Faceless Decision Makers – ‘In Conversation with Kafka’
My project was developed ‘in conversation’ with Franz Kafka’s writings. His detached observations of humanity’s inhumane traits foreground our individual and collective tendencies to appraise, to observe at a distance that which is unfamiliar, to fear, to ignore. There is little humanity in our prejudice and judgement. Collectively, we do not often attempt to understand ‘the other,’ rather we take a moral stance based on our rigid viewpoints, our unchallenged preconceptions. Within the safety of the herd we make decisions and manipulate our realities to fit into our familiar narratives. Our revolutions don’t change the fact that the power favours the powerful, the winners, those who control the resources, those who have means to ‘power-grab.’ Our revolutions are not designed to challenge our own perceptions, our own ideologies, our own beliefs. Our revolutions do not attempt to understand ‘the other’. Our revolutions are limited by what we perceive as right or wrong. Our revolutions cover up our fears and insecurities, and our greed.
‘In conversation with Kafka’ uses his writings as a canvas, a material from which to construct a narrative of bureaucracy and injustice that is still current. ‘The Trial’, ‘The Hunger Artist’, ‘In the Penal Colony’ and ‘Before the Law’ are peepholes through which our humanity and inhumanity is exposed, its fragile existence within the boundaries of fears, prejudice and greed for entertainment at the cost of others becomes visible, naked, a sore truth that nobody wants to acknowledge or question. As the Hunger Artist’s life perishes in front of our eyes, we rejoice in the belief that we are better, different to Kafka’s indifferent characters. In the encounter of the tragedy seen at the distance, as fictional, as a writing or an image, it becomes so easy not to question our perception to the homeless on the street, our hunger for images of suffering elsewhere, our scepticism of the needs of those who seek help, our resentment of paying our share to help those less fortunate, our questioning of the honesty of ‘the other’.
Sometimes we search our souls and find ourselves immobilised by fear, in front of the gates and the guardians, ‘before the law’. It is so comforting to think that there is always a reason not to push at the gates, not to go further, our initiative thwarted by our fear and conditioning. Our rightful demand for justice is blocked by our own guardians of the bureaucracy, the judges, one more powerful than the other – our value systems, our selfish need for survival, our fears, our limitations.
Like Kafka’s characters – we are unable to acknowledge them until we are freed by the safety of the understanding that now it is too late.