»System« is actually a euphemism that shifts the responsibility. We are the system.
That’s true. The triumphal march of capitalism has long since arrived in Russia and China, even if it is sold differently there in ideological terms and leads to great frictions, as we are currently experiencing. And while we’re on the subject of us: we’ve understood, in theory, that our life plan is on the very edge of the abyss, but so far, we’ve not drawn any conclusions from this. I don’t think capitalism is itself inherently reprehensible, but its entirely unfettered and uninhibited perversion, in the form of a neoliberal market economy whose consequences – the blatantly inequitable distribution of wealth and access to education and health, the often quoted, ever widening gap between rich and poor – will ultimately turn against us, from the outside and from the inside. Lack of restraint on one side leads to an abandonment of restraint on the other – and manifests itself in the growing anger of the disadvantaged at those who are profiting, which expresses itself in phenomena such as terrorism, or which opens the door to populism and also, ultimately, leads to this war, which has to be read as also being a war between systems. Because I still want to adhere to the free development of the individual but do not want to accept that such banal amoralities as the accumulation of incredible amounts of wealth by a tiny number of profiteers from the unfettered market economy are insurmountable, I believe naively but firmly in a paradigm shift. So, my battle cry, which perhaps might also be something like a conclusion from EUPHORIA, is: Educate capitalism!
Does the problem lie in how people are brought up? Our education system directs young people towards consum-erism and competition from an early age. It teaches them how to present their biographies in a way that’s attractive to the market, awakens desire and defines the signs of success, which are almost all material. Time to educate the mind is curtailed and an early entry into the labour market sold as an advantage.
It’s absolutely clear: we need to recalibrate our system of values. Soon, it ought not to be cool and sexy to own a lot of things, but rather to act in a more socially responsible way and to share with others. The desire to develop freely should no longer be repressed by the state: nobody wants an enforced sameness again, as there was under Communism. And yet, for me, there is hope in an understanding of values that rates sharing something higher than owning it. Ideas are now being formulated that may still sound utopian, but they don’t have to remain utopian. I’m hopeful. I can see that our children are already on the way in this direction. I can see it in my children. They’ve got a lot further in chang-ing their thinking than I have.
Why is your work entitled EUPHORIA?
This title has been with me for a number of years, while I’ve been gathering texts and ideas for the project. I had been looking for a term that expressed the compelling energy of the capitalist idea, the uninhibited thrill of property and growth that doesn’t just grab investment bankers and company bosses but us, too.
Does euphoria have negative connotations for you in light of the dystopian images that you use to capture it in your project?
The tiger has an answer to that at the end, which I’m not going to give away.
At the beginning, I mentioned that your filming on EUPHORIA was abruptly interrupted owing to the war against Ukraine. Can you describe the situation for us?
We went to Kyiv a total of four times in recent months and we filmed there twice. The first time was the bank scene – we converted the waiting room at Kyiv central station for it. The shoot was a surreal party. While the set was still being built, costumes were being fitted in the hallway, dances choreographed, magicians and acrobats were practising their tricks and moves. Almost 200 people were involved in front of and behind the camera. You could feel the energy everywhere; despite all the effort, it was enormous fun. We then returned to Kyiv for a second time, just before the war began, to shoot another three scenes. We had just finished filming one of them when we got the news – it was the last week of the Olympics in Beijing – that the US intelligence service had information that Putin was going to order an attack on Ukraine within a couple of days. The USA and Britain then called for the immediate evacuation of their citizens; Germany and other European countries followed. Our Ukrainian team members had been living in an information war for the last eight years and, numbed by the constant sabrerattling, didn’t take this warning seriously. But the American and British actors we were waiting for did not travel. Because we couldn’t and didn’t want to accept responsibility for our team, we sent home all the other members of the team who had travelled from Berlin. Ryanair increased the price of its flights – flights that had cost 28 € suddenly cost 900 €. Another example of the proliferation of the unfettered market economy – demand for what might be a life-saving seat on the plane determines the price. Three of us then stayed one more day to at least film a few more spaces and some drone footage with the Ukrainian team. Finally, we left the country too – as it turned out, six days before the air space was closed to civilian flights. At that time, I was still hoping to be able to return shortly afterwards. It felt wrong having to go and leave everything lying there. Today, the family of our Ukrainian location manager is living with us in our flat in Berlin; friends from our team are living nearby and with other friends. More of them will come. And other members of the team, who we were just working and celebrating with recently, who thought this would never happen, are now fighting and we’re worried about them.