Swiss Psychotropic Gold by knowbotiq in Zurich

Wednesday, 13. July 2016

An initiative by Khanabadosh (Mumbai) and Institute for Contemporary Art Research (IFCAR), Zurich University of the Arts

Swiss Psychotropic Gold by knowbotiq
A performance by knowbotiq in collaboration with Fred Hystère, Tanja Quirici, Teresa
Vittucci and Alper Yacioglu. With the support of Nina Bandi and Rohit Jain.

July 28, 2016, at 7 pm
Office Building Förrlibuckstrasse 178, 5th floor, Zurich West

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 has influenced vivid cultural, affective and moral economies. It has contributed to Swiss wealth, but also to national narratives of independence, safety and white supremacy. Yet, public debate on colonial involvement is almost absent.


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 virtual finance. An artistic and ethnographic project, Swiss Psychotropic Gold re-narrates gold trade—from mining in former colonies to its refining in Switzerland and its re-dispersion into global contexts—as a series of divisions and transformations of primary materials, values and affects.


In their performative intervention, knowbotiq critically fabulates about how molecular, psychotropic and derivative materialities of gold invisibly fuel Swiss subjectivities, debates and public spaces. From volatile non-presence to solid states and derivatives, from probabilities and micro trading to quants and contingence, from desire and testosterone to options and futures and fungibility. The project inquires into the postcolonial amnesia and bravado that informs Swiss innocence and righteousness. It is an impossible story of racism, pharmacological remedies, misogyny, poisonous effects and delirious states of un-knowing.


The intervention coincides with the three-day Draft conference being held in Zurich from July 28 to July 31, 2016.

Swiss Psychotropic Gold is part of Draft, a yearlong project anchored in nine interdisciplinary collaboratives—Beijing, Cairo, Cape Town, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Mumbai, St. Petersburg and Zurich—which collectively consider contemporary art that produces, provokes and contributes to critical public debates.


Image 1: knowbotiq, Psychotropic Gold (detail), 2016.

Image 2: Gold Refinery Pamp, Ticino, Switzerland. Photo: knowbotiq