22 June 2014

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Matthias Christ:
Where Vision Gets Built

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Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart, 2013

open-output.org/matthiaschrist

 

The narrative page sequence, the structure of the chapters and the index of the book “Where Vision Gets Built” decontextualize and simultaneously reinterpret 240 questions, aphorisms and advice – all advertising slogans from the world of finance. “Where Vision Gets Built” was, tragicomically, the advertising slogan of Lehman Brothers. The book is thus both an ambivalent collection of wisdom and a rhetorical inventory of the financial crisis.



 

“The book deprives the slogans of the financial industry of the associated images and therefore makes the poetic power of the naked texts really visible. This creates a new space where viewers can add their own images. The harsh reality of the debt crisis, youth unemployment and austerity strikes against the dream world of consumer credit. This collision is more than a one-sided blame game, but cleverly suggests the haunting search for a new, more sustainable vision.” Florian Pfeffer

 

1. From today’s perspective, your work has something bitter about it, as well as being very ironic and even funny. What response are you hoping for from the reader?

 

I was fascinated by what happens when you begin to separate the advertising slogans found in the financial world from their original context, especially those of banks that have long disappeared in the wake of the financial crisis (such as the US bank Lehman Brothers, whose slogan “Where vision gets built” has been used as the title of the project). Divorced from their original context, they suddenly take on new meanings. Alongside the study of the language used, the topic itself is also a very interesting one: financial systems seem almost so ubiquitous in our lives as to be indispensible. The collation and juxtaposition of over 240 slogans, questions and aphorisms in the book allows the reader to interpret them in different ways. “Where Vision Gets Built” is both an ambivalent collection of sayings and a rhetorical overview of the financial crisis. That said, I do think that a saying like “Slow down, take it easy” is helpful in many walks of life.

 

2. You reveal the origin of the statements only at the end, in the index. What was your intention in using this structure?

 

The slogans only took on a very different dimension in the wake of the subsequent financial crisis, and the book seeks to replicate this experience. I wanted to look at the sayings themselves, which only obtain new meaning once they are taken out of their context and allowed to interact with one another. I use this interplay to create new stories. Of course, surprise and expectation also play their part, as the reader only discovers the original source of the messages at the end of the book.

 

3. When you compare these slogans with those of today, do you notice any change in the publicity material issued by banks and financial institutions?

 

The choice is very subjective – my project is not a scientific study. I looked at over 1,000 collected slogans and chose those that I found the most gripping and meaningful.

But what is certain is that the publicity material issued by financial institutions in recent years has tended to centre around themes such as “trust” and “security” instead of “risk”. The book itself contains a chapter entitled “Changing is easier than you think”, where I’ve paired a slogan from before the financial crisis with one that was issued after 2008. A sample: The future is yours – Times are tough / Forward first – Honesty first / Easy money! – Hard facts

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