House of Economy, Model, 2012
Speculative Object, Mobile

Text by Lars Bang Larsen

Materials: Gelatine, limestone, paper, glue, soil and compost, yellow oyster, pink oyster, blue gray oyster, wood

For the Auckland Triennial in 2010, Learning Site—this time in the figure of Rikke Luther—created The House of Economy. The version of the House that is displayed here is a model of the original work.

The title of the work refers to the ever-present possibility of collapse within economic systems, particularly those of contemporary capitalism and its deregulated financial markets. Despite its seemingly solid exterior, The House of Economy is in fact an eco-system that is simultaneously in the process of production, collapse and disintegration: on its inside walls mycelium has been added to produce a composting process that will eventually bring the papier mâché architecture to collapse. During the period of the exhibition edible mushrooms will pop up as part of the composting process, and so the House produces food as a by-product of its gradual decomposition. The House of Economy is inspired by the shape and interior organisation of termitaries, and how termites cultivate mycelium inside their nests. The work is accompanied by the text ‘Crisis, Ruin, Allegory’, commissioned for the project and written by Anthony Iles.

When The House of Economy was originally presented at the Auckland Triennial, the composting process was unfortunately not cared for properly. As a result of the lack of maintenance, the work began to rot rather than compost (thereby giving the work an entire new set of critical associations). This led the art museum that hosted the work to argue that spores created by the rotting process were a risk to public health, and to demand that the work be removed before the end of the exhibition. It was also argued that the sudden collapse of the artwork might be a danger to museum visitors; this was somewhat ironical, since the work had in fact been commissioned to collapse. Given that a lack of regulation was a central feature of the financial collapse of 2008, Learning Site regarded the institutional intervention as another interesting addition to the work and agreed to its premature removal on condition that the process was carefully documented and the sign below was displayed for the remainder of the biennial.

In his book Connected (2006), the media theorist Steven Shaviro writes about LSD:

[LSD is] contentless and abrasive in that it strips away all determinate qualities and all
particularities of content, transforming them into sheer, quantitative intensity (...) We
can thus say of LSD what Marx and Engels famously said of capital: “All fixed, fast
frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are
swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is
solid melts into air.”

In this way LSD is a universal equivalent and translator for affect, just as money is for commodities. Both are universal equivalents and homogenisers that threaten to produce entropy.

LSD is capital. Capital dissolves society. The architecture of money decomposes as it is devoured by mushrooms. In The House of Economy psychedelia plays back economy’s delirium as a feast on the ruins of capital itself.


In addition to the model a mobile titled Speculative Object (2012), that suspends and animates an equation for a financial derivate—the bare conceptual bones of how big money is made today, hangs from the ceiling.

[House of Economy]
collapsed in Auckland, 2010

Crisis, Ruin, Allegory by Anthony Iles