Hello, My Name Is Capitalism: Chto Delat? Karl Holmqvist, Janice Kerbel, Ghislaine Leung, Stuart Middleton, Gili Tal, Simon Thompson
05 Oct 2019 -- 09 Nov 2019
Organised by David Bussel
Opening: Saturday 5th of October 7pm - 10pm
The way in which men produce their means of subsistence depends first of all on the nature of the actual means of subsistence they find in existence and have to reproduce. This mode of production must not be considered simply as being the production of the physical existence of the individuals. Rather it is a definite form of activity of these individuals, a definite form of expressing their life, a definite mode of life on their part. As individuals express their life, so they are. What they are, therefore, coincides with their production, both with what they produce and with how they produce. The nature of individuals thus depends on the material conditions determining their production.
– Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The German Ideology
The title of this group exhibition purposely misreads a contemporary subject-formation that is produced (and self-reproduces or subsists, often despite itself) under the rationalised and naturalised conditions of capitalist social relations. A subject who is so enfolded within the totality of these relations that only that same system can reproduce in a combined effect of the productive forces (machines, factories, infrastructure), one’s own labour power (as a commodity) and the social structures one inhabits.
Capital’s objective is to constantly accumulate new markets, that is, more value, its real aim as an the ‘automatic’ subject. It achieves this through the class or wage relation, the internally contradictory relation between labour and capital, which is the kernel, the foundational and structural conflict which orientates its logic, through exploitation on the one side and ownership of the means of production or value creation on the other. This relation is produced by the violence of dispossession (‘primitive accumulation’), the atomisation of society, breaking it down into alienated, immiserated and individualised subjects or ‘users’ who must daily ‘optimise’ themselves (health, networking) in the theatre of marketized life, a subject always at work, always in competition with others, always running the risk of being made surplus to the labour force and the needs of capital and the legitimation of the state. These needs are captured by capital in ‘wars’ fought around ‘identity’ and ‘difference’: race, gender, class, culture and the environment, by polarising affect (politics), entrenching technology (AI, social media, security) and financialising everything.
The works in the exhibition cannot of course resolve the complexities and contradictions of capitalist social relations, but they can address and inveigh against them. This is manifest in Chto Delat?’s video Builders, which, through the prism of a Soviet Realist painting of a cohort of labourers, marshals a critique of the organisation of contemporary life and prefigures through their own practice, a future collective and communal one. It the end it is important to consider that capitalism is not just a mode of production but also a social relation and one we can actually choose to realise differently as ‘unity in separation’.
Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 7pm