Chto Delat’s video film What is to be Done provokes thought on the issues government creates in disregarding humanity of its citizens. It serves as a social critique on how the government values paperwork over human lives. Delat touches on similar ideas that Hakim Bey mentions Temporal Autonomous Zone, and Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker mention in Tactics of Nonexistence. These ideas revolve around the notion that you can claim nonexistence by eliminating the objects by which you can be accounted for and focus on caring about the things that really do matter in life. This is possible because of the government’s narrow eyed view on people. Such claims can be viewed in the film when the “actors” or immigrants are arrested solely because they did not have their papers, and the fact that they were participating in something that mattered was disregarded.
The film begins with a man strolling through a gallery until the music rattles, and the view turns group of people huddled together behind a museum glass. The scene is then transported to a man reporting the escape of a few immigrants from a deportation train. These people fled the departing train and sought shelter in the Het Oog (The Eye) of the Dutch Museum of Contemporary Art. These people, protected within the Eye, are being called criminals for escaping and breaking into the museum. There is questioning as to whether it is considered breaking and entering because the Eye is an outdoor portion of the museum that does not have a roof. So, is it the architect’s fault for leaving the space open for one to seek refuge, or is it the immigrant’s crime that led them into this viewing patio? A chorus chimes in demanding an explanation. The chorus insists on receiving an explanation as to why the immigrants are in the museum, and what is going to be done about their presence. This shows the irrational fear that people hold towards other’s perception of their “national values.” They believe that if they do the more humane thing, and help these immigrants, they will be labeled accomplices. The museum is faced with the concern that if they chose to incorporate the immigrants into an art show, they will be labeled “too bold” and funding will be cut because of their ‘dangerously extreme’ actions. The director of the museum relays a powerful line explaining perhaps why the fleeing group chose the museum for their safe haven, “Art is on the side of the oppressed.” The purpose of the museum itself is to wake up society, and for this it is open to all—including the immigrants. The decision is made to reach out to these misplaced people despite the fact that the museum is running the risk of loosing their opportunity of further exposing truths to their community. The show runs, the chorus sings, “humanness hasn’t been abolished.” But the following actions lead me to believe otherwise. The law and order of the Dutch, they claim, is to be hospitable to those who respect their laws; however, the peaceful performers were immediately arrested not because what they were doing was harming the peace of the country in anyway, but because they lacked the documentation needed for their presence to be allowed. No protests will occur because no one will be directly affected by this arrest other than the people who shortly will be shipped off to deportation camps notoriously known for their mistreatment.