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The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum!               

… putting it negatively, the myth of eternal return states that a life which disappears once and for all, which does not return, is like a shadow, without weight, dead in advance, and whether it was horrible, beautiful, or sublime, its horror, sublimity and beauty mean nothing… 

In the world of eternal return the weight of unbearable responsibility lies heavy on every move we make. This is why Nietzche called the idea of eternal return the heaviest of burdens (das schwerste Gewicht)… 

But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid?        

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being  

The Capital Paintings are a re-iteration, re-enactment or re-telling of a previous body of work by the artist, Capital, where he transcribed by hand the entire three volumes of Karl Marx’s Das Capital onto 480 two dimensional objects. Read the rest of this entry »


I just came across this work by Joseph Beuys while researching a Fluxus lecture… if I ever get around to it I resolve to compile a sizable selection of ‘defaced money’ artworks. This piece is from 1979.

The irony of this particular work is the large, iconic artist’s signature that takes pride of place on the face of the note. This authorial statement, the form of a defacement, enacts a particular economic alchemy (such a suitable word in relation to Beuys’ oeuvre): it elevates it even closer to gold and exponentially further away from any intrinsic ‘use value’.

Perhaps, to give him credit, this was Beuys’ intention. Often though, his critical gestures were weighted heavily in favour of his own self-mythologisation.


[I think this might actually be the thumb of Engels, not Marx.]

Berlin, December 2007

October 2020