The Resistance of Rhizome: Behavioural Surplus, Surplus Value

Ahmed Isam Aldin

Friday, Saturday 1,2 May 2020


She on the first floor plays Mozart’s Symphony No.1. The performance resumes every evening at about 7 pm. It improves fast. Impressively so. I had assumed she wanted to kill her boredom, and perhaps ours, except she doesn’t really care. She is learning something novel, and it shows in her tedious recital. On the opposite window, a young man has exhausted his fluids for the daily rush of dopamine (silent scene). Anxiety and anticipation hang right above. Someone has smoked an entire Pueblo. He awaits the evanescent state of annihilation. My window overlooks all these private spaces, allowing for an undisturbed gaze. Folks navigating crises by remaining engrossed in their very own predilections and amusements. Unproductive folks. And some yearn to return to a world they believe to have previously understood well.

“In his paper “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren”, John Maynard Keynes wrote to console populations about the repercussions of the 1930s economic crisis asserting that his queen Elizabeth “invested in the Levant Company --which prospered. Out of the profits of the Levant Company, the East India Company was founded; and the profits of this great enterprise were the foundation of England’s subsequent foreign investment.” These are the companies that subjugated cities and bodies around the globe to serve what Keynes described as “our grandchildren’s economy”.

The workshop takes as its point of departure colonised cities and bodies, as well as systems of domination that emerged guised with the discourses of public health and post-epidemic. We will be looking at cities like Khartoum and Lagos. How were these cities planned, and which pandemics were leveraged to justify their design? How were the discourses of public health and hygiene used to subjugate the bodies of workers?

We will examine several documents and maps here and there, as sites for a collective conversation on productive bodies and productive cities, from the Keynesian and Fordist economy to that of hal Varian and Mark Zuckerberg. What will they do to our bodies? And what will resistance look like?

I will be sharing research questions and reflections I have developed during my residency at Darat al Funun and from my home here in Berlin, as part of the IOTAWIP exhibition project. As well as some of the “unproductive” that I love…”

The workshop is facilitated by Ahmad Isam Aldin, as part of his residency project The Resistance of Rhizome: Behavioural Surplus, Surplus Value.