Kornspeicher and Inspektorhaus
at Novalis-Museum Wiederstedt

The Demon’s Brain

“It is not too late.” This is how it echoes through the space between the video screens of Agnieszka Polska’s work The Demon’s Brain. The appeal is directed at a mounted messenger on his way to the future operator of a salt mine in the first half of the 15th century with a contract from the then-Polish king. The letter contains far-reaching authorizations that enable the entrepreneur to run the mines for decades like an early capitalist enterprise: extraction of raw materials using the required resources of water and wood without regard for pollution or sustainable management, exploitation of human and animal labor at the lowest possible wages, and skimming of profits by the entrepreneur and the state. The one who wants to intervene in the fatal course of events here is the titular demon. He is a mixture of artificial intelligence and the manifestation of natural philosophical and religious values, which finally began to lose their significance in Europe around that time and which today, in the light of the Anthropocene thesis, are gaining new significance. The story takes place around the time when mining in the Harz Mountains and in the Mansfeld region also experienced a first bloom under comparable conditions. What if the demon had succeeded in convincing the young messenger not to deliver the letter, the contents of which he did not know? For My Precious, the large-scale 4-channel video installation created in 2018 for the prize exhibition of the Neue Nationalgalerie at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, was adapted to the conditions in the granary.