These are funny times, don’t you think?
Calorie Bombs and other WMD
The video Bailout the Cream of the Crop plays with the idea that global capitalism has effectively been thoroughly socialized. ‘Socialism’ sounds almost like a dirty word when right-wing ideologists try to dismantle the welfare system or what little remains of it. Yet the largest corporate conglomerates in the world continue to receive trillions of dollars in bailout money. Inspired by its corporate mentors, Co-operation Corp set out to get bailout money that it might also continue to prosper. For this performance, I went to a seedy, working class neighborhood in East Durham. Bailout slogans had been automatically generated by an online slogan generator and then handpicked according to their relation to food products, which seemed a particularly vicious association given the proportion of Americans who rely on food stamps.
My contribution to the Hemi 2012 show at Duke University were a projected video collage and a large inkjet Print:
Corporate culture forms a universe parallel to that of normal human interaction. Similarly, corporate culture is also defined by ritualistic behaviors and relational norms, but when taken outside of the framework of best business practices, it can seem awkward, at best and pathetic, at worst. As children, we all learn how to behave in public, in school and at a friend’s house. When we grown up, most of us need to be re-programmed according to the behavioral norms of the business life: how to present oneself in public; how to eat at a fundraiser dinner; how to shake hands; how to effectively move your body and appropriately use language at your next job interview; how to express oneself in a board meeting, etc. In short, we have to assimilate the rules of the ruling (business) class, if we have any hope of reaching for this strata at all. In essence, corporations have created their own experimental meta-community — one that excludes and marginalizes the rest of society.
Media: Projected HD video, single channel, audio
Performing a Google Image Search query with the word “boardroom” results in approximately 15,000,000 images of empty boardrooms. Several questions arise: why are spaces designed for human interaction/communication depicted as empty? Why do people take pictures of these empty spaces? What do these spaces and the many images of them tell us about our culture and our concept of business, work, importance, and status? Capital and power beg to be represented in tangible ways, and the imagined ownership of exclusive and available spaces satisfies this modus vivendi desire, if you will. The potential for human interaction and communication is not only embodied in such charged empty spaces, but also simultaneously excluded from such spaces. Boardrooms, empty or not, deny the general public from any kind of democratic participatory agency, which fits nicely into seemingly innocuous but dramatically exclusionary private property clauses. Boardrooms are the sacred spaces of the corporate parallel universe; non-members of the corporate elite are simply not welcome.