Art in Advanced Capitalism

This week, the Italian city of Venice will host more than just the famous Biennale and its roster of established artists. The Laboratorio Occupato Morion, an independent cultural space located in the historical area of Venice, presents Challengers, an event occurring from June 7-9, that includes several projects, from screenings to lectures and conferences. Concurrent radio broadcasts on the organization's Sherwood Radio station will link the work on view with the events unfolding simultaneously at the G8 summit, in Germany. This effort to keep the art world VIP's visiting Venice aware of the events in Rostock conveys the organizers' intent to highlight politically-engaged work. The best example is the video program 'art-e-conomy,' selected by curator Marko Stamenkovic, that brings together works by six artists and artist collectives that examine 'labor' as an ideology and a practice in advanced capitalism. Topics such as work conditions, unemployment, corporate ethics, and social security figure in the featured pieces. For example, Carlos Motta's 'SEPTEMBER 22' documents an illegal street vendor evacuation action by Sao Paulo police, creating a powerful metaphor of migrant policies worldwide. Also notable is Julia Klaring & Nils Olger's '[ ]' that reveals the routine of a company's female worker as well as her thoughts about it, constituting a poetic reflection on office life. By critically exploring the economic models that shape contemporary society, these artists present ways of structuring human existence in new, alternative systems, placing utopia at the front of their artistic output. - Miguel Amado