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the „Experimental Nonpartisan Questioning of Enduring Technologies in Economy"



subsistenceas a technology of practical critique: how to re-politicize thecrisis?

aweekend with talks, presentations, cooking, eating, collective action

22ndto 24th of May 2015

who invites?

BBM e.V., a non profit organisation

who funds the meeting?

the Cultural Foundation of the German State

and the EACEA program for culture and education Brussels


22.Mai 2015

conference language German (English simultaneous translation)

1st panel GasthausGeister - the symbolic „re-enactment“ of a popular local inn,torn down by Stasi, as a subversive think tank

2nd panel“needsassessment” - discussion on how and to what extent we can rethinkcommon lands and mutual aid as a means to improve physical andspiritual well-being?

3ndpanel projectpresentation of the German projects

4ndpanelcooking,eating, acting jointlywithKantine Vrolena

23rd May 2015

conference language English (German simultaneous translation):

mainfocus of the day: rural and post-metropolitan art activism -experiences, chances, difficulties in establishing art/community projects in the European outback

1stfocus “mutual aid” - a social technique suppressed by capitalism

2ndfocus “permaculture” - a model for society

3rdfocus “resistance strategies”

24th May 2015

roundtable - subsistence as a technology of practical critique: how torepoliticize the crisis



22nd:german day

-Miriam Wiesel und Axel Schmidt,http://www.kreuzbergersalon.de

-Christine Hoffmann,LandKunstLeben Steinhöfel Brandenburg, http://www.landkunstleben.de

undNetzwerk RUO Brandenburg, http://www.raumumordnung.net

-Europäische Kooperative Longo Mai, HofUlenkrug,http://www.prolongomai.ch/die-kooperativen/deutschland

-Open Source Ecology,Blievenstorf Mecklenburg, http://opensourceecology.de/

-Marco Clausen und Åsa Sonjasdotter,Prinzessinnengarten,http://prinzessinnengarten.net/

23rd:international day

-JohnJordan, la r.O.n.c.e,Bretagne, Frankreich,http://www.vingtsixheures.fr/2014/05/11/r-o-n-c-e

-Jorgen Johansen,Sparnas, Schweden, http://irenepublishing.com

-PennRimbaud,Dial House, Essex, Großbritannien,en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dial_House,_Essex

-Elleflâne, Cooperativa Integral Catalana/XCTIT,Spanien, http://cooperativa.cat/en/

-Nicholas Anastasopoulos,School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens,Greece, researcher at FLOK Society Ecuador objectives

This weekend-long meeting investigates the structures and functional principles of financial capitalism and its impact on our daily lives.

the meeting has a concrete Utopian approach: how do we think out ways of resisting the ´wrong´ politics? what could "plant" and "sell" mean instead? in other words: where is our market (not the market of capitalists).

The word subsistence, a well-known response to the centralised, hierarchical and continually crisis-ridden power system of the last several hundred years, describes a self-organised supply system which is inherently opposed to the "cheap nature, cheap labour, cheap food" ideology of capitalist markets.

The brutal energy with which the EU commissioners are fighting subsistence farmers in Romania (and elsewhere) demonstrates the strong potential of practical critique through subsistence - which these representatives of the Union seem to fear as they might set a positive precedent in the countries that were almost demolished by the same “agency´s” financial politics.

The prefix "supra" in the title is derived from the latin word for "beyond", pointing towards the possibility of another world emerging from the "Capitalocene"***(see last page), the epoch when capital had the most significant global impact.

Along with this, the weekend tries to highlight the urgent need to re-politicise our critique of the existing economy and its immanent crises. Either we surrender or we succeed in implementing powerful and subversive strategies now.

The aim is to encourage individuals to take action to change the structural violence of financial capitalism, by understanding, demystifying and thereby overcoming it. To do so successfully, we have invited people with a "glocal" approach, because we believe that change comes from a diversity of critical minds.

Program structure

The weekend starts with the German-speaking participants from Lenzerwische, Brandenburg and wider Germany. The purpose is to get an overview of existing projects in Germany (especially in the new federal states), which search for a new form of life culture in the countryside, under the guidance of artists.

The second day is devoted to the participants from outside Germany.

A short third day with a matinee roundtable discussion focuses on the political framework and strategies for resistance and resilience.

Furthermore, our long-term aim is to create a network of art activists working from/outside the European metropoles. This meeting is the start. Let´s see where we can get to within 5-10 years.


The meeting serves both the integration of the antagonistic principles of country and city, as well as learning by sharing = by mutual observation, listening and understanding. What can we learn from each other? How can we use what the other party learned under different living conditions? How can we revitalize solidarity which has almost entirely disappeared, as a consequence of people only being seen as “consumers”? How can we re-establish common ground as a principle of resistance, fostering a practice of Giving and Sharing as a tool against the murderous monetization of all living conditions which are only defined by monetary value ?

This explains why our "think tank" sees itself as "subversive". Any "think tank" aims to influence politics and the existing power relations. A tacit agreement is that working for a think tank is done in exchange for money (within a system that defines all relations by their monetary value), and that ultimately the results of all thinking power are invested back into optimizing the economic yield.

A think tank becomes subversive when it denies this consensus and instead of stabilizing the existing power relationships, it critically questions authority, social structures, hierarchies, the exploitation of certain groups and resources, and the concentration of power and capital.

Gasthaus Geister - pre-history of a subversive think tank

Three years ago BBM e.V., a non-profit organisation of artists, startedrenovating an abandoned farm in Eastern Germany, situated on thebanks of river Elbe.

Thegoal of this project is to convert a farmyard with four buildingsinto an“subversive think tank” where people can explorestrategies to successfully frack the fatal forces of the Capitalocene(see addendum for more in depth explanation of this neologism).

GasthausGeister and the 4 hectares of agricultural fields that belong to itunderstand itself as a small scale test bed for subsistence andself-organisation – as an antetype or a ´platform for change´model, rather than focussing on its capacities as a proper foodproducing unit.

Aftera period of construction works from 2011 until now, we intend tostart our program with a meeting in May 2015, from 22nd - 24th.

We have been granted modest funds to support this by the Cultural Foundation of the GermanState who is interested in fostering self-organised socio-culturalactivities with a focus on former Eastern German culture.

This means for our meeting in May:

a)“bridging“ the cultural gapbetween East and West which we understand in this case as a chance tounderstand the workings of Eastern pre-reunion ´solidarity´ andknowledge which can serve as a guideline for Western and commonthinking and acting. This draws fundamentally on the culture ofmutual aid and informal and local small scale “organising”,subsistence, barter and mutual exchange/credit (rather than moneybased economies) as a necessary survival system

b)fostering a European network but with a strict focus on activitiestaking place in the former east of Germany. We use this as a chanceto invite and talk to groups with more longterm experiencesestablishing art/agri- and permaculture projects outside ofeconomical hotspots. We interpret the term ´permaculture´ as a modelfor society, not (only) as an alternate planting strategy

c)re-establishing all kinds of “mutual aid“ in the realm of civilsociety

which we understand as used in the title of the Kropotkin book:

a“natural” social technique completely suppressed by capitalism,but formerly alive in the East until shortly after the reunion – apattern also found in all socialist countries and countries wheremoney hasn´t had the key role it has in western countries. Thisinvolves a critique of money and political antagonism as astructuring principle for the development of civil society.

Weare keen on inviting people from all Europe to present their projectsand share their experiences with artist organised activities in thecountryside, as a counter move to the mainstream metropolitan (artsworld) discourse.

Weare therefore especially interested in projects from Greece, Spain,Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Albania, Portugal, Sweden.

Aswell, we are interested in listening to and learning from the peoplewho lived around us in Unbesandten - to find out about the real needson the countryside are in “late capitalism”.

Wewould like - starting with this meeting - to build up a long termrelationship

-with the neighbours by inventing a series of annually returning“rituals”, e.g. working together on gardening projects, sharingthe land for activities of all kind and thereby preserving workadayknowledge that is about to disappear

-with projects from all over Europe so that we might get the chance toset up a residency program as well, where people can travel inbetween these projects and learn all kinds of social and worktechniques - or get the chance to re-focus in the midst of theirever ´too hasty´ lives…

ourmain interest is in jointly developing “survival strategies“ inthe evidently endless aftermath of the ever returning social,economic and political crises. This would involve investigating theadvantages and limits of radical de-growth, deflating everyday needs,organising non-new-media-based networks, sharing texts and ideas etc.

Thereforewe have the plan to build up a (library style) archive in the formerchambers of the Hallenhaus (the main building on site)

Theevent is formatted as a an informal meeting/discussion/presentationof experiences with between 20-30 participants, rather than a public“conference”, as we consider this notion of sharing andexchanging knowledge through peers from the ground-up as essential tonew approaches to resilience, resistance against systems that areseemingly to big to overcome.


Crisis,Kropotkin and the Capitalocene

Kropotkinwas a Russian geographer, economist, zoologist, evolutionarytheorist, philosopher, activist and anarchist. With Fields,Factories, and Workshops (1898) and Mutual Aid: A Factor ofEvolution (1902), he moved away from the limitations ofindividual anarchism and no-laws anarchism. instead he provided avision of communal anarchism, following the models of independentcooperative communities he discovered while developing his theory ofmutual aid. It was an anarchism that opposed centralized governmentand state-level laws as traditional anarchism did, but understoodthat at a certain small scale, communities and communes and co-opscould flourish and provide humans with a rich material life and wideareas of liberty without centralized control.

anotherguiding star in this era of deception and man-made darkness isJason W Moore. His essay The Capitalocenebuilds an argument for understanding the past five centuries as theCapitalocene, the “age of capital.” It proposes this term as analternative to the now-dominant Anthropocene, “Ageof Man”, reading ofmodern history and its accounting of ecological crisis. Situating theAnthropocene perspective within green thought since the 1970s, Mooreshows that the emphasis on the Industrial Revolution as the origin ofmodernity flows from a historical method that privilegesenvironmental consequences and occludesrelations of capital and power.

Inthis sense, capitalism is understood as a world-ecology, joining theaccumulation of capital, the pursuit of power, and the co-productionof nature in dialectical unity. Moore argues for a historical framethat takes capitalism and nature as double internalities:capitalism-in-nature/nature-in-capitalism. The generalization of thevalue-form (the commodity) is possible only through the expandedreproduction of value-relations that unify wage-labor with itsconditions of expanded reproduction: the unpaidworkof human and extra-human natures.