press release

The Austrian Cultural Forum New York is pleased to present a new group exhibition titled It's the Political Economy, Stupid. The show, which was curated by the Austrian-American team of Oliver Ressler and Gregory Sholette, derives its name from the slogan which in the early 1990s came to define then presidential candidate Bill Clinton's campaign, "It's the economy, stupid".

The economic crisis that we face today has also become a major crisis for representative democracy. The very idea of the modern nation state is in jeopardy as the deterritorialized flow of finance capital melts down all that was once solid into raw material for market speculation. It is the social order itself, and the very notion of governance with its archaic promise of security and happiness that has become another kind of modern ruin.

It's the Political Economy, Stupid brings together an international group of artists who focus on the current crisis in a sustained and critical manner. Rather than acquiesce to the current calamity, this exhibition asks if it is not time to push back against the disciplinary dictates of the capitalist logic and, by use of artistic means, launch a rescue of the very notion of the social itself.

The exhibition includes documentarian approaches, such as works by Julia Christensen, who explores the transformation of defunct Big Box stores throughout the U.S. as an example of the resilience and resourcefulness of those affected most by the crisis. A piece by Yevgeniy Fiks, Olga Kopenkina, and Alexandra Lerman, documents those who were at the root of the crisis (Wall Street traders and corporate employees) participating in discussions on Lenin and his ideas on Imperialism. Films by Jan Peter Hammer and Melanie Gilligan reflect the artists' fictionalized takes on the crisis, by drawing historical paralells and showing the microcosmic point of view of those directly involved, respectively.

Quite a few artists and collectives took a performative and decidedly actionistic path, all of which represent artistic precursors to the Occupy Wall Street movement: Performance artist Dread Scott literally burned money on Wall Street, until he was stopped by the police. The flo6x8 group staged flamenco-dancing flashmobs in Spanish banks to protest against the financial system, while Alicia Herrero staged public fora at the National Bank of Argentina, in which experts, artists, and activists discussed theoretical models and ideas for economic and political change. The collective known as the Institute for Wishful Thinking (IWS) tackles the eternal recurrence of the capitalist crisis with a series of site-specific visual commentary on the infamous 1975 New York Daily News headline: "Ford to City: Drop Dead".

Austrian artist Isa Rosenberger's piece, Espiral - A Dance of Death in 6 Scenes, takes a 1930s Weimar-era political ballet, and transposes it to reflect the present-day crisis. Zanny Begg and Oliver Ressler employ the medium of animation to explore how governments in the United States, and other places in Europe such as Ireland, managed to turn a banking crisis into a budgetary crisis.

As a tangible complement to these video works, Austrian artist Linda Bilda was commissioned to produce a wall mural for the exhibition. Her graphic series The Golden World is a point of departure, as it explores themes such as greed and competition in the monetary world.

The opening reception for It's the Political Economy, Stupid will take place on Monday, January 23, 2012, from 6PM to 8PM. Barbara Prammer, the President of the National Council of Austria, will be present to support and officially open the show. The opening will be preceded by an artist talk featuring participating artists Linda Bilda, Melanie Gilligan, Alicia Herrero, Olga Kopenkina, Alexandra Lerman, Dread Scott, and the curators Oliver Ressler and Gregory Sholette. The talk will take place in the auditorium of the Austrian Cultural Forum from 5PM to 6PM (Free admission. Due to limited seating, rsvp is req'd for the talk. For tickets, please visit

Several special events will take place in conjunction with the exhibition throughout the course of its run, including performances and readings (e.g., by Reverend Billy, The Aaron Burr Society, Dread Scott, Larry Bogar, Pablo Helguera, Martha Rosler, The Yes Men. TBC). Details TBA. Pleace check for up-to-date information.

About the Austrian Cultural Forum New York With its architectural landmark building in Midtown Manhattan the Austrian Cultural Forum New York is the cultural embassy of Austria in the United States. It hosts more than 200 free events annually and showcases cutting-edge Austrian contemporary art, music, literature, and academic thought in New York. The Austrian Cultural Forum houses around 10,000 volumes in its state-of-the-art library, and enjoys long-standing and flourishing partnerships with many venerable cultural and academic institutions throughout New York and the United States.

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It's The Political Economy, Stupid
Kuratoren: Oliver Ressler, Gregory Sholette

Artists: Linda Bilda, Julia Christensen, Yevgeniy Fiks / Olga Kopenkina / Alexandra Lerman, FLO6x8 , Melanie Gilligan, Jan Hammer, Alicia Herrero, Institute for Wishful Thinking , Zanny Begg / Oliver Ressler, Isa Rosenberger, Dread Scott