So, wasn’t it just a mirror or even a fulfillment of the neoliberal agenda of more and more, of extreme labor and permanent availability? Did it not just prolong the race we are struggling with in our capitalist environment? Wouldn’t it be better to slow down, to take time? Truth is Concrete aimed in the opposite direction. Taking a break was not going to help. This machine did not set a task that could be fulfilled. It could not be easily commodified, nor easily consumed. There was no right time; it wasn’t built around highlights. There were no best couple of hours to grasp it the right way. So there was actually not one marathon, but many individual ones: some shorter, some longer; some searching for depth in familiar topics, others searching for things one had no idea about yet. Having to miss out was part of having to make choices.
In this way, it was also a metaphor for political movements: spending an hour or so at Occupy Wall Street, you will talk to some people, see some tents, maybe smell some of the spirit. You come back, listen in to some committee meetings, maybe next time start talking yourself. Or you move in. All is possible, but it will give you different intensities and insights. Truth is concrete was not only interested in the intellectual intensity it produced. It was also interested in physical intensity. In the impact this meeting had on our bodies. In the here and now.
The machinic and rigid marathon running in the centre was surrounded by a camp-like living and working environment developed by raumlaborberlin—a social space with its own needs and timings, creating a one week community, mixing day and night, developing its own jetlag toward the outside world.
The vertical gesture of the marathon machine was embedded in a horizontal structure of openness: with organized one day workshops and several durational projects and an exhibition, but most importantly with the parallel “Open marathon” based on self-organization: its contents were produced entirely by participants spontaneously stepping into the slots
So was this all just too much? Maybe. But maybe we still don’t have time to waste. The world keeps changing at a fast pace and the marathon was most of all a work meeting—an extreme effort at a time that still seems to need extreme efforts.
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