what is wealth?, 2017
Video installation, in: Who Pays?, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz. Curated by Christiane Meyer-Stoll.

The Video installation what is wealth? is a three-part piece:

the Cage Room
the Waste Room
the Wheel of Fortune

The Cage Room requires a staff member to be present during the exhibition who invites the public to select the publications to read, to waste time in the installation and to spin the wheel of fortune. The Cage Room operates like an exchange cage and is enclosed within a wire fence (2m high). It contains art works from the collection of the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, which are stored in boxes or on display on a table, ready to be viewed and studied. It contains works by RELAX, such as the useme*s, receipts, piggy banks, silk prints, T-shirts and the videos FEDERICI 2 and reservoir news. Finally it contains the production by the artist and curator Gavin Wade (Eastside Projects Birmingham) and some artists from 2002 on the “Strategic Questions" by Buckminster Fuller in 1966. Whereby these are mainly publications, posters, video pieces on laptops and various objects. The exhibition attendants have received exact instructions from RELAX on how they are to treat visitors. All are greeted and given information such as:

− An invitation to sit down, take your time, do nothing, but engage in discussions, or daydream
− The directive is that all publications and objects are at their disposal. People can choose to spread out in the room and consult the selections.
− To obtain publications and objects, a deposit must be paid. The deposit pledged should be of value, best of all a wallet, credit card, watch, or mobile phone, etc. The objects are presented on a pedestal painted in blue with a mirror surface.
− The cage can be closed and locked. This allows the attendant to remain in the room but outside of the cage.
− The Waste Room is defined by chairs and armchairs from the museum’s gallery space. The furniture was lent by the museum staff.

The Wheel of Fortune is an object that visitors are encouraged to spin. The values are listed on the wheel and a projected video displays the value curves. Everybody can win something. When the wheel stops, the values shown proved to have been interpreted or invented by the visitors. There are no game rules. Whoever wins is awarded with THE WEALTH MANIFESTO poster.

“The exhibition Who Pays? takes a look at changing ideas of money and capital and the associated transformation of meanings and values. Who Pays? brings together a number of artistic positions from the 1960s to the present day. They allow us to examine our notions of wealth and poverty, of give and take, and of participation from different angles, concepts that nowadays are mostly reduced to purely economic aspects. ‘Everything is so very much in motion.’ These words written by the author Gertrude Stein in the context of the rapid change of language in the Elizabethan age can also be taken to describe today’s fast-paced changes. Our Western societies are in a state of fundamental upheaval. Not only rising rates of burnout and depression testify to deep-lying anxieties, but also an emerging need for seclusion and safeguarding assets and values. All this in the knowledge that we are using up more resources than Earth can generate. On the other hand we see many and diverse approaches that see potentials and opportunities for a more sustainable future. What is the role of the concept of capital in this context? And what “capital” role can art play? The title of the exhibition Who Pays? is based on a fluorescent sign created by the artist group RELAX (chiarenza & hauser & co) and addresses every single individual.” (Excerpt from the text by Christiane Meyer-Stoll, in: Who pays?, exhibition brochure).

Photos: Stefan Altenburger Photography Zurich