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bankleer lives and works in Berlin
In their performances, videos and installations the Berliner artist duo bankleer engage a key dynamic of the capitalist process: its power to generate and impose forms, which is integral to its attempts to establish an economic regime of in- and exclusion and results from the neo-liberal levelling of social conditions.

And herein resides the essential aspect of current forms of global capitalism: the duality of a life turned precarious, either voluntarily or involuntarily. While the former refers to neo-liberal forms of the proclaimed new self-sufficiency or the existence led by artists, bankleer turns their attention to the second kind of on-the-edge existence, that of a population stratum acting in a marginalized social space.

Lena's Ghosts

Increasing inequality, the domination of corporations, apathetic citizens and the worldwide hegemony exerted by some parts of the West show us that democracy is a long way from being realised. The creative tension generated by the partially incompatible principles of economic liberalism and democracy has given way to a social model based on a consensus politics of the centre, a politics without genuine confrontation. Moreover, since the collapse of the Soviet Union the imaginary of politics is threatening to vanish completely.

To prevent the closure of an open-ended democratic project the possibility of choice between real alternatives is urgently needed: awareness for genuine alternatives in the shape of coalitions, new forms of solidarity and tapping into potential for changing society must be revived. One eminently important emancipatory factor here is the self-organised collective and community, groupings which exist in the shadows of the mainstream and from time to time emerge as stowaway phenomena.

bankleer has embarked on a search for utopian, artistic-political communities which are founded on a collective commitment to radical politics and have often settled in remote, inaccessible places like islands or in the mountains. Utopian communities that do not harmonise with the dominant mainstream and therefore have no chance of being accepted by the public. The historical reference points are the social-utopian movements from around 1900, the artists’ colony Monte Verità and Lenin’s sojourn there.

With the potential of historical experience we are trying to find out how such utopian communities are brought about today, which specific preferences they are pursuing, and which aesthetic they are opting for to visualise the content of their demands and goals.

videostill: bankleer, Lenin die Treppe herabsteigend, Monte Verità, 2007

Project development
Starting from the historical reference point of the socialutopian movements emerging around 1900 and speci?cally the artist colony Monte Verità and Lenin ’s stay there, bankleer explores utopian, artistic-political communities and their relevance today as counter projects to the social mainstream. After having connected performances, interviews on the idea of utopia and Lenin ’s spirit as a revenant as well as the restaging of rituals on the Monte Verità in a wide-ranging video installation for the ?rst project phase, a banner currently hoisted in the Shedhalle featuring an island motif and slogans announces plans for a workshop to be held this summer in the mountains around Monte Verità. Together with specialists in the area of self-organisation, who shall accompany the participants, a self-experiment will be carried out on a mountain tour: while on the one hand concerned with experience exchange, on the other the tour – against the backdrop of a concrete spatial situation, for example abandoned mountain villages – shall provide an opportunity for re?ecting on utopias, forms of self-organisation and practices, with a view to elaborating possible plans for the future.

The date for the workshop is to be announced.

Excursion Monte Verità!

To complete Lena's Ghosts we have exchanged experiences in self-organisation and have reflected on own utopias, forms of self-organisation and practices while hiking with bankleer and specialists - themed hiking. Besides bankleer with a contribution on re-staging, Millay Hyatt (Comparative Literature Studies) with a contribution on utopia and nature and Frauke Hehl (head of workstation Berlin) with a contribution on Social Organising and High Tech Self Providing have participated in the three-day exchange. From the 19 - 21 of September 2008 we were hiking in the area around the Monte Verità, we visited historical sites and interviewed the last contemporary witnesses. Some images shall give an impression.

Extra issue of the Tessiner Zeitung about the Monte Verità. Obviously, the Monte Verità finds itself in a situation between Utopia-Tourism, historical examination and the question of the current significance of the Monte Verità.

Since her childhood Hetty Rogantini-De Beauclair lives on the Monte Verità. As one of the last contemporary witnesses, she gives guided tours though the exhibition and the area.

Casa Anatta: exhibition about the history of the Monte Verità by Harald Szeemann.

Contribution und discussion by and with Frauke Hehl (head of workstation Berlin) about Social Organising and High Tech Self Providing. In the foreground a self constructed radio transmitter, available at Pi-Radio.

View on the area around the Monte Verità.

Contribution und discussion by and with Millay Hyatt (Comparative Literature Studies) about utopia and nature on the Brissago islands.

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