From Models To Monsters. Representing the World Economy and its Discontents

3. – 4.7.18 Public Workshop

A Workshop by the DFG Research Training Group Cultures of Critique

Whether depicted through maps, models or graphs, conjured as a monster or a ghost, or documented ‘realistically’, the way the world economy is represented — in the sciences, art, literature or film — plays a decisive role in how we understand of it. During this two-day workshop we will explore the representation of the world economy, its shortcomings, biases, and potentials as it is applied towards three different, yet interrelated fields.
Scientific images and models, which presume to provide an objective description of the market, have been shown to shape and alter its behaviour. The first panel will explore the genealogy of economic discourse concerning the market's representability, and the ways through which scientific models have shaped markets, from eighteenth-century maps charting commodity flows to mathematical models of financial options.
In film and cinema, the uncanny nature of modern economy has been represented, above all, by allegorical figures such as ghosts, demons, and monsters. Combining a historical savings bank commercial with contemporary artistic and essayistic films, a short film program will reflect on the depictions as well as the implications of a world economy based on speculating and capitalizing the future.
The complexity of capitalist enterprise on a global scale has long vexed artists and filmmakers who wish to document its workings and social consequences. Following significant economic crises, the first two decades of the twenty-first century have seen a resurgence of artistic practices framed within the ‘documentary’ discourse. With the critique of scientific representation, in mind, the second panel will ask whether ‘documentary’ is a relevant concept when confronted with a world system.

Two short texts have been designated as reading for the workshop: Susan Buck-Morss’s “Envisioning Capital” (1995) and Georg Lukács’s “Narrate or Describe?” (1936). The readings will be distributed in advance.

Venue: Kunstraum of Leuphana University Lüneburg, Campus Hall 25

Registration by June 25, 2018 is requested (


  • Tuesday, July 3
  • Wednesday, July 4


Tuesday, July 3

2 pmWelcome, Coffee, Snacks
3 pm

Welcome and Introduction

Holger Kuhn, Boaz Levin, Judith Sieber, Ying Sze Pek

3.15 pm

Panel 1: Mapping the World Economy

3.30 pm

Quinn Slobodian: The Panorama and the Snapshot: Competing Optics of World Capitalism around 1900

4.30 pm

Florian Hoof: Modelling Uncertainty. Graphical Media Networks and Business Consulting

5.30 pm

Coffee Break

6.00 pm

Trade on Noise: Filmic Ghosts of Financial Capitalism

A film program curated and presented by Florian Wüst

Sparkassen-Werbung: Wohlstand für Jeden, BRD 1955, 2'
F for Fibonacci, Beatrice Gibson, UK 2014, 16'
unsupported transit, Zachary Formwalt, NL 2011, 14'
keep that dream burning, Rainer Kohlberger, AT/DE 2017, 8'
Fictions and Futures #1 – Happiness in the Abstract, Arne Hector, Minze Tummescheit, DE 2013, 35'

(The film program will be introduced and followed by a discussion with Florian Wüst)

Wednesday, July 4

10.30 am

Panel 2: Critical Documentaries and Documentations

10.45 am

Erika Balsom: "Mere Recording"?: Documentary, Contemporary Art, and the Orthodoxy of "Ecstatic Truth"

11.45 amBenjamin Young: Reinventing Documentary after Brecht