JACKPOT

Exhibition Dates: November 15, 2013 to January 15, 2014 Exhibition page: http://museumofcontemporarycuts.org/exhibitions/jackpot

Lead Curator: Lanfranco Aceti.
Senior Curators: Pat Badani, Nicholas Mirzoeff and Marquard Smith.
Curator: Jonathan Munro.

Jackpot is an exhibition that, by analyzing the financial gambles of contemporary society, presents the loss of value of the traditional interpretation of the word social in favor of a re-interpretation of community and its rules by the nation state in a post-postmodern framework. In this context, the role of the state becomes that of a guarantor of a ‘skewed playing field’ arguably in favor of predatory lending, financial sharks and rapacious bankers.

Jackpot, inspired by Mark Skwarek’s artwork of the same name installed in Wall Street during Occupy Wall Street in 2012, refers to the phenomenon and underpinning ideology of ‘the winner takes it all.’ The artwork and the exhibition are a challenge to the current transformations, interpretations and globalized status of the American Dream within which there were – historically – multiple winners in a shared quest for upward social mobility. The exhibition argues that what remains of that ‘dream’ – now in financial tatters – is a single winner able to grab the whole of the jackpot, leaving everyone else to pay the tab for a game they will never be allowed to play.

Jackpot – as a symbolism of the absence of hope for the majority but one – questions the current state of democracy, seen as a post-democracy by Colin Crouch (Coping with Post-Democracy, 2000; Post-Democracy, 2004.) The profound alteration of the social balance makes intolerable the blurring between public riches and private riches skewed in favor of the very few. By layering the building of the New York Stock Exchange and virtually transforming it into a slot machine Mark Skwarek’s AR intervention Jackpot points to a game that is rigged from the very beginning; a game in which the house always wins.

In this context, post-democracy seems increasingly to represent a game – as in John Craig-Freeman’s Monopolistic Plutocrat in which plutocracy and plutocratic characters dominate the landscape and are rendered visible through the partial unmasking of technology.

In Tamiko Thiel’s Reign of Gold money seems to float but is impossible to grasp. The layer of the virtual money becomes a metaphor for the impossibility of the 99% grasping the gold. Real money becomes a distant dream, and while people can perhaps engage with the ‘fake’ money; the distance between the majority and the minority of those who have increasingly larger financial resources becomes sideral.

Will Pappenheimer’s First Occupy Wall Street Colony and We Need Something present the viewer with the need for transformative change; change that has to radically invest the behavior of the user and the technology itself. For instance, licking an iPhone screen to create colored toads obliges participants to look at their devices in a different manner. But this change is an aspiration and perhaps the last technologically romantic vision of an idea and definition of society that is slowly disappearing, creating a landscape of dramatic shifts and clashes.

Money, the American Dream, Democracy, Social Upward Mobility, all these notions become a wish upon a cloud… words in the air written in clouds of virtual codes that, when looked upon from afar, stand above the tensions, collisions and desperate abandonment of entire generations and societies around the globe.

The exhibition Jackpot coincides with another show at Kasa Gallery titled I Occupy. Jackpot and I Occupy are a collaboration between MoCC, Kasa Gallery, OCR, Goldsmiths, NYU Steinhardt and the Royal College of Art.

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