Société Réaliste »Transitioners – London View«





Michael Hauffen



Uqbar Berlin
28.11.2009 - 23.1.2010


Berlin. In contrast to earlier projects, which examined topics such as the logic of risk capital in the art market, the duo known as Société Réaliste has moved on to focus on more general ideological constructs. Appearing in the highly contemporary guise of an advertising agency, they take on the task of provoking revolutionary feelings by drawing, with a certain degree of irony, on the repertoire of tools used in trend research. The maps presented are not simply attractively colourful, but constitute two alternative depictions of careful historical research Whilst one map depicts the course of all borders from 0 to 2000 A.D, with a colour scale ranging from blue to red to indicate when each border was drawn, the other map colours regions as a function of their distance from borders, which can be read as an indicator of their relative propensity to suffer from conflicts. Similarly, on the first map coloured circles, representing 100 selected cities, mark their historical proximity to border conflicts. The problem zones throughout the course of history portrayed through these nuanced diagrams symbolise, in terms of the overall impression created, a tortuous multitude of conflicts, which makes a nonsense of the notion, currently experiencing a resurgence, of nation states with solid foundations. The non plus ultra is Société Réaliste’s decorative striped graphic work, in which these cities are represented in a list, each shown as a coloured column. The lack of significance that arises from the contingency of heterogeneous chains of events is transformed here into trendy bright colours, approximating fairly closely to the ideals of contemporary graphic designers.
Another work, executed as a mural, experiments with methods of advertising copywriters, applying these to Karl Marx’s »Communist Manifesto«. The task here was to look for formulations which would be more timely and more effective in today’s context for this standard work of ideology critique. To do this, the text was first of all dissected into its individual components and the corresponding antonym was added alongside each term or turn of speech. The ensuing sentence construct was painted inside the outlines of a map of Europe, with the original text marked in red and the alternative text in blue. Viewers could generate a new text from this template by choosing in each instance between the red and blue elements, producing a final version that promised to be highly individual or extremely fine-tuned to a particular situation. After all, doesn’t everyone need their own manifesto nowadays? The question of universally valid statements and collectively binding wording, not to mention dogmas, is thus once again rejected in the spirit of post-modern discourses. However, Société Réaliste’s humour goes one step further – encompassing the structural and media-industry terms of reference that make this kind of individual profile possible by defining certain parameters, operations and options.
The exhibition’s title provides a further allusion to this. »London View« refers to the city’s historic role as the place where the »Communist Manifesto« was written; this should also be considered in the light of the fact that London was virtually the only capital in Europe at the time which was not in the throes of revolutionary turmoil or its painful aftermath. On the one hand, this meant it was perhaps not the worst place to find a common denominator in the prevalent forces and contradictions of the era, yet on the other hand it was a location separated, by virtue of its position at one remove from events, from its own prerequisite, the revolutionary subject. Yet this paradoxical logic of abstraction is part of the challenge if one is looking for concepts and points of departure for a world that moves beyond the bounds of avant-garde design laboratories and creative advertising agencies.




Translation: Helen Ferguson