Geert Lovink on Mon, 20 Jul 1998 20:29:39 +0100

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Syndicate: MoneyNationsProjectInfo

Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 19:21:32 +0200
From: shedhalle <>
Subject: MoneyNationsProjectInfo

constructing the borders- constructing East/West

FEAT. , MoneyNationsTV, The Correspondent Magazine
Exhibition & Workshop Programs
from 23rd Oct. to 15th Dec. 1998

at Shedhalle Zurich, Seestr. 395, CH- 8038 Zurich
Phone :++41-1-481 5950, Fax.: ++41-1-481 5951,
Information about the structure of the project:

MoneyNations@access wants to bring together an interested body of people
to exchange and distribute information contradicting the ?ethnisizing?,
the pejorative media activities, and the economic exploitation, of what
was formerly referred to as the Eastern Block. The project wants to show
the interconnections between economic, political and cultural forces,
which are used in the attempt to legitimate the borders between East and
West, by using various media as well as textual and visual means of
narration and procedure.  As ?correspondents?, people from different
fields of culture production were approached in order to find new people
who could, on the one hand, make interesting contributions to the project
and, on the other hand, act as (foreign) correspondents for an information
network themselves.  The purpose of this counter-cultural network is
neither the search for ?true? information, nor the accumulation of facts
about neo-liberalism or racism, but it intends to pave the way for
reflections on subjective experiences and forms of narration before a
theoretical and political background. The various textual and visual
productions are not meant to compete with one another, but should be
understood as individual statements and stories. By doing so, an
understanding of the concept of information is being promoted which
opposes the main-stream practices in media and construction of theory.
This information is not produced for passive consumers in a globalized
media landscape, but subjective reports and stories will challenge the
generally accepted ?objectivity of news reporting?. In this way, even
though a difference in identity may be presumed, due to differing
socialization in East and West, the project tries not to use identity and
difference, and tries to avoid the production of a typology of difference,
which again could be used by the EU to justify their border construction. 

The Correspondent

The newspaper ?The Correspondent? will be a production, in which the
various categories within a standard weekly paper will be used as
metaphors. The various modes of narration on content as well as on
presentational level will be placed under titles such as Politics, Foreign
Affairs, Local News, Culture, Economy, Finance, Science, Society, Weather
or Sport, which may have to be modified to suit the specific statements. 
The entries for the first part of the newspaper are being evaluated at the
moment and they must be submitted to the Shedhalle by 31st August 1998. A
complete issue of the newspaper will be produced during the project period
and will be presented on the occasion of the end-of-exhibition party,
where the completed video magazine of MoneyNationsTV and the website will
also be presented. Submissions for the final production of the newspaper
will have to be received at the Shedhalle by 31st October. The project
correspondents will also act as final editors for the newspaper. 

During the first discussions of the project the following thematic
topics were chosen to build the project framework :

Constructing the borders ? constructing East/West

1) The Practices of Economic Exclusion:
The introduction of the Euro; the exploitation of Central and
South-Eastern European states as low-wage locations, now as well as
during the Soviet times (example textile industry); Eastern European
funds on the financial market (who is making money from the East?);
inflation in informal economies such as the Suitcase Economy, their
being made illegal, and their new evaluation by Eastern-European
scientists; the normative Western model of work twinned with a
nationally linked (white, male) working subject (see:
Berlin/Bauarbeiter); the relationship between migration and prostitution
(Women?s Information Center, Zurich, FIZ); fantasies about the
availability of female bodies.

2) The Practices of Political Exclusion:
EU and Swiss asylum policies (from the three circle to the two circle
model); the Schengen agreement/ EU membership conditions; confusion of
state policy with private economy (example Siemens); construction of the
?other?, and performative borders; border architecture, militarization.

3) Cultural Attributions:
Stereotype impressions of poverty, incompentence and chaos, and other
images repeatedly used to represent the East. (Media example of
Albania); propaganda Cold War (posters, Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich);
opposing images; discussions on cultural subjects of yesterday and
3a) Cultural Practice:
The function of Eastern European art in the so-called international art
scene; memory, soul and stories as stereotypes and marketable export
products (what can be exploited by the West?).

A first draft of the newspaper project will be sent to you by  the end
of this month.
The complete edition of the newspaper can be found on the internet
together with excerpts from the current mailing list. A second part of
the project, focussing on South/North, is being organized by Annette
Schindler and Michelle Fague for the Swiss Institute New York (see mail
from Swiss Institute). The website hosts both parts of the project,
which can, besides the specific contexts, lead to new networks. In the
long run, the design of the website will allow the creation of an
information pool for international theoretical texts from various fields
such as cultural and gender studies, critiques of economy, and
discourses on urbanism. Additionally, a long-term solution is being
sought to finance translations for this.

Apart from the newspaper project and the website, MoneyNations also
?runs? a (fictitious) television channel, Art People?s TV Station, in
which programs from the various cities participating will be shown.
However, MoneyNations is no transmitter, but an open video network.
People from middle, central and South-Eastern European cities can submit
existing videos about political and economic integration or exclusion
practices, or they can, in the framework of MoneyNations, produce new
?programs?. The Shedhalle is able to contribute 100 Swiss Francs for
each film/program made in the cities participating. It would be helpful
to contact us first and give us the name of the coordinating person, to
whom the money should be sent. The medium of the video will mainly be
used for the transfer of communication and information. Completed
productions will be sent to the Shedhalle, from where they will be
forwarded to the correspondents. In this way it will be possible to
record meetings and discussions, and ?news?, or even small feature or
documentary films about the local situation of the authors in the
current process of global transformation can be produced.
MoneyNationsTV shall be accessible to as many people as possible and
should be shown and used in various places. We will forward the first
set of films, but this can obviously be done by the individual
participants themselves.

The Programs of MoneyNationsTV:
We are currently completing the first program of the video magazine,
which should be sent out next week. This includes a discussion between
the Swiss Institute and Pro Helvetia with people working in the
distribution and dissemination of art from Central Europe about the
function of ?money? in the art market, as well as a comment from Zurich,
and a summary of an interview with Iara Bubnova, Nedko Solakov and
Luchezar Boyardiev in Sofia about the relationship between state
money/nation/culture, and a critique of Western financing and exhibition
practices. It could be said that this program will feature the question
of the function of art in the global market, but not its answer. Further
videos responding to these discussions would make this edition of
?Culture? more exciting, since there have only been round table
discussions so far.

A second program will concentrate on the topic of ?new markets?, and
will be produced mid August, including a film about the ?Suitcase
Economy?. This film will be based on an interview with Gülsün
Karamustafa about the Eastern markets which came into existence since
1989, and on a visit to one of the biggest shopping malls in Istanbul.
Further there will be, I hope, a film about the CD-ROM markets in Sofia
by Alain Kessi and Iara Bubnova, and there will definitely be a short
trash film entitled ?Hotel Helvetia? about international investment
activities in Bucharest. We would have liked to include a video about
the textile industry in Romania, which has been used as a low-wage
location for the international fashion industry since the seventies. If
anybody would like to contribute to this with videos or suggestions of
topics please get in touch with us immediately. Later productions can
usually be included in the individual programs, even if you missed the

The topic of a third program will bear the title ?Economy and City?.
Attention will be paid to social changes, territorial shifts and
segregation in your own city. This can include your own relationship to
your town; places can be described which you as a man or a woman like or
dislike; or you could look at the privatization and commercialization of
inner cities. The video group terra from Novi Sad has already made a
film about this topic. In the framework of a project from Dresden, a
group of artists has shot another film, a trash feature film, in 1995
about the urban reconstruction of their city. More productions would be

The forth program will deal with the topic of ?border? construction. We
already have a few videos about this such as ?Juristic Bodies? about the
Polish-German border by the group Dogfilm, and a documentation of the
campaign ?Kein Mensch ist illegal? (Nobody is illegal)> . We will produce a video ourselves
about the demonstrations in Görlitz of July which took place in the
framework of ?cross the border?. But again, we?ll have to find - or make
- more productions.

The last video-magazine of MoneyNationsTV, for the time being, will be
about the complex topic of ?Resistance and Dissidence?. This will be a
platform for the collection and exchange of documentaries about
demonstrations and activities from various countries. Initiatives and
projects can be presented, but it could also finally provide space to
discuss the term ?dissidence? from an Eastern and Western stance.

MoneyNations@access, the Exhibition
Apart from the idea that we will change the Shedhalle into a publisher?s
office in order to make playful use of this structure, the form of the
exhibition has not been defined and nothing is decided yet. During the
next month this will be discussed with the artists, once we know more
about the nature of the various contributions. However, all projects
will be featured in the newspaper and on the net (double pages). The
videos of MoneyNationsTV will be shown in a special video room as
supporting acts (one program will be shown per screening evening). In
November, the videos will also be shown at the Swiss Institute in New

Correspondents/Contacts (July 98):

Iara Bubnova,  <>Luchezar Boyardiev
(Sofia)<>, Alain Kessi
<>, Zoran Pantelic <apsolutn@EUnet.yu>, Lazlar
Lalic <b92>
Tibor Varnagy (Budapest) varnagy <>,  Edit Andras
(Budapest/NewYork)<>, Susi Koltai (Budapest/Zürich),
no definitive Correspondent yet...!?
Lia&Dan Perjovschi (Bucharest)/ <PERJO@R22.SFOS.RO>, Marion Baruch
Oleg Kireev <>
smsu prague <>,
Gülsün Karamustafa (Istanbul) / <>
Jana Cvikova (Bratislava) <>,
Blaz Habjan, <blaz.habjan@prist>
Switzerland: Marion von Osten <>, Nathalie Seitz
Anette Schindler/Michel Fague, The Swiss Institute <>


Theoretical Background:

The West and the Rest...

In the past years, the concept of Euro-Centrism has repeatedly been
accused to stand for the hegemony of Western cultural conception, since
the euro-centrist concept always seems to reflect a "Western" view of
Europe only. The "construction of Europe" as a "fortress" has started in
1989: A fortress that excludes the Central European cultures, and with
media that blocks them out at the borders.  This "fortress Europe"
produces new cultural identities, which are on the one hand based on
regionalism and on the other hand the very same is denied and replaced by
a common European identity. Who is in and who is out is redefined. New
boundaries and new identities are produced, which are strongly related to
market orientated values and ideologies. The international economic
"competition", as an effect of the so-called globalization, serves as the
main argument for the European Union. The spatial matrix of contemporary
capitalism is one that combines and articulates tendencies towards both
globalization and localization. Even if capital significantly reduces the
friction of geography, it cannot escape its dependence on spatial fixity.
Space and place cannot be annihilated. "The new culture of enterprise
enlists the enterprise of culture to manufacture differentiated urban or
local identities. These are centered around the creation of an image, a
fabricated and inauthentic identity, a false aura, usually achieved
through ëthe recuperation of "historyî (real imagined, or simply recreated
as pastiche) and of "community"(again, real, imagined, or simply packaged
for sale by producers).î (Harvey,1987:274).  In this context the Schengen
Agreement fixed the boundaries of cultural identities into borders that
are protected by military and laws.  Meanwhile the "East" has become a
low-wage location for international investors. New technologies of control
have been developed on the borders: genetic fingerprints; high-tech
equipment; new border architecture has been erected; and the fortress is
now protected by a specially trained border police who decide on the new
Western European identity as a part of their job.  Those developments,
i.e. social restructuring, spatial transformations and discontinuities of
identities are to be seen in the context of the social and economic
restructuring of the former socialist states through investment,
commercialization and privatization as well as through transnational
accumulation developments. 

The conception of identity in a "Western European" society is increasingly
tied to the lifestyle attributes of a more flexible, creative and
efficient service elite. These cultural discourses or distinctions of the
"European identity crisis" include repressive political means against
so-called "illegalized" people at the borders and within the "fortress
Europe".  These exclusions and stigmatizations of the "Others" are present
in Middle and Western European cities too, where a low wage working class
of "illegalized" people serves the service elite to polish up their
status, whereas in the inner cities there is an increase in repressive and
racist politics against different marginalized groups. Along its eastern
and southern edges, Europe, as an economic and political entity, must now
re-negotiate its territorial limits. Last year a lot of critical events
and campaigns took place focussing on these developments (Kein Mensch ist
illegal, Innenstadtaktionen) .  "MoneyNations@ access"  is trying to
broaden these critical actions by relating them to the perception of the
so-called EAST in institutional politics, and its consequences regarding
the construction of the borders, new nationalism and low-wage production

The Crisis of the "Blind Spot"

In the current reports of the West it is obvious that the propaganda
machines of the "Cold War" go on, either through refusing to recognize the
situation in Central Europe, or through its capitalization. The
postulation of Capitalism in all its violence is legitimized through the
reasoning of cultural difference: On the one side that of "the East",
historically associated with racist representations, and on the other side
that of power claims against the former socialist states. Nationalism and
racism are constructed on this, and the West uses it to polish up its
identity, or better, to create a status of an "acceptable"  identity. 

The premisses of the perception of the "East" are confirmed by the
misrepresentation of an intellectual and cultural tradition of Central
Europe during Socialism; by the never-ending representation of poverty; 
by spectacular reports on the "new-rich" and the "Mafia"; by the former
categories of business; by professionalism, advertising and competition; 
and above all, by the unquestioned Western European legislation of rights
of asylum made for Central Europeans.  The social change from Socialism to
Capitalism was described by many "Eastern" friends of mine as an every-day
conflict. In capitalism the way you have to behave, do business, produce
art, or dress, seemed to create a barrier: In order to cope with this
adjusting of your personality you either had to position yourself against
it, or over-affirm it. The capitalist ways of behaving are received as
colonization. They reflect power relations and Western categorization of
values. Alternatives like "self- professionalizing" or models of
non-profit orientated ways of life are rarely found. 

The representation of European history in relation to a socialist
tradition, used only as a negative projection, creates, historically and
socially, a blind spot, which produces an identity crisis in the former
Eastern Bloc states and its citizens. The only cultural identity which is
given to the former Soviet states is that of an "older (deeper)  European
tradition", the tradition of the "Abendland". This sentimental and
nostalgic view refers to a tradition of "culture", which is the very heart
of the difference between Europe and the so-called "non-cultural" Others
(Africa , America, Asia and Islam). This collective memory of "what Europe
once was", excludes the experiences of forty-five years of life in
socialist states, as if it had never existed. For a Western-socialized
person, it is hard to understand what effect this devaluation can have on
a person's identity. It is an aim of the project to reflect on this
historical "blind spot" and its political and social implications. 


Constructing the Border - Constructing East/West

The project "moneynations@access" has a double focus. It is concerned with
the complex and contradictory nature of contemporary cultural identities,
and with the role of national-politics in relation to the "transnational
flow of capital" and their affect on the reconfiguration of those
identities. The part of the project initiated by the Shedhalle Zurich
addresses these issues in the context of the current changes in a European
identity, which has always been defined and is now newly defined in
relation to the big "Others", i.e. America, the "East", Islam, Japan or
the Orient.  In the case of the first part of "moneynations@access", our
greatest interest will placed in the question how the big Other, "the
former Eastern Bloc", is redefined in relation to the constitution of a
West European Union as a "fortress", and its contemporary economic
politics.  The production of a pan-European identity will not only be
investigated before the background of contemporary national-politics, but
also in its historical context of the Third Reich, the Cold War, and the
effect which the so-called "collapse of Socialism and Communism" had, on
the one hand for a leftist discourse, and on the other hand for the power
structures of transnational accumulation of wealth.  The question is to
what extent is the Western "identity" composed in opposition to the former
Eastern Bloc states and to what extent does this affect the so-called
"fortress" and its restrictive migration politics? How are the West in the
East, and the East in the West represented and valued? What kind of
reports and information does the media convey? In what way does the market
and the promotion of the "Euro", as the new common currency, morally
exclude and marginalize people within Europe? And what are our
perspectives as to a critical discourse, now, after Socialism is breaking
down, converting into Neo-Liberalism? 

In the first discussions we suggested that it may be interesting to start
the exchange between the former East and the former West from a
perspective of identity politics. Working together with feminist activist
groups and theoreticians from the "East", in this context, seems to be
highly political. How did the social and economic situation for women and
homosexuals change during the transition from the former socialist to a
now almost capitalist situation? How is feminism, as analytic category,
valued on each side? Is there a deconstructing (feminist) economic
movement which questions the over-determination of an economic
(materialistic) discourse in capitalism and socialism, that we can refer

What position and what kinds of resistance politics might we share
together against the transnational accumulation processes? Where are the
differences? What is to say about low vage production locations (textile,
hightech industries) in the East, meanwhile the Image of the products is
produced in the West? What part plays the financial market (Georg Sorros)
in the restructuring process of the East and its Metropolises?  And where
are resistance politics to be found in former east/west to build new
subjectivities which go beyond a "whites only"  and traditional
"genderdifference" identity? 
The aim of "moneynations@access" is to create a "counter-institutional
pool" of theorists, (media) activists and artists from Middle and Central
European cities. However, this "counter-information network" will not
consist of a group of a few individuals. The aim is to exchange a wide
range of policies of resistance; to link new identities and economic
theories with anti-border campaigns, anti-racist and feminist movements; 
to discuss, understand and criticize the protectionism of Western Europe
with regard to migration and the transnational accumulation processes. 

The communication network starts out on two different levels. First a
mailing list will be issued to investigate open email conversation via a
WebZine, in which people from different disciplines can submit texts,
projects and suggestions referring to the issues. The WebZine will be
established by the end of June.The Second exchange medium is a VideoZine.
The VideoZine will be used as a correspondent network initiated by a
so-called editorial correspondent group. They contact artists, activists
and theoreticians from Central Europe, who wish to address
counter-institutional strategies within the framework of the project. The
VideoZine starts right now. The first video has already been made by the
Liga (a group of non-profit gallery spaces) from Budapest. The videos will
be sent to Zurich, where we will copy them for the editorial group

The project will develop progressively on an exchange basis throughout the
next month and can be accessible and presented in different places and
institutions and in all the cities of the participating artists and
theoreticians (if wanted). The project should not stop because of the
conference in Zurich or elsewhere, it can proceed as long as necessary. 
The submissions of the Web- or VideoZine correspondents can be of a
documentary, narrative, fictional or theoretical character. Besides the
presentation of political and economic background data and information,
the contributions can be texts, internet projects, photo stories ,too. 
Videoprojects, for example, could be in the form of a guided tour through
a city by video (Where does gentrification happen? Where does the
transformation of the city start? etc.), or may be a report of activities,
interviews, statements or fiction.  All contributions have to be multiple
and have to be send easily. The Videomagazine will function also as a
communication base to inform others what is going on in your City or
Country concerning to the topic. 

The aim of the project initiated by the Shedhalle is not only to represent
the "East" in the "West", but also to encourage the further use of the
WebZine and the VideoZine for "multiple" shows or screenings in the
various cities and countries of the participants. It would be our wish
that the project will be more than a "one off exemplary project", but an
attempt to establish communication and discourse between critical working
people on both sides of borders.Current representational forms should be
criticized, and counter-representational points of view could be

The Shedhalle in Zurich established a project team (Agnes Bieber, Sascha
Roesler, Natalie Seitz , Marion v. Osten). The Shedhalle team will be
responsible for the coordination of the information, texts and videos
a.s.o., and will establish the Web- and VideoZine in cooperation with the
"editorial correspondent group", different (media) activist groups in
South-Eastern and Central Europe as well as with the ProHelvetia offices
in Bratislava, Krakau, Budapest and Prague.  Extracts of the incoming
internet texts will be published in a special edition of a Newspaper. This
Newspaper will function as a small publication. The productions of the
Video Magazine and alle the contributions correspondant network will be
exhibited at the Shedhalle in October 1998 in the context of a conference
of theoreticians, anti-racist groups, media activists and artists. 

The VideoZine, the Webproject and the Newspaper will also be presented in
the Swiss Institute, New York, in November 1998, where the project will be