Performative taxi rides

• Sat 08 – Sat 29 06 2019 •


Noordkaap transforms the car with its multi-layered connotations into a mobile Memory Station. During their residencies, JODI, Max Dovey and Abner Preis dive into the local context of Cologne, working closely with the Noordkaap team, the Youth Academy and local partners to develop and realize new site-specific works to be performed exclusively in taxis of Cologne.

A post-futuristic farewell from the analogue car

Since the Futurists praised the automobile as the ultimate tool for human progress, it has become one of the most determinant consumer goods of the 20th century. With the rise of nationalism in Europe, Futurism blended in with the enthusiasm for war that characterised many intellectual and artistic groups on the threshold of the First World War. Industrialisation, speed, noise, aggression and technical innovations, were sources of several manifestos that got published between 1909 and 1914. The publication of Filippo Marinetti’s “Manifesto del Futurismo” on the front page of Le Figaro in 1914 kicked off a new era of industrialization; the avant-garde was born and raced into the future. Though later overthrown by ever new avant-garde movements, it was Futurism that cemented in its very name a fundamental aspect of the twentieth century – that is, an almost religious belief in the future. In the second part of the nineteenth century, and in the first part of the twentieth, the myth of the future reached its peak.

Based on this belief on it political action was formed: liberalism and social democracy, nationalism, communism and even anarchism shared at least one common idea - namely that despite the darkness of the present, the future would be brighter and better. The future seemed enduring for a long time, until, in the 1970s, people began to realise that growth was finite. Neoliberal economic practice, imposed by Great Britain’s Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher and later by the US president Ronald Reagan, put an end to the collective belief in a prosperous future. The car guided us through Western Modernity, embodying the concept of a promising future. It proved resistant to many crucial political and economic crises. Even when faith in the future collapsed, the car remained a reliable product that provided individual space and a sense of self-determination, a touch of autonomy.

At least until recently. Since then, we’ve entered an era beyond mere future: the post-future, as the Italian media theorist Franco Berardi describes in After the Future (2011). Berardi does not focus on the year 1989, when Communism fell, but on 1977, as the year when the future ended –when a certain modern Western concept of the future as a linear progressive development came to an end. In 1977, as Berardi notes, the RAF campaign resulted in the German Autumn and in the rise of punk with the Sex Pistols screaming No future for you – no future for me, as well as in the Autonomia movement in Italy.

Now, the car is becoming an outdated polluting object. The car got stuck in traffic jams and is being overtaken by the speed of big data on the digital superhighway. In order to survive, the car industry is radically re-inventing itself. The future of the automobile is digital – with fully electric and automatic driving, the robot car and the sharing economy, with companies like UBER, Dixi Chuxing and Apple undermining the idea of ownership. Moreover, Google’s Android Auto, Apple’s Carplay and Amazon’s Alexa are turning the car into a source of its drivers’ movement profiles and other valuable consumer behaviour patterns. This transformation matches a broader process: data are being gathered from human experiences to predict and influence our coming behaviour. In these predictions lies the new profit, a system aptly described by economist Shoshana Zuboff as “surveillance capitalism”.

Soon, we will no longer be able to control our cars like we’re used to – no more navigating, pulling up to the bumper, speeding up, slowing down, taking curves, getting lost or into trouble.

Forget the dream of individuality and independence. It is time for a farewell. A series of performative taxi rides will explore the changing urban landscape of post-industrial Cologne, creating artistic time capsules that will become part of the Academy’s digital archive.

Taxi rides are available on:
Sat 08 06 2019 | 19:00 - 22:00
Sat 15 + 22 + 29 6 | 13:00 - 17:00 | 19:00 + 22:00
Venue: King Georg Büdchen, Sudermanstraße 2, 50670 Köln
Free admission

Please register under NOORDKAAP TAXI
Our rides are free, but make sure to get a reservation.

Supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Creative Industries NL and TÜV Rheinland Stiftung.