CAPITAL @ Ballarat Biennale

August 26, 2019 § Leave a comment

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Curators Naomi Cass & Gareth Syvret

National Centre For Photography Ballarat AUSTRALIA

AUGUST 24 – OCTOBER 20 2019

Constructed at the height of Australia’s gold rush in 1864, the former Union Bank stands in the centre of Ballarat as a powerful symbol of the rise of western capitalism and the development of colonial Australia. Capital is curated in this architectural space as it undergoes transformation into the city’s new National Centre For Photography.
 

As part of the core progamme of the Ballarat Biennale, the exhibition, CAPITAL, explores the use of the photography as a method for reflecting upon systems of value and exchange in contemporary Indigenous and settler cultures. Drawing together Australian and international practices that encounter forms of financial, political, human and photography’s own capital, the project questions the capitalist model and its legacy. If the invisible hand of the market grips the world, then Capital proposes that art can reveal and question that which seeks to bind us. 

Featuring Gabi Briggs (Aus), Peta Clancy (Aus), Mark Curran (Irl/De), Simryn Gill (Malaysia/Aus), Kristian Haggblom (Aus), Newell Harry (Aus), Lisa Hilli (Aus), Nicholas Mangan (Aus), Darren Siwes (Aus), Martin Toft (Jer), Yvonne Todd (NZ), Justine Varga (Aus) and Arika Waulu (Aus). More information on opening events and ongoing programming here.Installation includes the film Algorithmic Surrealism (2015) from THE MARKET (2010-) projected in the vault of the former Union Bank (now site of the new National Centre for Photography)

Algorithmic Surrealism (2015) (digital still)

An excerpt from the film is available to watch here

‘Curran filmed in the new financial district of Zuidas, on the periphery of Amsterdam, global centre for algorithmic trading. Adapted from a text by former trader and financial activist, Brett Scott, examining High Frequency Trading (HFT) and how the input of human values, are excluded, the voiceover and title of the film, Algorithmic Surrealism, are inspired by Scott’s essay. The film suggests the hegemony of HFT, accounting now for most trading, and extinction of human reason—including traits such as empathy and ethics—in market decisions will only perpetuate the power relations of minority wealth in globalised capitalist systems’ Helen Carey

Commissioned by NEPN (University of Sunderland, UK) & Noorderlicht Festival (the Netherlands). Elaborating on the project, THE MARKET, addressing the functioning and condition of the global markets, Curran undertook research in Zuidas, the new Global Financial District on the periphery of Amsterdam, the Netherlands during the summer of 2015. The location for the film is a landscaped park facing one of the largest Dutch-based global banks.
Film Editor: Lidia Rossner
Film script adapted by Mark Curran from original essay by Brett Scott
Voice: Claudia Schäfer
(Single channel HD digital video, colour, sound/voiceover, 11’ (full length))

For Allan Sekula (1951-2013)

(CAPITAL invite image: Darren Siwes, OZ OMNIUM REX ET REGINA, Silver female, courtesy the artist and Gagprojects)

 

Out Of The Pits: A Gursky Photograph and How to Represent Capital

December 20, 2012 § 2 Comments

Chicago Board of Trade II (1999) by Andreas Gursky

Chicago Board of Trade II (1999) by Andreas Gursky

A photograph of a frantic trading pit on an epic scale is installed on a gallery wall, its origins are the largest and oldest commodity exchange in the world. The photograph is titled Chicago Board of Trade II (1999) by German-born photographer, Andreas Gursky. Traversing the globe, Gursky makes images that reflect upon the human condition, as he sees it, manifest in urban, rural, cultural and industrial spaces. Although a former student of Bernd Becher (who worked professionally as an artist with his wife, Hilla Becher) at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf Art Academy), Gursky has not completely subscribed to the dogma of strict objectivity, having always cropped and manipulated negatives when necessary and more recently, incorporated digital manipulation into his practice.

The Chicago Board of Trade is an exemplary site of modernity…in this location, everyday relationships to the potential of money and the necessity of trade become extreme. Financial professionals bring together flow, speed and technology in the pursuit of profits, and when thousands of them gather everyday, they help create something larger – the market.

Installed in a central passageway of London’s Tate Modern, the cultural anthropologist, Caitlin Zaloom, first encountered the image while in the city as part of her long-term ethnographic research on traders. The words quoted above form part of her response to the abstraction of capital that the image invokes, she continues:

a clear message about the velocity of money and its disordering effects in the global economy. The market takes in vast waves of capital and spews them out again in a logic all of its own. Yet the for the crowd of spectators around the photogaph, the commotion and dissarray are entrancing. It is unsettling to examine the picture closely, especially because a literal understanding of the physical space, or of the traders’ labor, is impossible. Instead it is easier to step back from the photograph and absorb the overall impression of the global financial beehive (2010: 2).

Her encounter with Gursky’s photograph forms the introduction to her book, Out of the Pits: Traders and Technology from Chicago to London (2010) and pivotally defines her methodological approach. While, understanding the functioning of such an aesthetic, Zaloom advocates as a priority to move beyond the abstraction of capital, as visually embodied in Gursky’s photograph – a function capital embraces also in the context of technological evolution regarding the labour  of the traders themselves and their possible future abstraction – and a necessity, therefore, to look closer and in great detail at the apparatus of the global market:

Markets are objects of inquiry into the culture and economy of contemporary capitalism…today, the world’s powerful financial centers are the ones that need explanation. The mysteries of markets touch our lives, but few outside the financial profession understand them (2010: 11).

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