Relocated Identities Part 2: Relocating Products and People (2005)
LECTURES & PRESENTATIONS
In Zoo Pleasures, Polish theorist Monika Bakke spoke about the relationship of exchange between humans and animals, drawing our attention to the female dog Lajka, the first Russian astronaut to enter space in 1957. Social inventor Elena Simons informed us about the multitude of ideas on how exchange within society can be facilitated, explored in more detail in her book “Pret met Muslims”. In his lecture From Communication to Creation, cultural theorist Andre Platteel promoted different narrative structures for contemporary marketing. Esther Polak introduced the MILK project, which traces the movements of a chain of producers and consumers of Latvian cheese from green meadows to Dutch market. Maritime scientist Victoria Carolan dedicated her lecture to several kinds of products that have been shipped between continents, from Norwegian ice blocks that cooled the rich of ancient London, to the most precious good of all: the human being on a luxury cruise ship.
Elena Simons: Social Inventor
With a background in art, advertising and environmental activism, Elena Simons has worked as an independent Social Inventor for three years. Her company, WONDER, undertakes freelance work for NGOs and social enterprise, as well as initiating its own projects. One successful art project is the visit of a group of welfare recipients to the wealthy in their villas, bringing symbolic gifts as a gesture of thanks. On another occasion a luxury department store unknowingly sold high quality goods from the trash, after Elena and friends hadput these back on the shelves with real price tags. Fun with Muslims, a political gift-book, was published last April in the Netherlands – it includes many funny adventures with Muslims and tips for readers who would also like to enjoy Muslims.
Monika Bakke: Zoo Pleasures
Pleasures experienced in the border-zone of relations between human and non-human animals vary from creating a functional distance between human animal constructed as a subject and non-human animal constructed as an object (in experience of plesir), through human and animal union in bliss (joissance) and (con)fusion of roles, to a final abandonment of subjectivity in a process of becoming animal. Control over the experience of pleasure, or lack of it, plays a constitutive role in the process of constructing this border. Paradoxically, the mechanism of objectifying (reification) the animal often goes under the guise of offering non-human animals the status of subject. Animal-astronauts are a good example of such pseudo subjectivity, given or actually imposed on non-human animals, becoming the heroes who experienced outer space even before humans. This is the case when the most crude anthropomorphic version of the Aristotelian concept of pleasure, based on the belief that satisfaction comes from a well completed task, is projected onto non-human animals.
Victoria Carolan: Frozen Blood: Transporting Water, Ice, Bodies
“My work seeks to explore and rethink the meaning and concept of ‘maritime’, and it is both internalised and externalised as a cultural and aesthetic identity. The emphasis is on Britain and the Netherlands, looking at how the maritime past is ‘re-invented’ and ‘culturalised’ in today’s society, particularly in relation to port development, art, ‘industrial tourism’ and ‘heritage sites.’ Another central element in my work is using and combining different methodologies to approach the subject in particular, contemporary theory, historical research, photography and creative writing.”
Esther Polak: Milk
Where does our cheese come from? Artist Esther Polak looked for an answer to that question and followed the dairy line from Latvia to the Netherlands. From the cow’s udder in Latvia to a Dutch couple’s plate in Utrecht as rigamont cheese: through five European countries, artist Esther Polak follows the milk route and uses different media, such as photography, film and satellite navigation to paint a picture and draw a map. Polak gave a GPS-receiver with specially developed software to nine different characters’: the Latvian farmers with their cows, the milk collector, the owner of the cheese factory, the transporters, the cheese trader, the market merchant and the consumer. “This project shows concretely the new connections that are made by trade in Europe,” says Polak, who cooperated with the Latvian artist Ieva Auzina. It also connects to the desire of the consumer to know where their food comes from. The MILK project shows that a landscape and a way of life lie behind every bite on your plate. Portraits in photography and film are made of all characters, and can also be seen on the website milkproject.net
Andre Platteel: From Communication to Creation
Marketing has become the language of our culture. It has penetrated almost every sector of society – not only the economy, but also politics, the media and the arts. However, the narrative marketing use is starting to lose its charm. Brands and consumers cannot be defined as unambiguous entities. By using single-stage scenarios, marketing is turning everything into products and images (fixed identities), even our bodies, desires and fears. A counter movement against this mechanism is impossible as the marketing machinery has become so clever and intense that it is simply using that critique as an image again – every critique is cynically exploited. Although marketing’s main focus has always been in finding fixed identities, consumers no longer believe in unambiguous brand promises. They no longer want to be reduced to consuming machines only allowed to absorb predigested experiences. The contemporary cultural condition asks for a different narrative structure, one in which advertising will no longer be imposed on consumers as something fixed – instead, it’s value can be generated over and over again. This will open up an unexpected and interesting creative era. Platteel discussed several ideas that lead to a radically different relationship between brands and consumers. Andre Platteel founded the interdisciplinary thinktank Somanydynamos and is the author of culture-critical books such as Symbol Soup and Margeting – inventing a different marketing language.