2014-03-18

The Accumulation is Primitive




Our maps don't tell the whole truth. Under the guise of objectivity and rigour of conventional representational methods, the mechanisms of domination which shape our world tend to remain hidden. One of these mechanisms, particularly linked with colonialism, is that of the "primitive accumulation" (Karl Marx, Critique of Political Economy, 1867). In fact this is a key notion to understand how, after the so-called decolonization, this "accumulated" capital obtained by hegemonic nations through the subjugation of their colonies, reproduce in turn this exploitation through new globalized mechanisms which transcend the logic of the nation-states.

It seems therefore important, in order to understand our contemporary world, to know this notion of "primitive accumulation" and give visibility to its concrete materialization. Thus, taking the opportunity of this festival organized by a country particularly involved in this phenomenon, we propose to create a raised-relief map representing this "primitive accumulation", using for that real GDP (Domestiv Gross Product) per capita data of the different countries. In this way, a material translation of this idea would be obtained, as well as its geographical distribution and its relative differences throughout the world.

But it would not just be a statistic or cartographic information. In fact, the columns representing the wealth of the various nations would be made of candles, so that, as in many traditions, the work would be a sort of homage to the victims of the colonial -and postcolonial- exploitation.

Images of installation [aw], Infecting the City 2014, Cape Town, South Africa, with the collaboration of Justin Brett. Photos: JB; Africa Centre / ITC2014 / Sydelle Willow Smith.