26 March 2014

red map


Future State is delighted to be a part of Oblique International’s project: 5 ½ PROPOSALS TO WORK AND LIVE IN THE CURRENT MILLENNIUM. This genesis of inspiration for the project is in reflections on labour and productivity.

Programme #1 March 28-29 in Rotterdam


presents two days of screenings, lectures and group activities, organized with the aim to open the discussion to ‘unproductive’ work forms, and how they can be used as a response to the current demand for productivity within the labour sphere, and outside of it. This program counts with the participation and works by: Maja Bekan, Ronald Bos, Doris Denekamp, Harun Farocki, Stephanie Feeney (Future State), Sarah Forrest and Sven Lütticken.

More information:

Oblique International




In the inaugural issue of PRODUCTION Future State bring together image, text, voice and gesture to investigate the cultural practices that appropriate ‘economised’ concepts and offer alternative interpretations to challenge dominate narratives.

At the beginning of Issue 1 a utopian cybernetics theorist and a faceless protester meet, both suggesting new paradigms in fragile moments of hope. Look closer and in the gestures of the ink we find both hopeful foreshadowing and a defiant rejection of neoliberalism and its mechanisms, bookending a moment in time. Later a city struggles to redefine itself by exploiting the redemptive hope of the arts, while a few pages later, art and city meet again; different time, different reality. Towards the end, as the pages thin out, we find depicted a media obsessed with an economic picture of their own creation, obscuring an economy of another kind, hidden and precarious.

In each of these connections, and in the individual contributions themselves, we are brought to the subject of economy on very different paths; from different places, times, media and disciplines. Yet what we present to you in these pages is not the paths themselves but a series of meeting places, collision zones and arenas of choice. Crossroads by any other name.

PRODUCTION is a collection of voices, not a collective voice. It is conceived as a confluence, bringing together practitioners and academics to stimulate connections and creative tensions. As such you will find none of the usual academic etiquette, demarcating where one voice ends and another begins. Instead we hope that the voices and ideas will bleed together, finding parallels and causing conflicts. There are no answers in these pages, nor where answers ever intended, but we hope that you will find questions, find yourself standing a crossroads and wondering where do we go from here.

To request a free copy of PRODUCTION please send an email, including your postal address, to info@thefuturestate.org.uk

Land Labour Capital

LandLabour│Capital Conference

Limerick City Gallery of Art

26-28 September 2013

Speakers: Mark Curran, Angela Dimitrakaki, Nicholas Mirzoeff and Deirdre O’Mahony

Admission is free but please reserve your place by emailing helen.carey@limerickcity.ie.  For more details see www.thefuturestate.org.uk.

On Reality

On Reality. An Interview with Dr Angela Dimitrakaki.


Future State interviews Dr Angela Dimitrakaki, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at Edinburgh College of Art about reading, writing, research and curatorial projects ahead of her keynote presentation at the Land│Labour│Capital conference at Limerick City Gallery of Art.

What immediate thoughts come to mind when you read the words Land│Labour│Capital and, going further, in what way do they resonate with your research interests and curatorial practice?

My immediate thought on ‘land labour capital’ is one word: reality. It may sound strange to say ‘reality’ rather than ‘production’, as land, labour and capital, drawn from an economics discourse, are seen as the fundamentals of modern production, but there is a reason why I prioritise ‘reality’. We live in an extraordinary time in the history of capitalism: the way production is being re-configured today is transforming the very consistency of reality. Production is changing – this is what we are experiencing in terms of an economic ‘crisis’. An entire way of life is being undone: the welfare state, pensions and time to get old, the link between capitalism and democracy, the consumer society as a Western society, the idea of the middle class, and so on. All this, and a lot more, is changing because capitalism is re-organising production. And in this context, certain questions become urgent: what is the role of labour in its struggle against the appropriations of capital? Is there an oppositional working class? What is its current composition?

My research , I suppose, tries to make art history (the art history of the contemporary) contribute to a broader effort, across disciplines in the humanities and social science, to answer the above questions. For example, I am very interested in how the institutions of art become productive spaces. Or how globalisation on the ground (the materiality of globalised space) becomes a production site for the contemporary artist. And I think it is now impossible to understand the deeper transformation of ‘contemporary art’ if we don’t consider the fact that in postmodernism (late 1960s to early 1990s) everyone talked about consumption, consumerism and the like. Now, in globalisation proper, suddenly everyone talks about production. The discourse changed because the material conditions we address as ‘capitalism’ changed. This is pretty much what Kirsten Lloyd and I tried to suggest in ECONOMY, a curatorial project we initiated in Scotland earlier this year.

You mention the ECONOMY exhibition that you curated along with Kirsten Lloyd of the Stills Gallery in Edinburgh.  Could you say a little more about the curatorial concept behind this ambitious group exhibition?

ECONOMY was an art historical show, based on research in the field of contemporary art. This means that it did not seek to just showcase new art attending to economy or art that responds to the so called ‘crisis’. Rather, its starting point was a reflection on the periodisation of contemporary art, a periodisation deemed necessary because of the changes brought about by capitalist globalisation. So, the curatorial project sought to identify and interpret an important shift within contemporary art overall, and this was realised in the two parallel exhibitions, the residencies, the events where specific issues were discussed with the public and also the website which, for example, includes a Reading Room and a public image archive documenting the many faces and meanings of ‘economy’.

The exhibitions brought together work from the past two decades, attempting a re-contextualisation of this work in hindsight. For instance, a well-known piece by Tracey Emin from 2000 received a different interpretation in the show. We paid a lot of attention to the captions accompanying each piece and to the information available in the exhibitions guide, because ECONOMY was a genuinely collaborative project among its two curators and it arose from extensive discussions, which led us to work together and develop a specific political position, which is what we openly presented. In ECONOMY, we explicitly identified Phase 2 of contemporary art (from the 1990s to date) with an economic turn witnesssed across the making of art, writing about it and in the curatorial field as well. The website Reading Room shows a notable increase in exhibitions and writings on questions of production, labour, class – subjects that were marginalised in Phase 1 of contemporary art known as ‘postmodernism’. And we wished to explore what this new economic subject was about, to the extent possible. I say this because we could have included many more artworks but in the current climate of funding cuts this was impossible. We had to be selective and opt for artworks that represented entire sub-paradigms – for example, artwork about ecology, or childhood or sex or work or love or migration or finance and so on. Our key question was: If economy was no longer just the economy, how did this become manifest in art?

But this ‘how’ did not just address thematic units but also the very transformation of artistic production, artists’ ways of working. For example, we looked at the fact that some art at least was no longer about display and representation but attempeted direct intervention beyond the art institution, to which it only returned as a social document. Or we ended up with many women artists, regrettably still an unusual feature of a mixed group show – and this despite decades of feminist critique in the art world. Funnily enough, we did not deliberately select more female than male artists but the importance of the gender divide for a globalised capitalist economy meant that much radical art recently was made by women – often women conversant with feminist politics. A telling example is Tanja Ostojic’s investigation of the sexualisation of the migrant in her Looking for a husband with EU Passport (2000-2005). And of course Eastern Europe was central to our argument as the region became the test ground of an accelerated implementation of ‘global capitalism’.

Of all the art works and films in ECONOMY, including Tanja Ostojic’s Looking for a husband with EU Passport (2000-2005) and Tracey Emin’s work, which you cite above, what piece or pieces divided opinion among the audience the most and why?

I wouldn’t say that a specific work truly divided the audience. But to the extent that I was able to discuss things with members of the audience, a lot of people were shocked by the situation presented in Jenny Marketou‘s video of children art collectors in New York. The video shows in unambiguous terms what ‘privilege’ means, and how it shapes the art world. Privilege shapes subjectivity, including the subjectivity of children. We were keen to show this video in the same space where a video by two Swedish artists portrayed the lives of other children as slaves. The two social groups, the offspring of New York financiers and the ‘other’ fiercely deprived children, exist in the same world and they are both ‘the future’. The fact that they are children, and so formally unaccountable, raises myriad questions precisely because the subjectivity of children is not associated with ethical responsibility. The subjectivity of children is where you can observe the true power of the economy, of an organised form of production and consumption and the abysmal divisions it relies on and perpetuates.

To the extent that we, as curators, invited a more concrete response by the audience, this had to do with the WochenKlausur residency and the paradigm of ‘socially engaged’ art. As is known, WochenKlausur have since the early 1990s pioneered this type of work as action, leaving behind ‘art as representation’ of social ills and moving on to art as a pragmatic, focused intervention in a given social context. In our case, the context was a deprived community in Glasgow. We organised a public forum to discuss the contradictions this situation entailed, and the artists were present. These contradictions have certainly divided contemporary art criticism, for example Claire Bishop and Grant Kester a few years back. We did not wish to bury these persistent contradictions under the carpet but rather confront them. For example, is this art a license for the welfare state’s withdrawal or a pioneering avant-garde practising citizen solidarity? It is very hard for me to summarise the different responses of the public to this work, but what I learned is that ‘the public’ is in itself a group divided by class, gender, political beliefs and so on, and this is as important in understanding a response as the work done, which is measured by conventional or not criteria of ‘success’. I also admired the resilience of the artists and their collaborators. My understanding of artistic labour changed completely after I had the opportunity to encounter this process of work. I hope the same holds for some members of the audience at least.

Turning now to your university research and writing, what academic text/s are you reading right now and why?

I recently read Peter Osborne’s Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art as I remain interested in the question of periodisation of contemporary art and in the criteria or terms deployed today to explicate what we mean by ‘contemporary art’ in the first place – or even just ‘contemporary’. Anyone who teaches ‘contemporary art’ as a subject at university level is perplexed by the fact that the contemporary is linked to duration and not to a soon-to-disappear moment. The constitution of the contemporary has become a theoretical problem in its own right – and a political problem as well. Suffice to think of how (hastily, and even mistakenly, in my view) some anti-capitalist theorists eagerly recognise post-capitalist practices at the heart of the capitalist enterprise today to understand how critical the imperative for a history of the contemporary has become.

I am now reading Nancy Fraser’s Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neo-liberal Crisis, a collection of her essays over many years. Reading them makes easy to grasp the fallacy that occurs when theories of capitalist globalisation, including those on its so-called crisis, disregard gender and its role in the extremely complex production process that global capitalism has become. I am interested in an anti-separatist feminism and Fraser’s writings help me see why.

And I am also reading an older book,from the 1930s, Curzio Malaparte’s Tecnica del Colpo di Stato, about the seizure of state power. I have been shocked by the anti-democratic tendencies of the current mode of production, the massive loss of confidence in representative democracy and the increasing erosion of the link between capitalism and democracy – a link that was very crucial, for example, in capitalist hegemony as served by Cold-War America. The production model promoted by contemporary capital where all time becomes work time leaves no time for being a citizen. And the massive poverty it generates turns people to religion, which is associated with a supreme authority in all its expressions. China’s success in the capitalist markets is demonstrating that contemporary capitalism does not need democracy, and this is a fundamental aspect of it. Yet the rejection of democracy seems to inspire at present both neo-fascist and progressive forces – although I despise any short-sighted and ideologically spurious attempt to establish any conceivable links between them. Yet I’m reading anything that has something to say about the rejection of democracy, as I am trying to understand where and when such a rejection emerges. And I am of course interested in contemporary art’s nods towards an anti-democracy impulse, although art remains too polite mostly and is disinclined from crossing health & safety lines – which, yes, does reveal something about its potential and limitations as praxis, as doing.

Aside from academic publications you have also sucessfully  published a number of works of contemporary fiction in your native Greek language.  What sort of fiction do you write and can we look forward to one of your works of fiction in English one day?

I published my first novel at 28, in the course of doing my PhD in England. I suppose this says immediately three things: that I found reading all this new (for me) theory inspiring, that writing fiction in Greek while abroad was a way for me to remain connected to my language, and – crucially- that I had time to do so in a broader context of intellectual stimulation. I stress this last factor because although I used to think that writing fiction and being an academic were compatible activities, the UK academia’s total control by a neo-capitalist ethos of ‘production for production’s sake’ and draining administrative hell leaves no room for anything else. I think a lot of us did not realise what we were walking into, and what our passive acceptance of a status quo has engendered. I sometimes want to point my doctoral students to an escape route.

I have written four novels, a collection of stories and various shorter works. I can’t possibly summarise here the themes (especially as I write stuff with a plot) but everything is written with Europe as its background, or even the world. There is a lot of movement, that’s for sure. And a lot of parody. And harsh language. I am interested in parents who abandon their children, in the opportunism that mediates human relations, and so on. One novel, The Manifesto of Defeat (2006), is a re-writing of The Magus by John Fowles but in a way that addresses the devastating impact on Southern Europe of its stereotypical rendering as a holiday land and as a land that belongs to an idealised past. Curiously, it is also a book about fascism and metaphysics, and a book that expresses a terrible opinion about the pretensions of art.

I mention this novel in particular because it gives the answer to your question whether my fiction is likely to be translated or not any time soon. If the answer is not obvious by now, let me cite the response of a German publisher to a Greek writer I know, just a few years back: ‘We don’t want Greek authors to write about Kafka, we want them to write about windmills’. That said, the new portrayal of Greece as a land of riots and capitalist drama may finally liberate us from the beach-plus-Acropolis curse…

Labour and Lockout: ‘you take my life when you do take the means whereby I live’

Labour and Lockout: ‘you take my life when you do take the means whereby I live’


The exhibition Labour and Lockout opens in Limerick City Gallery of Art  on 8 August and runs until 1 October exploring contemporary and historical scenarios where conditions of labour impact on lives lived today. Artists include Deirdre O’Mahony, Anthony Haughey, Deirdre Power, Darek Fortas, Jesse Jones, Sean Lynch, Seamus Farrell, Megs Morley & Tom Flanagan and Mark Curran.

Future State is collaborating with Goldsmiths, University of London and Limerick City Gallery of Art to host Land Labour Capital, a three day event of film screenings, artist talks, seminars and workshops related to the exhibition theme, taking place 26-28 September. Keynote speakers will include:

Mark Curran, educator and artist participating in the exhibition.  He completed a practice-led PhD at the Dublin Institute of Technology (2011), lectures on the BA (Hons) Photography programme, Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire and is Visiting Professor on the MA in Visual and Media Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. Incorporating multi-media installation informed by ethnographic understandings, Curran has undertaken a cycle of long-term research projects over the past 15 years, critically addressing the predatory context resulting from the migrations and flows of global capital. Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and partnered by Gallery of Photography, Belfast Exposed, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, CCA Derry-Londonderry, Limerick City Gallery of Art and curated by Helen Carey, Curran is undertaking a project to be part of the marking of the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout. Continuing the cycle to date, this multi-sited transnational project titles THE MARKET, focuses on the functioning of the global markets. It explores the nexus of the stockmarket, the lives of those working on the trading floors and in the financial sector and the lives of ordinary people not directly related to the sector.  Curran has sought access to the trading floors of stock exchanges in Dublin, Addis Abbaba, Frankfurt, London and has maintained an informative blog to capture his research.  THE MARKET will be presented in Dublin, Belfast and Limerick in August 2013 with publication to follow in 2014

Dr Angela Dimitrakaki, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh. She has widely published in journals and has contributed numerous chapters to edited collections, including ‘The Spectacle and Its Others: Labour, Conflict and Art in the Age of Global Capital’ in Jonathan Harris, ed, Globalization and Contemporary Art, Wiley-Blackwell 2011 and ‘The Art Biennial as Symptom’ in Pilar Parcericas and Joacquin Barriendos, eds, Global Circuits: The Geography of Art and the New Configurations of Critical Thought, Acca 2011. Her books include Gender, ArtWork and the Global Imperative: A Materialist Feminist Critique (MUP 2013) and, in her native Greek, Art and Globalization: From the Postmodern Sign to the Biopolitical Arena (2013). With Lara Perry she co-edited Politics in a Glass Case:Feminism, Exhibition Cultures and Curatorial Transgressions (LUP 2013). In 2013 she co-curated, with Kirsten Lloyd, ECONOMY. An edited collection titled Economy: Art and the Subject after Postmodernism expanding on the outcomes of the curatorial research is forthcoming from Liverpool University Press in 2014. Angela is Corresponding Editor of HM: Research in Critical Marxist Theory and a Researcher with the Art, Globalization, Interculturality group at the University of Barcelona (http://artglobalizationinterculturality.com).

Professor Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. His work is in the field of visual culture, particularly on the genealogy of visuality, a key term in the field. His book The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality was published by Duke University Press (2011). He has produced and edited many texts and projects that support the general development of visual culture as a field of study and a methodology, such as the third Visual Culture Reader, edited by Mirzoeff and published in 2012 by Routledge and the second fully revised edition of An Introduction to Visual Culture, published in 2009 by Routledge. He also works on militant research with the global social movements that have arisen since 2011, particularly the Occupy movement, writing a regular column ‘Intensify’  for Tidal Magazine.

Deirdre O’Mahony is an artist, academic and occasional writer. She received PhD from the University of Brighton titled New Ecologies between Rural Life and Visual Culture in the West of Ireland: History, Context, Position, and Art Practice. Current projects include a collaborative project SPUD, between farmers, artists and art agencies taking place in Ireland, the UK and the USA and this year she has produced a collaborative event, River Culture in County Tipperary in June 2013.  She is curating an installation on rural labour and the regulation of turf cutting as part of the. O’Mahony is a member of the association of Arte Útil practitioners, a project by Tanya Bruguera, and part of the Arte Útil archive. Solo exhibitions include Abandoned Clare 2013, re-presentations, BCA Gallery 2009, Viscqueux Galway Arts Festival, 2006, Wall, Context Gallery Derry and LCGA, 2002 and WRAP; Galway Arts Centre in 2000. Public art projects include T.U.R.F (Transitional Understandings Of Rural Futures), ongoing, Mind Meitheal ongoing, Abridged: 0 – 20 Abandoned Clare, 2011, funded by the Arts Council, X-PO 2007-8 funded by the Arts Council and Cross Land, 2007 commissioned by Clare Co. Council. O’Mahony has received numerous awards, both national and international including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship in 1995 and visual arts bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíonn, 1997/2001 and 2010.

For more details and updates as they become available check http://www.thefuturestate.org.uk.