June 10-14, 2009
“… Spaces have multiplied, been broken up ad have diversified… To live is to pass from one space to another, while doing your very best not to bump yourself.”
- Georges Perec
This is the context in which RMB City exists at Art Basel, as a space along a journey of varying places and surroundings. A fantastical community in the vast virtual world of Second Life, RMB City now features “People’s Limbo”, a new series of interactive, experiential activities in response to the global economic crisis. The project is an exploration of the feelings of despair, denial, and loss of control that accompany financial catastrophe, as well as the simultaneous potential for progress toward rebirth, self-reliance, and freedom. In the words of Lao Tsu, “If you empty the self and relax your desires, you will know more clearly where you are heading.”
The People’s Limbo video, consisting of 12 short scenes, offers a Real Life (RL) audience a unique view of the essence of the “People’s Limbo” experience. Some of the activities are competitive and reflect the influence of past economic realities: for instance, one in which the visitor is thrown into the middle of a dense bubble of chaotic, bouncing balls, only to find it increasingly difficult to maneuver her way out, mirroring the quick loss of control that occurs as an economic bubble builds (and quickly collapses). Others, like a sustainable community garden, are meditative, and represent idealized visions of the future. A foot massage parlor staffed by Marx, Mao, a Lehman Brothers executive, and Lao Tze, serves as a philosophical platform for investigating all of these ideas. In their imagined dialogue about desire and self-awareness, the Lehman Brothers executive quips “Take all this as a journey in the ‘Limbo of Life’”.
In addition to “People’s Limbo”, RMB City at Basel also consists of short videos of previous experiential projects, including “The Birth of RMB City”, “No Lab in RMB City” (a collaboration between Cao Fei and MAP Offices that envisions a virtual New Orleans) and “Qi of RMB City”.