the „Experimental Nonpartisan Questioning of Enduring Technologies in Economy"
subsistenceas a technology of practical critique: how to re-politicize thecrisis?
aweekend with talks, presentations, cooking, eating, collective action
Am Elbdeich 17, 19309 Unbesandten/Brandenburg/Germany
22ndto 24th of May 2015
BBM e.V., a non profit organisation
who funds the meeting?
the Cultural Foundation of the German State
and the EACEA program for culture and education Brussels
conference language German (English simultaneous translation)
1st panel GasthausGeister - the symbolic „re-enactment“ of a popular local inn,torn down by Stasi, as a subversive think tank
2nd panel“needsassessment” - discussion on how and to what extent we can
rethinkcommon lands and mutual aid as a means to improve physical
3ndpanel projectpresentation of the German projects
4ndpanelcooking,eating, acting jointlywithKantine Vrolena
23rd May 2015
conference language English (German simultaneous translation):
mainfocus of the day: rural and post-metropolitan art activism
-experiences, chances, difficulties in establishing
art/community projects in the European outback
1stfocus “mutual aid” - a social technique suppressed by capitalism
2ndfocus “permaculture” - a model for society
3rdfocus “resistance strategies”
24th May 2015
roundtable - subsistence as a technology of practical critique: how torepoliticize the crisis
-Miriam Wiesel und Axel Schmidt,http://www.kreuzbergersalon.de
-Christine Hoffmann,LandKunstLeben Steinhöfel Brandenburg, http://www.landkunstleben.de
undNetzwerk RUO Brandenburg, http://www.raumumordnung.net
-Europäische Kooperative Longo Mai, HofUlenkrug,http://www.prolongomai.ch/die-kooperativen/deutschland
-Open Source Ecology,Blievenstorf Mecklenburg, http://opensourceecology.de/
-Marco Clausen und Åsa Sonjasdotter,Prinzessinnengarten,http://prinzessinnengarten.net/
-JohnJordan, la r.O.n.c.e,Bretagne, Frankreich,http://www.vingtsixheures.fr/2014/05/11/r-o-n-c-e
-Jorgen Johansen,Sparnas, Schweden, http://irenepublishing.com
-PennRimbaud,Dial House, Essex, Großbritannien,en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dial_House,_Essex
-Elleflâne, Cooperativa Integral Catalana/XCTIT,Spanien, http://cooperativa.cat/en/
-Nicholas Anastasopoulos,School of Architecture, National Technical
University of Athens,Greece, researcher at FLOK Society Ecuador
This weekend-long meeting investigates the structures and
functional principles of financial capitalism and its impact on our
the meeting has a concrete Utopian approach: how do we think out
ways of resisting the ´wrong´ politics? what could "plant" and "sell"
mean instead? in other words: where is our market (not the market of
The word subsistence, a well-known response to the centralised,
hierarchical and continually crisis-ridden power system of the last
several hundred years, describes a self-organised supply system which
is inherently opposed to the "cheap nature, cheap labour, cheap food"
ideology of capitalist markets.
The brutal energy with which the EU commissioners are fighting
subsistence farmers in Romania (and elsewhere) demonstrates the strong
potential of practical critique through subsistence - which these
representatives of the Union seem to fear as they might set a positive
precedent in the countries that were almost demolished by the same
“agency´s” financial politics.
The prefix "supra" in the title is derived from the latin word
for "beyond", pointing towards the possibility of another world
emerging from the "Capitalocene"***(see last page), the epoch when
capital had the most significant global impact.
Along with this, the weekend tries to highlight the urgent need to
re-politicise our critique of the existing economy and its immanent
crises. Either we surrender or we succeed in implementing powerful and
subversive strategies now.
The aim is to encourage individuals to take action to change the
structural violence of financial capitalism, by understanding,
demystifying and thereby overcoming it. To do so successfully, we have
invited people with a "glocal" approach, because we believe that
change comes from a diversity of critical minds.
The weekend starts with the German-speaking participants from
Lenzerwische, Brandenburg and wider Germany. The purpose is to get an
overview of existing projects in Germany (especially in the new
federal states), which search for a new form of life culture in the
countryside, under the guidance of artists.
The second day is devoted to the participants from outside Germany.
A short third day with a matinee roundtable discussion focuses on
the political framework and strategies for resistance and resilience.
Furthermore, our long-term aim is to create a network of art
activists working from/outside the European metropoles. This meeting
is the start. Let´s see where we can get to within 5-10 years.
The meeting serves both the integration of the antagonistic
principles of country and city, as well as learning by sharing = by
mutual observation, listening and understanding. What can we learn
from each other? How can we use what the other party learned under
different living conditions? How can we revitalize solidarity which
has almost entirely disappeared, as a consequence of people only being
seen as “consumers”? How can we re-establish common ground as a
principle of resistance, fostering a practice of Giving and Sharing as
a tool against the murderous monetization of all living conditions
which are only defined by monetary value ?
This explains why our "think tank" sees itself as "subversive". Any
"think tank" aims to influence politics and the existing power
relations. A tacit agreement is that working for a think tank is done
in exchange for money (within a system that defines all relations by
their monetary value), and that ultimately the results of all thinking
power are invested back into optimizing the economic yield.
A think tank becomes subversive when it denies this consensus and
instead of stabilizing the existing power relationships, it critically
questions authority, social structures, hierarchies, the exploitation
of certain groups and resources, and the concentration of power and
Gasthaus Geister - pre-history of a subversive think tank
Three years ago BBM e.V., a non-profit organisation of artists,
startedrenovating an abandoned farm in Eastern Germany, situated on
thebanks of river Elbe.
Thegoal of this project is to convert a farmyard with four buildingsinto
an“subversive think tank” where people can explorestrategies to
successfully frack the fatal forces of the Capitalocene(see addendum for
more in depth explanation of this neologism).
GasthausGeister and the 4 hectares of agricultural fields that belong to
itunderstand itself as a small scale test bed for subsistence
andself-organisation – as an antetype or a ´platform for change´model,
rather than focussing on its capacities as a proper foodproducing unit.
Aftera period of construction works from 2011 until now, we intend
tostart our program with a meeting in May 2015, from 22nd - 24th.
We have been granted modest funds to support this by the Cultural
Foundation of the GermanState who is interested in fostering
self-organised socio-culturalactivities with a focus on former Eastern
This means for our meeting in May:
a)“bridging“ the cultural gapbetween East and West which we understand
in this case as a chance tounderstand the workings of Eastern
pre-reunion ´solidarity´ andknowledge which can serve as a guideline for
Western and commonthinking and acting. This draws fundamentally on the
culture ofmutual aid and informal and local small scale
“organising”,subsistence, barter and mutual exchange/credit (rather than
moneybased economies) as a necessary survival system
b)fostering a European network but with a strict focus on
activitiestaking place in the former east of Germany. We use this as a
chanceto invite and talk to groups with more longterm
experiencesestablishing art/agri- and permaculture projects outside
ofeconomical hotspots. We interpret the term ´permaculture´ as a
modelfor society, not (only) as an alternate planting strategy
c)re-establishing all kinds of “mutual aid“ in the realm of civilsociety
which we understand as used in the title of the Kropotkin book:
a“natural” social technique completely suppressed by capitalism,but
formerly alive in the East until shortly after the reunion – apattern
also found in all socialist countries and countries wheremoney hasn´t
had the key role it has in western countries. Thisinvolves a critique of
money and political antagonism as astructuring principle for the
development of civil society.
Weare keen on inviting people from all Europe to present their
projectsand share their experiences with artist organised activities in
thecountryside, as a counter move to the mainstream metropolitan
Weare therefore especially interested in projects from Greece, Spain,Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Albania, Portugal, Sweden.
Aswell, we are interested in listening to and learning from the
peoplewho lived around us in Unbesandten - to find out about the real
needson the countryside are in “late capitalism”.
Wewould like - starting with this meeting - to build up a long termrelationship
-with the neighbours by inventing a series of annually
returning“rituals”, e.g. working together on gardening projects,
sharingthe land for activities of all kind and thereby preserving
workadayknowledge that is about to disappear
-with projects from all over Europe so that we might get the chance
toset up a residency program as well, where people can travel inbetween
these projects and learn all kinds of social and worktechniques - or
get the chance to re-focus in the midst of theirever ´too hasty´ lives…
ourmain interest is in jointly developing “survival strategies“ inthe
evidently endless aftermath of the ever returning social,economic and
political crises. This would involve investigating theadvantages and
limits of radical de-growth, deflating everyday needs,organising
non-new-media-based networks, sharing texts and ideas etc.
Thereforewe have the plan to build up a (library style) archive in the
formerchambers of the Hallenhaus (the main building on site)
Theevent is formatted as a an informal meeting/discussion/presentationof
experiences with between 20-30 participants, rather than a
public“conference”, as we consider this notion of sharing andexchanging
knowledge through peers from the ground-up as essential tonew approaches
to resilience, resistance against systems that areseemingly to big to
Crisis,Kropotkin and the Capitalocene
Kropotkinwas a Russian geographer, economist, zoologist,
evolutionarytheorist, philosopher, activist and anarchist. With
Fields,Factories, and Workshops (1898) and Mutual Aid: A Factor
ofEvolution (1902), he moved away from the limitations ofindividual
anarchism and no-laws anarchism. instead he provided avision of communal
anarchism, following the models of independentcooperative communities
he discovered while developing his theory ofmutual aid. It was an
anarchism that opposed centralized governmentand state-level laws as
traditional anarchism did, but understoodthat at a certain small scale,
communities and communes and co-opscould flourish and provide humans
with a rich material life and wideareas of liberty without centralized
anotherguiding star in this era of deception and man-made darkness
isJason W Moore. His essay The Capitalocenebuilds an argument for
understanding the past five centuries as theCapitalocene, the “age of
capital.” It proposes this term as analternative to the now-dominant
Anthropocene, “Ageof Man”, reading ofmodern history and its accounting
of ecological crisis. Situating theAnthropocene perspective within green
thought since the 1970s, Mooreshows that the emphasis on the
Industrial Revolution as the origin ofmodernity flows from a historical
method that privilegesenvironmental consequences and occludesrelations
of capital and power.
Inthis sense, capitalism is understood as a world-ecology, joining
theaccumulation of capital, the pursuit of power, and the
co-productionof nature in dialectical unity. Moore argues for a
historical framethat takes capitalism and nature as double
generalization of thevalue-form (the commodity) is possible only through
the expandedreproduction of value-relations that unify wage-labor with
itsconditions of expanded reproduction: the unpaidworkof human and