By Eloise Horsfield

A SPANISH artist has made headlines around the world by creating – and then destroying – 10 giant sculptures spelling out the word ‘Kapitalism’.

Santiago Sierra, 46, created letters in 10 countries using local materials before arranging for them to be publically eaten, demolished or burnt.

He completed his project by setting fire to a 3.6 metre high ‘K’ made from pine and hay in Melbourne last week, having spent two years slowly spelling out the mystery word (see picture right).

“The project showed my feelings and desires, and my desire is for the destruction of the capitalist system,” he said.

“It’s a criminal system that is putting humankind on the border of extinction.”

Sierra began the Destroyed Word project in Sweden in 2010, where the word ‘capitalism’ is spelt with a ‘K’.

His first letter was ‘M’, created out of concrete and then later destroyed using demolition machines (see picture below).

In the Netherlands he made a giant ‘S’ out of fruit and vegetables which was later devoured by pigs.

“I realised I had to make a global piece. I am a gypsy in a way, I travel and make art everywhere,” said the Madrid-born artist, who also made and destroyed works in India, Iceland and Papua New Guinea.

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  1. Assuming that Santiago Sierra is human, I wonder what is meant by “human behaviour”.

    In my experience that term is used to justify all kinds of political systems, ranging from the far left to the far right.

    However, if we put 100 randomly chosen people into a room, you would get such a range of behaviour that it would be immediately apparent that there is no such thing as “human behaviour” apart from some basic biological necessities.

  2. Oh there definitely is human behaviour – the basic instincts. Take ownership, the root of capitalism. Humans like to own things, possess things, start small and then get more and more things, exploit others to get things, and kill others to get things e.g. oil, money, gold, diamonds, take your pick of. These things humans have done throughout their history, and are still doing today, and will do until we evolve out of this behaviour I guess (unlikely). We all want to own more and more things, more cars, more land, more money, more power, more blog posts lol – it’s what humanity does.

  3. Sure Tony, I suppose you’ve never wanted a pay rise, never wanted a better car, a better house, or never wanted more money? You are not any different. Our very existence exploits other people. I suppose you have never owned a branded product either? All branded goods exploit people. Just look at Apple’s problems with factory workers recently. Oh no Tony, you’re unique. lol.

  4. Fred, this is what you said:
    “…start small and then get more and more things, exploit others to get things, and kill others to get things e.g. oil, money, gold, diamonds, take your pick of.”

    No, I am not unique in wanting to do any of those things. I share my abhorrence of those traits with millions of other people. You may share those traits, but don´t include me in that category.

    There are very few practical alternatives to branded goods and, if there were, I would be among the first to take them up. As things stand, I have to put my hand up to the accusation of buying branded goods. But that does not mean that I share those traits that you listed above.

    Being pure in an impure world is nigh on impossible, but that doesn´t make all human behaviour the same. Far from it.

  5. Tony, I didn’t say I condone or like those behaviours, but it’s just part and parcel of what humans basically are, and as I stated, you (and I) possess some of those basic behaviours, do you not? You are cherry picking the worst of these examples.

    I take it you do want oil for your car and heating, yes? Well, in that case look at the countries that are being destroyed and exploited for oil. Seen the pollution after the Shell Nigerian oil spill, for example. We exploit people indirectly, every day, without realising it, so protest as much as you like but there’s no escape from it.

    I can tell you one fact, and that is if you and your family were faced with imminent death and you *had* to kill in order to survive and exist, you would kill or be killed. I would, and so would you, as history has proved over and over again.

  6. “if you and your family were faced with imminent death and you *had* to kill in order to survive and exist, you would kill or be killed.”
    That has never happened to me and, fortunately, has never happened to the majority of living humans. So I cannot speculate any more than you can

    “You are cherry picking the worst of these examples.”
    They are examples that you gave. That is not my fault.

    Fred, I think you need to define your terms. How do you define “human behaviour”?

    I emphasise “behaviour” (conscious reaction) because I think you confuse the word with “instinct” (a newly hatched sea turtle will instinctively move toward the ocean.) For me it is far more than than “the basic instincts” (your words).

    I have serious difficulties with that term. Put Adolf Hitler, or any other prominent Nazi, in a room with Mahatma Ghandi (for example) and anyone would have trouble finding anything that they have in common. Yet they were both humans.

  7. Tony, I am surprised that you need to speculate on some pretty basic things. Does anybody really speculate that they would kill to protect their family for example?
    People do this all the time in the news reports, at least the ones I read. If you want to use the word instinct, that’s fine. None of the things I mentioned are learned behaviours. Humans inhabit a place and ultimately pollute and destroy it through greed and desire for material things.

    Still, I’m glad we made some common ground.

  8. Fred,
    you are talking about the western white mans mentality, not the whole of humanity. Sadly the European savages by use of superior weapons brutally imposed this rapacious way of ‘living’ on virtually the whole planet. Where other peoples resisted this degenerate way they were slaughtered – North/Central and South America/Australia and New Zealand are prime examples.

    You have no idea of how clan or tribal systems work. In these systems people will willingly work for the common good. Projects were/are enthusiastically entered into by the whole clan or tribe for ‘the common good’.

    I readily agree that is how most Brits and Americans (I use the generic term) act and live but not all as Tony Bishop has said.

    One of the plus points about the Spanish and I have lived in two very different areas of Spain and travelled extensively through the rest of the country is the sense of community that we so enjoyed when we lived in Spain. Sadly this disappeared some time in the 70s’ in the south of England and it now is ‘dog eat dog’.

    I can say that here in France an excellant idea about community/commune was put together by the artisan baker Phillipe and Laurent the chef of our local restaurant for a ‘fete de voisin’ – a neighbourhood get together where everybody presented home made dishes/tapa like for their friends and neighbours to enjoy. Guess what, the rich English who live here turned up with – nothing, fed like pigs and sat all by themselves since most of them spoke little or no French and have no intention of doing so, or mixing with the local French – it did not go unnoticed. They perfectly fit your view of humanity.

    Next year I shall ‘tell them their fortune’ if they dare to turn up, should be very interesting and might well get a little bloody.

  9. Of course, many clans and tribes are being abandoned as modern life encroaches on these people. That seems to imply that these tribespeople desire modern, material things, western things, if you like. If these western things corrupt such people, then why do they desire them to begin with?

    Tribal culture is no panacea either; some of the worst behaviour and attrocites have been undertaken in tribal cultures around the world.

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