The Devil Makes Work For.
Bankleer (Christoph Leitner, Karin Kasböck)
Installation at Kunstbank, Berlin, November 7 -28
The Devil’s Platform is a carnival game played by drunken visitors to Munich’s Oktoberfest. The object of the game is to stay on a spinning platform as long as possible without loosing one’s balance or being thrown off by the other players, the “commentators” provocations, or his large leather ball. This game was re-staged at Oktoberfest for a video by the artist duo Bankleer as an image of the current Germany economy. This time, the commentator narrated the action with a combination of quotes from the current German Minister of Employment, as well as from sociologists and philosophers criticizing the Minister’s capitalistic position and the market economy in general.
The title of the video, Rotate: Work Simulation, refers to the Government Minister’s pressure on the unemployed to accept government initiated make-work projects. Unemployment is of major concern at the moment in Germany, and it is especially acute in Berlin. In the new year, the government is bringing in new legislation that will make it harder for the unemployed and is slashing social assistance programs. In the video, the participants falling to the edges of the spinning wheel wear t-shirts printed with government and business slogans.
In the installation, Bankleer projects the video into a simply constructed wooden corner that also contains a working megaphone. Next to this, a wooden platform rotates. Foam ceaselessly bubbles from another crude wooden plinth. Bread dough expands out of a birdhouse through an opening shaped like the Minister of Employment’s logo and falls to the floor like shit. Amongst these empty processes of continuous production, Bankleer used the gallery to conduct interviews of people with alternative ways of working (e.g.: co-ops) or with alternatives economic views. The interviews were conducted on the revolving platform, creating a symbolic loop where peripheral groups were returned to central discussion.
The parallell of economic, political, and media structures with physical games, athletics, and fitness have consistently been used by Bankleer as a way to engage the ‘body’ with social critique. Humour, irony, empathy, and even slapstick are integrated into the often heavy-handed and conceptually handicapped discourse of political art. In this way strong images, participation, and social awareness form an easily understood nexus of dissent. Their next video explores a collection of characters at the employment office using the zombie genre.