The exhibition brings together works by critically acclaimed artists Burak Delier, Guy Ben-Ner and Hito Steyerl, that examine the underlying economies of our material existence and art production in the 21st century, highlighting unresolved issues of freedom and social cohesion in an increasingly interconnected world, shaped by systems that erode the very human values they were supposed to emancipate.
In recent years, the critiques of the dominant narrative of market fundamentalism, widely known as neoliberalism, have been doubled in critical contemporary art by examinations of the ways in which the commodity and its cycles of production, exchange and consumption activate us. In our consumer economy, the fetishism of commodities empties them of meaning, concealing the real social relations invested in them through human labour; as a result, imaginary, ideological, and symbolic social relations are instilled into the construction of meaning instead.
It is not only commodity goods, however, but all forms of mediated culture which are now entirely bounded by the demands of capital. How does art respond to these pervasive forces, in the context of an unprecedented market boom that determines what kind of art is made and sold and, eventually, controls its future? Has art been corrupted and become a thing, a commodity insensitive to the manifold forces that have influenced how it came to be and to the values it aspired to project? How do artists and ourselves resist, conform to, or try to change the forces that push us to be possessed?
In Collector’s Wish (2012), Burak Delier explores the uneasy relationship artists have with influential patrons and the money they offer, undermining the myth of creative freedom and autonomous critique in the market-driven art world of today. He uses guerrilla tactics and absurdist humour, and also employs the strategies of the very neoliberal systems with which he disagrees. The artist lives and works in Istanbul, and his work has been presented at INIVA London, Taipei Biennial, and the Istanbul Biennial.
Shot without permission in IKEA stores across the world, Guy Ben-Ner’s video Stealing Beauty (2008) focuses on private property as the source of an all-embracing concept of civilization. Since the early 90s, Ben-Ner has filmed a series of videos starring himself and his family, focusing on the blurring limits between public and personal life and the complex relationship we create with the environments we inhabit. The artist has exhibited internationally and in 2005 represented Israel at the Venice Biennale.
Hito Steyerl’s video In Free Fall (2010) recounts the history of a particular Boeing 707 jet, stored in an aeroplane scrapyard in California’s Mojave Desert after the 2008 financial crash. The artist takes the digital image as a point of departure for entering a world of war, capital flows, digital detritus and class warfare, which has shifted from the virtual to an unknown reality that we are only beginning to understand. Hito Steyerl is one of the leading artists working in the field of video today. Her work has been widely shown at Documenta, Manifesta, Venice Biennale and Gwangju Biennale.