- The Kiss
A black man was taken away. He was heavy and wore a jacket over his arm and a bag.
A kiss is a traveling event. It is passed on like a message, a virus, a rumor. A kiss between two people can move into another situation. It can be picked up and redistributed to people, animals, or even objects. It multiplies and disseminates. It spreads and creates trajectories both in time and in space. Kisses cannot only be recreated, but can also renew themselves by being copied and repeated. They are subject to constant mutation and it is almost impossible to repeat them identically. We can think of every kiss we see and happen to witness as a derivative, a version or generation of another kiss. Of kisses given in love or disgust, with tenderness, indifference, or condescension. And every kiss that happens around us could be a version of one specific kiss.1
Defendant Ranisavljević, member of armed gang “Avengers”:
In one moment the black person, the last one to be taken by Milan from the train—
I remember that when Milan led him from the train he said “there is my brother” and kissed him.
In 1993, 20 persons were abducted from the Štrpci train station in eastern Bosnia.2 A paramilitary unit pulled them from the train as it moved from Belgrade to Bar. None was ever [End Page 2] seen alive again. There are two unusual elements to this incident. First: only 19 of the 20 are known. That is, their names, identities, and relatives are known. Except for three whose remains emerged from a dam lake, all of them are missing. But the 20th person is a mystery. Neither his name nor his identity is known. He is also missing from most official accounts or press reports. Nobody asked any questions about who he was. He seems to have slipped through the fault lines of partition.
Vladimir Tucović, assistant driver of train 671:
I saw a black person on the platform, who walked in the direction of a parked truck. On the way a soldier tapped him on the shoulder. The soldier laughed. I can’t remember what the black person wore or whether he carried anything.
Even though the events of this day remain mysterious and might never be clarified, there is one witness of the situation who is still around: the kiss itself. It is out there, traveling, replicating itself, bending and sculpting surfaces with its energy. Even if witnesses’ testimonies are inconclusive and evidence missing, this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to know what happened on the platform in Štrpci. You will participate in that kiss when it comes to meet you. It will be very different. It may be a sign of love, violence, or just indifference. But it will be this kiss. And it might come right into your face.
Based on the installation The Kiss (2012), a recreation of witness testimonies scanned in 3D, animated, and printed. [End Page 3]
Hito Steyerl is a filmmaker and writer who worked as a stuntwoman, bouncer, and bondage model before studying camera work in Tokyo and documentary filmmaking in Munich. In 2008 and 2009 she participated in the Workers Punk Art School, Berlin. Books include The Color of Truth (Verlag Turia, 2008), Beyond Representation (Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2011), and The Wretched of the Screen (forthcoming). firstname.lastname@example.org
1. This incident is mentioned in the introduction of Boris Budens book Zone des Übergangs: Vom Ende des Postkommunismus (Suhrkamp Verlag 2009).
2. All information taken from OTMICA U ŠTRPCIMA; Fond za humanitarno pravno. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:KGjYarEnNKIJ:www.bihor-petnica.com/Analiza%2520sudenja%2520o%2520strpcima-1.pdf+&hl=en&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgy9czCLhGuZC1GbMDSfXprpIi_BJnRhg12SD4zMM2TUW4LCFNOQuprp_xRc0xWsSvI-SfOuXo8Z6QFynRZb0lFl1JcUEuvMZVSfJFve-6tAJSdNERAZmLxvyBC1rAZ8TANv0xP&sig=AHIEtbSjPX81TJJXPvlqvzGhlQOfaNHFiw