The story of the Identity Card.
The activist group Ztohoven (name ‘Ztohoven’ is a play on words, as it can mean “out of it” or “one hundred shirts”), the voice of the Czech people, is once again the center of attention owing to its acts of subtle subversion. Before reactions, discussion and legal battles provoked by the group’s “Media Reality” event have even had a chance to die down, the group has come up with another event. It’s not a one-off “bomb” to stir up the stagnant waters of Czech cultural and social life, but a quiet long-term project that, it would seem, could not possibly evoke any change or discussion. The main character is the citizen identification card, that silent, humble little card that each and every one of us carries in his pocket. What else are we going to let the government get away with? What else are we going to reveal to the government, to the system, how far into our private lives will we let it go? Isn't it enough that the government has its little card with our photo on it stored with a long-term lease in our pockets?
This group of twelve artists is not indifferent to the government’s growing control mechanisms. Using a seemingly simple trick with a photograph on an identification card, each of them had the government issue a new citizen identification card that identifies two people at once: the owner of the given identification card and one other member of the group. With these cards they quietly live, travel, get married and obtain a gun license. A camera – sometimes hidden, sometimes revealed – often witnesses these events, but it cannot be present everywhere.
The camera follows the two-year course of the project from the first attempts to photograph portraits and mutual morphing of the faces of group members, all the way to its culmination, which is the public opening of an exhibit in an improvised gallery.
This is not a factual piece of journalism. Rather it is a unique original documentary created in a dynamic spirit and editing style, which takes us – through the hidden cameras’ shots of group members’ actions and the intermittent testimonies of group members – right into the center of the origin of a great intuitive art project with society-wide and international consequences. The theme of the project, and of the entire film, is very international and the issue of identity loss in modern IT society is highly topical, but there has been little discussion about it to date.
It is understandable to intellectual audiences and it also often speaks the language of the street, the language of young people, and it sticks to a clear message: “Each of us is individually responsible for our privacy, and we shouldn’t let anyone manipulate us into a position we don’t want to be in.”