8 essays
Compiled by Dennis Brzek

The aesthetics of the pandemic have come to include views into a precious but controlled world of home decor: clean interiors with an undisturbed view for clear data transmission, designed along the paradigms of a cognitive Zoom labor class’ comfortable minimalism. While this controlled environment is projected during the pandemic, it is a mere disguise to an incoming recession that will be its most immediate and broadest effect. Continually de-monetized through fantastically inflated rents in urban centers, a large coalition gathering around a “Rent Strike“ seeks to build a comprehensive and unmitigated response towards the dehumanizing effects of capitalism and its gross depletion of moments for intervention. This reader aims to help identify places, interiors, and their frameworks as spaces for a new commonality.

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Silvia Kolbowski
“When Even Good News Worsens a Panic”
Originally published in January 2009

Tom Holert
Hidden Labor and the Delight of Otherness: Design and Post-Capitalist Politics
Originally published in June 2010

One of the most intriguing tasks of the theme and thesis of this issue of e-flux journal is the imagining and reframing of cultural and aesthetic practice in decidedly post-capitalist terms—that is, as embedded in and engendered by processes of globally networked solidarity, diversity, cooperation, interdependence, and so forth. I would like to begin by supplementing the notion of practice with the notion of design, which may provide the discussion with an initial spin. Of course, “design” is a contested term, and its meaning and function can differ dramatically. In this article, “design” will be taken to be synonymous with “urban design,” though even this specification doesn’t help much to reduce the problem of reference and cultural difference, as “urban design” is deployed in highly ideological ways and is necessarily steered by varying institutional interests.

Dieter Roelstraete
On Leaving the Building: Thoughts of the Outside
Originally published in April 2011

What if, rather than speaking or dreaming of an absolute beginning, we speak of a leap?
— Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (1846)

Lars Bang Larsen
Giraffe and Anti-Giraffe: Charles Fourier’s Artistic Thinking
Originally published in June 2011

The writings of Charles Fourier (1772–1837) are a glorious fuck you to all that exists. Yet they are neither punk’s provocation nor the apodictic objectivity of Marxian dialectics, but an enculage of civilization through the filigree work of total world reinvention.

Hito Steyerl
Freedom from Everything: Freelancers and Mercenaries
Originally published in January 2013

In 1990, George Michael released his song “Freedom ’90.” It was a time when everybody was deliriously singing along with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” or the Scorpions’ “Winds of Change,” celebrating what people thought was the final victory of liberty and democracy after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Most abysmal of all these sing-along songs was David Hasselhoff’s live rendition from on top of the Berlin Wall of “Looking for Freedom,” a song describing the trials and tribulations of a rich man’s son trying to make his own fortune.

Philip Grant
Too Real an Unreality: Financial Markets as Occult
Originally published in February 2015

At the end of it all, the Queen defecates—gold bars. The queen in question is Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (and quite a few other places beside), but here she is presented more simply as the “Queen of England,” just like the woman she has been conversing with through the short performance. That woman too is a Queen Elizabeth, or better still, was, since she died in 1603. As befits the dead, perhaps, she doesn’t actually talk. Her image stares down at the second, living queen.

Liam Gillick
A Building on Fifth Avenue
Originally published in December 2016

Framelessness is a dream fulfilled as we enter the regime of the minimal within architecture. This is where the aesthetic coding of this place starts to align with the values of car production and kitchen design more than it does with the notion of work or social exchange. The car is the place of individual fulfillment where luxurious materials are deployed towards the crude representation of desire. The advanced kitchen is also a place where cabinetry and appliances start to lose their handles, hinges, and frames. The car and the kitchen are the two legacy aspects of advanced modernism that carry individual desire and have the potential to be replaced. The building under consideration deploys the logic of the car and the kitchen in its aesthetic clues.

Gean Moreno
Farewell to Function: Tactical Interiors
Originally published in April 2010

Many of the more prominent artworks produced in the last decade or so are characterized by a recasting of what were once called installations as something closer to interiors, relegating the installation to a supportive role that places meaning in the service of activity. From an artwork spread out everywhere we turn to one that is located very precisely in the features that can be said to make up the space—the walls, the furnishings, the floor coverings, the display structures, the shelves. Whether it’s the artwork as lecture hall, museum lobby, bookshop, screening room, library, dining hall, video store, or rec room, one finds a consistent engagement with architecture’s interior spaces and conventional typologies. But this repeated rendezvous has been mostly a dance of half steps—these “interiors” don’t so much use site as setting and material as put a new skin on it. While various artists may have considered what this “slouching toward the interior” may mean for art production, few have considered the potential that may be stored in the interior itself as reflexive structure, malleable form, and analytical tool.

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