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Duty and Defeat

Frédéric Moser & Philippe Schwinger, Viennafair
May 5–9, 2010

Coming of age is the time when we are most drastically confronted with societal paradigms. Who if not an adolescent would know better what society permits and expects of him, and what limitations it sets. Since 2001, Frédéric Moser and Philippe Schwinger have taken the struggle of the youth with both emancipation and social standardisation as a chance to discuss the political, ethical and economical paradigms that shape social reality. KOW ISSUE 7, produced alongside the Swiss-Austrian duo’s latest film project, “France, detours”, sheds a light on the methodological rigour of youth-related topics these artists’ oeuvre.

For many decades, from 1877 until 1950, France’s self image as “La Grande Nation” was shaped by a small book: “Le Tour de France par deux enfants” was seminal reading in schools, telling children what it meant and how it felt to be a proud French boy or girl. In1977, French film-maker Jean-Luc Godard produced a counterstatement. In his TV-documentary “France/tour/detour/deux/enfants”, ten year old Camille and Arnaud comment on notions such as liberty and equality, revolution and violence, money and on their individual dreams. What they had to saywas a long way away from patriotic common sense.

Since 2009, Frédéric Moser and Philippe Schwinger have embarked upon yet another „De/Tour de France“, again in the format of a TV documentary. They follow Jacques Rancière’s hypothesis that the real has to be fictionalised in order to be thought. The youth they portray with their different social backgrounds does not at all confirmthe clichés that media and politics are trying to create. In fact, this reality is much more difficult. Capturing this complexity in their films, Moser and Schwinger “re-think” the notion of “France”: as a narrative and a discourse that reestablishes a space for an adolescent’s emancipation. By employing the means of fiction, Moser and Schwinger expose the forces that try to reduce the complexity and openness of social reality, that want to bring regulation and regimentation.

Moser and Schwinger find their subjects and create their episodes of “France, detours” wherever they are invited throughout France. Toulouse in 2009, Paris in 2010, Marseille in 2012.

KOW ISSUE 7 was awarded with the Viennafair's Emerging Gallery Price 2010 for it's booth design.

Concept and production: Alexander Koch, Frédéric Moser, Nikolaus Oberhuber , Philippe Schwinger. Text and Photos: Alexander Koch