Kunsthalle Zurich, Human Valley, Winter: The Money Plot

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  • Kunsthalle Zurich

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at Human Valley, Kunsthalle Zurich
Opening: 11 november 2011, 6–9 pm

Superimposing information and fiction, the Human Valley winter presentation «The Money Plot» takes a look at how society deals with the universal means of money exchange.
Introduced as the thematic focus of Issue O of the magazine PROVENCE and with the exhibition «Les Journalistes» (1986/1987, Musée d’Orsay, Paris), which was curated by Chantal Georgel, in mind, «The Money Plot» continues the observations on journalistic formats and society novels of the late 19th century and compares Honoré de Balzac’s novel Illusions perdues (1836–1843) with Guy de Maupassant’s Bel Ami, both of which tell the socio-economic tale of parvenus in French society.

“From the 19th century, at the latest, financial transactions and markets have been considered as exemplary social scenes”, as literary scholar Joseph Vogl wrote in the FAZ not long ago. “It appears that literature, in particular, wanted to repeatedly decode the dynamics, types and machinetions, the sweeping gestures and petty secrets, the norm positioning and pathologies that dictate our fate.” Vogl refers to the parallelizing of the progressing narrative with the continually replenished payments of the anonymous German protonovel Fortunatus (1509) and the speculation novel of the crisis-shaken 19th century – Émile Zola’s L’Argent (1891) and Balzac’s banker’s novels. In the early 20th century, sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss introduced exchange into social theory as the primary moment of the establishment of social contact and as the origin of sociallization. This concept, which is developed in various works by Mauss, including his essay “Essai sur le don” (1923/1924), was received with astonishment as it does not formulate the social and the economic principle as opposites but as completely connected. According to Mauss, a gift is price-less in principle but may be reciprocal. It is located between the pure and one-sided gift, which does not allow for reciprocation, and the economic transaction, which concludes with payment for the goods obtained. Social conventions become visible through the use of money in everyday life, which, like tipping, hover between the two categories and are subject to the unwritten laws of social guidelines.

Following the Driftwoods announced with Issue V, in November 2011, PROVENCE will publish a special edition THE PROVENCE CITY GUIDE: NICE, a travel guide to the city of Nice which is shown in conjunction with the presentation «The Money Plot»: “You don’t come to France’s fifth-largest city for a quiet time or a seaside holiday. You come for business – not pleasure.”

HUMAN VALLEY is a one-year project by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Tristan Bera for Kunsthalle Zürich at the Museum Bärengasse. A space for lingering on the ground floor emerged, containing a library, vitrines and a space for screenings, continually open to new encounters. After «Balzac Nouvelle Vague» by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Tristan Bera and «l’amour en e majeur» by Jean-Michel Wicker, Heike-Karin Föll and Gregorio Magnani, Egija Inzule, Tobias Kaspar and Hannes Loichinger present the next chapter «The Money Plot».

Paris, this great innocent! see how immense it is and how sweetly it sleeps. how stupid, these big cities! it hardly is aware of the army of pickpockets that will attack it one of these fine mornings.