In response to Uptight (Jules Dassin, 1968)
In the 1968 film Uptight, a group of black radical militants prepares for revolution in the midst of the anguish and fury of Martin Luther King’s assassination. There is a tangential scene in movie, about half way in, in which the myriad tensions within radical politics – in the US as well as elsewhere – play out in microcosm. The radicals, largely democratic in organisation, are meeting in an abandoned bowling alley. They are the revolutionaries; representatives of the will and mood of the people. They are to meet with a prominent black politician. He represents the moderate liberal political figure; the reformer struggling to make change from within the system he wants to disassemble. And there is the figure of the ally, in this case, a white radical activist who is in solidarity with the black radicals. Despite a common target, there are tensions between these three branches. The radicals are critical of the liberal politician, who is attempting to dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools. The liberal, on the other hand, thinks the radicals are too dogmatic and should settle for gradualist approaches. The black radicals are also critical of the white radical, ultimately expelling him for his inability to let the militants fight their own fight alone. “We don’t want your know-how,” says one of the radicals. “We got to develop our own, or die.”
This loaded scene is emblematic of revolutionary struggles throughout time and place. There’s always the revolutionary vanguard pushing forward. There’s always the reformer who hesitates and stalls. And there’s always the ally, that free-floating figure who is at once peripheral and central, useful and destructive, potentially as much of a problem as the problem being fought.
ON THE ONE HAND WE HAVE THE REFORMER
ON THE ONE HAND WE HAVE HIM
ON THE ONE HAND WE HAVE REFORMING GUY
THE REFORMER DOES THIS CHANGES
HE TAKES THE PROBLEM
THE PROBLEM HERE
HE TAKES IT
HE LOOKS IT
HE ASSESS IT
WHILE LOOKING IT
HE ASSESS IT
HIS GLASSES ON HIS NOSE TIP
HE LOOKS IT
DON’T THROW BABY WITH BATH
SHAKE HANDS WITH ENEMIES
SHAKE HANDS WITH GUY WANTS KILL YOU
SHAKE HANDS WITH HANDS WHAT WANTS KILL YOU
LOOK IT CAREFUL
LITTLE BIT HERE
LITTLE BIT THERE
BE A REASONABLE
YOU DIE BUT YOU DIE REASONABLE
DON’T THROW BABY
THIS GLASSES ON MY NOSE TIP
ON NOTHER HAND WE HAVE A RADICAL
THE RADICAL DOESN’T LIKE IT
THIS PROBLEMS CANNOT BE FIX-
THIS PROBLEM CANNOT BE FIX-
IT CANNOT BE FIX
IT MUST BE BREAK DOWN
YOU CANNOT SHAKE HANDS
YOU CANNOT WANT DIE
TO MAKE ASSESS IS LUXURY
TO LOOK IS LUXURY
BREAK IT DOWN
YOU CAN FIX THE BROKEN THINGS WHY NOT?
YOU CAN FIX VERY MUCH THE BROKEN THINGS.
BUT BROKEN IS BROKEN
BUT NEVER WORK IN FIRST PLACE IS DIFFERENT THINGS
NEVER WORK IN FIRST PLACE IS NOT BROKEN
NEVER WORK IN FIRST PLACE IS CANNOT BE FIX
NEVER WORK IN FIRST PLACE MAYBE EVEN FOR IT TO WORK IS TO NOT WORK
AND THIS IS ALLY
HE WANT TO HELP THE SUBJECTS
HE HAS A GOOD INTENSH
ITS GOOD TO HAVE THIS
GOOD TO HAVE GOOD INTENSH
ROAD TO HELL IS GOOD INTENSH, THEY SAY THIS
IT IS YELLOW BRICK ROAD TO HELL OF GOOD INTENSH
IT IS HELLO BRICK ROAD TO HELL OF GOOD INTENSH
GOOD INTENSH IS PRETTY GOOD
IT’S NOT CLEAR
ARE YOU MORE TROUBLE THAN THE HELP?
ARE YOU MORE PROBLEM THAN PROBLEM?
DO YOU LISTEN?
ARE YOU MORE TROUBLE THAN HELP
I LOOK FROM MY WINDOW
AND I CAN SEE MY COMPANION IN OPPOSITE BUILDING
AND MY FRIEND WAVE TO ME AND WE FELT VERY PROXIMITY THIS MOMENT
THE PROXIMITY WAS VERY GREAT
BUT WHEN I MEASURED IT WITH TOOLS OF THE MEASUREMENT
IT WAS NOT SO CLOSE AS IT SEEMED
IT WAS TWO DEFINITE DISTANCES
POINT VALLEY FLOOR
POINT THE BLEMISHES ON THE HANDS OF THE OLD WOMAN I LIVED WITH WHEN IT WAS GOOD TO BE THIS WAY
Kuba Dorabialski is an artist and writer originally from Wrocław, Poland, currently based in Sydney. His work is interested in language, cinema, sincerity and issues connected to the memory of 20th century Eastern European socialism and the relevance of this memory to contemporary radical political life. His work is primarily video-based.
Kuba has exhibited work internationally and locally and he won the John Fries Award in 2017. He is currently a PhD candidate at UNSW Art + Design.
He is currently working on a large-scale video installation project that explores themes of urban planning, 20th century socialist architecture, Elias Canetti, radical politics in contemporary Eastern Europe, and crowds. It will be shot throughout the Balkans in October of this year, and exhibited at Firstdraft in early 2016.
He has exhibited work in the US and Australia and been involved in a number of community building activities, including performance events, children’s workshops and publishing projects. His writing has appeared in Runway and Try Hard Magazine. He is currently a MFA candidate at UNSW, Art and Design.
Kuba lives in Sydney.
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