Keynote – Swiss Psychotropic Gold – A Critical Fabulation

For more than three centuries, Swiss commodity trade has been caught up in colonial, and later in postcolonial and neoliberal entanglements. Having fuelled early modern industrialisation as well as contemporary finance, Swiss trading activities have influenced vivid cultural, affective and moral economies. They have contributed to Swiss wealth, but also to national narratives of independence, safety and white and aesthetic supremacy. The Swiss mythology of neutrality transforms the often violent and “dirty” material complexities of mining and trading into an opaque and orderly form of technocracy, discretion and smartness.

Swiss Psychotropic Gold re-narrates global gold trade— from mining in former colonies to its refining and re-diverting in and out of Switzerland—as a series of transformative im/mediations of primary materials, values and affects. Gold as a material-discursive metabolism involves bodies, technology, aesthetics, psychotropic substances, hormones and financial derivatives-which all fuel the affective assemblage that surroundand permeate gold. From drugged miners and psychotropic traders to the matrilinear handing-over of crafted gold, to the hidden and secured Gold refineries in the Swiss landscape: Gold becomes an affective state, an investment, a meditative stabiliser and tranquiliser, a security, an harmonizing energiser, an acupuncture needle. Swiss Psychotropic Gold activates the cultural archives both affectively and ethically. It challenges the uncanny linkages of Calvinistic eagerness, philanthropic love and the white innocence of the “small” country Switzerland. It alludes to the hopeful acknowledgement of violence and suffering and a politics of reparation in the present. The emanating sociality of Gold we look for is a sociality of mutual indebtedness, dispersion in space and time, and of a different aesthetics.

KNOWBOTIQ has realised different interventions, performances and installations in the context of the post-colonial, psychotropic and epistemic violence of the gold and will present them in an artistic lecture. knowbotiq (YvonneWilhelm, Christian Huebler) has been experimenting with forms and medialities of knowledge, political representations and epistemic disobedience. knowbotiq has participated in the 48th Venice Biennale,Seoul Biennale, Hongkong Shenzen Biennale, Biennale Rotterdam, Moscow Biennale and has received major awards including: the Swiss Art Award, the Claasen Prize for Media Art and Photography, Cologne; the international ZKM Media-art award; August Seeling-Award of Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum and the PrixArts Electronica. knowbotiq has aprofessorship at the University of the Arts Zurich.