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"It’s the Political Economy, Stupid!"

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Espiral – A Dance of Death in 8 Scenes by Isa  Rosenberger

Body Versus Capital by flo6x8 Collective

Money to burn by Dread  Scott

Money to burn by Dread  Scott
Center for Cultural Decontamination,
Sep 30, 2013 - Oct 06, 2013
Belgrade, Serbia

"It’s the Political Economy, Stupid!"
by Vladimir Jeric Vlidi

What did undergo a significant change though, was the language itself. Over time words and images got ever more complex, but not always in order to communicate comparably complex ideas. Sometimes quite the contrary indeed, or as Alfredo Zaiat, economist and journalist would put it in Alicia Herrero's Bank: Art & Economies: "I challenge you to get rid of the prejudice, if you have it, that you don't know about Economics. What happens is that a great number of economists and those who dominate economic thought have encrypted economic content, and for what exact purpose? So that the majority are submissive to a supposed specialist knowledge, and this supposed specialist knowledge is at the service of economic power." What is said is a well-known daily inconvenience of most of those exposed to TV and the media, the feeling of being utterly clueless on the matters that should be of the utmost significance. All of the respected news outlets would always have a special slot allocated for economic or business reporting, precisely because of the tremendous importance we have to place on that particular field of human activity. You may prefer sports to say, culture, but at least the economic part of daily news, we agreed will concern us all. What happened? As to be witnessed on a daily basis, for decades now, most of the dedicated reporting on the economy is designed to obfuscate the matter entirely.

This not-that-complex-as-it-appears kind of magic is more or less easily decryptable for whoever decides to take some time to go through the manual. Then, the double plot of the operation and its true nature is revealed, but without the moment of catharsis - one discovers after all this learning, that behind the "data" there is no "reality", there is nothing to understand, no complexity revealed. That this is, in fact, a deterrent for those remotely curious and a trap to exhaust those who show a bit more courage. The whole field reveals itself as a Potemkin creation to make the economy appear as if it is following "rules" and "laws" that are just out there, to disseminate the idea that the economy somehow "happens" as a force of nature, and that businessmen and experts are there to explore, to tame, to articulate it into something to be of use for the rest of us. As if the economy is some mine of vital-to-survive-stuff on a distant planet, and a selected few with immense personal capabilities will fight all the odds so the rest of humanity will somehow benefit.

This is also probably the reason why we get so much of the exciting revelations in the form of the Kaiser Report(8) and similar entertaining and informative shows and blogs and whatever the media offers in their mission to "debunk economics." But this is also why a question can be posed: if, on a daily basis, the crimes of those in power are being revealed within global media, including real names, real faces, hard numbers, and nothing happens, why would art present the problem through fictional characters placed in imaginary setting and expect to make a difference? One possible answer might be - precisely because of the power of abstraction to universalize, both in time and space.

"It’s the Political Economy, Stupid!" will not make Wall Street feel uneasy; it does not intend to. It wants it to actually not feel anything, like all the things left behind, firmly buried 6 feet under - because it knows that it won't happen today. What it does do is try to look at the future, beyond what was created and destroyed so far within the current principles of the flow of capital. Perhaps it also attempts to enact something new, but of course, it cannot see this clearly, as the dust from the demolition is still far from settling. And with this epic post-apocalyptic image in mind I want to leave you with both the exhibition and this review, but if you happen to pass by any of the installments of "It’s the Political Economy, Stupid!" or if you are able to get your hands on the accompanying book of essays, don't hesitate - it does deserve your time and attention. As we have learned together on this, yet another occasion, from where we stand now, we simply cannot tell in which direction this all will unfold. But still, there are dreams and anticipation, there is hope, a sense of battles lost, but a war to be won. It is not very likely that in one of the many possible scenarios - this would probably be "the artistic wishful thinking" scenario - the answer to the question being posed in some future on what brought capitalism to an end will be "It’s the Exhibition, Stupid!". But if that somehow happens, perhaps the recipient will have to check on what exactly this "art" thing actually once stood for on some future Google.

Vladimir Jeric Vlidi, Beograd, October 2013
Parts of this texts were written in conversation with Jelena Vesic


1) A part of Metahaven's book Can Jokes Bring Down Governments? Memes, Design and Politics, available at
2) In such approaches to the subject matter there are no allegories necessary to be revealed or understood, there is no related or produced or implied "universe of meaning" that stands behind the work, and no other knowledge or particular experience is required to understand the entire message but to be able to read.
3) It’s the Political Economy, Stupid! - The Global Financial Crisis in Art and Theory, Gregory Sholette, Oliver Ressler , Pluto Books, 2013
4) "Immanuel Kant countered the conservative motto "Don’t think, obey!" not with "Don’t obey, think!", but with "Obey, BUT THINK!" When we are blackmailed by things like the bailout plan, we should bear in mind that we are effectively blackmailed, so we should resist the populist temptation to act out our anger and thus hit ourselves. Instead of such impotent acting out, we should control our anger and transform it into a cold determination to think, to think in a really radical way, to ask what kind of a society are we living in, in which such blackmail is possible," writes Žižek in his essay "It's the Political Economy, Stupid!".
5) Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction, Mark Bould, China Mieville , Wesleyan, 2009.
6) Two short excerpts might prove useful for contemplating this question: "From its inception in the early sixteenth century, utopia is imprinted by the character of capitalism, to the extent that this social formation, in contrast to feudalism, is itself increasingly totalising. ‘Utopic discourse makes its appearance historically only when a mode of capitalist production is formed’, Louis Marin states . The advent of capitalism, in spite of its fitful, uneven development, provides the fundamental conditions of possibility for the utopian form, which defamiliarises society insofar as it is able to totalise it and totalises it insofar as it is able to defamiliarise it." From "The Anamorphic Estrangements of Science Fiction", Matthew Beaumont, in Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction
"<…> how to imagine and represent the forms the arts might take when neither religion nor commodity exchange constitutes the foundation of the arts - specifically of music, that most abstract of practices."
"Perhaps the greatest challenge for the utopian novelist is to represent how an alternative economic system might affect other segments of the social formation, such as the arts. One way to theorise the relationship is through Marx’s fundamental analytical categories for the analysis of any mode of production: the means and relations of production and consumption."
From "Art as ‘The Basic Technique of Life’: Utopian Art and Art in Utopia in The Dispossessed and Blue Mars", William J. Burling, in Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction
7) Walter Benjamin, "The Task of the Translator", 1923, available at
8) Keiser Report is a TV show hosted by Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, in which they comment on the latest headlines from the world of the economy and finance in a critical and satirical, but "deadly serious" manner. The second half of each show consists of the interview with either a prominent financial figure or the analyst/activist from the world of economy conducted by Keiser. Available at

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