Teemu Takatalo, 2012, 50 min 21 sec

In September 2011 Teemu Takatalo's consumption critical mural The Absolution of the Enlightened Consumer was censored and destroyed in a gallery, in Tampere, Finland by the producers of the exhibition. The painting consisted of painted company logos of nine business enterprises, having their shops in the same shopping mall with the gallery, and texts about negligence of their social and environmental responsibility programs.

The brutal act against critical but harmless painting evoke some lame public discussion, but first of all it brought up some crucial questions: why on the whole is business life trying to convinced us by its' virtue? If and the destructive character of the capitalistic economy is a generally accepted fact, why does someone who admits this still kneels and stoops in front of the altars of capitalism?

By analyzing this Takatalo figured out a wider conceptual error that exists in consumption and capitalistic production: the both are structured in a way that reminds remarkably a concept of the Christian theology, even though capitalism and the western culture are nowadays primary understood as secular.

As a capitalistic market is a platform for most of human interactions; the Christian concept of goodness has transformed in immaterial qualities of products, good deeds are done by consuming and absolution happens in a super market instead of a church. However, despite of all this goodness, the capitalist market and production has been creating a growing number of serious global problems. These dynamics created new political subject: an enlightened consumer.

The crystallization of the ideology of the enlightened consumer: “I do my best, but somehow I have to live as well” reveals that ´doing the best´ and ´life itself´ are exclusively opposing each other. The concept is much the same as with the christian concept of original sin. Because of this tragedy the enlightened consumer is condemned to individual remorse and penitence that finally conceals the original ideological project: the better world.

Fundamentally the fate of the enlightened consumer is to focus on useless struggle between life and good deeds by forcing themselves to solve problems of capitalism by consuming, that just hasten the destruction, instead of moving their body against the source of the conflict: capitalism itself.

By studying economics, faith and production Teemu Takatalo's The Gospel of the Enlightened Consumer answers the question: why critical art work has to be destroyed.

“Let everyone be subject to the market, for there is no market except that which God has established. The market that exists has been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the market is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For markets hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the market? Then do what is right and you will be commended. The market is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, markets do not produce swords for no reason. It is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the market, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

Video in Finnish – Valistuneen kuluttajan evankeliumi

Consept: Teemu Takatalo
Edit: Liisa Haukkapää
Sounds: Juhani Taaler
Production: Tassos Peristerakis

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