In their performances, videos and exhibitions with installation-like features, the Berlin-based artists’ group bankleer addresses the excessive shaping force inherent to the process of capitalism, which is accompanied by economic attempts at inclusion and exclusion as a result of the neo-liberal levelling out of social conditions.
The essential aspect of current forms of global capitalism lies in the duality of voluntarily and involuntarily precarized life. While the former refers to neo-liberal forms of new self-employment or, for that matter, the life of an artist as well, bankleer’s interest lies in the latter type of existence, namely, that of a stratum of society living in a marginalized social space. bankleer pushes the depiction of these psychosocial elements, which mainly touch on the zones of the unconscious and turn day-to-day existence into a disturbing image of reality, to the limit of the perception of real and fictitious events.
A central element in a number of bankleer’s installations and performances consists in hypertrophic beings derived from the human figure, but that have already departed from the space of the real so as to continue living with their remaining bodily rests as apparitions without substance. In this context, bankleer mainly refer to Slavoj Žižek’s hypothesis that current political developments manifest themselves as purposeless phenomena with ghastly effects in real life.
A key performance in 2005 which also resulted in a video – dereguliert I – shows monkeys with cardboard signs and slogans pointing to deregulated working conditions and inhumane neo-liberalism. Here, theory is combined with a skilled picture vocabulary: Animal captivity overlaps with human existence which is not so far apart from it, since it is increasingly controlled and monitored.
The absolute loss of control, finally, is shown in the video Reale Reste from 2006, which was first presented in an installation during the Steirische Herbst at Forum Stadtpark in Graz. A hole in a black, reflecting brick wall offered the view to a video played back in a cave situation. A person on the other side of neo-liberalism attempts to escape his surroundings and subsequently ends up in the realm of zombies, who in a Žižek-like manner find themselves in precisely the vacuum which corresponds with the present-day precarized and deregulated way of life. Following Giorgio Agamben’s theories on the state of emergency, the protagonists in bankleer’s video are in an unlegislated area, a zone of anomy, in which the relationship between privacy and the public sphere is dissolved, and all that remains is an inhumane intermediate stage of existence.
translated by Karl Hoffmann