“A brand like a friend” is the motto of Georg Keller Unternehmungen (GKU). Through this dummy concern, the artist Georg Keller infiltrates and reflects on economic cycles. In 2016, after receiving the renowned Manor Art Prize, Keller set about plotting a friendly takeover of Switzerland’s biggest department store chain.
What looks at first glance like a corporate history from below turns out to be the intertwining of an artistic one-man enterprise with a Swiss retailer that turns over roughly CHF 3 billion with a workforce of over 10,000 staff. Interviews with employees at various levels of the corporate hierarchy form the first thread of the narrative. The second, visible only when the day’s work is done, delves into Georg Keller’s creative work. So these are two books in one, two stories, each of which stands alone and yet sheds a revealing light on the other.
Keller’s projects question and lay bare the workings of economic structures, scrutinizing the mechanisms of globalization and their impacts on mankind and the environment. His earnest approach to these explosive subjects is coupled with a reduced aesthetic and a pinch of humor. With the aid of GKU he exposes elements of economic narration and staging, using all sorts of different media, including installation, sculpture, video and performance, and developing works in artistic and theatrical contexts and in public spaces. All his works come together under the umbrella of GKU to form a total artwork.