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The Continuity of Imagination in Retail Business and the Art of Making Collages

Approximately 300 collages on paper, A4

Ludwig Lidl is not the founder of the retail chain Lidl. The founder’s name is Dieter Schwarz, but the name Schwarz Market would discourage many customers. For this reason he decided to buy the rights to the name Lidl from a retired painter for 1000 DM. It is a pleasant and rather common name in Germany. He decided to buy this name because his former business partner had the same name. He probably wanted to upset him. Ludwig Lidl was a painter, but you will not find almost any information about him on the internet. There is only a link to page 13 of the “Heilbronner Stimme” newspaper from 1972. Here is the only message to the world from his mouth that I know of: “Keine Woche ohne Bild, manchmal sogar zwei.” This imperative testifying to the artist’s steadfastness and discipline got my attention. It is the standard self-fulfilling idea of creative people who go after what they want and sometime it turns out to pay off and bear fruit. Just persevere. But if he had not sold his name, no one would even know his credo. I’m surprised that Dieter Schwarz didn’t buy the rights to that, too. He adopted the same business policy in his own way. Every week and new picture, sometimes even two: Trip to Greece. Barbecue with Friends. Retro Memories. House-cleaning. Spring Cleaning in the Garden. French Week. This is the legacy of Ludwig Lidl, art in the service of the people! In today’s society, which appreciates such stories, Lidl is an ideal of the individualistic path to success. How could the others of us learn from this? Never give up; we live in a world full of inspiration and possibilities, in the best of all possible worlds! This is the message for everyone. I take it seriously: Every week a new picture, sometimes even two! I don’t know what good it’s for, but we’ve created a world in which this supposedly works. Thank you Ludwig Lidl and Dieter Schwarz for their lesson.

Forms, rules statistics and questionnaires are a kind of knowledge, bureaucratic knowledge. But it is a schematic knowledge, it is always about simplicity. In practice, all bureaucratic procedures without exception ignore all details of actual social existence and reduce everything to apriori and statistical relationships. As David Graeber writes in An Essay on Structural Stupidity comparing bureaucratic practice with the practice of an anthropologist, where every ethnographic description, even the very best ones, in actuality capture at most two percent of what is happening. Today we look at the world almost exclusively through this two-percent description. The bureaucratization of reality has penetrated completely into all possible branches of human action and thinking.
Artists and art are also taxonomized in a similar way. Here I won’t even mention artistic autonomy, which is conditioned by a hierarchy of rules. What else is left? Perhaps we could learn a lesson from Hašek’s Švejk and take things schematized in this way seriously, it’s our immanent experience after all! Maybe an exemplary fulfillment of such an approach will burst somewhere and pour out the remaining ninety-eight percent.

By lowering costs to a minimum by using the cheapest possible materials, automation of production (still individualized) to a fraction of the time, necessary for the creation of one collage, shifting the effects of pollution and loading the waste onto someone else, I have created a monster, not unlike other monsters led by similar logic.