What Keeps Mankind Alive?

written by Jasna Jakšić


At the end of recession-hit 2009, the Istanbul Biennale, signed by the curatorial collective What, How and for Whom (WHW), opened the question: What Keeps Mankind Alive? This is a quotation from The Threepenny Opera[1] by Brecht written in 1928, the last years of the Weimar Republic when Nazi rule was approaching on a road paved with economic crisis. The English translation of Brecht’s verse: ‘What Keeps Mankind Alive?’ was the title of the 11th Biennale, which was thematically focused on politics and the economy or, more precisely, political and economic human rights in times of crisis of neo-liberal capitalism. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the communist system in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, liberal democracy has not triumphantly made the world a community of happy and competitive consumers.


[1] In Marko Fortez’s translation: ‘Who Rules the World?’ Brecht, Bertolt; The Threepenny Opera; Zora, Zagreb, 1964