RealTime Magazine: Hearing through capital’s illusions


The exhibition statement for Capitalist Surrealism is the ultimate in sponsorship acknowledgements: “this program of lecture-performances by sound artists is brought to you by the new cultural logic of capital—real, but honestly, also kind of surreal.” A one-night event, Capitalist Surrealism aimed to assay capitalist social formation by thinking through the surreal processes and possibilities that are our economic life. Held at the National Gallery of Victoria and curated by Liquid Architecture, Capitalist Surrealism encompassed nine lecture-performances that engaged, wrestled with and thought beyond our capitalist present.

The opening performance by Brandon LaBelle, an American-born and Berlin-based writer, artist and theorist, established the event’s theme. Titled Confessions of an Overworked Artist, or, Strategies for an Impossible Practice, LaBelle’s performative mixture of spoken word and visuals reflects the social structures the artist works within, while also attempting to work beyond them. From the beginning he presents himself as the third-person ‘every artist’: “he often imagines what might be possible, the horizon of ideas and solidarities.” The forcefully charismatic LaBelle delivers a stream of consciousness avalanche of ideas: flight details, questions about the republic, budget concerns, application deadlines, democratic crises, theoretical quandaries…. The larger concerns of aesthetic practice are interspersed with lines humorously referencing the quotidian life of the artist, as LaBelle says, “and what of cognitive capitalism? Have to pick up the dry cleaning.”

LaBelle’s quick and urgent recital captures both his own permanent restlessness and further mimics a world determined by speed and information overload…

Read the full review at RealTime.

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