Focus: Identity

Storytelling lies at the heart of B3. This year’s B3 will present a special series focusing on Identity. All works and contributions shown at the “B3 Moving Image Forum“ will reflect this topic.

“Identity is lived reality that changes time again and again“, said cultural scientist and writer Mithu Sanyal in an interview. She has just published IDENTITTI, a book on the subject of identity. Our quest for identity is one of the strongest drivers of our actions. In the best of cases, this quest is used to define and change one’s own self in a non-judgmental and non-coercive way. Identity is often used to feel a bond with a group, an idea, a region, or a way of life.

In the worst case, an individual’s striving for identity can be used to manipulate and abuse that individual through alleged identity creation. The search for the essence of identity and its definition has been on people’s minds since time immemorial, even if the concept as such only became established with the dawn of the modern era.

In today’s society, identity creation is caught between individual people’s self-perception and their environment’s socio-cultural ways of thinking and categorizing. Within the individual, then, a twofold process takes place: on the one hand, there is the independent incorporation of all experiences and impressions made outside the body, which are stored in memory as knowledge, while on the other hand, situational behaviors are produced through the individual’s processing of both extrinsic impressions and attributions and intrinsic perceptions. These behaviors are used in response to social demands, experiential knowledge, and self-images.

This is the processual identity that takes into account contemporary complex and multi-layered social realities. It is on their basis that the diversity of individual egos can be explained in detail.[1]

If a person loses their orientation within these processes due to the ever more intensively changing society, external characteristics regarded as irrevocable, such as “nationality,” can be considered rescuing anchors of identity.

Whoever can provide others with a sense of identity is in a powerful position. Identification with a thing, a person, an idea can keep people from building an intrinsic identity of their own. Narrative power then lies in the hands of the thing, idea, or person that establishes the desired identity. But identity also grants us security and a sense of belonging.

Identity has many aspects and seems to be more important than ever in today’s society.

In 2021, B3 will shine a light on these different aspects and ask the following questions: What does identity mean for the individual, what for the group? What connects and what forms a bond? Which role do narration and its artistic implementation play in this context?

Or let us say it in the words of Mithu Sanyal, the writer we quoted earlier: Are we above all women or men, black or white, discriminated against or part of the dominant society – or are we in the end just ourselves? What if skin color, origin, and identities are never clear-cut? (from: Identitti; Hanser Verlag 2021)

National and international artists will address these questions in their works and talks in an ostentatious, profound, touching, moving, and in any case entertaining way.

[1] See. Abels, Heinz. Identität. Über die Entstehung des Gedankens, dass der Mensch ein Individuum ist, den nicht leicht zu verwirklichenden Anspruch auf Individualität und die Tatsache, dass Identität in Zeiten der Individualisierung von der Hand in den Mund lebt. Wiesbaden 2006. pp. 242f and see. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. [first1990] 2006. pp.18f.