EVERYTHING FOR SALE: Art and commodity fetischism

A few weeks ago, some computer problems forced us to visit the Apple Store at Euroma2, a shopping mall just outside of Rome. A terrible place. It was a hot, sunny day in the middle of the Italian holiday season and I assumed most Italian families had gone to the beaches, the mountains, or to visit La Nonna, the grandmother, far out in the lush countryside. Nevertheless, it was almost impossible to find a parking spot down in the exhaust stinking, underground garage, large as several soccer fields merged together. When we came out of the underground we were hit by a compact, deafening murmur. Crowds thronging among the shop windows created a massive substance of sound, an invisible, bloated presence pressing against walls, ceilings and eardrums. A dull headache settled within the skull, worsened by an opaque, artificial light pressing against the eyeballs. An overwhelming mass of goods filled shop windows and cluttered stalls with sweets and fast food littered corridors with multicolored, marble-covered floors, stretching out in different directions from the staircase we had ended up in.

Above us towered a glass vault, behind which the summer sky could be glimpsed. From the center of the dome hung a chandelier with glass shades like spider cocoons. The base of the cupola rested on Doric columns and vulgar, gilded ornaments. In the middle of each corridor, radiating from one of several, immense stair halls, were tall obelisks of some kind of artificial material, imitating speckled marble, onyx, lapis lazuli and emerald. People jostled in the corridors - young couples with strollers, grandparents, children with ice creams and sweets – most of them seemed to be happy and elated. From shops and supermarkets, debouching into the corridors, came a hodgepodge of muzak.

Dizzy and slightly nauseous I wondered what kind of pleasure and satisfaction people could find in such an air-conditioned inferno, particularly during a beautiful summer day. Why were they not seized by desperation while being trapped in such a grotesque environment of tasteless extravagance? Or angered?

Sometime long ago, in San Juan at Puerto Rico´s University (UPR), I talked to a sociology professor. He was writing a survey about a riot in Miami, when poor people had smashed shop windows and looted the stores. What he researched was not the fact that poor people had looted stores out of desperation, but that several of them in a senseless rage had destroyed the goods, pouring down shelf after shelf with cans, meat and vegetables, or smashed TV sets and electrical appliances. Pleasure or insanity?

Are the huge department stores that now thrive throughout the world, many of them in desperately poor countries, one of today's most common social phenomena? A hallmark of our global world, where refugees and migrants are drowning, looted and beaten to death, while they try to escape from war and poverty? We are all whipped onwards by capitalism and consumerism. A source of desperation and anger, or joy and satisfaction? Are big, tacky shopping malls contemporary cathedrals? The answer to our hopes and aspirations? What are people worshipping in Euroma2?

Maybe the happy people who gather around the shared happiness of consumption are fulfilling a basic human instinct - hunting and gathering to satisfy a physical and spiritual hunger? Are shopping malls the final station for thousands of years of human evolution and endeavor? Is that where we finally are going to encounter happiness and satisfaction?

Consumption will never end, our hunger returns, again and again. Think of the song about money in Cabaret:

Money makes the world go around

... the world go around

... the world go around.

 

For many of us money is much more important than either love or religion, it is the solution to all of our problems. As Tevye the Milkman asks God in Fiddler on the Roof:

Dear God, you made many, many poor people. 
I realize, of course, that it's no shame to be poor.

But it's no great honor either!
So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?

 

A friend of mine, who once had been rich, he had been in the art business and among other things sold Jim Dine´s paintings of bathrobes, declared: “They say that money is not everything, but I say they help. I once had quite a lot of them, as well as a house, a wife and a boat, when I lost my money I lost my wife, as well as the boat and the house”. We might say that the best things in life are free, but still, we need the money and we fear not being able to gain them, or of losing those we already have:

When you go to get a word of advice

From the fat little pastor,

He will tell you to love evermore.

But when hunger comes to rap,

rat-a-tat rat-a-tat at the window:

"Knock knock" (at the window)

"Who's there?"

"Hunger"

"Oh, hunger !!"

See how love flies out the door ...

Monetary  joy is a passing pleasure, as most other things, not so long after we have had a good meal, or got hold of something we longed for - the latest electronic gadget, a villa, a vintage wine, a car, a piece of clothing – the urge comes back. To quench our desires, or dream about what we want, we are drawn to the Paradise of Consumption, like insects to the light. A constant search for the perfect product, the complete happiness. As religion - a hope for final bliss, for saturated desires: "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

When I visited cathedrals in France, a mosque by Sinan, or a baroque church by Borromini, I realized that their aims were clear - they were built ad maiorem dei gloriam, for God's greater glory, and at the same time they served as a means for the faithful to come closer to God. The purpose of a shopping mall is to encourage potential customers´ desire to buy, revealed through the shop windows´ sumptuous array of attractive products - the deceptive “classic” framing Euroma2, its columns and glass cupolas, give a fake imprssion.

A lie is concealed behind the glittering facades; a combination of bluff and deceit. A picture book by the design guru Peter York, Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World´s Most Colorful Despots, while offering a survey of dictators´ deplorable taste it conveys a similar unwholesome scent as the tasteless embellishment of Euroma2. Dictators seem to have comparable ambitions to dazzle, seduce and express a dubious message. Peter York describes “dictator taste” as comparable to that of teenage boys, who tend to decorate their rooms with symbols of virility and risk taking; images of guns, fast cars, and blood sports, risqué  rock bands and  science-fiction heroes rescuing willing babes from the clutch of threatening monsters. Likewise, does a dictator´s interior decoration aim at impressing their buddies, but he also needs to amaze the populace, intentions leading to an interesting collision between conflicting needs. It is as if the dictator wants to say: “Look, I´m your leader, but also a great guy. All I do, I do for you and you have to be pleased with the fact that I happen to be the galaxy´s most formidable role model, a stud and a sage, a man to be desired, a true gentleman of taste and refinement. Not a spendthrift, but someone who in a smart and tasteful manner is capable of manipulating symbolic imagery in a way fitting and proper for a person of my colossal stature. And for your own sake - ignore that Kim Jung-Il in North Korea, he gives dictators a bad reputation. Is not it time to ditch that beige jumpsuit and those tawdry spectacles?”

Peter York provides some fundamental suggestions for a fictional interior designer, entrusted with "fixing the style" of a dictator: 1) Blow up the scale of everything you do. 2) Dictators like "antique style", it gives a serious impression. But what is genuine is often stiff and uncomfortable. Consequently, you have to make sure that everything is shiny and brand new, though made in a "classic" style. 3) Choose a hotel as your paragon, as sparkly as possible. For an ambitious lad from a simple background his hometown Grand Hôtel symbolized the good life of shakers and movers. 4) Gold can never be wrong, start by gilding the faucets. 5) Much glass everywhere; sparkling illumination is alpha and omega for an interior designer embellishing a dictator´s abode and it should be reflected in mirrors and shiny surfaces. 6) Think best of brands, they give prestige and a monetary value everyone is aware of. 7) Use as much marble as possible. Obviously, it must be new and polished. Old marble can have a  dirty feel to it. Remember that marble should be veined, with touches of color, not the kind favored by tedious architects. Such intentions might also have been be the recipe for Euroma 2 decorators.

Almost ninety years ago the Marxist mystic Walter Benjamin discerned a decline of taste in the service of capitalism. I have tried to read some of Walter Benjamin's writings, it has not been easy. Susan Sontag has characterized his writing:

His sentences do not seem to be generated in the usual way, they do not entail. Each sentence is written as if it were the first, or the last […] Mental and historical processes are rendered as conceptual tableaux: ideas are transcribed in extremis and the intellectual perspectives are vertiginous. His style of thinking and writing, incorrectly called aphoristic, might better be called freeze-frame baroque. This style was tortures to execute. It was as if each sentence had to say everything, before the inward gaze of total concentration dissolved the subject before his eyes.

I cannot claim that I understand all aspects of Walter Benjamin´s writing. However, while commenting on his translations of Proust and Baudelaire, Benjamin claimed that he had translated them "between the lines", i.e. by using his own language and thinking he had tried to reveal that he believed to be the author's authentic message, hiding behind the language. As when colours are liberated from constraints created by sharp lines. According to Benjamin a painting based more on colour than outlines, is more honest and freer than if restrained by the use of black, incisive contours.   

Walter Benjamin was born 1892 in Berlin, to an affluent Jewish family. He studied philosophy and art. To keep away from World War I the newly wed Benjamin moved to Switzerland and returned to Germany after the peace agreement. Others acted differently. Several German intellectuals, both to the left and right, praised the war as a defense of culture and human dignity against the vulgar materialism of France and England. Others committed suicide, or died in the trenches. Some were ecstatic, in Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote:

To me those hours seemed like a release from the painful feelings of my youth. Even today I am not ashamed to say that, overpowered by stormy enthusiasm, I fell down on my knees and thanked Heaven from an overflowing heart for granting me the good fortune of being permitted to live at this time. A fight for freedom had begun, mightier than the earth had ever seen; for once Destiny had begun its course…

Like all Germans of his generation, Walter Benjamin was shaken by the war and its aftermath of humiliation, internal fighting and economic depression.

Benjamin inadequately supported his family by writing articles and giving lectures, including radio talks. He moved in intellectual circles, traveled a lot and made influential friends, but he had no academic success. The theme of Benjamin´s rejected PhD thesis was the now largely forgotten German Trauerspiele, mourning plays from the Baroque period, which he compared with classical Greek dramas. According to Benjamin, the characters of Greek drama were enclosed by a relentless destiny, which had the ultimate control over their lives. On the contrary, were individuals in the Trauerspiereile thrown into an incomprehensible existence, lacking basic principles, objectives or predetermined solutions, thereby foreshadowing our own time; modern man's confusion and anxiety.

However, both ancient Greeks and baroque Germans were enclosed by a language circumscribed by their time and context and could thus only provide a weak reflection of the “real” existence. Man's misfortune is that his reason cannot be expressed in other ways than through language. Our language has like the entire human society become reified. Our thinking and language have been perverted by commercialism and ceased to be a means to trace and understand the mysteries of existence. Benjamin had studied Marx and like him he stated that it was our current commodity fetishism that characterized all human relations. Everything has become goods and things, even the language. Life is now nothing more than a phantasmagoria, an illusion, a lie that alienates us from existence´s innermost core. Like the sociologist Max Weber Benjamin came to believe that language and thus life itself had become insipid, entzaubert, lost hope, the joy of making discoveries, imagination is gone and so are cheerful surprises – life´s spiritual dimension has been lost, a condition affecting all human expressions, including art.

Benjamin investigated the relationship between line and color. Like language is limiting the mind and our thoughts, lines limit colour, which is more important than contours. Colour is created by light, distance and relationship with other surrounding colors and shades. Benjamin speaks of the aura of a work of art, something which apparently is connected with "presence". Are we, for example, standing in front of a painting by van Gogh we will perceive its light and shades, its structure. We can appreciate the imprint of the artist's brushwork, the material he used and how space and time have affected the painting. Standing in front of a work of art we can appreciate it´s “physicality”, something which is completely lacking from mechanically produced reproductions/copies, like mass-produced postcards, which lack the unique aura of a work of art.

An aura is generated by our personal relationship to something, almost as if we were confronted with a sacred object. To capture our attention a work of art must convey a feeling, or as Benjamin puts it "reciprocate our gaze". A reasoning that leads him towards a critique of modernism. According to Benjamin, technological advances has trivialized, altered, and distorted art. The value of works of art is no longer determined by the craftsmanship behind them, their aura is nowadays created by financial worth. Commercialism and capitalism are alienating us from reality. They shield and circumscribe us, like lines surround and define colours. Everything has become a chimera, a lie.

We humans are separated from our own, true existence. If we live in a city everything surrounding us is artificially created, completely without our personal involvement. Not even trees and plants have been allowed to grow freely, without being fenced in and pruned by commercial interests. Existence has lost its aura and become a ruin of what it once was.

Tangible proofs of the reification created by commercialism are the large cities´ immense, commercial palaces. Shrines to Mammon, where we are invited to desire and worship things that only money can buy. A false openness, a fake freedom. Supermarkets are covered with glass, barring the presence of the sky, but at the same time it protects us from the elements, so we may concentrate on the dazzling variety of goods set out before our eyes. Glass, over and around us, convey a message of light and openness, at the same times as it excludes and protects. Glass allows us to peer into the treasure troves of uninhibited commercialism. We are constantly enticed, but we know we can only get what we want if we pay for it. All this transparency is a brazen lie, the only key to it all is money, lots of money. In our modern society, everything can be bought for money - respect, love and power. Everything has a monetary value, comes with a price, even art.

Within a society celebrating commerce and capitalism, which provide a much larger share of public interest than culture. Potentates and popularly elected representatives pay for shopping malls and facilitate our ability to reach them. All means of communication - social media, buses, trains and cars, are linked to commercialism. To get the System's blessing and approval art and culture has to be utilitarian and assessed in accordance with their market value.

Thinking about Euroma2 and its ugly chandeliers, gilded ornaments, columns, obelisks and glistening storefronts I feel that falsehood shines through it all, there is no aura, no authenticity. Obelisks, columns and glass domes are all out of place, made of fake materials, too gaudy, too fake and far too tasteless.

Poor, alienated and threatened by Nazism, often travelling back and forth and finally on the run, Benjamin went to Paris to find inspiration and material for his crowning life achievement, which he called the Arcade project, Passagen-Werk or Passagenarbeit. He struggles with it for thirteen years, until his death, and it is remains unfinished. What he left behind after his suicide in September 1940 at the Spanish border fleeing from the European madness, is a chaotic ruin of notes, newspaper clippings, records, sketches, tables of contents, aphorisms and fragmentary essays, which he left to his friend Georges Bataille at the National Library in Paris.

The vast material was screened and edited by Benjamin's friends Theodor Adorno and Gershom Scholem, and has since been hailed and revered by a growing crowd Benjamin fans, even if it in its fragmentary condition mainly consists of rather short paragraphs collected under various headings, constitutes a messy, excessive and sometimes rather boring reading. The vast amount of text  discusses and investigates Parisian life in mid- and late 1800s; architecture, clothing, literature, urban planning, prostitution, stock market, interior design, fashion, markets, theater and much, much more. Some of it is interesting, some parts are amusing, but too much is written in a tangled style that Benjamin sometimes applied to his texts.  To his friend Gershom Scholem he defined his long-winding preface to the failed dissertation as an “Epistemo-Critical Prologue” that could only be understood by those who had delved into the Kabbalah.

That the Arcade project ended up in its current state was probably partly the merit/fault of some of Benjamin's closest friends. Gershom Scholem, who was the world's foremost expert on and interpreter of the Kabbalah, regarded Benjamin as a deeply religious man who did not realize his inner depths, but gave the impression of being a "scribe cast out into another world, who has set off in search of his 'scripture'."

Theodor Adorno, one of the most influential philosophers of the Frankfurt School, did just like Walter Benjamin consider that “civilized man's” opinion of himself was fake, that few individuals were capable of living in accordance with reality. Adorno hoped that Benjamin would be the philosopher who finally would succeed in offering the world a definite aesthetic/ethical explanation of human existence and he convinced Benjamin to repeatedly rewrite and reorganize his work. As his editor, Adorno gave Benjamin confusing criticism and advice, like:

Let me express myself in as simple and Hegelian a manner as possible. Unless I am very much mistaken, your dialectic is lacking in one thing: mediation. You show a prevailing tendency to relate to the pragmatic contents of Baudelaire´s work directly and immediately to adjacent features in the social history and whenever possible, the economic features, of the times.

Then there was Bertolt Brecht, who Adorno characterized as a vulgar materialist, a poorly disguised petty-bourgeois and worse still – an apologist of Stalinism. Nevertheless, Benjamin admired Brecht's "elementary" views and took note of his recommendations to apply a "cinematic montage technique" to his texts, i.e. a junction of supplementary fragments. Brecht also tried to convince Benjamin that he as soon as possible ought to join the Communist Party.

The attraction which communism had for Benjamin was by Gershom Scholem explained that a mystic like Benjamin believed himself to have only two choices - either immerse himself in his inner life while searching for the truth in books, or to "accelerate the end" by neglecting his studies and turn himself into a man of action by "choosing sides", throwing himself into the deadly embrace of narrow-minded fervor. Benjamin had hoped for an apocalypse, a revolution that would lead to a purification of our crumbling social systems, but after a visit to the Soviet Union, he understood that such a transformation could not be expected from Stalinism, which would realize a reified, totalitarian state, where a corrupt Government cooperated with organized crime. Walter Benjamin's posthumous thesis on the Philosophy of History, reveals that he finally had realized that the Apocalypse was approaching, but it would not bring with it any Messiah, only satanic violence.

Part of the ever growing interest in Benjamin is probably due to his tragic death. High up in the Pyrenees, he and his entourage were prevented from entering Spain during their flight from Jew-hunting Nazis. However, they lacked the necessary French departure stamps in their passports and in his despair Benjamin committed suicide. The day after, his travel companions were allowed to cross Spanish border. With Benjamin's death, the manuscript he was carrying with him in his briefcase vanished. He had told his companions that it was his most important piece of writing. Two years after his suicide, Walter Benjamin´s brother Georg killed himself by running into the electric fence of the concentration camp Mathausen. Georg´s wife, Hilde eventually became Minister of Justice in East Germany. In the 1950s, she presided over a series of political show trials and her severe verdicts made her known as Blutige Hilde, Bloody Hilde.

Philosophers like Marx, Weber, Benjamin and Adorno perceived the world as some kind of blueprint, a pattern that could be described and explained, and to a certain extent they were right. The Nazis transformed German community into a giant theater with scenery and rites concealing a world view which turned people into things. Constructions like the unblemished der Führer and the righteous Nazi party, while Jews, homosexuals and gypsies were lumped together and branded as soulless scum to be disposed of as soon as possible. The same thing happened at the other end of the political spectrum, Communist propaganda depicting a flawless Stalin and an upright  Communist Party of the Soviet Union, while  kulaks and saboteurs had to be cleared away.

Undoubtedly, Euroma2 may be considered as a temple of commodity fetishism, a perfect symbol of a life circumscribed by a suffocating capitalist system, deprived of enchantment and mystery. Nevertheless, nature and art are still with us still and we are free to appreciate and enjoy them.

I recently read a book by Sarah Thornton Seven Days in the Art World, which in its seven chapters described one of Christie's "quality auctions" of contemporary art in New York; a nocturnal seminar at a prestigious course at the California Institute of the Arts; the world's most important elite art market in Basel; the hullabaloo surrounding Tate's Turner Price in London; the editorial office of Artforum International in New York, the glossy magazine which sets trends and is funded by major art gallery ads; Taskashi Murakami´s studios in Japan, where large teams of artists and craftsmen produce the artist´s work and also mass produce copies of selected items; and the Venice Biennale, the world's most prestigious art exhibition. Within these different contexts, Thornton frequently met the same art collectors, gallery owners, artists and trendsetters. An exclusive group of wealthy people, moving like fish in water, within a world where art is big business. In many respects, a Vanity Fair where more or less secret sales and buying tricks flourish within a limited, immensely wealthy circuit where millionaires encourage each other to participate in all kinds of prestige inflamed funny games and occasionally petty criminal behavior constantly swirling around over-prized artworks.

In reality, artworks could not, despite their sometimes intriguing or aesthetic merits, be valued in money. Now, art equals money, especially artwork that have been blessed by trend setters, sellers and buyers and thus equipped with price tags, often intended to increase profits for both buyers and sellers. Photographs and videos are made and sold in limited editions to ensure exclusivity and high prices. A market which is not at all free and independent, where supply and demand are constantly manipulated. A runaway world marked by illusions and trickery; fake art, false advertising, deceitful expertise, all soaked and garnished with pretentious flubdub.

Art has turned into a golden calf, an offspring of Baal and Moloch. A reflection of our capitalist domineered everyday life, where one percent of the world's adult population own 40 percent of the world's assets. Where the world's three richest people have financial assets equaling the GDP of the world's 48 poorest nations. Only in such a world is it conceivable to pay 100 million USD for a Warhol, a Bacon or a Richter. or 300 000 USD for a bottle of wine. Though wine is of course not art.

Accordingly, I cannot avoid a twinge of schadenfreude when the art market from time to time is collapsing. When a dork who one year has paid 100 million US dollars for some carcasses in formaldehyde, or paintings with dots of different colors, the following year finds that his coveted artworks have lost 90 percent of their original market value. Several artists have taken note of art as a commodity. Several pop artists turned their artwork into depictions of commodity fetishes - tin cans, advertising posters, hamburgers, some of which now have come to be worth millions of dollars.

Sarah Thornton seems to be genuinely fascinated by the art world and she admires many of the actors in her book. In a postscript she emphasizes that her book dealt with a time when the art market was characterized by a mind-boggling rise in market price. However, despite this observation it appears as if the phantasmagoria of the exaggerated value of contemporary art seems to linger. For example, in 2013 Southeby's in New York auctioned off Andy Warhol´s Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) for 105 million USD. That it is not the craftsmanship behind a work of art that is valued is proved by the price tag on works by Cy Twombly, his painting Untitled, made with wax crayons on black canvas, was in September 2014 auctioned off for 69.6 million USD.

However, it is not only during auctions that artworks sell at exorbitant prices. The most expensive artworks so far, have been sold privately. For example, in 2006 the film and record producer David Giffen sold Willem de Kooning´s painting Woman III to the billionaire Steven Cohen for 137 million USD, the same year Giffin sold Jackson Pollock´s Painting No. 5 to a Mexican millionaire for $ 140 million.

Contemporary art is also sold at record prices by reputable gallery owners, like one of the art world's really great magicians, Asher Edelman. I do not know if he still has the same influence he was once had, when he in the 1980´s was the great guru of Wall Street and, according to rumors he constituted the model for the ruthless Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's movie Wall Street from 1987, in which Gekko utters the classic words: “Greed is good. It captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”

Edelman engaged in investment banking, money management and derivatives trading. It was due to Edelman that you at malls and airports across the world could find The Art of War written sometime around 500 BC by the Chinese general Sun Tzu. In Stone's movie Gekko states; "Public´s out there throwing darts as a board. I don´t throw darts at a board, I bet on sure things. Read Sun Tsu´s The Art of War, every battle is won before it is ever fought.” Edelman introduced The Art of War as a textbook when he in the late 1980s taught business administration at Columbia University. For Edelman, entrepreneurship was like war, battles were won or lost.

Soon enough Edelman had ended up in capitalism's Wonderland, a realm that was at least as absurd and fascinating as the place Alice ended up in - namely the art world. Asher Edelman moved to Switzerland and just outside of Lausanne he founded a museum of contemporary art, where the giants of the art world were invited to stage major retrospective exhibitions of artists whose works were valued in millions of dollars - Basquiat, Lichtenstein, Mapplethorpe, etc.

Edelman introduced a clever art sales ploy when he founded a finance company that loaned money to customers so they could buy contemporary art at a value guaranteed by the same firm. If customers within a certain period could not sell the artwork at a higher price than they paid for it, the lending firm could buy it back at the original price. Edelman stresses that art is good for business. Apart from increasing in value, art provides prestige and sophistication to a company´s image:

In the 1980´s, art conveyed power and influence. Today it´s a marketing tool used to convey a company´s mission and identity. Today art plays an integral role in a business´s image; impactful art implies prestige, refinement and wellbeing.

By sitting on their boards Edelman gave luster to several prestigious institutions such as the Brooklyn Academy of MusicAmerican Ballet TheatreBard College, and I do not know what else. Money brings glamor and respect to culture. Something several artists were quick to discover. One of many such examples was a ground-breaking exhibition of the Swiss artist Sylvie Fleury, who in Berlin in 1999 exhibited a number of gilded shopping carts, spaciously placed on circular pedestals, and in a glass case a Formula 1 dress designed by Sylvie Fleury for racing driver Mika Häkkinen and made by Hugo Boss. 

The exhibition catalogue stated:

Art and fashion have always gone hand in hand. Sometimes radical and shocking, sometimes traditional and conservative, both are judged according to subjective of taste. Each represents in its own way the moods and spirit of the times. They stimulate the senses and create objects of desire as fetishes of an affluent society and legacies of culture.

The statement was signed by “Hugo Boss” but the text was of course not written by Hugo Boss, who died in 1948, but by someone employed by the great fashion empire he had founded and at his death handed over to a son-in -law with the curious name of Eugen Holy.

Hugo Boss had become a millionaire when his fashion company received the exclusive rights for the production of the brown shirts worn by Nazi thugs while they were beating Jews and socialists to death. The company had been at the brink of bankruptcy when Boss in 1931 became member of the National Socialist Workers' Party and thereby sole supplier of party uniforms, most of which subsequently were made by unpaid Polish and French forced labourers.  Hugo Boss´s income and prestige grew even further when Hitler and his cronies came to power, providing Boss with the exclusive right to produce SS Oberführer Karl Diebitsch´s aesthetically pleasing, pitch black SS uniform.

Perhaps it was not surprising that I became frightened by Euroma2's temple to commodity fetishism. I have throughout my conscious life loved and been fascinated by art. Not least contemporary art and I have not had any difficulties in finding qualities in super commercialized artists like Any Warhol, Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, though I am often amazed how swindlers have been praised by corrupt members of the art establishment. However, occasional appreciation of ridiculously over-priced artists has not hindered me from being appalled by a world where money is synonymous with power, honour and prestige. Where the dance around the Golden Calf is spinning in the brain of all of us making us forget compassion and marvel over the great mystery and adventure that life entails. An being amazed by the fact that people during a wonderful summer day can find joy in wandering around in Euroma2´s nauseating, artificial and air-conditioned inferno.

Benjamin, Walter (1999) The Arcades Project. Cambridge Mass.:  Harvard University Press. Benjamin, Walter (2009) The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media. New York: Classic Books America. Caygill, Howard, Coles, Alex och Klimowski, Andrzej (2001) Walter Benjamin para principiantes. Buenos Aires: Era Naciente SRL. Hitler, Adolf (1992) Mein Kampf . London: Pimlico. Kander, John och Mesteroff, Joe (1999) Cabaret: the illustrated Book and Lyrics. New York: Newmarket Press. Lilla, Mark (2001) The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics. New York: New York Review Books. Sontag, Susan (2002) Under the Sign of Saturn. New York: Picador. Stallabras, Julian (2004) Contemporary Art: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Thornton, Sarah (2009) Seven Days in the Art World. London: Granta Books. Witte, Bernd (1997). Walter Benjamin: An Intellectual Biography. Detroit; Wayne State University Press. York, Peter (2005) DictatorsHomesLifestyles of the World's Most Colourful Despots. London: Atlantic Books.

 

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Occasionally, I worry about my bad physical condition and increasing obesity. Do I keep on passing an age limit without really noticing it? Soon it will be difficult for me to bend down, it will be cumbersome to get up from an armchair, days will disappear without leaving much of a trace. I will...
Emellanåt oroar jag mig för dålig kondition och tilltagande fetma. Håller jag på att passera en åldersgräns, utan att märka det? Snart får jag svårt för att böja mig ner, det kommer att kosta på att stiga upp ur fåtöljen, dagarna svinner bort. Jag blir andfådd i trappor, huden skrynklas, håret...
My parents told me that I did not speak until I was more than three years old. This sounds somewhat strange to me, though considering that their children's development is close to heart of most parents, they were probably right. After opening my mouth for the first time to express comprehensible...
Mina föräldrar har berättat att jag inte talade förrän jag var mer än tre år. För mig låter det underligt, men med tanke på att deras barns utveckling står i centrum för de flesta goda föräldrar, så hade de säkert rätt. Märkligt är det dock, eftersom jag efter att ha öppnat munnen för att formulera...
My first regular summer job was at the peatbog in Hästveda. The bog is situated a few miles north of my hometown Hässleholm and early in the morning I went there alone on my second-hand moped. Most of my comrades had bought mopeds of the Austrian brand Puch. The toughest among them had trimmed...
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