Marta Galindo & Juan de Andrés
12 / 17
Make it worth it
When analyzing the problems of the systems of production, commercialization, and use of the generated goods, the UN announces: “If the world population reaches 9.6 billion by 2050, we will need three planets worth of resources to keep the same lifestyle we have today.” However, the targets set and the measures proposed do not allude to changing the lifestyle but focus on mitigating its consequences.
The global economic system advocates to keep producing more and better in terms of sustainability. In other words, with less. Less degradation and less waste generation. But it never implies revisiting the foundations sustaining the market economy, nor the forces supporting it.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Elisabeth Magie believed that a change could be driven, following the economist Henry George’s ideas.
As Baruch Spinoza had previously done in the 17th century —the model from which Wittgenstein, Althusser, or Negri have revised the foundations of Western philosophy— the theorist proposed a social organization where each citizen would contribute in an equitable way while respecting natural rights through a single tax rate on the exploitation of resources, without land ownership rights. Magie created “a practical demonstration of the current system of land hoarding with its habitual results and consequences” to promote awareness of this ideology —a board game she called The Landlord’s Game. The first part of the dynamics followed the rules of the wildest capitalism. The second round would follow the rules of Georgism: the land would belong to everyone as a common good, and the tax payment for its exploitation would sustain social assistance.
Patented by Magie in 1904, the game was successful enough to be copied by Charles Darrow, who sold a version of the first part to the Parker Brothers Company in 1935. Under the name Monopoly and promoting the capitalist ideas of entrepreneurship and individualism, it has become one of the best-selling games in the world.1
Keeping the same changing spirit and aiming to erase the “material footprint” per capita, artists Marta Galindo and Juan de Andrés Arias have proposed another game to change the trading system based on monetary patterns that return to the collaboration and exploitation generated by the exchange: bartering. They began a swap network offering to exchange an old Monopoly game in an operation that was more complicated to carry out than imagined, reflecting the deep-rooted consumerist practices of today and the mistrust generated by a non-profit proposal. The board and tokens were exchanged for a chandelier that gave way to a tricycle, a briefcase, a keyboard, a glass head, a vacuum cleaner, and an electric heater at last — now ready to be used in their studio during the winter.
Therefore, their reflection on SDG#12 (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns) is not only a critique, but also a proposal. Nor is it an image, but this image condenses the result of this attempt to change the system. Thus, by formally adopting the codes of advertising language to subvert it, each object is digitally transformed into the next, promoting another form of consumption in its slogan. “We find it interesting to generate an image of a series of actions, expanding the image dimension to more performative fields related to the community and the link/help/support between people, which is key to achieving common goals such as those of Agenda 2030.” In this way, they join a common reflection throughout the project Not only what, but also how in which decelerationism and the creation of new game rules outside of all systems of exploitation shape our idea of the future.
1 For the full story of Elizabeth Magie and the restitution of her authorship see Mary Pilon and Samuel Granados’ article published by The Washington Post, The Monopoly shame: Leftist D.C. inventor didn’t even get token recognition, July 30, 2015.