TÖTET CHRISTOPHER RAMM
"You’ve seen that it’s not easy to figure out the inscription with your eyes, but our man deciphers it with his wounds." –Franz Kafka–
In my 50-hour performance “Tötet Christopher Ramm”, I investigated the relationship between visibility and value creation in social encounters, for ten days. Inspired by Franz Kafka's short story “In der Strafkolonie,” we altered a plotter robot and built a machine that enabled us to visualize the invisible structures of value, being created in social interactions.
In a dark room, I was bedded on a table and fixated under the robot. It was equipped with a servomotor, which moved a tiny scalpel up and down. Led by code, the scalpel was moved to one hundred coordinates on my belly, which in the end formed a € sign.
Every time the audience entered the room, they could decide if they wanted to see the performance. If they did, they could press a glowing red button, which was located in the center of the room.
By pushing the buzzer, the light was switched on and the robot was activated.
Every cut in my skin was about 1.5 mm deep and 1 mm long and stands for each period of 2 minutes in which the visitor was able to see and consume the performance. By illuminating the room, the spotlight was put on the very fabric of social interaction and artistic exchange, which have both become infected by the ghosts of pancapitalism. When capital was finally freed of its earthly bonds in 1971 and became pure light, it became a global virus. Everything that reflects the shiny, glittery gloss of capital gets infected by the pandemic. The only possibility for us to get a deeper understanding of the power structures of value is to shatter the glossy surface. We have to break and destroy the plain facades and take a close look at the open wounds that capitalism tears into our bodies. Wounds we tend to forget, because we have become numb, lost in abstractions and numbers, statistics and code. Power has always been hiding and slipping into shady realms. Kafka writes that "[…] man simply begins to decipher the inscription. He purses his lips, as if he is listening. You’ve seen that it’s not easy to figure out the inscription with your eyes, but our man deciphers it with his wounds."
Unlike Kafka's machine, the machine we had built did not kill the convict. But it unveiled our life-sentence on earth. We are born to live in sociality, to share our lives with others, to exchange thoughts and ideas, to love, discuss, and argue. We are born to be political. We are able to be political, to stand up for our rights and change the structures that we force upon each other. Therefore we have to understand the power structures we create in every moment – by simply doing, what we do. Power is a collective force, no single individual is powerful, which doesn't mean that the indivdual is powerless. We can decide if we really want to monetize every aspect of life or if we want to re-appropriate the social. There actually is no need for money. It's only lube.
Actual value is only created by us, the people. It describes what we admire and love in each other. It represents meaning, imagination and hope. It's on us to end Capitalism, although it seems to be all over the place. There is an alternative!
Concept & Performance: Christopher Ramm
Robotics: Sebastian Arndt
Stage: Nik Brandl
Video: Simon Salem Müller
Photo: Avi Bolotinsky
Funded by the Hamburgische Kulturstiftung and Quartel 1205. Thanks to Kreativgesellschaft Hamburg for renting out the Pop Up Store Hamburg.