Friedrich von Borries


Book, 21 x 13 cm, 252 p., language : German, publisher : Suhrkamp, Berlin, ISBN : 978-3-518-46443-4.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection MHKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2028/518).

Literary synopsis

In RLF the story begins with the London riots: the losers of consumer society take to the streets to show the world that they exist; cars and shops are set on fire. Young advertising executive Jan’s world is turned upside down. He’s made a lot of money on campaigns for the fashion industry, but when he gets swept up in the unrest he comes to realise: capitalism must be overthrown, and it must be done with its own means. Jan finds the perfect allies in the activist Slavia and the artist Mikael Mikael. Together they found RLF, a lifestyle company specialising in transforming the desire for protest and dissent into commodities; the goal is to bring the system to the brink of collapse through a revolutionary act. But the revolution comes at a price, and someone will have to pay it – maybe even with their life.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

The yearning for alternative social, political and economical paradigms is currently materialising itself in uprisings everywhere. This zeitgeist sets the discursive context and activist standpoint for RLF. RLF is an enterprise that strives to overcome Capitalism with the means of Capitalism: protest is manifested in luxury products and their consumption is transformed into a revolutionary act. RLF is named after Theodor W. Adorno’s dictum: Es gibt kein richtiges Leben im falschen [there is no right life in the wrong one]. RLF however contrives to show evidence of the contrary: how to implement the right life in the wrong one. 

The RLF products were presented to the public for the first time in an exhibition in August 2013 at ST. AGNES, an empty nave that combines the former church’s ethereal atmosphere with its architectural brutalism. Starting Autumn 2013, the products were sold in temporary shops as well as through the enterprise’s website – www.rlf-propaganda.com. Suhrkamp published the novel by Friedrich von Borries, in which he describes the inception of RLF and tells the story of its founders – the activist Slavia, the marketing specialist Jan and the artist Mikael Mikael. 

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