“This is what democracy looks like!”

Oliver Ressler

A Space Windows

May 3 – June 7, 2003

Copresented by: Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts

"This is what democracy looks like!" is a video that examines events surrounding a demonstration against the World Economic Forum on July 1, 2001 in Salzburg, Austria.

Salzburg was the site of the first in a series of anti-globalization demonstrations in Austria. It followed the highly conflictive events in Seattle, Prague, Davos, Quebec and Gothenburg. The demonstration in Salzburg had been prohibited by the police who detained 919 participants for several hours. The video presents interviews with six activists – Walter Baier, Tanja Jenni, Ingrid Popper, Michael Pröbsting, Daniel Sanin, Irene Zavarsky – and a compilation of footage from Indymedia Austria, Filmliga Linz, offscreen – offenes film forum salzburg, UTV Vienna and Oliver Ressier. In contrast to the mass media image of the protester as naive, chaotic or violent, Ressler’s interviews present the activists as informed spokespersons on a number of issues. Central to the discussion are the limitation of basic democratic rights – the ban on demonstrating, the detention of hundreds of people in a police cordon – and the tension between the limited physical force of a few demonstrators and the structural violence practiced by state power.

"This is what democracy looks like!" (38 Min., 2002) received the ZKM International Media art Prize in Karlsruhe.


Ressler’s work is intended to reach a large public. He sees his art as a political position. In the nineties Ressler addressed issues of racism and immigration policies as well as the effects of genetic engineering. His recent work consists of more active collaboration with activists.