Rikke Luther’s The Sand Bank

Rikke Luther, The Sand Bank, 2018. MIT. Photo: Nomeda Urbonas.

Rikke Luther’s new work The Sand Bank explores the cross vectors of historical political orders and cultural aesthetics, and is presented here as a component of her doctoral thesis Concrete Aesthetics: From Universal Rights to Financial Post-Democracy. For The Sand Bank, Luther has collaborated with choreographer-dancer Ian Berg and musician Jesper Skaaing.

The work is a large-scale scenographic stage with images and forms – morphologies – from different epochs, moving from modernity to post-democratic society. Ian Berg and his tap-dance troupe Subject:Matter (dancers appearing in this performance are Ian Berg, Samantha Emmond & Adriana Ogle), have developed a new chreography for a new sound piece, which was commissioned from the Danish musician Jesper Skaaing, and is based on the sound from Sputnik. The scenographic and sculptural elements function as instruments for the tap dancers—one of them as a high hat, for tapping in sand.

Sand marks time. It slips through glass, marking out our hours. But its own time is running out.

The great universal architectures of modernity—the transparent windows through which we view concrete offices on the other side of the street, or through which we view the products Silicon Valley—are all built on sand. But sand is in trouble, and with it, much of the concrete and abstract architecture of our time.

In Europe, the concrete bunkers of World War II provided the groundwork for the communal concrete architectures of the era of social welfare and universal rights. As the Cold War grew, sand architecture moved to space, blinking in the circuits of Sputnik. If you listen hard, you can still hear the echoed bleeps and thuds; the rhythms of the 20th century beat out ambitiously in space.

But the conceptual architectures of Modernity have drifted. Politics soured. Freak capital now seeks refuge in the universal rites of concrete, as sand scarcity eats at the 20th century’s embodiment of progress. History shifted the plan for progress. The symbols of the era of tight democratic oversight have been pirated: in the era of disaggregated silica, freedom of markets must come at the expense of democracy. Post-war concrete has merged gradually, seamlessly, into post-democratic concrete. Meanings change. The case is altered. Concrete surrendered itself. It is overwritten.  

– Rikke Luther


The Sand Bank will be shown at the Zooetics+ Symposium at MIT, on the 28th of April 2018, at 9:30 PM in Building E15, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA. The performance is a part of the recognitions by the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies. Support for the performance has been provided by the Nordic Culture Fund and the Danish Cultural Council.

This event is part of the Zooetics+ Symposium, a CAVS 50th Anniversary event.


  • act cube
    Wieser Building E15-001
    20 Ames Street
    Cambridge, MA 02142

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