a brief history of
new cheap nature
new cheap nature
Much of what we know about our world comes from advertising or - in a broader context - from public relations. These activities cost money and money is earned with products and services that consume resources and energy - a self-propelling negative spiral.
Or to look at it from the other side: Who would put time and money into selling 'nothing', into messages that in some cases nothing more is needed, everything is already there? - That sounds like a task for art.
In 2020, as part of the EU cultural project MagiC Carpets, a residency by artist Richard Schwarz at the cultural association Novo Kulturno Naselje in Novi Sad had actually been planned. The regulations in the course of the pandemic led to postponements and the realization to make an 'online story' together. The topic was already fixed: how to deal with resources in the local community. This led to the question: "How can we use social media platforms to share 'our' narrative?"
The result was a campaign on Instagram that involved users in question-and-answer stories and, at the end, invited them to take part in an action to provide a stage for non-material values: People were asked to photograph their oldest items of clothing and comment on them with the associated memories and age, thereby establishing a relationship with saved resources.
Two further campaigns followed. One at the beginning of 2022 in Kaunas as part of the exhibition MagiC Carpets Landed in cooperation with Kaunas Biennial and Kūrybos kampas 360°; and one at the end of 2022 in cooperation with openspace.innsbruck and students of the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein Tirol, Sports, Culture & Event Management.
The result was a collection of emotionally valuable items of clothing, with photos and stories to go with them.
This webshop was set up so that these 'values' do not disappear into the black hole of social media platforms. It serves as a kind of publication to present the 'assortment' of valuable garments by means of 'virtual window shopping'; and also as a basis for exhibitions or workshops.
The familiar interface of a webshop - albeit reduced and not animated - was deliberately chosen. You can see 'goods' with numbers and text - however, the numbers are not prices but information on age and the texts do not offer a product description but the story that is associated with the item of clothing for the wearer. The webshop thus offers nothing to buy, but a lot to take away.
At the same time, the design of the webshop is an example of how to think 'less' when it comes to digital infrastructure. This is why there are opening hours, for example. In the user interface, reference is made in several places to the resources required to visit the webshop.
Of course, this also requires resources; and even if the most efficient form of saving resources is probably not doing something, the decision at new cheap nature was to do something: to create a joint work that reinterprets and rethinks goods from objects of consumption to objects of non-material value - so that we can benefit from them for longer; and also from the world, and so on ...
further information can be found at
- New Cheap Nature, curatorial text for MagiC Carpets by Danijela Oberhofer Tonkovic
- Eine transformative Reise auf dem fliegenden Teppich mit Richard Schwarz und Dragana Kojičić, report for the magazine komplex by Brigitte Egger (text in german)
social media campaigns
- Novo Kulturno Naselje (Sara Agić, Tatjana Mateša),website
- Kaunas Biennial (Smiltė Bataitytė), website
- Kūrybos kampas 360°, website
- openspace.innsbruck (Danijela Oberhofer Tonkovic), website
- Fachhochschule Kufstein Tirol, Sports, Culture & Event Management (Kristóf Horváth, Theresa Stempfle, Nico Volny, Olga Zgutka-Bielska), website
- Sara Agić (photography and organisation)
- Marie Dvorzak (webshop design, programming), website
- Tatjana Mateša (process support)
- Danijela Oberhofer Tonkovic (public relations and organisation)
- Patagonia Store Innsbruck, Job Veerman (space and organisation), website
- Richard Schwarz (concept, programming), website
and of course ...
... thanks to all those who have contributed to the campaigns and the webshop with their garments and stories! Without these contributions, the work would be a frame without content.
the project is funded by Federal Ministry Republic of Austria (Arts, Culture, the Civil Service and Sport), Land Tirol (Abteilung Landesentwicklung) und Stadt Innsbruck (Kulturamt)