Silvana Imam Calls for Violence
I understand «I·M·A·M (jj Remix)» as a call to fight. Firstly, this emerges in the lyrics, with salient words like «soldiers», «riding shotgun» and «fearless». Secondly, the dark music video intensifies this combative style by juxtaposing found-footage images of feminist personalities such as Simone de Beauvoir or Pussy Riot with images of demonstrations, police violence and riots. A commentary from the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here).
Silvana Imam and the director Olivia Kastebring refer to images of past (but still not solved!) conflicts and movements. I see this visual celebration of activism in a socialist tradition of «class struggle» – masses that rise to fight for their freedom against a system that (re)produces oppression. We need only look to history as well as the present to show that this doesn’t exclude physical battles.
A Call for Violence?
To me, these images work on three levels simultaneously: they are a memory of past struggles, a reflection of contemporary struggles, and they set the stage for future fights. Imam tells us in her interview (see here) that she wants to start a new revolution in which all oppressed and underprivileged people should participate. However, to me this seems to be more a mobilization than an offer to share a personal vision. The video leaves space for me to think: Silvana Imam presents herself as a role model and a leader, but role models are privileged because they have the resources and platforms to disseminate their call for the revolution throughout the world. Furthermore, by showing images of past struggles, Imam connects to certain traditions and discourses of conflict that shape the self-conception of her own movement. She shows us the «right» way to participate in the revolution, but seems to imply that we can only achieve this through violence.
Who Will Be Included?
The queer feminist movement with which Silvana Imam identifies is reflective of inclusions and exclusions that happen in the fight for freedom and equality. For example, in the discussion about the women’s quota law passed in Germany,1 queer feminists ask: who will profit from this law and who will be excluded? The same questions should be posed to the movement Silvana Imam proposes in «I·M·A·M (jj Remix).» When I hear Silvana’s call to fight, I ask myself: who is the «we» she presupposes? Who is included? Is this «we» really everyone?
- 1. The law, implemented in March 2015, requires major companies to allot thirty percent of seats on non-executive boards to women.
Published on August 25, 2017
Last updated on January 15, 2020
Mona Aurich studied Politics and Social Science in Berlin and has published about masculinities. She identifies herself as a queerfeminist and likes a rough discussion sometimes.