It’s works such as Rimini Protokoll’s that emphasize the Museum of Capitalism’s surreal setting.
The museum’s temporary location is tucked away in Oakland’s Jack London Square, a developed waterfront area that was initially envisioned as a tourist destination but has been plagued with storefront vacancies for the past decade—and is eerily deserted on most days of the week.
Steves and Furstnau partnered with the Jack London Improvement District to move into a massive empty building that was designed to be a bustling vendor marketplace.
To reach the museum from the street, visitors must cross railroad tracks via an elevated walkway with a sci-fi feel. Once in the second-floor exhibition space, they can peer down into the still-vacant first floor of the building and see scaffolding left behind like a ghost of the intended marketplace—almost a work of art in itself.
At the back, floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto the Oakland Estuary, where rows of yachts bob in the water and massive cranes lift containers onto ships in the distance, ready to carry them across the world.
Without the Museum of Capitalism there, the area would seem ordinary to any Oaklander. But part of the museum’s goal, the curators explained, is to invite visitors to imagine alternatives outside of capitalist frameworks, simply by suggesting the possibility of such a thing.
In doing so, they hope museumgoers will begin to recognize the ways in which we all perform capitalism in our daily lives, making people aware of the way it’s both ubiquitous and invisible. As Steves put it: “The exit of the Museum of Capitalism is the entrance to the real museum of capitalism.”