By its very nature, postmodern society has to face the question of identity, related to the ambivalent relation of subject and object of perception. Socially conditioned constructs form the selfhood of the modern subject. Accordingly, the question of testing out and questioning social stereotypes necessarily arises. Thus, when talking of concepts such as justice, law, guilty, innocent, convicted and accused, in fact, we fall into a maelstrom of externally multiplying, ambivalent and essentially contradictory dualistic relations.
The installation (u)sud [a pun combining “court” and “fate”] is imagined as an interactive tool for making us aware of the mechanisms that exist behind these labels. The “player” takes from the “accused” drawer a card with the photographs of the accused and on the basis of the photographs and the captions, without knowing the legal status of the subject on the picture, personally passes judgement on the guilt or innocence of the accused, only later on finding out about the objective validity of their own verdicts.
Since our conception of the world rests on social constructs, which are nourished by a stereotyped experience the function of which is the legitimation of already entrenched cultural values – whose discourse, then, is legitimate in the sense of absolute validity and factuality?
This installation opens up a space for a dialogue about the thinking through of criminality, the way it is presented to us through various channels for the transmission of public opinion and for indoctrination into the ideology of society. On the foundation of discourse that is often fully open for individual interpretations, the media create a rigid black-and-white discourse that pretends to have the ultimate truth. Accordingly, what are really discursive myths are turned into history, into faction.
In this investigation (u)sud puts the observer into a cultural dilemma and a position of moral tension. By defining and classifying the object of knowledge in fact we put ourselves in position of a firmly profiled social actor. But if our judgements do not rest on objective truth, rather on social and ideological constructs, what does this say about the legitimacy of our social position?
In this context our verdicts truly become “fates” for the Other on whom we turn our analytical eye, while for us ourselves the judgement becomes fate – an inescapable and ultimate conditioning of our identities that we have eagerly accepted.