Welcome to MANHATTAN MARXISM - a project by Rainer Ganahl



MANHATTAN MARXISM - a two part project

part one : MIddelbrug De Vleeshal , July - August 2014

click to see show...


part two COMME es MARXISTS White Columns, 2013 ,  to come in Amsterdam, De Apple, 2016



click to see show...



Manhattan Marxism   -   About the title

The title for Manhattan Marxism was the result of a work KARL MARX VISITS DAVID ZWIRNER ON WEST 20TH STREET, BLINKY PALERMO, LATE WORKS, MANHATTAN MARXISM, 1976/2013 inspired by a painting of Palermo he simply called MANHATTAN.

Needless to say there is a contradiction at hand since Manhattan is the place of Wallstreet, the biggest machine of Capitalism throughout the 20th century and still one of the biggest and most important in the world. But this little island is not only home to many high wealth individuals including some of the richest people in the world but also to many poor people and a neighbood still belonging statistically to the most underpriveledged areas in the United States.

Hence, word Manhattan in conjunjtion with Marxism could easily be understood as radical chic, some kind of provocatoni if not outright cynicism, but I do not intend it as such. Not only do I myself still live in Manhattan* - in the barrio of Spansih Harlem - but also do many theoreticians who read and study Marx's texts which is still taught at Manhattan universities.

I am interested in Karl Marx as a theoretician and a metaphor for his theoretical analysis about how people interact materially and socially thus creating an economic systems that gives work, value, profits, losses, crisis, debts and differences. Marx sees in work a the major force for people to deal with the world, to satisfy their needs and to create and shape their mostly instrumental thinking. Work for Marx is a basic category that takes on new shapes in whatever developmental phase the individual and society find themselves. It is cruxial for sustaining life and undestanding of the world and each other.

I would go as far as to say that in a society where basic needs like food, clothing, heatlh  and security are nearly all (already / still) guaranteed by the state without much effort, even consumption, distraction, shopping and wasting is some kind of work creating an overall productive effect the way many internet companies are valued billions of dollars simlply because of their massive memberschip numberss. Marx was also an amazing analyst of the products human and machine work produces. Already in the first part of the 19th century he speaks about the fetish character of products and goods something that is a dominating, driving force for shopping and accumulating stuff and services today. His materialism explains the world from the buttom up. Unlike idealists who start wiht big master gods, big terms and concepts and put the idea of something ahead of that something, Marx' materialisms starts with the act of survival which then makes humans working for everysthings to become who they are and what they are today.

Marx stands in large part of the left leaning population - to which I count myself  - for social justice and hope. On the right leaning spectrum,he is blamed for the desasters and brutal repressions 20th century forms of communisim produced with all its terror and inefficiant economical systems. Even if i am fascianated by Marx's materialist philosophy and his very influential understanding of economical and social processes of his time including his fight against idealism and any kind of god-business, I am not a Marxist the way it was understood in the 20th century where such a sentence and declaration could cost or save you your head literally or metaphorically you job and material if not also social well being depending on the time, place and people you found yourself in. Saying all this, I have to point out to all the misery, wars and murders that was committed partially under his banner, his ideology, his name - no matter how innocent the mostly London based writer was or wasn't.

Having said all this , I take quite some liberty when deciding what works to include under this Manhattan Marxism umbrella. In Middleburg, the first installment of this body of works there will be only some accessories but not realy wearables included. That fashion part is mostly reserved for part two of Manhattan Marxism.

more text and images to come soon -- text in prorgress


*disclaimer: i do not claim to be poor or rich since these definitions and facts are relative and DO NOT necessarily make a text, an argument or an artwork any better or worse.




click to see the DE VLEESHALL show...




part two




COMME des MARXISTS is the overall title of all KARL MARX related works that include wearables and textiles. So far there have been two installments, one at the MUSEUM LICHTENSTEIN in Vaduz in 2012 and one at WHITE COLUMNS /performa 2014 in New York city.   - thanks to Matthew Higgs.

A further installment is planned for 2016 at De Apple, Amsterdam and will also be published as the second part of MANHATTAN MARXISM.



Overall curator of this project is Lorenzo Benedetti. at his last show at De Vleeshal,Middelburgs 2014