marion v. osten on Fri, 12 Nov 1999 15:50:26 +0100

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Syndicate: New MN

Dear MN's friends and all others,

This text is a summary about MN1/Zurich 98.
A new concept for the continuation in 2000 will follow in December 1999.

Yours Marion
Exhibition, Webzine, Video and Magazine Project, Workshop and Congress

A-Clip (Berlin), Absolutno (Novi Sad), Mehmet Akiol (Zurich), Edit Andras
(Budapest), Joerg Arendt (Bonn), Marion Baruch/Name Diffusion
(Paris/Milan), Paula di Bello/ Marco Biraghi (Milan), Jochen Becker
(Berlin), Marica Bender /RadioZid (Sarajevo), Luchezar Boyadjiev (Sofia),
Iara Boubnova (Sofia), Fritz Burschel / 'No one is illegal', Iana Cvikova
/ASPEKT (Bratislava), Eva Danzl Suarez / FIZ (Zurich), Dogfilm (Berlin),
Melita Gabric / Blaz Habjan / Martine Anderfuhren (Ljubljana/Geneva), Hex
TV (Cologne), Berta Jottar (New York), K3000 (Zurich), Gülsün Karamustafa
(Istanbul), Beat Leuthard (Basel), Level ltd. (Zurich), Geert Lovink
(Amsterdam), Medienhilfe Ex-Jugoslavien (Zurich), Marton Oblath (Budapest),
Ayse �ncü (Istanbul), Marion von Osten (Berlin/Zurich), Drazen Pantic / B92
(Belgrade), Marco Peljhan / Ljudmilla (Ljubljana), Lia & Dan Perjovschi
(Bucharest), Pascal Petignat / Peter Riedlinger (Zurich/Vienna), Sascha
Roesler (Zurich), Polnischer Sozialrat (Berlin), Kalin Serapionov (Sofia),
Oliver Sertic / Attak (Zagreb), Natalie Seitz / Markus Jans (Lucerne),
Nedko Solakov (Sofia), Peter Spillmann (Zurich), Deep Europe /
V2_East-Syndicate, Mina Vuletic / B92 (Belgrade), Dr. Anna Wessely
(Budapest), Jeta Xharra /Mediaproject (Pristina), Zelimir Zilnik / Terra
Film (Novi Sad).

The MoneyNations project took place for the first time in the Shedhalle in
Zurich from 23 October - 13 December 1998. The starting-point of
MoneyNations was to address the complex and contradictory process of
forming collective and individual identities in (radically) changing
political conditions. Central to this analysis was the fact that Western
Europe's border policies in relation to Central and South-Eastern Europe is
tightening culturally and economically, and the racial discrimination
against non-Europeans associated with this.
The project concentrated on kindling an active debate between, and bringing
together, creative artists and media activists from Eastern and Western
Europe and looked at the way in which they are represented in the context
of art, as a social and symbolic location. We worked for over a year on
setting up a network of correspondents - the "KorrespondentInnennetz - in
which theorists, media activists and artists from Central and South-Eastern
Europe worked from different points of view against the production of
borders by a Europe that is centred above all on the West. The work that
emerged from this process of exchange includes video productions,
photographic works, installations, theoretical texts and narratives. The
artists' and video producers' pieces were introduced in the Shedhalle
exhibition and are being shown in various places in Eastern and Western
Europe and further exploited as a basis for work and discussion. The
Shedhalle project was launched with a three-day congress on the "Economy of
the Border" and a workshop with media producers from the former Jugoslavia.
The project will continue next year probably in Bratislava and in Vienna.
All the contributions are published in English on the
web site or in the publication "The Correspondent".

Money / Nation
Immanuel Wallerstein and Etienne Balibar introduced the concept of
'ambivalent identities' into discussion about racism in the early 90s. They
tried to identify elements driven by the global economy in their analysis
of discrimination and inequality, and the role these played in maintaining
class- and race-specific differences. According to Balibar/Wallenstein,
every modern "nation" is a product of colonization/capitalization: it was
always a colonizing or colonized power to a certain extent, and to an
extent even both at the same time. But the nation-form, and thus the
quality that we call national identity, cannot simply be derived from
capitalist production methods, as it was for a long time customary to think
in classical left-wing analysis, but we can see today that the space that
is needed for the circulation of money in particular has a tendency to go
beyond national borders. But capital and its protagonists are not
independent of spatial requirements; each needs very specific local
conditions in order to cream off profit and to be productive. It seems that
for the circulation of money today the nationally regulated economies, in
the form in which we became familiar with them in Western Europe and the
USA after 1945, are no longer appropriate for expansive movements in
advanced capitalism in the late twentieth century. Free trade areas, the
dismantling of customs agreements (WTO) and the associated
hyper-exploitation above all in the south and east, and then the "Global
Cities" and their information technologies, together with more flexible
working practices, define the spatial conditions of a new, neo-liberal
world order.
Balibar/Wallerstein say that the world-wide social and economic processes
that are now defined as "globalization" correspond with the historical form
of a world economy that was always organized and divided into hierarchies
in such a way that there is a "center" and a "periphery", where one then
finds different forms of accumulation and exploitation.

The new approaches of post-colonialism went a stage further as they no
longer saw the relationship between the First and Third Worlds as a binary
opposition structure. They resisted attempts at holistic social
explanations, recognizing that the borderlines between opposing political
spheres are much more complex and contradictory than we had assumed. Thus
post-colonial criticism takes up the fight with the totalizing concepts of
Modernism, here fitting with Gender and Cultural studies in general.
Despite its essentially culturalist approach, the post-colonial view does
not deny the difference that lies behind the symbolic, political and
economic domination of psychological and social identification. In brief,
post-colonialism means using different ways of understanding the concepts
we use to help us to formulate community, nationality or ethics. On this
head as well the post-colonial view chimes with feminist theory and
practice. Theorists like Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak work from this point of
view and have brought new and fundamental insights into Western feminism.
Central to the debate are the different realities of women in the diaspora.
The concept of cultural and ethnic units that are prescribed almost
naturally (culture clash) was abandoned in favour of a concept of hybridity
that places the different social, political and cultural conditions for
developing an identity centre-stage.
Culture is a starting-point for considering current global changes from a
post-colonial point of view, because it clearly shows up the
contradictions, conflicts, but also new terrains for action that have
already emerged.

Criticism of a eurocentrically organized apparatus for power and knowledge
has been increasingly heard since the early 90s, on the German-language art
and culture scene as well. But for MoneyNations the central question was
whether we can assume a common basis for interpreting the concept of
hegemony among the producers of culture in the post-Communist states and
those from the "West". Can the countries of Eastern Europe already, still
or again be counted as part of the Western centre, or does the Shengen
Agreement illustrate precisely the boundaries that have manifested
themselves culturally, socially and economically since 1989? Power
relationships cannot be explained conclusively in terms of the binary
structure of the West as a center and the East as a periphery. It seems
that in fact new centers have formed in Central and Eastern Europe and also
that racism and sexism are not 'Western' phenomena, but occur all over the

But in contrast with the North-South argument, the East-West relationship
is much more contradictory because of historical and political differences,
and also attracts much less attention. The political systems that used to
confront each other, whose Cold War propaganda machines quite uninhibitedly
permitted representing "the others" as huge and horrific enemies, are now
again described as national units, and defined via their particular status
in terms of Westernization and advancing capitalism. Media reports still
choose the "wild East" as their favourite topic, along with Mafia-type
structures, empty state coffers and other states of emergency. United
Europe's legislation governing borders and foreigners excludes the "East"
as a matter of policy, and multinational concerns and investors discovered
Central and South-Eastern Europe as the countries with the cheapest
possible labour well before 1990. This is why an attempt is being made on
the cultural plane to hark back to the historical continuity of an Eastern
and a Western European identity. But typological stereotypes, exoticism and
assertions of cultural difference do not occur only in the media, but also
in exhibitions of Eastern European art, which face out border production by
"Fortress Europe" and Eastern Europe's roll as a global lowest-wage
location by constructing authenticity (Sammlung Ludwig) or by asserting a
new internationalism (Manifesta). MoneyNations attempted to address these

Traditionally, European identity was always formed by drawing a line of
demarcation with the "major others", Africa, the USA, Japan, Asia and the
Orient. This identity relied above all on the special qualities of a
cultural tradition, so that the "others' " traditions could be devalued at
the same time. Thus extending the eastern boundaries of the EU or joining
NATO, which are both being dangled before the countries of Eastern Europe,
once more builds on the exclusive quality of "old" Europe and the western
center, while the reality of the former socialist alliance and also the
countries in the south of the globe are left out of account. Thus culture
acquires central significance in the exclusion processes.
And yet we should not lose sight of the fact that current European
grouping, and European monetary union, are directly linked with global
economic competition. But the attempt to fuse the European nation-states
into "one Europe" creates new models (for a new pan-European identity) and
thus correspondingly excludes anyone who does not fit in with this model of
an economically efficient Europe. But this construction involving the
"others" is not stable, but constantly subject to different social
negotiations. Thus in the case of Eastern Europe the categories have
changed constantly since 1989, and differently from country to country.

The MoneyNations project started with the question of how we can develop
cultural practices that intervene actively in these current processes. For
this reason the project did not take the angle that harsher immigration
policies (in Switzerland as well) derive only from capitalist production
methods, but inquired about the significance of racist and sexist
categorization and practice for productive forces under late capitalism and
what contradictions, instabilities and resistances can already be derived
from this.

For a year, working from the Shedhalle and supported in part by existing
networks (like for example V2/East_Syndicate) and friends who were also
producers, we built up a network of correspondents - the
"KorrespondentInnennetz". At first, theorists, media activists and artist
from Central and Southern Europe started to exchange e-mails, speaking
against borders produced by a Europe that was above all centred on the
West. The analyses and concepts of the various people involved in the
project also made it clear that it was possible to establish forms of
communication and resistance, and also new production connections, that
rose above individual states, beyond the usual stigmatization as
"Bulgarian", "German", "Romanian", "Turkish" etc.

Thus the line taken by the project fits in with the general tendency that
deregulation of nation-state units, as an effect of liberalized world
trade, is also shifting and destabilizing the boundaries of national
allegiance and also those of the traditional gender regime. For example, we
observed that South-Eastern Europe is leading the world for the European
textile industry as a low-wage location because of its geographical
proximity: a branch of commerce in which young women in particular work,
without security and partly in their own homes; but these women have also
become breadwinners for their families, thus making the old privileges of a
largely male workforce questionable. Thus theorist Saskia repeatedly points
out in her critical analyses that new developments certain to undermine the
old notions of statehood and their sexist and racist policies can and will
occur in the process of globalization.

But a discussion of this kind about civil society or "globalization from
below" also involves, for the specifically Eastern European situation,
coming to terms with the function that is attached to Western investors and
financial capital (Georg Soros) as far as culture promotion and social
movements are concerned. And going beyond this, the real practice of
harsher immigration requirements and non-recognition of a legal status for
migrants within EUrope has to be set against the positive assumptions of
global democratization processes. The so-called three-circle-model
discriminates against Eastern Europeans in particular, who are forced into
informal sectors, as commuting workers or into other conditions of
inequality that are usually segregated gender-specifically (as sex workers,
cleaners or service personnel).

Another important research topic for MoneyNations was the field of
consumption: as cultural symbols, ideas and objects are acquired and
"domesticized", new local communities also form, and these lead to a new
range of available roles, but also to role constraint. For this reason it
became a central field of the project to reassess economies that are
described as "informal" as opposed to the formal economics of the Western
commercial systems. In this context, as part of the Ã?Border Economy"
congress, the specific social and economic situation of the post-communist
states was made the central consideration. Since 1989, markets have emerged
in all the countries of Southern, Central and Central-Eastern Europe in
which a new form of retail trade takes place, which are inestimably
important for the economies of Eastern Europe and marginalize the West as a
center. For example, artist Gülsün Karamustafa of Istanbul reported that
since 1989 her city had become the central market-place for the countries
of South-Eastern Europe. On the other hand, in Sofia (BUL) a market for
bootleg CDs has built up that - although forbidden - still makes up a large
part of the functioning economy. These forms of trade subvert Western
notions of value in many respects: they question both the protection of
trade marks and (border) agreements between nation states. At the same time
they represent a real basis for life within the transformation processes in
the post-communist countries. These contradictory developments were
discussed by the participants, and so was the question of how we can talk
about borders and drawing borders without delegating the problems of
Germany or Switzerland to Eastern Europeans, or without defining the
Western borders as essential. We therefore agreed to follow the "border"
from the point of view of subversion, of resistance. The "Suitcase Economy"
also became synonymous with our own exchange situations within the project.

Marion von Osten

Marion von Osten
D-10823 Berlin
fon 0049 30 788 4661
c/o k3000
Schöneggstr. 5
8004 Zürich
fon 0041 1 291 3040

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