2014-03-28

People's Crucifixion


Symbols work in two directions: on the one hand, they are used by the power-religion to manipulate the people and impose certain worldviews, certain codes of conduct; or, on the other hand, as the Situationists showed, they can be détournés, re-appropriated, reversed. In fact this has always been like that, and in both directions; both tendencies permanently fed back. Was in fact the symbol of the sacrificed invented by Christianity?

It is naive to believe that it is possible to renounce to this symbolic structure which constitutes reality. Or at least for now... 

Image after Rogier van der Weyden's Crucifixion Diptych, ca. 1460 [pd]; Juan de Flandes' Crucifixion, 1509 [pd]; Hendrick ter Brugghen's The Crucifixion with the Virgin and Saint John, ca. 1625 [pd]; Diego Velazquez's Christ Crucified, 1632 [pd]; Anton Raphael Mengs' Christ on the Cross, 1761-9 [pd]; Francisco Goya's Christ on the Cross, 1780 [pd]; and Léon Bonnat's Christ on the Cross, 1880 [pd].

2014-03-25

Virtue Detector

The real political regime that hides behind the farce of liberal democracy is the dictatorship of the majority manipulated by the propaganda of the system, who impose its conventions to the minority. An exemple of this is Margaret Thatcher's "two-thirds society". That is the best case scenario, when it is not the system itself which governs the people.

The desire plays a key role in this dynamic, particularly in the centers of the neoliberal regime. The desire is what pushes spheres of life which used to belong to the realm of freedom and the natural, to progressively become the object of capitalist consumption. In this way the desired, as a form of political control and subjugation, gradually becomes  the obligatory. This happens according to this perverse logic of the dictatorship of the majority, implemented through a legislative, judicial and police apparatus that increasingly tends to impose obligations rather than to protect rights. In such a way, the "transgression" loses its liberating, atoning function (Capitalism as Religion, 1985) and becomes a farce, an illusion, acting in turn as propaganda of the system to impose such practices as the dominant ones.

2014-03-18

Plutocracy


Probably the deepest transformation process in today's world, the one which is in the background of many other superficial phenomena, is the move from a world understood as a series of nation-states (or other political regimes) to another based on multinational corporations. From a world in which the binding substance is the transfer of sovereignty in the form of representative democracy to another in which the transfer is that of the capital. From a world based on political alliances with other nations to another in which the forces of global capital govern. Yet capitalism seems to systematically need the use of traditional symbols, in such a way that the gap between signifiers and signifieds grows bigger than ever, that their ties weaken more and more.

Although the Parthenon of Athens was originally a religious building, its political context and the reuse of the codes of Greek architecture throughout Western Art History made it the privileged symbol of the nation-state and the democracy. Therefore, we propose to reinterpret this unique architecture according to the new forces of global capitalism. Thus, the classic order, which reached in the Parthenon a compositional summit, would be here replaced by the most powerful corporations of the world according to Fortune list. Each corporation will occupy a volume in the facade corresponding to its actual revenues. Thus, the classical paradigm based on the legal order and the harmonious proportionality will be opposed here to another paradigm based on productivity competition and its resulting non-linear and non-intentional proportionalities.  

Images of installation [aw], Arte Laguna Prize 2014, Arsenale, Venice, Italy, with the collaboration of Luca Cuozzo, Ida Koitila, Camila Rhodi, Sadie Weis, Wiz&Sairon and others.

The Accumulation is Primitive




Our maps don't tell the whole truth. Under the guise of objectivity and rigour of conventional representational methods, the mechanisms of domination which shape our world tend to remain hidden. One of these mechanisms, particularly linked with colonialism, is that of the "primitive accumulation" (Karl Marx, Critique of Political Economy, 1867). In fact this is a key notion to understand how, after the so-called decolonization, this "accumulated" capital obtained by hegemonic nations through the subjugation of their colonies, reproduce in turn this exploitation through new globalized mechanisms which transcend the logic of the nation-states.

It seems therefore important, in order to understand our contemporary world, to know this notion of "primitive accumulation" and give visibility to its concrete materialization. Thus, taking the opportunity of this festival organized by a country particularly involved in this phenomenon, we propose to create a raised-relief map representing this "primitive accumulation", using for that real GDP (Domestiv Gross Product) per capita data of the different countries. In this way, a material translation of this idea would be obtained, as well as its geographical distribution and its relative differences throughout the world.

But it would not just be a statistic or cartographic information. In fact, the columns representing the wealth of the various nations would be made of candles, so that, as in many traditions, the work would be a sort of homage to the victims of the colonial -and postcolonial- exploitation.

Images of installation [aw], Infecting the City 2014, Cape Town, South Africa, with the collaboration of Justin Brett. Photos: JB; Africa Centre / ITC2014 / Sydelle Willow Smith.