David Riff and Dmitry Gutov

The Need for Money, (2012)

Exhibiting 03 October – 14 December at Sheffield Institute of Arts

In The Need for Money a native Russian speaker reads from the English translation of Das Kapital, struggling as words are stumbled over and mispronounced. The Need for Money is part of the ongoing project The Karl Marx School of the English Language. Founded in Moscow in 2005/6, The Karl Marx School of the English Language’s most immediate goal was not as an art project, but a reading group to improve both the spoken language and reading comprehension of its participants: art critic David Riff (instructor) art historian Kristin Romberg (substitute teacher); philosophers Oxana Timofeeva, Alexei Penzin and Vlad Sofronov; curator Konstantin Bokhorov; and the artist Dmitry Gutov (students).

The school meets once a week at Gutov’s studio in the centre of Moscow. The school’s curriculum consists of texts by Karl Marx in their English translation and study consists of close comparisons of English translations to Russian and German versions of Marx’s texts. The difficulty arises in each participant’s own interpretation of Marx’s thoughts—personal, subjective and leading into ever more polemical readings until participants abscond to obligatory late night drinking and taxi rides home.

David Riff is a writer, artist and curator who lives and works in Moscow and Berlin. He is a member of the work group Chto delat and was co-editor of the newspaper of the same name from 2003 to 2008. He has written on post-Soviet contemporary art in Flash Art, documenta 12 magazines, Moscow Art Magazine, Rethinking Marxism, Springerin, and Third Text, and has worked extensively as a translator in the field of contemporary art. Together with collaborator Dmitry Gutov he took The Karl Marx School of the English Language to the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007.

  • David Riff Image The Need for Money, 2013. Exhibition view. Courtesy of WKV Stuttgart. Photo: Nathalie Boseul Shin