Give ‘Em Hell


In my video work, entitled Give ‘Em Hell (2008), I abruptly reveal today’s situation regarding migration in the UK.  During the course of several days in the summer of 2008, I positioned protest banners on the streets of London and secretly recorded the unfolding scene with a hidden camera from the opposite side of the street.  The banners used in this installation are a document of a real-life scene, where a group of youngsters express their anger toward and mistrust of immigrants, by smashing the series of protest banners (the texts and slogans of which support immigration and the notion of equal human rights for all). . . .

Now, 20 years after the collapse of communism, and at the time of an apparent collapse of capitalism, where many of its values have been put under scrutiny, there is no political or economic system that could still be called exemplary, something to be respected or followed without reservation.  I am proposing a new system, something that I would like to be a part of — I have named it ‘Black Communism’.

Why ‘Black Communism’?  During the time of socialism, the socio-political system was distorted and misinterpreted by people who were in a position to give orders.  This is the reason for the disintegration of the system, it is not the system itself that is to blame.  Looking back at communism as a system, or the idea and overall form it took — free education and healthcare for everybody, affordable housing for all, idealism, brotherhood, equality — these are all concepts I still find to be relevant and important for any political/economic arrangement.

My work as an artist supports the idea of a ‘critical communism’, as some of the concepts with which I work come directly from communist ideals and methodologies — such as the search for unity and equality (like projects dedicated to the support of workers and the integration of minorities).  So I would like to live in ‘Black Communism’, a system that supports the idea of ‘the same for everybody’, mutual understanding and support, but at the same time a system in which critique is welcome.  Or a form of communism in which the critical approach, inherent in the Black Wave movement, would be central to the culture.

Nada Prlja, a multimedia artist, was born in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia in 1971.  Since 1999, she has lived and worked in London.  The text above is an excerpt from Stefan Szczelkun, “The Return of the Red Bourgeoisie: An Interview with Nada Prlja” (Mute, 23 September 2009).