Rat Race, Snail Pace - Challenging the Growth Imperative

Ernest Aigner, Martin Färber, Oliver Hangl, Halliki Kreinin, Nina Pohler

The workshop Rat Race, Snail Pace explored various communication strategies to challenge the global growth imperative. The interdisciplinary collaboration between the Vienna University of Economics and Business and the University of Applied Arts was held as part of a broader engagement with the topic of degrowth and a pre-event for the conference Degrowth Vienna 2020 - Strategies for social-ecological transformation.

What is economic growth and productivity? How is it related to resources and energy use, human well-being and social stability? What role can artistic strategies play to challenge the growth imperative? How can methods of art and media be used to trigger public involvement in the growth discourse? How can marketing strategies be instrumentalized for a critique of economic growth?

Based on these questions, the workshop Rat Race, Snail Pace developed strategies to challenge the imperative of economic growth. The workshop was the outcome of an interdisciplinary collaboration of Ecological Economics (WU Vienna), the Social Design Studio (University of Applied Arts Vienna) and guest artist Oliver Hangl.

After a discussion on the critique of economic growth and the foundations of a degrowth society, followed by an introduction to social design strategies and artistic methods, common fields of interest and possible approaches for interventions were explored. Based on the derived thematic clusters, five groups of students developed ideas to raise awareness and promote degrowth, call to arms or find new ways of communicating the complexity associated with the topic in a simple way.

The resulting projects featured fake kickstarter-campaigns, surprising fact memes, video works questioning the habit of trashing, humorous audio pieces about unconditional love for objects and a gossip magazine for sharing resources. Others questioned preconceived notions of consumption and international trade, or celebrated sharing of resources between neighbours and public housing in Vienna.

© Team Share and Repair Misha Zadykowicz


© Team Banana 2


© Team Banana 1


Ernest Aigner
Martin Färber
Oliver Hangl
Halliki Kreinin
Nina Pohler Collaboration between the Vienna University of Economics and Business and the University of Applied Arts