Monthly Archives: October 2010

Article: The Crunch and the Crisis: the unravelling of lifestyle capitalism?

Rising East, UEL journal
Vol 1, Series 1, No 1 April 8th 2009
Gavin Poynter

Introduction

In 2008, the ‘credit crunch’ progressed from financial crisis to global economic recession, its impact spreading from the US housing market to western financial markets and, by the end of the year, to most nations and sectors of the international economy. Its origins in the highly technical character of the ‘toxic’ products spawned in the financial world of intermediation and risk management have informed a hesitant and, in turn, managerial analysis of causality. This hesitancy was reflected in the statements expressed by politicians and business leaders throughout much of 2008 as they oscillated between inaction and reaction and expressed fears, in turn, about the crisis realising uncontrollable inflationary or deflationary trends.
For much of 2008, American and British politicians and business leaders were anxious to downplay the problems created by the credit crisis until the financial world reached the brink of collapse. The UK government, spent much of the year in denial about the weakness of the British economy – it was sound in its essentials, blaming US and wider international developments for the position the UK economy is in 1; while the US government dithered over a bailout plan which was initially designed to buy up all the worthless, toxic assets of the finance sector but eventually took the form of buying shares in US banks.
The combination of denial, hesitancy and indecision that has characterised responses to the current economic crisis has its origins in the political and business world’s interpretation of the recent performance of the western, mainly Anglo-American, model of capitalism. Those who have sought to manage it have created a rhetoric laced with words such as stability, expansion, and globalisation when, in reality, the leading Western nation, the USA, and its satellite, the UK, have sought to manage economies whose productive dynamism has disappeared and who rely increasingly upon servicing the productive activities that take place elsewhere in the world. A thin veil of respectability has been lent to this perception by the theorisation of knowledge as the intangible, magical ingredient of a new type of Western economy that lives by its wits rather than by what it makes 2.
The hollow character of these ideas and policies is now perhaps exposed, creating an opportunity for a more considered and reflective view of what is really happening in the West and the wider world. This essay discusses the causes of the current economic crisis and examines the social conditions of its emergence, as well as exploring the limitations of the actions currently being taken to tackle it; the limits, in other words, of what some commentators refer to as a Keynesian programme of state intervention 3.

http://www.uel.ac.uk/risingeast/essays/2009-04-01.htm

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Event: Seminar Series on Debt, Pain, Work

Centre for Cultural Studies Research
University of East London

The Politics of Debt
13 October 2010
14:00 to 17:00
The first of our series of seminars examining the meaning of Debt, Pain and Work in the era of austerity and coalition politics…

The Politics of Debt: Concepts and experiences of debt have become central to the management of contemporary capitalism, to understandings of its consequences and to social experience at every scale. National debt, personal debt, ecological debt are key issues for understanding contemporary culture and politics. But what exactly is debt? Can we manage without it? Are current levels of personal, national, corporate and ecological debt sustainable; and what are the origins of this most fundamental concept?

speakers:

Aditya Chakrabortty, The Guardian, New Political Economy Network

Joe Cox, Campaigns Organiser at Compass, organiser of the Compass campaign against legal loan sharking

Massimo De Angelis, UEL, author of The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital, Keynesianism, Social Conflict and Political Economy.

David Graeber, Goldsmiths College, author of Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion and Desire and Direct Action: an Ethnography, currently working on a history of debt.

Room EB.G.16 (Ground Floor, East Building, Docklands Campus – East Building is to the left on entering the main square from Cyprus station)

All welcome, no need to book in advance
Further info contact Jeremy Gilbert: j.gilbert@uel.ac.uk

New Seminar Series: Debt, Pain, Work
13 October 2010
14:00
Focusing on the themes of debt, pain, and work, the coalition government has attempted to build a new common sense around the need for deep public sector spending cuts, the curtailment of strategic health authority and local governmental influence in the provision of health and education, and the sweeping shift from public sector to private sector delivery. This academic year the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at UEL is holding three linked seminars on the themes of Debt (13 October), Pain (December 1) and Work (date to be confirmed) in order to interrogate the substance of the government’s strategy. Each event will be held at UEL’s Docklands Campus in East London, and will feature speakers from a range of activist, journalistic and research backgrounds.

http://culturalstudiesresearch.org/

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Event: Capitalism After the Crash: The Rise and Fall of Neoliberalism

Capitalism After the Crash: The Rise and Fall of Neoliberalism
28 October 2010
ICA, London

The global financial meltdown of 2008 brought the world economy to its knees and destroyed three decades of neoliberal orthodoxy. The aftermath is still being felt today with the coalition government’s Comprehensive Spending Review on 20 October ushering in the “longest, deepest, sustained period of cuts to public services since World War II”, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
But is the cuts agenda simply propping up a terminally listing economic model? Should the crash prompt us to reassess the viability of free market capitalism in tackling the complex dilemmas of the 21st century? And if so, what does a more equitable and sustainable economic system look like in the age of globalisation?
Paul Mason, Newsnight economics editor and author of Meltdown, is joined by writer and activist Jeremy Gilbert, Tony Greenham from The New Economic Foundation and Aditya Chakrabortty, economics leader writer for the Guardian, to debate the future of free market economics.

http://www.ica.org.uk/25945/Talks/Capitalism-After-the-Crash-the-Rise-and-Fall-of-Neoliberalism.html

Book:
Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed
by Paul Mason, 2010
A fully updated new edition of an acclaimed report on the global financial crisis.
Meltdown is a gripping account of the financial collapse that destroyed the West’s investment banks, brought the global economy to its knees, and undermined three decades of neoliberal orthodoxy. Covering the development of the crisis from the economic front line, Paul Mason explores the roots of the US and UK’s financial hubris, documenting the real-world causes and consequences from the Ford factory, to Wall Street, to the City of London. In this fully updated new edition, he recounts how the credit crunch became a full-blown financial crisis, and explores the impact of this development on capitalist ideology and politics.

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Art: Art For Business Forum 2010

Art For Business Forum 2010: Beautiful, Fair, Effective. Transforming Organizations Through The Arts

October 22nd – 24th, 2010
La Triennale, Milano

BEAUTIFUL, FAIR, EFFECTIVE. Transforming organizations through the Arts is the title of the Art For Business Forum third edition, a great appointment where arts, culture and the world of companies interact. It will take place from the 22nd to the the 24th of October 2010 at La Triennale di Milano.

This year the Forum – organized by the non-profit association Art For Business – has been enriched with more studies, experiences made directly on field, theorical considerations and a growing sharing thanks to a wider and wider network and the important partnership with the Fondazione La Triennale di Milano.

Special guest will be Howard Gardner, phsycology scholar and head of the Harvard Project Zero, well-known to the public for his theory of multiple intelligences and considered one of the one hundred most influential intellectuals of the world, will be the.

In a time of strong economic, social and cultural discontinuity, as the one we are living, Art For Business Forum 2010 suggests the contribution of arts and culture as a strategic resource for organizations – either companies, territorial, cultural or non-profit institutions – in order to wonder about new possible solutions. For this reason the Forum suggests three open questions to build a thinking platform:

What kind of contribution do arts offer in order to develop the new skills requested by organizations to face the future?

In which way can cultural institutions become permanent learning places?

How is it possible to figure out a sponsoring model, which could produce value for the organization?

THE SCENARIO

The global economic crisis could become an opportunity for us. From History we learn that crisises are necessary as times of growth: as it happened in 1929 or in the second postwar, the old developing models are challenged and new ones are built. In the past culture has been one of the keystones leading countries out of the abyss. Therefore the only way to get out the crisis of the last few years is that of creating a project set on arts and culture. Organizations need to give up the logic of the linear cause-effect thinking in order to face the analysis in a trasversal way. Only in this way the contribution of arts and culture will be clear: culture is innovation, development and growth and, this way, an answer to insecurity and intolerance.

THE CONTRIBUTION OF ARTS

Art For Business puts out the issue that arts are the way which can help people to provide themselves of those new skills that will lead them to create innovation.

Contemporary organizations work in complex context and need people who are able to learn quickly, to build around themselves a network of relations to share knowledge and draw information. The Forum wants to suggest a reflection on the contribution that arts can offer to organizations and their people, in terms of knowledge, abilities and the management skills, which create a competitive asset.

MUSEUMS AS PLACES OF PERMANENT LEARNING

If culture can take this new role, therefore museums can be seen as strategic contexts where the relationship with arts can be an essential contribution to the organizational learning. The acknowledgement of this value foreshadows the definition of new partnerships which would overtake the concept of sponsorship: museums, together with companies, can become operative characters of our economy’s process of transformation.

FROM THE FUNDING TO THE INVESTEMENT LOGIC

Art For Business Forum 2010 is an opportunity to debate on the advantage of investing in the cultural field.

It is necessary to move from a “financing culture” logic to the one of the mutual investement. Today the true topic is to analyse items, which make up the profit of an investment, first of all the symbolical capital which is the base for the birth and growth of a social system, made by the individuals’ growth. The milestone is exactly the emphasis put on human resource: arts represent an extraordinary instrument because they support the development of those essential abilities, which will help us to face the requests of the world we live in.

Art For Business
Via Ariberto, 21 – 20123 Milano, Italy
info@artforbusiness.it
tel. + 39 02 58112940

info and programme: http://www.artforbusiness.it

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Art: We Don’t Use the Word ‘Recession’ by Superflex

TODAY WE DON’T USE THE WORD ‘RECESSION’

Ireland is entering into a new era since the predicable but untimely death of the Celtic Tiger economy, once lauded as the fastest growing economy in the world. This great Celtic-Tiger economy driven by liberal bank regulation, bad political governance and a reliance on speculative property development led house prices in Ireland to rise by almost 520% in 15 years. Now the Irish GDP is shrinking faster than in any other advanced economy. The average Irish family has lost half its financial assets and unemployment has risen faster than anywhere else in Europe. Ireland have moved from the poster child of the globalised free-market to one of the great European basket cases, as an Irish economic commentator was recently quoted as saying.

For the Midsummer Festival in Cork, Ireland, Superflex has made a new artwork “Today we do not use the word ‘Recession'” that invites all the citizens of the city te involved. Superflex encouraged The Lord Mayor Cllr. Dara Murphy to bring a proposal to the city council that would ban the use of the word ‘Recession’ in the city of Cork. Out of this came a decree advocating that for one day, on June 17th 2010, the citizens should refrain from using the word ‘Recession’. The Decree states:

***

DECREE

TODAY WE DON’T USE THE WORD ‘RECESSION’

Through the power of positive thought and collective action, Lord Mayor Cllr. Dara Murphy decrees that for one day, to lift ourselves out of the doom and gloom the citizens of Cork should refrain from using the word

‘Recession’

The citizens of Cork are invited to join with the Lord Mayor in the collective ambition to help drive Cork out of recession and into recovery from this day forward. To kickstart this recovery the lord mayor requests on Thursday 17th June, 2010, that the people of Cork shall in all public utterances, statements and communications, replace the word ‘recession’ with alternative words or phrases. Citizens are asked to create their own new alternatives, thus contributing to re-imagining the future of the City of Cork. And so recommend to the people of Cork under the Common Seal of the Lord Mayor.

***

The decree will be announced through a week long publicity campaign in newspapers, radio, TV and through posters in the streets. ‘Today we don’t use the word Recesssion’ is commissioned by the National Sculpture Factory and Cork Midsummer Festival.

http://superflexcork.wordpress.com/

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Exhibition: The End of the World as We Know it

La Kunsthalle Mulhouse /
La Fonderie Centre d’Art Contemporain

Hadley+Maxwell, “For passing away is the figure of this world,” (Detail) 2010.*

The End of the World as We Know it
16 September – 16 November 2010

Marc Bijl, Claire Fontaine, Cyprien Gaillard, Piero Golia, Hadley+Maxwell, Bernhard Martin, Katrin Mayer, Mladen Miljanovic, Fréderic Moser & Philippe Schwinger

Curator : Bettina Steinbrügge

La Kunsthalle Mulhouse /
La Fonderie Centre
d’Art Contemporain
16 rue de la Fonderie
F – 68093 Mulhouse Cedex
France
T +33 (0)3 69 77 66 47
kunsthalle@mulhouse.fr

In 1987 REM recorded the song: “It’s the End of the World as We Know it” (and I feel fine). The song originated from a previous, unreleased, R.E.M. song called “PSA”, which is short for “Public Service Announcement”. The accompanying video depicts a young skateboarder rifling through an abandoned, collapsing farmhouse and displaying the relics that he finds to the camera. This REM song is one of these that were addressing incredible social concerns of the time. But with its appendix “(and I feel fine)” it also showed a positive attitude towards the future. This can be found in contemporary art practice as well. What art history and theory describe as “détournement” signifies the complex practice of dismantling existing aesthetic structures and reassembling them in an altered and subverted way in order to question or critique society, traditional values, and the status quo. All art, in some ways, conveys a vision for the future.

Years after the publishing of the REM song, in 1999, the American Sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein published a text called “The End of the World as we know it.” Wallerstein divides this text between an appraisal of significant recent events and a study of the shifts in thought influenced by those events. “The End of the World As We Know It” concludes with a crucial analysis of the momentous intellectual challenges to society as we know it and suggests possible responses to them.” According to Wallerstein, we live in a post-capitalistic society, in the age of passage. Structures are going to disappear and the new is not yet at the horizon. This notion implies a certain chaos that holds the historical chance for social influence.

J.J. Charlesworth wrote in a recent issue of ArtsReview: “Now that the initial drama of the financial crash has passed, we’re into a much weirder moment where everyone is trying to maintain some working notion of normality, even so it’s becoming obvious that these are not longer normal times. Carrying on making, showing and writing about even serious art, without some acknowledgement that the society art operates in has completely lost the plot, starts to seem slightly futile. So what to do?” Jacques Rancière claims a new form of political subjectivity that would accept the point that we start from equality, from the idea that there is a universal competence—that there is a universal capacity that is involved in all those experiments and that we are trying to expand—to expand the field and the capacities of that competence. Like Wallerstein, he sees us in a kind of interval, in a time without a goal. And he poses the question: “What do we think we are able to do together?”

The artists and artists groups invited take a stand: From the financial crisis, the decline of the welfare systems or the fetishistic visual industries to new hopes, utopias and alternative conceptions of common society. Like a seismograph, the exhibition filters the signs and images of our current life while undermining the governmental power and providing new aesthetic contexts.

The exhibition is accompanied by an audio guide by Cécile Babiole, a 10min mediation piece, a collage of music, lyrics and statements. The audio guide is available for download under www.kunsthallemulhouse.com.

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Art: Surround Me by Susan Philipsz

At the weekends an eerie quiet descends on the City of London, in offices, squares, churchyards and streets, broken by the occasional sound of traffic and church bells. The silence of the city has inspired artist Susan Philipsz’s first commission in the capital. Her unaccompanied voice resonates through empty streets around the Bank of England, across postwar walkways and medieval alleyways and along the banks of the River Thames.

SURROUND ME: A Song Cycle for the City of London takes inspiration from the heightened presence of the human voice in Elizabethan London. To be heard over one another a natural order and harmony evolved in the cries of the street traders which enthused composers of popular song such as Thomas Ravenscroft to write canons where one voice follows the other in a round. Another popular song form for several voices, the madrigal emerged in Italy in the 16th Century and soon travelled to England where it flowered as the English Madrigal School.

SURROUND ME embraces the vocal traditions of the City of London connecting themes of love and loss with those of fluidity, circulation and immersion; the flood of tears, the swelling tide and the ebb and flow of the river, to convey a poignant sense of absence and loss in the contemporary City of London.

Susan Philipsz has been nominated for the Turner Prize 2010 for Lowlands, a work installed under three bridges beside the River Clyde in Glasgow. Her work is in the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain, 5 October 2010 – 3 January 2011.

This project is supported by Arts Council England, Special Angels and The Company of Angels.

http://www.artangel.org.uk//projects/2010/surround_me/about_the_project/surround_me

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