ABOUT THE NEOLIBERAL MACHINE
July - August 2009
Lingwala | Kinshasa, DRC
In a highly original global collaboration, two emergent arts collectives, one African, the other European, have come together in Kinshasa under the SPARCK umbrella. The two crews are Eza Possibles (DRC) and OKUP (France, Belgium, Serbia). Together they have developed a project entitled A Neoliberal Machine. The project spans three years (2009-2011/12) and a wide range of media: web arts, cartography, video, performance, installation arts, collage and painting.
The focus of the Neoliberal Machine is the uses and misuses of the art of the deal in the contemporary global economic landscape. Its starting point is a series of discussions between members of the two collectives around a book published in 2007 by French sociologist Alain Bihr, entitled Neoliberal NewLingo: The Rhetoric of Capitalist Fetishism. These discussions began in Johannesburg in March 2009, during a residency hosted by SPARCK partner ScU2, and continued for months in person and online via email and Skype. In August 2009, they led to a first residency that brought one member of the OKUP team to Kinshasa for a month. The two collectives used this time to brainstorm. Together they developed a blueprint, drafting theoretical and descriptive texts and constructing a calendar to make the Neoliberal Machine project a reality.
This first residency was self-funded: the two crews believed in their project enough to run with it on their own. Mid-way through, they contacted SPARCK, which agreed to come onboard to fund the Machine’s first artwork(s). This work (Faire-Part), along with a multi-media performance (Nuptial Performance), was produced on two continents in the late summer and early fall of 2009. A second residency, also in Kinshasa and supported by SPARCK, takes place in July 2010. A third is planned for 2011, in Belgrade, home to several OKUP members.
The Neoliberal Machine is an installation made of several interconnected objects and performances, videos, still images, texts and websites. It is an evolving project: with each presentation it is expected to grow in size and content alike.
An exciting aspect of the Neoliberal Machine project is a partnership that has grown out of it, between SPARCK and two Brooklyn-based institutions: Axis, a contemporary art gallery owned by South African artist Lisa Brittan and Zimbabwean art historian Gary Van Wyk, and Alma, an arts NGO of which they are founding members. Together with the Neoliberal Machine crews, SPARCK, Axis and Alma have been thinking through how and where to grow the Machine. In the process, new projects have begun developing, bringing SPARCK and Axis into closer collaboration.