STUDIO BONN. Discourse in the Bundeskunsthalle

Exchange Values

Wednesday, 15 June 7 p.m.
live in the Forum

CATPC (Ced’Art Tamasala und Mathieu Kasiama with Renzo Martens)

Chair: Kolja Reichert
In English and French with simultaneous translation

Within a mere two hundred years, the capitalist way of running the economy has revealed itself as unsustainable: it is destroying its own ecological and social foundations. Indigenous economies, on the other hand, have worked for millennia – and are increasingly being discussed as solutions for coping with climate change. Studio Bonn presents three models of global cooperation that combine sustainability and social justice.

The design expert Julia Watson, author of Lo-TEK. Design by Radical Indigenism, Taschen 2021, has researched indigenous architectures all over the world. To ensure that the transfer of knowledge does not lead to one-sided exploitation, she has developed a new business model: An oral smart contract, developed with experts in indigenous law, allows companies that use indigenous knowledge to share profits with the indigenous communities that originated it via blockchain. The initiative, named The Symbiocene, is currently being presented in the exhibition Our Time on Earth at the Barbican in London

The diplomat and computer scientist Youssef Nassef has coordinated resilience work in the United Nations system for 23 years, after having served as a diplomat and climate change negotiator for ten years before that. Disillusioned with the impact of the post industrial-revolution war on the biosphere, he and the new Bonn-based UN initiative Resilience Frontiers are using the knowledge of writers, film directors and data analysts to gear our attitudes, thoughts and actions towards the impending destruction of the planet.

On a former palm oil plantation in Lusanga, Congo, Ced’Art Tamasala and Mathieu Kasiama and the Congolese Plantation Workers’ Art League (Cercle d’art des travailleurs de plantation congolaise, CATPC) engage with the history of the colonial exploitation of palm oil and cocoa plantations. CATPC’s chocolate sculptures have been exhibited at the SculptureCenter in New York and elsewhere. The day before the Studio Bonn event, at Art Basel, CATPC and artist Renzo Martens will sell 300 NFTs of a Diviner’s Figure carved in 1931 during the Pende uprising against Belgian colonial rule and now preserved at the Virginia Museum of Art. The proceeds will be used to buy back land and revitalise cultural traditions and sustainable agriculture. In the documentary series Plantations and Museums, Tamasala and Mathieu explore the history of the sculpture and of cultural exploitation in general.

Abb.: Film still from White Cube, Renzo Martens. Copyright © Human Activities, 2020
CATPC members (from left) Olele Mulela Mabamba, Huguette Kilembi, Mbuku Kimpala, Jeremie Mabiala, Jean Kawata, Irene Kanga, Ced’art Tamasala and Matthieu Kasiama

Glossary: Blockchain, NFT & Co.

A decentralized collective account book that allows money transactions without banks or notaries. All transactions are publicly visible. Once entered, it can never be changed. Great hopes are pinned on this technology for a democratic and more effective financial system. But it is also under criticism: because of the high energy consumption, the large price fluctuations and the more difficult control by states. There are countless blockchains, the best known being the Bitcoin blockchain (since 2009) and the Ethereum blockchain (since 2015), which also allows software applications and NFTs.

The digital wallet on the blockchain that stores wealth in cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

NFT (Non Fungible Token)
A unique blockchain entry that can serve as a certificate of ownership for both digital and analog assets. Millions of euros are sometimes paid for digital art, memes, pieces of music or sports trading cards provided with NFTs. Even the Uffizi Gallery and the Vienna Belvedere have sold photographs of works in their collections as NFTs. See also STUDIO BONN: TAUSCHWERTE: Who owns the art? with a.o. Eike Schmidt, the director of the Uffizi. ENS addresses are also guaranteed by an NFT.

ENS (Ethereum Name Service)
A publicly visible address that can be linked to a website or wallet. For example, wallet addresses look like this: 0xFC25EF3F5B8A186398338A2ADA86715FBA2D695E. ENS addresses, on the other hand, look something like this: bundeskunsthalle.eth. ENS addresses are an important building block for Web 3.

Smart Contract
An algorithm running on the blockchain that automatically distributes certain profit shares on certain incoming payments. Blockchain-based software is built from smart contracts.

DAO (Dezentrale Autonome Organisation)
Associations of people who vote anonymously to jointly manage assets or organizations. The PleasrDao bought an NFT from Edward Snowden. The CityDAO is planning a city in the US state of Wyoming. Wyoming was the first legislature in 2021 to legally put DAOs on an equal footing with corporations and NGOs.

Web 3
When we create, share and comment on content in the so-called Web 2.0 as we know it today, it is usually via platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. They analyze and sell our data and can control our revenue sharing or block content or accounts as they wish. In Web 3, users network directly on the blockchain and build their own networks and platforms. On the one hand, this promises co-determination, greater innovation and artistic freedom. On the other hand, this is accompanied by an increased financialization of social relationships: the like is replaced by a transfer.