Bjornstjerne Reuter Christiansen (b. Copenhagen, 1969; lives and works in Copenhagan, Denmark) Rasmus Nielsen (b. Copenhagen, 1969; lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark) Jakob Fenger (b. Copenhagen, 1968; lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark)
COMMISSIONED BY ARTSPACE
Superflex, Today We Don't Use the Word Dollars, Auckland, 27 May 2009. Commissioned by Artspace for One Day Sculpture. Photos: Stephen Rowe
(click to enlarge)
Today We Don't Use the Word Dollars
Wednesday 27 May 2009, 09.00 – 16.30
ANZ bank, 312 karangahape road, newton, auckland
> Click here for Jon Bywater's commissioned critical response
SUPERFLEX's artwork for One Day Sculpture involves the employees of Auckland's Karangahape Road branch of the ANZ bank. For a single day, Wednesday 27 May 2009, 09.00 - 16.30, all employees of the bank cannot say or use the word 'DOLLARS.' The staff must use other words of their own choice to explain themselves to customers and co-workers. If they break this pact they must pay a fine of $1 into a staff social fund.
SUPERFLEX (Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, Jakob Fenger and Rasmus Nielsen) investigate processes by which power dynamics become evident. Their projects do not simply set out to problematize these spheres of interest, but to work with real economic, cultural and political relations and create concrete effects. Through projects engaging with alternative models for the creation, dissemination and maintenance of social and economic organisation such as Copyshop, Guarana Power, Rebranding Denmark and Free Beer. SUPERFLEX have become involved in several legal disputes, as well as suffering prohibition orders and police raids, relating to their artistic use of commercial signs and symbols. However, finding that the restrictions placed on their work sometimes led to unexpectedly interesting results, SUPERFLEX began to explore the productive potential of prohibition and conceived a series of projects structured to impose regulations on others.
SUPERFLEX's One Day Sculpture project was conceived for Auckland at the invitation of Brian Butler, former Director of Artspace and produced by Artspace. The artists opted to work with the ANZ bank, asking the bank manager to enter into a legally binding agreement with the group that would affect all its activities. The contract stipulated that the staff at the ANZ bank have to abstain from using the word 'dollars' in all its oral and written communication, externally as well as internally, during banking hours. The agreement concerns customer service, as well as telephone calls and email communication. The contract was signed by the Bank Manager and by SUPERFLEX. The signed contract will be printed and framed and displayed in the staff (cloakroom) during the day.
SUPERFLEX, Today We Don't Use the Word Dollars is commissioned by Artspace
Superflex, Copyshop, 2005
Founded in 1993, Rasmus Nielsen, Jakob Fenger and Bjornstjerne Christiansen form the Copenhagen based collective Superflex. As artists, designers, and activists committed to social and economic change, Superflex promote self-organization and counter-economic strategies through working with communities and groups affected by the power of political and economic hegemonies.
While their work addresses issues that include political oppression and the power of commodity, Superflex are not directly opposed to commercialism or globalization, rather, they seek to promote transparency of the power structure. This desire to establish a new balance of power is most notably evident in Guarana Power (2004), a collaboration with a Brazilian farmers' cooperative in response to an economic threat by a global conglomerate.
The projects themselves integrate producers and consumers into the art work and therefore are not uniquely owned by Superflex but instead only make sense in conjunction with adaptations made by others, seen as a cooperative whole. In this sense, the artwork is not an object to be consumed but an idea, a conceptual leap to question economic and political structures. At the same time Superflex makes visible the traditional system of consumption in the art world and reveals art's power as a tool that can be utilized in a variety of situations.
Selected exhibitions include 27th Sao Paulo Biennial (2006), Supershow / I was paid to go there, solo exhibition, Kunsthalle Basel (2005), Self-organise / Guaraná Power, solo exhibition, Redcat Gallery, Los Angeles (2004), Utopia Station, 50th Venice Biennale (2003), Superflex tools + counter-strike, solo exhibition, Rooseum, Malmö (2002).