knowbotiq, Psychotropic Gold Refining: Swiss refinery Pamp, 2017. Wallpaper

The Swiss Psychotropic Gold Refining

2017-2018. Installation, video (HD, 21′ 13″), wallpaper, prints on transparent foil

Credits for the video:
Concept, realisation, montage/animation: knowbotiq
Script: Nina Bandi (Script: A Molecular Listening Session mit Fred Hystère und Nina Bandi), knowbotiq
Sound: DJ Fred Hystère, knowbotiq
Voices: Nina Bandi, Sally Schoenfeldt, Jord/ana Rosenberg, Romy Rüegger, Paolo Caffoni, Stef Huber, u.a.
with quotes from: Karen Barad, Josef Tanner, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Rohit Jain, Audre Lord, Paul B. Preciado, Michael Taussig, Imelda Marcos, Gloria Wecker, Paul Wilmott, Nina Simone, Junglepussy u.a.
Performer: Teresa Vittucci
Thanks to: ifcar, ZHdK Zurich, DRAFT/Christoph Schenker, Gitanjali Dang, Rohit Jain, Dimitrina Sevova, Anna Frei, u.a.

For more than three centuries, Swiss commodity trading has been caught up in colonial, and later in postcolonial entanglements. Having fuelled early modern industrialisation as well as contemporary finance, Swiss commodity trading activities have influenced vivid cultural, affective and moral economies.

They have contributed to Swiss wealth, but also to national narratives of swiss neutrality, safety and white supremacy. As an artistic and ethnographic project, Swiss Psychotropic Gold re-narrates global gold trade — from mining in former colonies to its refining and re-diverting in and out of Switzerland — as a series of transformative immediations of primary materials, values and affects. More than 60% of global gold refining per year takes place in Switzerland. In recent history, Switzerland has fashioned itself as a political and economic hotspot for neutralizing the narratives of gold. Gold is quasi alchemically cleaned of its violent and physical history and transformed into an ephemeral symbol of power, status and purity – into condensed wealth.

How to maintain such a discreet public display of wealth?  Which histories and stories are visible, which are made invisible in postcolonial publics?  Which bodily and psychic body techniques are enacted to perform a “golden amnesia”?

We want to fabulate on how gold is transforming and gets purified by being dis- and re-assembled from its “origin” in outer space, from its de-grounding in mines and decoupling in refineries, to its recomposition into jewellery, to its enclosure of supposed safety, and to its recoupling into financial derivatives and futures, to its gold plated circuit boards and and to its psychotropic substances and affects - i.e. we got to know during our local research that certain people meditate naked on their private bullions, connecting with the energy of the golden molecules in order to balance their mind.

Interview with knowbotiq (Yvonne Wilhelm & Christian Huebler) by Dimitrina Sevova and Alan Roth (printable as PDF 5.79MB).


knowbotiq (Yvonne Wilhelm, Christian Huebler) has been experimenting with forms and medialities of knowledge, political representations and epistemic disobedience. In recent projects they are investigating and enacting political landscapes with the focus on algorithmic governmentalities, libidinous and affective economies and postcolonial violence. In various installations, urban inventions and performative settings knowbotiq are exploring molecular, psychotrope and derivative aesthetics.

knowbotiq (former: knowbotic research/together with Alexander Tuchaček) has participated in Venice Biennale , Moscow Biennale, Seoul Biennale, Hongkong Shenzhen Biennale, Biennale Rotterdam and exhibited in New Museum New York, Witte de With Rotterdam, MOCA Taipeh, Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Skuc Gallery Ljubljana, NAMOC Beijing, Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki, Hamburger Kunstverein, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter Oslo, Museum Ludwig Köln and has received major awards including: the Swiss Art Award, the Claasen Prize for Media Art and Photography, Cologne; the international ZKM Media-art award; August Seeling-Award of Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum and the Prix Arts Electronica.

knowbotiq has a professorship at the MFA program, University of the Arts Zurich.