In the Middle Ages, Bruges was a hub of the global economy. Rainer Ganahl’s sculpture is in the form of the world’s first stock exchange, which is located on Vlamingstraat. With the silting up of the harbour, the stock exchange also vanished from Bruges. The people felt powerless to stop it, much as we seem to be helpless spectators of climate change.
The words ‘UBER CAPITALISM’ rotate above the chocolate sculpture - as the Benz logo used to in so many German cities. ‘UBER’ evokes connotations with the Nazi’s concept of the ‘Übermensch’ and refers to the app that allows anyone with a car and a smartphone to start a taxi company. In a broader sense, it also refers to the sharing economy. We use apps for numerous services. This digital manifestation of our non-stop culture helps, entertains, leads, tracks and analyses us at all times, wherever we are.
The temporality and perishability of chocolate refers to a growing ambivalence towards the new capitalism, the future impact of which cannot be accurately predicted. In lovely Bruges, world centre of chocolate, the conflicts that rage on in the rest of the world seem very far away. However, cocoa production has its dark underbelly, with roots in colonialism and the current reality of child labour, human trafficking and hazardous working conditions.
Rainer Ganahl (b.1961, Bludenz, AT) lives in New York. He has participated in the biennials of Venice, Istanbul, Gwangju, Moscow, Seville and Bucharest and others. Rainer Ganahl has also published two books, DADALENIN (Taube, Berlin) and El Mundo (Mousse, Milan).