Thursday, March 1, 2012

Just Another Brick in the Wall: Interview with The Bureau for Melodramatic Research
on the occasion of an exhibition in Barbara Seiler Galerie, Zurich, CH

Olga Stefan: Your practice aims to reveal how our emotions are manipulated by the power structures to create the narratives that support the status quo, or those structures’ legitimacy. How did this interest develop? Can you give us some recent examples in Romania where melodrama was used to convince the population of a particular agenda?
BMR: Ever since the beginning of its activity the Bureau has taken a critical view of the genderization (that is feminization) of emotion: the representation of the woman as a reservoir of sentimentality, built in opposition with a presumably masculine reason. This is part of a historical process of disciplining women, which reached a peak in the 19th century with the medicalization of hysteria. The women were gradually cast as over-emotional, irrational, dangerous beings in order to safely attach them to the domestic sphere and ensure the fulfillment of reproductive tasks.
On the other hand, emotion is presently taking over the public sphere. We are witnessing unrestrained pathos overflowing public discourse under the guise of technocratic objectivity insistently claimed by public institutions. This is not only a characteristic of Romanian institutional sphere. All across Europe and North America political rhetoric gets sentimental infusions, accompanying the neoconservative backlash. One of the local instances BMR has been investigating is the melodramatic re-writing of recent history by such institutions as IICCMER The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes or CNSAS The National Council for Studying the Securitate Archives. Their official anticommunist discourse is backed by the current political power and contributes in turn to its legitimation, with the help of a positive re-affirmation of the interwar period. There have been consistent efforts from the Romanian neoconservative intellectuals to gild the 30’s in a dramatic opposition to the communist period, thus dissimulating the scientific racism, antisemitism and eugenics of the period.

Read the complete interview here.