The Right of Passage

We can’t imagine a global citizenship or any concept of dynamic citizenship if we also don’t think about it not only in terms of law but in terms of the political economy of bodies that move. There have to be structures that can receive and host this kind of movement – This is why citizenship is not simply a subjective phenomenon but also an “objective” phenomenon of hospitality, Antoni Negri, The Right of Passage.

Concept, film editing and production: Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler
Animation and drawings: Zanny Begg
Camera and interviews of theorists: Oliver Ressler
Camera in Barcelona: Carlos Chang Cheng, Roberto Martín
Sound recording: Oliver Ressler
Sound design, mix and color correction: Rudi Gottsberger
Production assistance and translation: Daniela Ortiz, Xose Quiroga

Unseen Cinema, Foam/Unseen Photo Fair, Amsterdam, 2013

Maybe the most capricious aspect of today’s capitalist societies is the persistence of the current form of the nation state, an artificial mechanism that creates and maintains zones of political, social and economic inequality. A key element of the functionality of the nation state is the granting – and denial – of citizenship. But can we imagine a world without borders, without the nation state and its monopoly on citizenship rights? In their third collaborative film Zanny Begg (Sydney) and Oliver Ressler (Vienna) focus on struggles to obtain citizenship, while at the same time questioning the implicitly exclusionary nature of this concept.

The Right of Passage, still, 2013

The Right of Passage is partially constructed through a series of interviews with theorists of migration: Ariella Azoulay, Antonio Negri and Sandro Mezzadra. These interviews form the starting point for a discussion in Barcelona, one of Europe’s most densely populated and multicultural cities, with a group of people living “without papers”. The film is set at night, against a city skyline, providing a dark void from which those marginalized and excluded can articulate their own relationship to the arbitrary nature of national identity and citizenship. Spain was chosen for this project as it is teetering on the brink of financial meltdown and is testing the limits of European cohesion.


Exhibited in: “To Have and Have Not”, HALLE 14, Leipzig (D), 04.05. – 07.07.2013, “The Sights/Sites of Cultural Studies”, ACS Summer Institute, Klagenfurt/Celovec (A), 25.07.2013, “Off Side – Video Pamphlet Review”, La Rada/Locarno Film Festival, Locarno (CH), 09.08. – 18.08.2013, “Have the wanderers of yesterday become today’s bag packers?”, Shiryaevo Biennale/Victoria Gallery, Samara (RU), 09.08. – 25.08.2013, “Unseen Cinema”, Foam/Unseen Photo Fair, Amsterdam (NL), 26.09. – 29.09.2013, “Citizenship, Orientalism and the Commons”, Oecumene Project and Teatro Valle Occupato, Rome, 28.09.2013, “Général Bordure”, Le Quartier, Centre d’art Contemporain de Quimper, Quimper (F), 03.10.2013 – 12.01.2014, Antenna Documentary Festival 2013, Sydney (AU), 10.10. – 14.10.2013, “Unstable Territory. Borders and identity in contemporary art”, Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (I), 11.10.2013 – 19.01.2014, Art Sheffield 2013 / Bloc Projects, Sheffield (GB), 16.10.2013, “Smuggling Anthologies”, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka (HR), 22.10. – 04.12.2013, AC Institute, Film Series, New York (USA), 31.10. – 16.11.2013, “The Movement of Ideas” (film retrospective O. Ressler), Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva (CH), 19.11.2013, “To Have and Have Not”, ACC Galerie, Weimar (D), 07.12.2013 – 02.02.2014, “Silent University”, Le 116 – Centre d’art contemporain, Montreuil (F), 21.02.2014, 10.05.2014, “The Occidental Accident”, 5th Biennale of Marrakech, Marrakech (MA), 26.02 – 31.03.2014, “Fragile Hands (after Marker)”, University of Applied Arts/Heiligenkreuzerhof, Vienna (A), 12.03. – 10.04.2014, EMAF 2014 – 27. European Media Art Festival, Osnabrück (D), 24.04.2014, “Political Imaginaries: Making the World Anew”, Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk (PL), 30.04. – 15.06.2014 (solo-exhibition O. Ressler), “The Occidental Accident”, One Nest stand #17, Den Haag (NL), 17.07.2014, “Specters. A cinè-politics of haunting”, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (E), 26.11.2014, “Artists’ Cinema”, MSU – Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb (HR), 10.04.2015; and Fotograf Festival, Prague (CZ), 02.10.2015


The Right of Passage is available for purchase as part of a collection Disruptive Film: Everyday Resistance to Power Vol 1, release through Facets Media and curated Ernie Larsen and Sherry Millner.


If All Relations Were to Reach Equilibrium Then This Building Would Dissolve, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK, 2016.

The project was funded partly through a grant of BMUKK the Barcelona Residency from the Australia Council for the Visual Arts.