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grafisches Element

Forays. Systems of Self-Interest – Mechanisms of Looting

9th March - 7th April 2011

OPENING: 8th March, 7 PM - 9.30 PM

PROJECT CURATOR: Sabine Winkler »


Participating artists:

Lara Baladi
Jan Peter Hammer
Lina Khatib
Maryam Jafri
Candida TV/D Media
Joanne Richardson & David Rych


The project deals with different systems of exploitation and its consequences. Within the dramatic occurrences of the last years, there was one obvious motif, forming the basis of the financial crisis as well as the basis of the riots in the countries of the Arabic-Spring: Exploitation and systems of self-interest are mechanisms of looting, which occurs as neoliberalism disguised as democracy or naked as dictatorial system. The possibilities of exploitation are unlimited. Loss of reality characterizes the stakeholders of both systems. The loot-mechanisms of the financial systems are inscrutable in their abstract complexity and virtuality, the exploitation systems of totalitarian governed countries define the everyday life struggle of survival of the population. Political, economical and judicial conditions of forays are installed to systematize methods of self-interest and to strengthen elitist power systems.

What is now then the difference between these two exploitation systems? That the people in Europe have not yet fought the ruthless methods of the finance markets? The saving of the banking-institutions and the big concerns will destroy more and more the social systems, as everybody (except the rich) will have to pay for the gambling debts of the financial-markets-speculators in the following years. Exploitation is a means to eliminate the social state: Public money that is supposed to be spent for the communality is shifted to banking institutions and big concerns. Thievery of the commons, tax privileges of the rich and methods of self-interest, which are sold as competence of competition do not only involve public fields, but also affect increasingly private zones. The looters at the financial-markets still feel secure and protected within the neoliberal system and its same old representatives. Corruption has a long tradition and is taken for granted as a method of enrichment, inasmuch it is increasingly perceived as a legalized tactic for succeeding economically.

In the Arabic countries of revolution the autocrats enriched themselves by public and by governmental institutionalized methods of looting, establishing systems of corruption, regarding all social classes. Structures for systemic and personal enrichment methods were installed by the colonial policy, exploitation was and is practised by elitist gangs. Authoritarian and hierarchic systems, which are operating self-interestedly in clans, feudal or Mafia-like gangs, disregarding necessities of life, rights, social conditions, etc., are producing every day disasters and lack of perspectives, especially for the young people. The governmental father figures have served their time; patriarchal systems of control are forced back by the desire of self-determination and the right to say. At the moment, some of the dictatorial looters are losing their power positions and new possibilities for political orders can be developed.

The worst is coming to the worst, when territorial claims of both exploitation systems coincide, when military interventions are whitewashed on the pretext of humanitarian aid, or when the ventures of the financial markets force up the prices of food, causing mass starvation in political and economical instable countries.

What are the systemic overlapping and differences in this two systems of loot-generation? In which way mechanisms of exploitation are legitimized and masked, which pseudo-arguments are appearing again and again in this context and which counter-mechanisms could stop this generation of loot?


Lara Baladi

Lara Baladi Link

Hope (Amal), 2008-09

Slide and sound installation, booklets

"About 40% of the buildings in Cairo consists of the so called "ashwa'iyat" ("random things") commonly translated as informal housebuilding in this context. These illegal constructed slums are built up of bricks and concrete, often without windows and municipal infrastructure."
- Lara Baldi

Informal housebuilding can be regarded as a result of political loot-generation and corruption. Formal housebuilding is a traditional object of corrupt linking-ups between construction companies and political elites. Thousands of buildings in Cairo are empty, as a bigger part of the population cannot afford these expensive apartments. Informal housebuilding is one of the consequences of informal working conditions or unemployment, which is in turn a product of enrichment procedures. The "aswa'iyat" quarters are improvisational living space but nevertheless a social environment, which can be organised in different ways. Asef Bayat and Eric Denis allude to the social and economical aspect of the "aswa'iyat", which supply its inhabitants with living space, food, schools, hospitals and hope.


Jan Peter Hammer

Jan Peter Hammer Link

The Anarchist Banker, 2010

Video installation, 30 min

Jan Peter Hammer refers to a short novel of the same name by Fernando Pessoa. Jan Peter Hammer stages Pessoa's dialogue between a banker and a secretary as an interview between the banker Arthur Ashenking and the TV moderator Dave Hall. The name of the banker is a loosely reference to Artur Alves dos Reis, which inspired Pessoa for his short novel. Artur Alves dos Reis was a big cheater, falsifying any kind of documents and money on a grand scale, and was therefore responsible for the devaluation of the Portuguese escudo, resulting in an economic and political crisis of the first Portuguese republic, followed by twenty years of fascistic dictatorship. In his staging, Jan Peter Hammer adapts the original dialogue for showing neoliberal practices of the financial markets resulting in the current crisis. Arthur Ashenking leads through the genealogy of neoliberalism, from the ideal of self-determination of the individual up to the duty of self-optimisation in economic and emotional regards. Jan Peter Hammer shows these repetitive lines of argumentation, defending rational egoism and audacious individualism. The banker justifies pure materialism and self-interest, his own aiming for personal profit with the notion freedom. A traditional way of pseudo-argumentation, not only for legitimating and legalising exploitation mechanisms of looting, but also promoting it as a positive way of life.


Lina Khatib

Lina Khatib Link

Fallin' Dictators, 2011

Video installation

Lina Khatib shows in her video a series of photographs of advertising posters of the fallen long-run dictators of the North-African countries. The title of the work refers to the double significance of the word "fall", overthrow and autumn. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad are smiling faithfully from the posters, accompanied by advertising slogans like "wherever you go, you will bring happiness and beauty" (Gaddafi poster) or "for democracy and stability" (Mubarak poster). The self-staging of the dictators as trustable heads of government reveals the cynicism of their omnipotence-fantasies and their lack of reality. The masters of the ruthless loot-generation are staging themselves as patriarchal father-figures, men of the world, and problem resolvers and so on, hiding systems of exploitation, oppression and violence behind gestures and poses.


Maryam Jafri

Maryam Jafri Link

Siege of Khartoum (1884), 2006

A1 photo-collage posters

Maryam Jafri combines photos of the fall of Saddam Hussein, people demolishing his statue, his arrest, images that have become icons of the Iraq War, with articles of The New York Times, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Some of the articles are from the end of the 19th century, the height of the British Empire extended to articles of the year 2006. Journalistic texts from Winston Churchill about the Mahdists riots in Sudan (1898), about the British efforts to suppress the Mau Mau riots in Kenya (1950ies), anonymous reports from American journalists about the Vietnam War (1960ies), about the fights at the Philippines (1920ies) or in Panama (1990ies). Siege of Khartoum,1884 stands for the resistance of the Mahdists against the British-Egyptian government in Sudan, and can be taken as a metaphor of resistance against oppression. Jafri explores references between current and historical looting-wars, revealing traditional and repetitive methods of looting as well as techniques of reporting about it.


Candida TV/ D Media

Candida TV/ D Media Link

Made in Italy, 2006

Video, 25 min

Candida TV/D Media oppose in their video 16.000 Italian companies, that have displaced their production facility to the low-wage-country Romania, to two million Romanian migrants living in Italy. The film shows different, often controversial perceptions and positions: Italian businessmen, trade unionists, local workers and migrants are reporting about their experiences and life-conditions. Concerns and trusts are displacing their production facilities for saving costs by not paying taxes and by paying low wages to the employees. Tax exemption of the rich is a result of neoliberal economic policy and one of the main reasons for the financial crises resulting in austerity packages. Loot is generated twice, by the exploitation of cheap, often migrant workers and by fiscal privileges. Candida TV/D Media explore these interdependencies of delocalisation.


Joanne Richardson & David Rych

Joanne Richardson & David Rych Link

Red Tours, 2010

Video, 48 min

Joanne Richardson and David Rych deal with transformation processes of communism into capitalism and the often unreflected systemic change of ideologies. "Red Tour" was shot in Budapest, Prague, Vilnius and Berlin, in theme parks, ghost trains, and experience-museums, which are now defining the history, interpretation and perception of the Soviet Union. Recent history has become an object of collective repression, reduced to a museal and touristic representation in zones of adventure. Communist history was pathologized for creating free spaces for neoliberal systems, not questioning its practices. This ideological matrix, which reduces all to economic-processes, the market and consumption, despoils ideal systems, by destroying dreams, history, memory, imagination etc. All ideological systems are eager for these imaginary systems, intervening and controlling private zones. Occupation occurs after conquest.


Supported by:

BM:UKK
MA 7 - Interkulturelle und Internationale Aktivitäten
Kulturstyrelsen, Danish Arts Council
Arbeiterkammer Wien




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