Občan K.: Questioning identity.

Two days ago the documentary “Občan K.” by artist group Ztohoven (homepage; Wikipedia article) was released.
“Občan K.” translates to “Citizen K” but “občanka” is also the colloquial Czech word for an ID card – the plastic card issued by most states to identify its citizens, currently without biometrical data here. I’ve liked previous actions by Ztohoven and went to the vernissage (opening) of the Občan K. exhibition which is also covered in the movie.

Several group members applied for new ID cards (by pretending to have lost the old one) for another group member and brought photographies of their head morphed with the photo of the other member to end up with two identities each, plus each identity existing twice. They married, got pilot’s and gun licenses, used bank accounts, traveled on planes and took part in elections using the wrong identity in order to question the concept of identity in general and to challenge the system’s reliance on data. The aforementioned exhibition was quickly shut down, the ID cards got confuscated and one member was arrested, but in the end no law could be applied to fine (however Czech authorities now take the photo for identity documents themselves I was told) which unfortunately means that the legality of the marriage and other actions never got challenged in court (so far).

I once also owned an ID card issued by the authorities with wrong data on it (not a wrong or altered photo though). Booking flights or passing border controls obviously was no problem as there was nothing obviously wrong, but using this ID card in combination with other cards with correct data led to problems: “These are two different persons, you have to sort this out with the respective authorities first”, as the police told me back then. In the end I had to get a birth certificate to prove who I am.

So if you somehow get the change to watch this movie: It’s worth the absurd situations and questions that it raises.

2 Responses to “Občan K.: Questioning identity.”

  1. Danilo says:

    Heya, I’d like to see this. I suppose it’s only available in Czechia? And can I get it with either English or Serbian subtitles? :)

    (Oh, and I had an ID with a typo in the address as well, solely due to error by the clerks at the police, and I once wittnessed a situation where the clerk wouldn’t let a girl change the address because “it was not her on the photo” when she’s only changed the hair colour)

  2. aklapper says:

    @Danilo: There are definitely screenings with English subtitles in Czechia – I hope you have luck.