Different Experiences, Different Socialization
Martin Beck in conversation with Stephan Dillemuth
Martin Beck: In the late nineteen-seventies you studied painting in Düsseldorf, then lived in Chicago for a while and, in the late eighties, moved from there to Cologne. What was the motivation for that move?
Stephan Dillemuth: In Chicago I developed a great distance to my work as a painter and, more generally, everything that took itself so seriously in the German eighties art scene seemed ridiculous to me. This “laughter from outside” was on the one hand very liberating, but I noticed after about two years that I did not want to become an American artist, indeed could not do so, and realized I had to work with a cultural context that I was better able to read and understand. In Germany the hype around an entire generation of painters, such as the Mülheimer Freiheit group, seemed to have faded, and I moved to Cologne in 1989 because I felt I would find a more open situation there. By chance Christian Nagel, whom I knew from Munich, was looking for a space in Cologne at the time too. Texte zur Kunst was just being set up. Cologne seemed to be in the throes of upheaval.
M.B.: Did you arrive with the idea of opening an art space?
S.D.: I actually wanted to keep working on the disco decorations that I had made in Chicago, but that idea fell by the wayside almost immediately as I found an empty shop at Friesenwall. Suddenly more interesting questions arose—what could be done here other than using the space as a studio? But I did not want to become a gallerist, and running a producers’ gallery seemed too uncool to me. Back then, that was something you only did if you were a loser who could not get your work into a gallery any other way. People who do that neither doubt their self-image as artists nor call the artistic ambitions of the objects they produce into question; and they switch into self-help mode by seamlessly simulating a gallery. I had the vague idea of first just exploring the possibilities that would arise from putting a space into the public sphere and thereby creating confusing situations, without authorship or art objects playing any role in that. So I stumbled into the whole thing by chance more than anything else. Friesenwall 120 was neither planned nor plotted. That was different in Nagel’s case; he had discussed at length with his artists, Fareed Armaly, Cosima von Bonin, Michael Clegg, Michael Krebber, Christian Philipp Müller, and Josef Strau, the ways in which a new gallery would have to be different from the galleries of the nineteen-eighties.
M.B.: What were the first exhibitions at Friesenwall?
S.D.: During the first six months we tested out various formats; at first I was still doing everything on my own. The first exhibition, Firestone Reifen (Firestone Tires), showed new car tires in an ambivalent situation that mixed elements of a tire store, a warehouse (storage), and a gallery. Some of the visitors asked if one of the tires would fit their Mercedes; others thought it was a great exhibition. However, as far as I was concerned, the author of this installation was not me, but Firestone. I tried to take myself out of the equation, which, however, might be preposterous. The second project played more obviously with the status of a gallery. I removed illustrations from the Wolf Vostell catalogue (Hannover, 1977) and presented them, framed, in the space. The focus for me in all this was not on appropriating the drawings or catalogue illustrations but rather on the symbolic value of a Wolf Vostell exhibition—similarly to the way that architect’s wives in well-to-do suburbs display Andy Warhol posters or multiples by Joseph Beuys. People only do something like that to capitalize on well-known names. That was the issue here; that is what was exhibited.
People had already started to hang out in the space during the tire exhibition. Soon Josef Strau and Nils Norman became good friends of mine and were involved in running it. It strikes me now that most of my new friends and acquaintances worked in the art business as assistants or support staff on temporary contracts. Some of them had deliberately given up their own art production to make a clear break, for themselves, with object production in the nineteen-eighties tradition. That was not a generalized refusal or subversion but did give rise to a shift in perspective vis-à-vis precarious workers in the system, turning attention to the system itself. Over the course of time the way that this was represented meant that other information and materials, such as garbage (waste), fragments, relics, or references shaped a rather conceptual, communicative understanding of art. The exhibition Old News was centered on two archives. That altered the function of the space. After the first experimental phase, it increasingly became a meeting point—for example, for video evenings or for just hanging out. On the one hand we showed the VHS archive put together by the Munich video group BOA, which grew out of the idea of creating video-networks as counter public spheres, a mix of old news broadcasts and advertising videos for Leopard tanks. The other half was made up of Peter O. Chotjewitz’s archive, which covered the nineteen-seventies through various newspapers and journals—the student movement and its environs, the RAF (Red Army Faction), et cetera. People used to come around in the evening to watch a video or read, brought videos along too, contributed material, which meant that the archive began to grow. The archive also reflected our own activities; it became a tool for self-observation and transfers of information. We documented our own exhibitions as well as visits to other exhibitions—for example, in New York—initially in snapshots and then with a video camera, and we became a kind of conduit for information, which seems somewhat embarrassing from today’s perspective. In the early nineties information had a strange, mystical flavor that would make people quite ecstatic, which with hindsight I also find surprising.
The archive material and the space began to form their own social sphere and certain “discourses,” if I may put it in such pompous terms. It became clear that a different kind of “life” was happening here than in the lifeless galleries. This was also reflected fairly rapidly in how the space was received: Spex wrote that you could drink your “antifascist beer” there, and gallerists in New York told me that they also had a “project space” on the side, or a video archive in the gallery.
After a while it seemed to us to be too simple to run a youth club around the archive, and we changed our emphasis by shifting the exhibitions more into the foreground. Through the archive, an interest in genealogies had developed and we started to examine forerunner models. Selecting, compiling, and commenting on material and preparing it and making it accessible whilst also updating it and considering its presentation replaced good old artistic expressivity for us back then. However, our method was not strictly historical. Together with Roberto Ohrt we created a Situationism exhibition, and with Michael Krebber and Uwe Gabriel we organized Wahrheit ist Arbeit: Wie es wirklich war (Truth is Work: How it Really Was). These exhibitions did not have any clearly defined authors; they were made up of “waste”—that is, of peripheral materials, posters, invitation cards, documents, books, photos of photos, or faked originals. Some ideas we came up with were based on anecdotes or rumors. Again, the notion came into play here that what was exhibited was the bohemian atmosphere surrounding artists and the byproducts of their work rather than artists and their work as such.
As we were not obliged to either the original or a historically correct method at Friesenwall, we had an advantage over galleries and institutions. The idea for Wahrheit ist Arbeit: Wie es wirklich war developed in response to a rumor that Helmut Draxler wanted to show the 1984 Wahrheit ist Arbeit exhibition again at the Kunstverein in Munich as an exact replica of the original—for whatever conceptual reasons. Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen, and Werner Büttner did not want to let themselves simply be historicized like that and preferred to show new works. That gave rise to the Malen ist Wahlen (Painting is Choosing) exhibition at the Kunstverein. However, we interpreted the original concept together with Michael Krebber and Uwe Gabriel and their extensive holdings of aforementioned byproducts and wealth of experience (memoirs): Wahrheit ist Arbeit had the ambition to show how it really was; the subtitle was Eine historische Ausstellung (A Historical Exhibition).
Another exhibition also showed these new, expanded possibilities. Wilhelm Schunk, an art collector who ran a sex shop in Ehrenstraße, had lent me paintings by a certain Schlesinger. His painstakingly rendered surreal realism from the sixties and seventies seemed to me to fit well with the drawings by Tom of Finland, whose works I had seen at Feature Inc. in Chicago. So I called Hudson from Feature Inc. to ask whether he could send me the works as photocopies, as I had no money to pay for transport. I had to pick up the copies at customs, where the duty officer had me unpack them; he blushed bright red but could not demand any customs duties as they were “only” photocopies. As far as I know that was the first time Tom of Finland was exhibited in Europe, and it cost only the postage: five dollars.
With these new possibilities we could ask other questions, about truth, historicity, objectivity. And that was a lot of fun. The eighties were over; the showing off, that over-inflated swank laid on heavy with authenticity in giant formats, had become boring and the market had given up the ghost. But the new poverty was no stigma; instead it fostered aesthetic decisions, and you could go about dealing with that with a focus on pleasure.
M.B.: Did the works you made before moving to Cologne still play a role?
S.D.: No, that was over and done with when all these new possibilities emerged—and then there was the cooperation with other artists, in which authorship of a work no longer played a role. That was genuinely liberating and enabled a new mode of playing with identity and subjectivity, whatever that might be.
M.B.: Was that rupture one of the topics you addressed back then? Looking back, these projects seem to be very conscious propositions that refer to specific historic situations.
S.D.: Every exhibition had its subjective, anecdotal, and historical subtexts. Even in the first exhibition there was a reference to Allan Kaprow’s Happenings. Hippies doing gymnastics through the tires and screaming all the while ... by then that had petrified into a cliché. But that went for the direct cooperation with Firestone too because sponsoring and obsessive use of logos were such a sad legacy of the eighties. I thought both of those needed to be done away with in the first exhibition to simply clear the way. Similarly (?) (Instead), many other things became possible: giving up authorship, group work, the openness and ambivalence of the exhibition space, and perhaps also the exhibition’s artwork character. That was all new for me, a kind of learning by doing. Nothing could be planned; the only thing more or less clear was what we no longer wanted. All the rest was about trying things out playfully, a series of experiments, and we found out what we wanted in dialog with the people who contributed to that.
M.B.: If you look at documentation of Group Material’s exhibitions, you can trace a growing awareness in the way in which they were photographed. Photos of the early exhibitions mainly showed sections of walls without any spatial context. From a certain point in time, an awareness filtered through at the documentation level that the exhibition is the actual medium and the exhibitions were photographed “as space.” That changed the practice. What you are talking about sounds like a similar process.
S.D.: Yes, that’s true. But, in the twinkling of an eye, this kind of artistic practice was also picked up by the institutional field. The curating boom began in 1992, with Ute Meta Bauer’s symposium A New Spirit in Curating?, and the artists often ended up merely supplying the building material, out of which the curators then constructed the meaning.
M.B.: What kind of state was the shop in when you took it on?
S.D.: The rent was really cheap as the shop was totally run-down and was only available for interim use. The Gerling Corporation already had plans to end tenancies, demolish buildings, and convert the entire neighborhood. As our flats were very small, we used the shop more or less as an extended living room. I had also taken on a role as a kind of janitor for the landlord, which is how the space was financed.
M.B.: Was there ever anything for sale at Friesenwall?
S.D.: It was only at a very late stage that we realized we had actually never addressed that question. For the Situationist exhibition we had made a few drip paintings, and there was the canvas by Josef Strau, Realisation der Philosophie (The Realization of Philosophy), which is a kind of German translation of Guy Debord’s Réalisation de la philosophie. That was bought by Peter Weibel, who later also organized a Situationist exhibition. Another time it was Kippenberger who bought one of the newspaper tear-outs with popular supermodels that we had used to decorate the room. All the guests had to sign the picture until the entire model was just scribbled over and distorted as a result. Maybe it was actually more of a Kippenberger piece because of that, as the signatures of all the guests constituted the work.
M.B.: Does that work still exist?
S.D.: It is part of his estate. The anecdote reveals how value is derived from the social sphere. A space or an exhibition is a focal point for a scene that forms a community and is in turn shaped by it. It is a reciprocal process that played an important role in the genesis of our exhibitions. Many ideas came from people around us. Karin Barth and Jutta Koether inspired us to make the flea market; Iskender Yediler had the idea for the Franz Schildknecht retrospective. That was the painter from the television series Lindenstraße.
M.B.: Space and the social sphere are in a relationship that has also symbolic value which then circulates. Friesenwall did after all attract a great deal of attention very quickly.
S.D.: We did get attention relatively quickly, and after a year or eighteen months we noticed that what we were doing had a kind of role model character to it, a model that could be picked up in other places and modified, the F-Space as a kind of Multiple. It just depends how the model is modified and for what purpose.
M.B.: How did your constituency develop?
S.D.: It actually happened of its own accord, by word of mouth. Invitation cards, press releases, et cetera were not relevant at all. Email mailing lists and websites did not really exist yet in those days. In the Cologne gallery context there was a kind of backslapping acceptance, something along the lines of “Pop over to Friesenwall some time; they do funny stuff.” However it was also a bit uncomfortable being seen as an entertaining appendix to the gallery business. That well-meaning attention inspired us over and over again to veer off in some unexpected direction in response to these projections. That is why we also started to organize readings and exhibitions with people from our circles from time to time. That meant we did end up becoming a producers’ gallery after all. But at that time we could perhaps already afford to play gallery as well. We also wanted to give back the cultural capital—if you want to put it that way—that the space had generated: to represent our immediate context, show the work of friends who had always also helped to keep the space going.
M.B.: How did you develop your program? Did you consider a strategy in this context?
S.D.: It generally did not take much of an effort; one thing would lead to another. It was more difficult when it came to institutional invitations from outside. The first invite was to K-Raum Daxer in Munich, which was curated by Karola Grässlin. Some people thought we were jumping the gun a bit. People from the Cologne context who travelled to Munich for the opening felt it was a musealization.
M.B.: Was F-Space, Ludwigstraße 11 at Kunstraum Daxer (1991) your first self-historicization?
S.D.: I wouldn’t call it that, actually, because we were playing with that. These institutional projections onto Friesenwall wanted either an overview of what we were up to in Cologne or to enliven their own lifeless walls. However, we had no desire to just stick documentation of the Cologne exhibitions into that context or to act as if those institutional barriers did not exist and just put a sofa in there and watch videos without some element of disruption. Also, there was no surrounding context of people who wanted to sit down and join us.
In Munich we therefore began first of all with an affirmation of the Kunstraum, which was adjacent to Ludwigstraße, in the most expensive part of the city. Over the course of the exhibition, which ran for two months at the height of the summer, we wanted to arrange the space to suit a different audience. Via a municipal program for young people unable to go on holiday over the summer we tested out the K-Raum as a space that can also be used by children. This initial affirmative and, if you will, “self-historicizing” exhibition was soon joined by a pinball machine, computers, a video jukebox, and other exhibition elements that provided information on programs for children. In addition, however, there were also contributions and visits from artists from our circles—for example, Simin Farkhondeh, who had worked with Paper Tiger Television, and Till Krause and Anna Guðjónsdóttir, as well as Dorit Margreiter, Mathias Poledna, and Florian Pumhösl, who contributed posters from the protest that was unfolding at the time against Mario Terzic at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. Kids hung out in the exhibition from time to time, watched films, played with the computers, or explored the surroundings with the video camera. Various strands crossed and intertwined with the question about the audience, the Munich audience.
M.B.: Situations like that contribute substantially to shaping identity and meld with projections from outside. Identities are confirmed but also thwarted in certain areas.
S.D.: Hmm ... there was not much identity shaped there. We wanted to charge up the space in a way that meant it was not clear what the space actually was. Our F-Space at K-Raum Daxer was not a youth center. And it was also not about showcasing Friesenwall; nor was it an open invitation to all kinds of people. It was more like an attempt to introduce an enduring “conversion,” a driving force for new activities.
Looking back, I also see this heterogeneity in other exhibitions in art institutions. In the exhibition at Forum Stadtpark (1992) there was an almost invisible subtext; I see that too in the exhibition at the Pat Hearn Gallery in New York (1993). Pat had started out as a performance artist in the East Village and soon opened a gallery. Josef and I had also begun our artistic careers in the early eighties. Those were the starting points for our intensive study of the East Village. Even in its heyday criticism was already leveled at that whole scene—for example, Rosalyn Deutsche’s text “The Fine Art of Gentrification” and Craig Owens’s “The Problem with Puerilism.” But in 1992 the party was only just over; many of the people we talked with had come down to earth with a bump after a meteoric ascent and/or were affected by their friends dying of AIDS. The history of the East Village had not been written at that point, it was too close for that, but the old glamour seemed to have gathered dust; people were still a bit “overdosed” from it. Nobody wanted to go back to the eighties, and that is why to us, having only perceived the whole thing from Europe and distorted through art magazines, it seemed an incredible story that was still full of life. Although we did track down a lot of documents and artifacts during our research, such as the Jackson Pollock dress made by Mike Bidlo for Gracie Mansion, what was really interesting were the many meetings and conversations, and the phenomenon of something that had only just slipped away. How could you make an exhibition out of that?
M.B.: Archives were very important in the initial phase at Friesenwall 120. Did you differentiate between how an archive functioned in an exhibition space and how you conceived of a “more conventional” exhibition?
S.D.: At the start the archive was important as a focal point. It marked the end of the first experimental phase at Friesenwall. Now we were sticking old copies of the Cologne-based tabloid Express all over the shop window, which looked as if the shop itself were being re-developed. I selected a few key dates—for example, the day when the Lufthansa plane Landshut was hijacked on 13th October 1977. That was part of the archive exhibition. Because I lived across from the shop I could see that many passersby stopped to read those old headlines. That was the public part, as only people who already knew the space came in because the windows were covered over, but we had lively discussions with them about the materials we had collected. From our stock of material we produced a small publication on the “pudding bomb,” which marked the start of the criminalization of the student movement in Germany. Around that time we produced a kind of Friesenwall catalogue, with examples from this stock of information and an index of the material. People would come round almost every evening and we viewed the videos with them.
M.B.: In 1992 Friesenwall 120 organized the accompanying program of events for Unfair, a protest fair in opposition to Art Cologne. Did this process produce a new form of networking?
S.D.: Unfair was an initiative of Tanja Grunert and Christian Nagel. They had not been admitted to Art Cologne and organized their own art fair along with other colleagues. They asked us if we wanted to organize an accompanying program. By then, in autumn 1992, we had met Linda Bilda and Ariane Müller, who produced the art fanzine Artfan in Vienna. We had heard of Ute Meta Bauer’s Informationsdienst, and of the Hamburg fanzine DANK, produced by Thaddäus Hüppi, Andreas Siekmann, Hans-Christian Dany, Gunnar Reski, and Christoph Bannat, and of Neid by Ina Wudtke and Claudia Reinhardt. We had also heard of Axel John Wieder and Jesko Fezer, with their Schleifschnecke (Worm Grinder) project in Stuttgart. That meant that we realized we were not alone on the periphery of the official art system, and that there were various initiatives that were trying out different forms of production and distribution. We had the idea of inviting these various projects, some of which we had only heard about, to come to Cologne.
As there were a lot of empty spaces in the Friesen neighborhood, we were able to find other storefronts to rent or for free and to make these available to the projects we had invited. Paper Tiger TV gave a workshop at Friesenwall, and at the same time BüroBert—that was Renate Lorenz and Jochen Becker—had revitalized Päff, a sixties/seventies pop bar that had been empty for decades, and presented their Copyshop project there. In addition to our space, there was also already Friesenwall 116a, where Michael Krome, Katharina Jacobsen, and others created The Thing. That was a system of mailboxes (BBS) that was spreading in the art world right then and networked small art scenes in big cities.
The Rahmenprogramm (Accompanying Program) did this in real space. More or less parallel to the art system, a productive network of self-organized initiatives came into being and exchanged ideas with each other. Perhaps it functioned on the principle of elective affinities. People felt drawn to each other because they shared a problem and they were similar and different enough to have a productive exchange about it. People liked each other, shared questions, added a different kind of knowledge to the mix. “Bohemian research communities” came into being.
When such an intensive web of relationships disintegrates at some point it can be very painful for those involved because these are in a certain sense also love relationships. The extended network, however, managed to act as a buffer for this disintegration process, and often new constellations came into being. I experienced that as a very fruitful situation, as all that baggage of commodity production, being lucky/unlucky, selling or not selling, did not have to be dragged along as well. That made it possible to work more freely, more intensively, and close to political realities, and there was no need to legitimize everything through art. This network functioned between 1992 and 1997 as a kind of parallel art world. There was also a lot of mutual criticism and disputes, but above all it was a lot more fun than in the institutional art world, where hierarchies and political and social problems tend more to be swept under the carpet or—sometimes even simultaneously—placed on a pedestal.
M.B.: Did the exchange these exchanges functioned undergo a transformation from Rahmenprogramm to Sommerakademie (Summer Academy) at the Kunstverein in Munich (1994) and afterwards? Could one talk about a kind of evolution in this context?
S.D.: After the Rahmenprogramm there were annual meetings of this extended constellation: the Sommerakademie functioned partly on that basis; the Studio Hellerau project (1995) and Minus 96: Geld, Stadt, Tausch (Minus 96: Money, City, Exchange) in Berlin (1996) grew out of this. The most intensive meeting was Messe 2ok (Fair 2ok, 1995), organized by Alice Creischer, Birger Hübel, and Andreas Siekmann, because there it was already clear that something new had taken shape. A sponsorship offer from Siemens raised an issue that tested everyone’s nerves and triggered a very wide range of differing opinions. After in-depth negotiations with Siemens a decision was taken to do without the money and to fund the project through investments. Anyone who wanted to paid 150 D-mark into a shared kitty. In the end, we made more money than had been invested, thanks to selling drinks et cetera. Everyone was happy about this victory, including those who had taken a different stand. For it was exactly around that period, in the mid-nineties, that the business world’s desire to participate in artistic and cultural production was becoming more and more of a plague. In the case of Alice, Andreas, and Birger, the interesting thing was that they did not reject the offer from Siemens immediately, but instead first tried to find out what Siemens actually wanted. Then they turned it down.
M.B.: Did the question of how to finance oneself in such production contexts also play a part in these reflections on the project economy?
S.D.: With hindsight I would say that a great awareness of nineties neoliberal economization had emerged in precisely this field. Economics was actually the main topic. Your own economic situation did not play so much of a role: you just made ends meet somehow. Later there was the buzzword “self-exploitation,” which appeared because a handful of people made a career on the back of the contents, forms, and strategies of the self-organized labels. There was the phenomenon of the “go-between” (middleman) who translated these ideas into institutional settings or other economic contexts. It was only when people saw that others were making money from this that it became clear that up until then they had done the same thing for free—in other words, self-exploitation.
I think that self-exploitation and the idea of intellectual property do not exist at all in the bohemian universe. Everyone takes from everyone and gives what they can. All that circulates is experience, knowledge, intelligence, empathy, inventiveness, intensity, fun, happiness, love ... It is only in relation to property that we talk of exploitation. In this respect it is difficult to recount the history of Friesenwall on my own. Although I set the ball rolling and paid the rent and have now taken on administration of the legacy, it would not have been possible for Friesenwall to develop as it did without the involvement of Josef Strau, Nils Norman, Kiron Khosla, and Merlin Carpenter—and a number of other people who have not been mentioned in this conversation yet: Vivian Slee, Barbara and Erhard Schüttpelz, Annette Sievert, Caroline Nathusius, Vincent Tavenne, Uli Strothjohann, Thomas Kalthoff, Hans-Jörg Mayer, Till Krause, Cathy Skene, Christoph Schäfer, Matthias Schaufler, and Yvonne Parent.
For various reasons everything came to an end after four years at Friesenwall. The lease was terminated; the money ran out. It would certainly have been possible to keep going for another ten years somewhere else with outside financing. However, I preferred to see Friesenwall as an experiment or model and not as a permanent alternative space funded by the city, with more and more exhibitions that would be less and less entertaining.
M.B.: During that period you also created individual work for Project Unité in Firminy and Sonsbeek 93. How does this individual production relate to the collective working methods in the context of Friesenwall?
S.D.: There is not always a contradiction between the two. In the cases you mentioned, I continued the practice of documenting the exhibitions with video anyway. In Firminy and Sonsbeek that subsequently gave rise to a work in its own right.
M.B.: The archive is where this difference/non-difference settles as a historical deposit: who collected the material? Who documented the projects and situations? Who provides access to it and in what way?
S.D.: The historiography of what happens in the context of a group is always difficult, for as a single individual you do not want to represent the group; then the history at first is lost, perhaps also because the former members have fallen out and you do not want to reopen the wound. Some may make a career out of it and others are completely out of the picture. Sometimes, as was the case with Poster Studio in London, a joint decision is also taken not to allow anyone access to the archive, if there is one. In that case, all that remains is the myth, or projections onto it. However, that is also boring, as archives contain a form of knowledge and are very important for precisely the type of production contexts in which a commodity format or the artwork as such do not play much of a role. The Georg Baselitz reception does not need an archive, but ABC No Rio most certainly does in order to depict production that was not manifested in the form of commodities.
M.B.: Would it be fair to say that the more immaterial the production is, the more important the archive becomes?
S.D.: Yes, but it is also all the more important to make the knowledge-based or the aesthetic work that has been done visible through the archive.
M.B.: ... because that is the only form of memory?
S.D.: Yes, and what is in the heads of those who were involved in it. That is why the way in which archives are brought to life is so important, and how to revitalize and continue developing a practice, experience, politics, and aesthetics that lie dormant in these archives as if in a former life. Perhaps that could be called updating or, as in free software development, “forking.”
The problem of the archive also arises with reference to the current exhibition at mumok. Because if you think about the work of groups who worked in a more immaterial vein, who had a social or political practice outside institutions, how else could it be represented but by exhibiting archive material, and how is it possible not to make that completely boring? At the same time, in an exhibition like this, what you might call the artist types, who always worked visually, also steal the show and leave the others in the shade again. The archives, however, will probably not become productive ...
What is still relevant for me from the nineties are the experiences with what we currently describe as self-organization, which is distinct from the self-help that is prescribed by a dominant economy (“austerity”) or that serves as a springboard to it (the market). The two major experiences for me were the way in which a network of similar approaches came into being as a kind of parallel society (I am intentionally taking the term out of political discourse here, as excessive fears have been fanned about parallel societies) and that self-organization means a kind of self-formation (and education); it means that these are bohemian research laboratories that cultivate a different knowledge, different experiences, and a different kind of socialization.