Informal chat NY / NS / NY, Stephen Kovats
Stephen Kovats (CAN/HU), architect and media activist. In 90s, he founded the Centre for Electronic Media in Dessau, where he organised several international projects regarding architecture and new media. His most renowned project is Ostranenie (93 95 97), a symposium of electronic media. He published a book, "Media Revolution", about the influence of new media on the process of transformation in the countries in Central and East Europe. Currently living in New York.
Stephen Kovats has drawn parallels between the current state of affairs in New York (so-called, post-twins epoch) and the conditions during the nato bombing of Novi Sad and Yugoslavia, focusing on the current situation in the USA.
The iconographical manifestation of grotesque national homogenisation is brought to life in the presence of obituaries all around, in the presence of american national symbols, while the most popular magazines are publishing american flags on centrefolds in various sizes. Presence of national flag is a clear manifestation of individual's condemnation of terrorism and crime, whereas every reticence in this semantic game is regarded at least suspicious, if not hostile. Flags all around, thickly covering windows, doors, vehicles, elegantly planted in flowerpots or carefully tattooed on upper arm. Kovats points at this new aspect of "crisis" in which we all (un)consciously participate, as well as at the fact that this is not the first catastrophe of this kind. One had happened in the very same city, New York. In august 1945, a loud explosion was heard from the direction of the empire state building. It was an american warplane that smashed into the 78th floor of the building. The documents show similar reactions, people thought New York was being bombed: citizens in panic, a huge cloud of smoke over Manhattan, journalists hysterically reporting from the scene. Luckily, there were "only" 14 casualties, which is a considerably lower number than over three thousand who died in the WTC buildings.
Kovats compared the shots of WTC made from the air (so-called 'ground zero'), the black, square foundations with a white layer of dust around, with Maljevic's black square on white surface, thus pointing at the destructive and decomposing structure of the modernistic project in xx century.