Keller focus in his new performance Retro Liberalism on the origins of liberalism. He examines the liberal idea by studying the founding father Adam Smith and his two main books The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of ethical Feelings. The title Retro Liberalism is to read as a reversal of the neoliberalism and is intended to put Smith's ideas of Liberalism up again for discussion from a contemporary perspective. A look back is imperative as many of Smith's original thoughts have perished or have been perverted over time. A new holistic reading of Smith's work is therefore appropriate.
Smith's liberalism has deep anthropological roots. Smith understands the human being as a social being capable for empathy, which needs the community, sees himself as part of it and is therefore obliged to it. Good faith, fairness and respect are normative anchors of liberalism for him. Smith sees “prosperity for all” as the goal, and competition is the manner to work towards that goal together. The liberalism shaped by Smith is much more complex than the contemporary neo-liberal form, which only focus on monetary gain and does not care about the effects on people and the environment.
In 2015 Keller spent several months in Japan, a highly developed country that goes through an economic stagnation, which has now lasted 25 years. Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world and therefore an ideal biotope to investigate the economic mechanisms described by Smith, such as the swarm intelligenceor the invisible handthat is intended to keep the markets in order. Keller looked in Japanaround with these questions in mind and developed a Japanese-influenced reading of Smith's liberalism that is familiar and different at the same time. Observations from everyday life in Tokyo flow into the performance as well as elements from the Kabuki theatre.
Retro liberalism is a procedural performancefor two actors, which will be developed during the exhibition action!and will be shown towards the end of the exhibition. It is a work of art that changes on a daily basis and is shown to visitors in very different facets: from the development phase, to the rehearsals and the performances at the end of the exhibition.