of doing something that the mimetic re-enactment can't? My re-enactment consultant Kiri may be able to add something in the comments boxes here...

4 Comments:

Anonymous kiri said...

the growing popularity of historical Re-enactment as a hobby is indeed interesting for all sorts of reasons. I myself reenact ww2 ATS (female army) as a way to remind people about the role women played during the war, but also to try and break up the awful events of fat middle aged right-wing men who think that by dressing up as soldiers they are reenacting a time in history when Britian was great and everything was simple. You only have to talk to these people to realise that they are trying to reenact a fictional version of Britain which in their mind had women in their place, no immigrants, and a clear black and white division between right (Allies) and wrong (Axis). But, it's important to remember that there are other periods of reenactment, and the people taking part have different reasons. Many Tudor reenactors are Good-Life type hippies who like weaving,teaching their kids at home, and treading daube... At least their version of the 16thC is generally less fictional than the all-white ww2 or the Civil War battle reenactments full of women dressed as men, or medieval battles filled with rubber weapons

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