“Eight hundred kilometers upstream from Kinshasa, on the river Congo, the Institute for Human Activities mobilizes the modalities of art production and launches a five-year Gentrification Program. The opening seminar of this program takes place in a specially created bamboo settlement in Congo and investigates the gap in criticality that arises in the transfer from the zone of artistic production to the zone of reception. At the same time, it is the kick-off of the actual process of gentrification.” (Source: http://www.berlinbiennale.de/blog/en/projects/a-gentrification-program-by-institute-for-human-activities-23006)
The proposition for “Gentrification Program” features images (click the screenshot of official BB7 page to enlarge):
Any thinking and feeling person would be insulted by such imagery. Another “provocative artwork”? The task of the real human project is not to denounce racist pigs at Berlin Biennale, but announce their systematic institutional racism and avoid the void of the fascist speculation, which prevails in Serious Culture and Berlin Biennale is obviously no exception. Radicalism? If we agree with Roger Taylor’s claims laid out in his 1978 book “Art, an Enemy of the People” that the modern concept of art is historically founded by the European aristocracy in order to celebrate the old cosmological and social order (slavery, “genetic” privileges of the ruling class, etc), we can admit that all the worst of Berlin Biennale 7 (Zmijewski, Voina and “friends”) is a radical manifestation of art, which has a social function to provide “common culture” to contradicting social classes and shove away the debate about, and solutions to the persisting racism, speculation and exploitation. The picture above is a rather frank example of this, a more subtle example of exploitation AND instrumentalisation being the situation of the artist Martin Zet and the staged media scandal surrounding “his” project “Deutschland schafft es ab”.
In order to further inquire into the “Gentrification Program” one has to analyze the context surrounding this racist filth. First, it must be noted that a term “Gentrification” itself was first used by sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964, in order to describe the process in post-WW2 London, where some of the historical working class neighbourhoods were targeted for the middle class invasion (Oxford dictionary defines “gentrify” as meaning “[to] renovate and improve (a house or district) so that it conforms to middle-class taste”). We have already written about the BB7 attempted incorporation of the POLARIS INTERNATIONAL Limited project into its ranks (in English and German). Following a POLARIS issued call to “take part in the parallel BB7 program in order to enlarge one’s penis” (excerpt of this is available online here), BB7 apparatus removed the logo of POLARIS Int’l Ltd from their partners list. We must stress that POLARIS team has never attempted to collaborate with BB7, on the contrary, any thinking person would have realized straight away, that POLARIS project manifests a fierce opposition to the real and boring bourgeois gentrification events such as Berlin Biennale 7. “Gentrification program” appears a plagiarism of POLARIS concept and its simulated incorporation into the void of BB7.
Why? POLARIS INTERNATIONAL Limited team has been active since late Autumn 2011 and has been continuously issuing numerous sarcastic “projects” and statements as if they were corporately related to the BB7 ever since. All this in order to expose and generate discussion around theintentional and systematic blindspots of the mentioned establishment event. After intensified attack, BB7 decided to dissociated themselves from POLARIS and, in the style of their very own, started working on the incorporation and simulation of POLARIS content and aims. The website for aggressively racist “Gentrification Program” (no matter whether itself being a scam or not) features a “transcript” of the email very similar in style to the ones sent out by POLARIS Team (Nicholas Bourriaud and others; on show in okk/raum29 at Prinzenallee 29 in Berlin Wedding 13359; the show continues till 13 May). While POLARIS have practiced “uncreative writing” (also advocated by Kenneth Goldsmith, Stewart Home, etc) by making use of the spam e-mail from their own mailboxes and swapped a few names and terms in order to generate rumor and discussion about the “commodification of art”, art’s systematic role in gentrification and supremacy, vanguardism and racism of the ruling class culture, “Institute for Human (sic) Activities”, on their behalf, publish this “transcript”:
Dear Madam, Sir,
We would like to invite you to participate in the opening seminar of the Gentrification Program, which takes place this June at the settlement we created for this occasion. The 7th Berlin Biennale kindly coproduces this event. For a limited number of guests, the Institute for Human Activities covers visa and travel costs.
Others may come independently.
If you are unable to come to Congo, there is an opportunity to attend the event in Berlin on June 30, 2012, as the closing event of the 7th Berlin Biennale.
We would be truly honored if you would take this proposal into consideration.
The mentioned website also features their correspondence e-mail, which we urge our readers tocompletely ignore, and not to start a conversation, which would only generate free content for stupid projects of BB7. Instead, we urge you to distance yourselves from the mentioned affair held in KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin, and announce their corruption – contrary to the actions of naive OCCUPY folk, most of whom have obviously signed no contract and are more than happy with their exploitation. Wake up!
Once again, contrary to their “will” to discuss racism, issues of class and gender, BB7 “team” is known for obscuring the problems of society and instead generating MORE “content”, “debate” and, in effect, empty marketing for their own kind. This is not only a marginal statement of the 2012ISTHESEASONFORTREASON team, but also a comment found in the rare seriously critical reviews of BB7. Zmijewski? Zmijewski! In a “festival” which repeatedly re-stages the work “of” the talentless hack, “masculinist” and anti-semite Zmijewski. Having experienced opposition in the past (especially in 2010, about which we wrote, too), a gentrification program, which is Berlin Biennale itself, is shoving away the debate about inequality of the Berlin city itself, and instead attempts to extend the “limits of art” (factually, power of the middle class middlemen artists), and, in this specific case, disparity between the “proletarian” and “capitalist” “nations”! All this in a typical fascist fashion – be it Nazbol (whose cause both BB7 and Voina champion), be it Al Qaida, IRA, ETA or their groupies.
Any person, unless bound by contract, should dissociate themselves from BB7. Our comrades DAMTP (who take part in 2012ISTHESEASONFORTREASON show in Berlin till 13 May) have already staged actions against and analysis of the racism persisting in Germany. Strangely, the “Gentrification Program” “takes place” in Congo. Berlin has a special “symbolic” relationship with Congo, namely the Berlin Conference of 1884 (which is known as “Kongokonferenz” in German). The conference included the newly unified Germany into the ranks of the old colonizers of Africa. We will not discuss the later genocide in the present Namibia in this article, but for those still ignorant about the issues in question, we want to remind that the Herero and Namaqua natives have sent a delegation to Berlin Charite in autumn 2011 in order to (once again) ask for public affirmation of and official apology for the genocide of their rebellious ancestors. Also, they brought a collection of Charite held skulls of their brutally murdered natives back to Africa. Germany has never issued an apology for this terrible crime yet. The mentioned racial extermination led to the foundation of the German Nazism, which is, on the contrary to most “leftists”, not entirely different from the liberal democracy, but instead its maturation and radical fruition. BB7 discourse is inseparable from these manifestations of the ruling class culture and sits comfortably among them.
Zmijewski, Voinas and their bourgeois culture in its both official and underground manifestations should be exposed and kicked into the void of non-existence so much embraced by their kind. DESTROY SERIOUS CULTURE NOW!!!
The end notes of this article will be the direction towards thinkers and activists of the Black Atlantic, brilliantly described by Paul Gilroy, which is adequate to the contemporary society and is the way “forward”: http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Gilroy.htm.
Copyright Chus Martinez 2012