It Sucks  - Some Footnotes on an Esthetics of Crisis

During the 1980s and 1990s the word revolution was mostly reserved for the introduction of new tech devices in a process of total digitalization of our lives as well as our production, transportation and communication systems. Revolution as a political term had little meaning anymore outside technology while Francis Fukuyama’s proposed the aria The End of History. The disaster of 9/11 and everything that followed forced this long period of relative political calm or boredom, as Fukuyama called it to an abrupt end and we could see a new kind of revolution unfold that seems to culminate in these current movements that threaten large parts of the world with radical Islamist ideas, terrorist actions and full fledged wars. The tech bubble of the late 1990s was almost a harbinger of worse to come. But whether we like it or not these recent and ongoing wars are really revolutionary and bring total destruction with methods that know no limits in brutality and scope. As an avid reader of news I became quite absorbed and moved by the concatenations of interrelated crises theaters - political, and economical - and started to react.

In 2001, I was working on a one year series of dreams entitled “Das Zählen der letzen Tage der Sigmund Freud Banknote / Counting the last day of the Sigmund Freud money” for which I transcribed verbally but also visually all my dreams in the run up to the introduction of the Euro. This new legal tender which brought the Austrian Schilling with Sigmund Freud on the 50 ATS bill to an end. After September 11, 2001, my dream work “registered” these tragic events: Since I saw the collapse of both towers with my own eyes from not too far away I started to have terrorist dreams of all sorts, including me as a victim and in the opposite aggressive role.

Most other works reflecting this crisis dealt directly with news reports, be it in print, TV and on line. A museum exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art Vienna, entitled Road to War and a publication with that title allowed me to present quite some of these works together. Even thought political and military ruptures are different from economic ones in many cases they are interrelated. In retrospect, the binge lending and refinancing boom fueled with negligence, corruption, and creative new economic tools to resell risks and responsibilities took off recklessly after 2011.The frantic activities of irrational buying and exuberant bidding for real estate and everything else on credit made us forget the passed burst of the internet bubble and greatly distracted from the ongoing wars we could all follow in real time like a gigantic collective computer game. It felt as if military actions in war and conflict theaters oversea resulted in captured and amassed gold, money and other treasures to disperse freely and endlessly through banks that were aggressive to unload all these treasures to borrowers.

Only after the spending party came to an abrupt end in 2008, did I pay attention to all the many mortgage ads I had painted earlier for my News painting series. A lot of these gruesome internet pages that broadcasted death and terror in Iraq or Afghanistan come with refinancing offers from banks. Like with the portrait of Sigmund Freud on the ATS tender I had used through all my life without being aware of it I started to give these painted refinancing ads that disappeared since a new look. Today, I attest these ads a more significant and spectacular value as I see in them the fast approaching credit crunch crisis.

The financial and economic fiasco culminating and blowing up in 2008 created social and personal havoc resulting in many people losing their homes, their jobs and possessions. The run up to the crisis as its implosion and its after match was accompanied by an abstract soup of near incomprehensive technical terms as well as euphemistic technocratic cynical neologisms: Credit Default Swaps, Collateral Debt Obligations, Subprime Mortgages, Securitization, Bad Bank, Too big to fail, Quantitative Easing, Bailouts etc.. My personal involvement and stress resulted in a variety of Credit Crunch works inscribing highlights of the crisis’s specific terminology into food items. As all ancient philosophical saying goes, the word is in the beginning. For Marx and others, the world begins with food and other existential things though food fills also the banquets of greed and economic scamming. For this, I carved vegetables or fruits into dismembered body parts as vulgar, obscene and unjust reminders of the economic and social consequences descending upon people as a result of these lending practices. These food sculptures featuring mostly some isolated reproductive organ were presented for a social context and with an invitation to be consumed. Some of the successful perishables that were often eaten or let deteriorate and mold away during exhibitions and events got a afterlife when photographed or cast into porcelain.

Comparable to blood doping, these porcelain sculptures were reinserted again for new presentations combing them with perishables. Thus, the food carvings and the porcelain products of previous credit crunch performance setups were presented together intermingled in an undistinguishable way. I also added local idiosyncrasies, for example wooden boards as used in traditional German domestic settings; Pizzas in Italy and special pottery when invited to Athens. I also widened the spectrum of topics and carved not only highlights of the credit crunch but also other economic, social or political scandals in the boards and perishables. For example, the then prime minister of Italy, Berlusconi was caught with underage sex services and even more dramatic were the accusations and events against the then head of the IMF - a major instrument to fight the global economic crisis. He was accused of rape in a New York hotel room. Those names all were marked and captured in materials that were either perishable and doomed to disappear or long lasting.

For a Moscow Biennial event, I started to include cut off pig heads which rendered these credit crunch banquets even more spectacular, meaningful and disgusting. In many languages, calling somebody a pig head is an invective. The French and Italians call an artistic still life nature morte / natura morta which in my case reanimated my inanimate objects back to life, hence making them look more scary and uncanny. Mixed in with the rest of this signifying food and the obscene objects, these dissected cadavers dominated the appearance and spoke via speech bubbles made of rice and peas. Apart from the tragic-comic effect of naming some of these very multi-layered, interlaced economic crisis complexes the assembly of it all on some CREDIT CRUNCH MEAL table, mixed up with mundane obscenities and the reminders of some dramatic economic, political, social, or behavioral fault pax by celebrities or corporations – Berhard Madoff, Berlusconi, Dominique Kahn-Strauss, Jerome Kerviel who lost over 7.2 billion dollars for Societe General, Lehnman Brothers, AIG, 1 %, Tea Party etc. - should be read as a portrait of our times. I see in these tableaux some glimpse onto an abstract code associated with the making of this crisis that is worst felt by individuals who didn’t even have much of an involvment. Only now, more than a half a decade later are foreclosures and double digit unemployment rates declining and approaching pre 2008 levels though life is not the same for many.

Pigs gained my love not only because of their metaphoric value expressed best in the neon piece TESTA DI MAIALE, (pig head) but also for other reasons. The 16 mm film Der Schweinehirt / The Swineherd showed me feeding 100 Euro bills to some semi-free black and white pigs in a picturesque setting in the Italian Alps that hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. The pigs are first fed and then filmed to releasing themselves for not saying pissing and shitting and again drinking what others piss. But the very reason of this film is exposed in the very end in the dedication of the film which lists P for Portugal, I for Ireland, G for Greece and S for Spain.

Painting a pig head in front of a Giorgio Morandi is the title of several related works made in Bologna where this Italian painter lived nearly all his life challenged by two world wars, many economic crises as well as poverty during most of his life. His minimalist still life paintings expressed the existentialist mode of poverty through mostly monotone empty bottles, empty fruit containers or other basic stuff painted in sparse colors. Ironically, these mostly small sized simple paintings cost today far over a million Euros and increase in value. As my title suggested, I wanted to paint a freshly decapitated head of a pig in front of such a praised rare object. This posed all kind of logistical challenges since nobody likes to lend an artwork with such a prize tag to a contemporary artist who never really painted and who was not know to the lender before hand. I myself know of artists who destroyed art in the name of art, something I will never approve of. A video of the painting /performance resulted as well as the actual paintings.

My work The Condition of the Working Class, 2011, originated with reading Engels' masterpiece "THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING CLASS IN ENGLAND" with various people over a given time. My assumption to this subject was that the working class today - including nearly everybody else - is passing a lot of their times on Ebay and other online platforms. I encounter a lot of penny pinching exchanges on Ebay. Following this logic, I came up with the art works John Lennon Working Class Hero - A Music Library Consisting of 24 Vinyls Purchased on Ebay.Co.Uk for 0.99 Gbp plus Shipping & Handling Costs, and Working Class - A Portable Library Consisting of 24 Books Purchased on Ebay.Co.Uk for 0.99 Gbp plus Shipping & Handling Costs. Engels was 24 years old when he wrote his epoch making book. My method of working on Ebay consisted simply of searching for "industrial" and "working class."

The video The condition of the working class in England - Little Ireland. In memory of Mary Burns, Manchester 2011 was made on the exact spot of the former slums which happened to be a large, depressed, badly maintained, unguarded parking lot at the time of filming with some of the former mills nearby which were supposed to be converted into lofts for upscale housing – a plan the 2008 financial crisis had disrupted for the time being. There I rode a young local actress on my bicycle, sitting on the handlebar leaning back in my arms reading the exact passages concerning the living conditions of the working class as depicted by Engels in the 1840s on that very spot of the text in Manchester. At that time, the writer was in love with Mary Burns, the Irish working woman who introduced him to the slums. A Engels book destruction video filmed in Manchester outside a mill was also meant to address the question of the condition of the working class today.

The Condition Of The Working Class In England - The Fustian Dress - Devil's Dust,

In his book of the same title, Friedrich Engels dedicates one chapter to the living and clothing conditions of the workers characteristic for the poverty and misery of the working class around 1840s in Manchester. The Fustian Dress and Devil’s Dust refer to the lowest of torn garments to be found and made up of used and found fragments usually described in German as Lumpen, which translates to English as rag. For my performance in Manchester, I used this particular chapter, ripped out the pages and taped them onto a person to be dressed simply with these pages on dressing. During this 20 minute process a person was reading these very pages out of the book which speak of Devil’s Dust and the Fustian Dress as clothing that includes anything that could be found and sewed into the fabric including pieces of papers.

Karl Marx Dressing UP

Apart from the fact that times have improved since the mid 19th century, unemployment and other poverty creating phenomena exist also today with all its misery effects and enduring consequences that are so hard to overcome . But in these days, fast and cheap fashion provides us such a cheap surplus of clothing that the economic status of a person doesn’t have to be anymore visible. As positive as that might be in general it also provides a fig leaf for poverty and creates a false sense of normalcy, thus blocking the formation of agencies amidst those groups that are clearly unfortunate and unprivileged. Inner cities are filled with young good looking people who parade in latest chic attire purchased for little money looking fancy imitating and identifying with the very well off classes even when in fact they are unemployed, uneducated and otherwise left behind the curve.

Working with anything related to clothing opened up my senses for the problems with that industry. Spectacular fires and tragic incidents in overcrowded ill-suited manufacturing sites had made me quit aware of the hidden but obvious human and environmental costs of our cheap fast fashion consumption. These aspects ranging from child labor, extreme low pay to hazardous and outright criminal working conditions resulting in epic fires with locked in workers and overcrowded building collapses I reflected in agitprop style fashion items that I first presented as Karl Marx dressing UP presented at a runway show for the Museum Lichtenstein in 2012. Most of the items were either security jackets or rap-arounds that could immediately function also as banners with sentences like "Fashion equals child labor" or "Karl Marx wears Prade" alluding to pop cultural products. This series also trivialized the name of Karl Marx rendering him and as well as the more and more fading symbol of the Communist party, the hammer and sickle into a logo and a short hand for systemic exploitation and injustice. This created tragic-comic effects and reinforces and concentrates already existing activist and critical messages the fashion industry itself sometimes instrumentalizes. Around that time, The Rana Plaza Building Collapse happened in Bangladesh in 2013 with over 1100 people dying which made me create the series Joe Fresh /Benetto / Bangladesh, Rana Plaza Building Collapse, More than Eleven Hundred People died, 2013. For this series I silk screened news clippings such as Google searches or New York Times article fragments and label infos like “Made in Bangladesh,” as well as logos, materials, prizes and sizes onto precisely those garments made in this tragic garment district which I just had purchased from these shops in question.

The next scandal of epical proportion with world wide news coverage that hasn’t been was initiated by leaks of NSA agent Edward Snowden exposing in details how the USA attempts and mostly succeeds in basically seeing, listening and reading into any kind of digital document or communication. For the series SNOWDEN MARX SECURITY I used security jackets as you encounter them on street workers or at airports and covered them with the quite inspiring NSA terminology consisting of acronyms or poetic references intermixed with technical euphemisms. I again use the name Karl Marx as a promiscuous signifier for things fundamentally wrong as it is in the case of the very complex question of ubiquitous digital surveillance unveiled by Edward Snowden who still is on the hunt from the US government with nearly nowhere to go or hide.

The Snowden leaking allowed me to address these crucial topics also with humor linking it with Marx: "Karl Marx and Snowden are on a plane to Caracas," a Moscow Venezuela trip that became an issue of international embarrassment for everybody involved when it was grounded in Vienna but without Snowden on board was forced to stay in Moscow. Crisis is here less understood as economic hardship for the poor but as a surveillance problem in an age where nearly every commercial or non-commercial, social or non-social exchange leaves electronic traces and ads to an ever growing soup of so-called Big Data which lets machine intelligence understand and predict us better than we actually do ourselves. These gigantic constantly improving super profiles of nearly every individual of our world as well as all our products, goods, services, contacts and correspondences allow transnational companies and states to trace, locate and predict people and their social, economic, financial, nutritional and health related lives from all imaginary sides at any moment in space and time.

Any kind of abuse is not so much a question of legal and behavioral frameworks but merely a systemic question of time that renders any attempt to stay outside these digital eyes even more suspicious. Hence, paying with cash or not using smart devices with GPS capabilities renders people more and more suspect. It is this collapse of used to be compartmentalized spheres that creates a kind of Uber-intelligence that lets you read, observe, study and predict the functional, economical, social and bio-spherical DNA of anything and everybody with only small samples from all these interlinked data collection. The online selling service that manifests in a sentences like "People who buy, eat, study, shit or fuck this do also this and that" becomes not only increasingly true of all human protagonists but also for the ever growing so-called internet of things, things that are more and more emancipated from human interference.

Comme des Marxists

My second chance to present fashion as an artist took place at White Columns, New York in the fall of 2013. Under the new title Comme des Marxists I was able go beyond simple shaped cheap clothing and also flirt with the high end Japanese fashion house Comme des garçons which just had produced a line of felt works that drew from early Soviet design. Their inspiration and interpretation of revolutionary design became my driving force and take on. With a very expensive, elaborate and complicated production process that quasi bankrupted me privately – I lost my studio and still pay off my debts that seem to not go away - I first made felt garments that feature the Marxist terms "Class Struggle" and "Profit." I followed up with interpretations of Stepanova’s design changing the Soviet star to the logo of the Japanese fashion label and created "Marx for Kids,” "Superstructure" and other sub-segments of Comme des marxists.

The outfits for kids formulate basic questions of having and not having, being and not being, and address crisis, general injustice and uneven distribution of resources in a more general way but also in particular along the crucial example of education. Public education was once the biggest equalizer and vertical integrator for US children with a once very open world class education system out-performing the rest of the world. Today this once great US system is defunct, desolate, under funded and reinforces social and economic injustice and inequality on a systemic scale opening divisions and not closing them: "Pre-K(indergardem) — I go, U don't;" "Gifted and talented (schools) — i get in, U don't" or "I've a nanny, U don't." It is a perverse truth but the USA might again just be a bad example for things to come in Western Europe which also struggles to keep access to good quality education free of charges and open to the general public something that seems questionable precisely in areas that suffer already from problems with integration of new immigrants and newly displaced people and refugees.

In education the brutal facts of economic, racial and educational disadvantages or its opposite manifest themselves very clearly. They are in all probability and through myriads of ways translated and passed on to the next generation and only committed educational politics with good early childhood education could help to counteract some of those brutal differences and deviding and discriminating forces. This is best observable in dense cities with big diversities like New York were poor and rich people live very closed to each other and access to good education is highly competitive. As a parent of two small kids in Manhattan, an exciting but mad place, I am living this fight to access and affordable high quality education on a daily basis and confronting limits every day. Alone the scarcity of space and the permanent economic stress amidst a hysterical climate of competitive parents, pupils, schools and professional culture is challenging and puts pressure on people that reinforce these given discrepancies.



Comme des Marxists is a critical flirtation and carnivalesque parody with the rather well off segment of our population. Hermes, the French fashion house and producer of high end scarves is equally if not more expensive than the Japanese designer with silken square foot price comparable to those of downtown urban real estate. In the after match of the 2008 financial crisis this wealthy group got off to a much better start than the significantly larger population at the opposite financial spectrum. Even to this day, many people have never gotten out of that financial and job crisis, but luxury consumption has widely expanded and gained in the recent years. Hermes is definitely one of those high end retailers where getting the wanted scarves is not always even easy. There products are soon sold out if they ever even make it to the special few boutiques located in very limited few metropolitan areas where they are sold without ever encountering a “for sale” sign or making it to a discounter or pop up shop.
Hermes is particular in many ways, including the fact that it stays a family business and rejects big capital. They produce everything they need themselves in their traditional way and that mostly in France apart of the silk and the natural colors which they also oversee overseas. Given the low volume, the high quality of their ware and the complicated, traditional not fully automated way of producing, their pricing seems more justifiable than it appears and I am myself fascinated and intrigued by their colors and their exotic and orientalizing design glorifying France’s colonial past it.
The history and revolution making intellectual was always critcal of colonial power, hence, the connection between HERMES and MARX is therefore not just one of funky contradictions playing on the obvious that working class people were not covering their heads and necks with the silks of this French manufacturer. For my works, I departed from the name-city connection of the brand, Hermes Paris, and silk screened my variation onto the very Hermes items itself elevating them to another kind of art, i.e. contemporary art, hence destroying the rather expensive user item as such. The design of my printing is two monochrome abstractions of a hammer and sickle, two fists as well as the words HERMES MARX suggesting that PARIS, standing for ubiquitous beauty and style is now replaced by MARX, standing for endless questions and demands about social justice and economic workings.
Karl Marx visist David Zwirner on West 20th street

The art market is yet another another world and starts at the bottom where no respect, no attention and no money is extended to the majority of artists who insist producing art works nobody asks or even wants. Yet at the other end, the sky is open and people compete for works that have not price limit in a competitive fashion at art fairs and auction houses that nearly reminds us of the hassle of surviving. Art is a perfect vehicle for moving big money with a minimum of formality, rules and regulations coupled with a maximum of non-transparency and secrecy. Art collecting at the high end level is for many people throwing blue chip dices that never lose their value. The few coveted dead and living artists are like a perfect medium to lubricate that exchange for the ultimate sublime surplus value production. With the arrival of wall street and hedge fund and investment fund money, Russian oligarchs and Asian tycoons, everybody competes in a global market so the rules of the game have changed. Hence, art dealers too have to be on the permanent move spreading locations and chasing events worldwide with Gagosian Gallery leading the pack. To compete on this top level, David Zwirner needed to entered this game as well and has grown as big as others in order not to be swallowed. He just opened a beautiful new museum style gallery building on 20th street in New York City where he presented late work of Blinky Palermo and early works of Richard Serra - two amazing shows.
For my works on Palermo I silk screened some of the color combinations and designs I saw at the gallery on Japanese fine cotton and silk. Some of the fabrics were reworked as simple drapery to give the impression of canvases. Playing with the original title of Palermo’s artworks my works got the titles KARL MARX VISIST DAVID ZWIRNER ON 20TH STERET, BLINKY PALERMO, LATE WORKS, The enigma of Karl, 1976/2013; or KARL MARX VISIST DAVID ZWIRNER ON 20TH STERET, BLINKY PALERMO, LATE WORKS or Who knows the beginning of the revolution and who knows the end, 1976/2013. The pieces KARL MARX VISIST DAVID ZWIRNER ON 20TH STERET, BLINKY PALERMO, LATE WORKS, Manhattan Marxism, 1976/2013 was drawn from Palermo”s painting entitled Manhattan. I went for 70s style pants and mini skirts which revealed that proximity of the painter’s pallet to the colors of his time. Playing with Palermo’s work titles, colors and shapes was a lot of fun and inspired me to render these beautiful colors into something utilitarian, popularizing it for the street where it most likely came from. The same goes with the silk screen printing of the silk foulards entered from the drawing series “Untitled (for Barbette), 1976 and was named …Untitled, (For Rosa Luxenburg), 1976 / 2013, the German revolutionary who was assassinated in Berlin in 1919. With the exception of the foulards, each individual work had the rather long titles and the original art work printed on the pieces as if a commercial logo.

Marx 99 cents

With Marx 99 cents, I am now really back in the streets, the street of markets and discounters with their interior spelling into the street. The scarves I used were sold at 99 cents a piece in Spanish Harlem in cardboard boxes often outside in the street with price tags on them and created some lose garments that could be worn as fashion items. The loosely hanging or tightly quilted fake silk scarves with colorful, fancy looking patterns took on quite some impressive forms and gained approving nice comments from ordinary street folks during our time parading and photographing them in the avenue where I purchased them out of shipping boxes. At the White Columns show, they were not included in the runway presentation but the scarves were quilted into the big and significant number 99. This number mirrored not only the typical price for the cheapest somehow useful stuff to purchase but also echoes the Occupy Wall Street movement that spoke out for the 99 % and against the 1 %.



Today, producing anything equals some direct of indirect pollution of our environment and the depletion of our resources even if in most cases we don’t get to see it anymore and don’t even have to pay the real price for it directly. The fashion industry is a terrible culprit in this and globalization accelerated this trend circulating pollution, toxicity, waste and trash world wide. Fast fashion reduced many items to de facto one way excitements that are worn only a few times before they are written off or are trashed right away. Sometimes, I find myself buying stuff and not even wearing it a single time. Very few people are fully aware how bad the carbon foot print for fashion is given the synthetic dimension of the materials involved, the coloring, the complicated chain of production, the world wide distribution and transportation. We should also not forget the PR campaigns that are running on enormous computer and communication power grids to bombard people with advertisements and trends.

El Mundo
For nearly two decades I have been living in what is called Spanish Harlem thought some hundred years ago it was populated mostly by Italians, Germans and Jews who didn’t fit anymore the lower east side of Manhattan. Hence it was no surprise when I found out that the dilapidated discounter on 3rd Avenue and 104th street called El Mundo was based in the former Eagle Theater which went through all kind of transformation. Due to gentrification and the immanent shut down I staged a classical concert with opera singers and wanted to reestablish one night the way it might have sound many decades ago. For that high profile professionals came and played amidst all the stuffed shop and became a stage to make a two screen multi camera video and a variety of photographs that show the complex nature of multilayered, poly-textured immigrant city where all kind of economic classes are in permanent exchange, harmony and conflict.

At El Mundo standing for a discount shop, a physical location under all kind of economic duress and a concert and its content one can see, read or excavate many layers of interesting meanings and conflicts. Crisis there seems to be the most permanent guest and host. It is either hidden in the musical program, - Carmen who was an exploited female factory worker with little rights and means taking care of colonial products and while being killed by a better of lover - , seen on the map, on street level or in statistics – elevated crime and poverty – or experienced with regular shoppers who are often displaying not only signs of poverty but alos other kinds of stress. The mostly outsourced products made under hard conditions and often sold for not more than 99 cents are leaving us with questions who picks up the environmental and other costs associated with this kind of economic logic. Next to my sentimental, romantic, quasi child like idea of restaging the original glory of that place for one night it is of course, gentrification what is going mainstream in America and elsewhere. After decades of neglect and fundamental shifts in how cities rejuvenate and become again attractive to live and be hyper productive work places without traditional production sites gentrification has become a substantial backbone of local and the national economies.

Uber Capitalism

Crisis in capitalist terms stands often not only for demise and obliteration but also for new beginnings. The bankruptcy of one player becomes the opportunity of the next one and thus the circle goes on and on. This is not an ovation for some Darwinian bankruptcy capitalism but simple a not so neutral acknowledgment of actual changes in the real world, i.e. the social, technological and economic sphere of our time. Usually, non-efficient unsustainable economies and modes of productions vanish and new ones arrive. Today, for example, even sustainable economic and non-profit reasoning can open new and sophisticated avenues to new riches. With the massive help of our truly revolutionary digital landscape and tools – we carry them in our hands, our pockets, on and in our bodies – a new sharing economy has arrived that is best epitomized by UBER.

UBER is not only a German superlative that might be translated as super, hyper or beyond with real bad connotations to the worst usage of Nietsche”s concept of the Ubermensch, the super-human ideology torturing Nazi-dominated Europe, but UBER is also a taxi or car service app that tends to render the traditional yellow caps into pay phone boxes - which have disappeared due to the arrival of mobile phones. I am nearly afraid to report that in smaller US cities I have seen already how the convenience and efficiencies of these comfortable ad hoc services where money is just wired are doing away with the very powerful taxi order that nobody had been able to tinker with in the past. So far, the quick and overpowering popularity of UBER has been even stronger than European regulators who have longstanding traditions of inflexible rules and regulations and seem to lose track. The same goes with other sharing apps, be they for housing, dating, valet parking, dog walking, star spotting or whatever else. They usually render basic services in more convenient and often better ways through a new developing feedback pressures that claim to sidelines bad and foul players. Instant rating invitations while influencing commercial performances in often positive ways are part of our non-stop online culture that helps, entertains, leads, protects, traces, chases, monitors and analyses us permanently and everywhere, thus making us subject to total surveillance, accountability and big data based marketing. These app based offerings open new avenues for an enlarged range of economic participants to interact with unlimited new services that surprise with their flexibility in price structuring so we can go through joy, anger or frustration nearly simultaneously. Needless to say, people who are not connected, not part of a credit based, permanently interlinked and for poor people expensive infrastructure will find themselves with poorer or even no services while they can for sure not profit from the advantages of these apps.

Dealing with this reshaping of our daily commercial and personal interactions I’m currently creating a huge chocolate sculpture with the words UBER CAPITALISM turning above a miniature version of the oldest stock exchange of northern Europe: the Bruges bourse. The sculpture will be first presented in proximity to the old stock exchange north of the Alps in a city that had lost relevance once its maritime access mostly disappeared due to sand erosion. The tools and technologies to reverse that fact were not yet accessible at that time, something that bears resemblance of our raising sea levels and climate change of today. It is therefore not without meaning that I cast this public sculpture in chocolate and make it subject to heat and drooling sweet lust and vandalism. The low melting point as well as the fugacity and perishability of this dark monument should increase the ambivalence towards this seductive nascent new face of capitalism ascended from an entertainment, distraction and consumption driven culture that has data farming and total surveillance as its birth mark and DNA, a digital culture we barely understand in its full consequences. I would also like to state that the slow and steady rotation was inspired by the stellar like Benz logos which are inconspicuously but with very high visibility turning above many major German cities.

In these days, the turned around wealthy town of Bruges is a beautiful, ambitious tourist destination as well as a desirable second home residency for better off middle class Belgians who enjoy the idyllic middle age urban scenery with its displayed historical richness and its cosmetic disneyfied looks and touch ups. It is indeed so lovely, gorgeous, quiet and well restored that it makes you forget about time and context. The absences of a noticeable migrant population in Bruges, so present in other often economically distressed Belgian cities suggests a homogenous nostalgic harmony that makes you forget the permanently boiling cultural, religious, racial and linguistic quarrels surround the town. These conflicts dominate not only the rest of the country but the rest of Europe that still has barely any ways to come to terms with its economic, demographic and cultural changes since it clinches hopelessly on a notion of whiteness and Eurocentric intolerance. It is only symptomatic that only few people remember that chocolate is a quintessential colonial byproduct and couldn’t exist without the cacao beans growing only in former European colonies. It is therefore not without irony that Bruges and its surroundings are the main center of our world wide chocolate production, a dark product that enjoys addiction level consumption in god as well as in bad days. Cacao production is responsible for today’s worst records on child labor, people trafficking and forced as well as enslaved workers of young ages. Working with cacao is extremely hard and hazardous, ruining people’s lives due to heavy machinery and heavy carrying of loads under dubious agents and contexts. It is the immediate proximity of Bruges to the Belgian Chocolate factories that enabled us to secure the nearly 80 000 Euros worth of chocolate mass and its complicated casting of UBER CAPITALISM. s

To conclude the writing on my public sculpture to be hosted for half a year in the context of the Bruges Triennial 2015, the town is not involved or encouraging the common phenomena of a race to the bottom by accommodating mass tourism. Hence, the aspects of our new sharing economy that allow private households or car drivers to sporadic or regular extra income is therefore banned in Bruges by law. On the other side, it is this underlying digital infrastructure and culture facilitating cloud computing, soft ware, information and data sharing, remote computing, working and communicating that enable this class of better off residents and vacationers to look after their trades, investments and businesses even in advanced stages of their lives. UBER CAPITALISM is therefore standing in also as a metaphor for the bodiless, immaterial, atopic enriching and impoverishing phenomena that outperforms and outlives any individual and epoch and chase for balances in the permanent process of reiterating meltdowns and new solidifications.


Raiuner Ganahl, NY 2014