Wealth of Nations at Spike Island

PRESS RELEASE 16.09.10 Autumn programme  at Spike Island

Gallery One
Wealth of Nations

Curated by Institute for Flexible Cultures and Technologies – NAPON (Kristian Lukic, Gordana Nikolic)
Preview: Friday 08 October, 6-9pm. Exhibition runs: 09 October to 28 November alongside Notes Part I, II & III, Charlie Tweed in Gallery Two. Gallery Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11am-5pm
WEALTH OF NATIONS – Daniel Andújar (Spain), Michael Aschauer (Austria), Slavko Bogdanovic (Serbia), Luchezar Boyadjiev (Bulgaria), Heath Bunting (UK), Bureau of Inverse Technology (Melbourne, San Francisco, Berlin), Shu Lea Cheang (France/ USA), Derivart (Spain),
Irational.org – Kayle Brandon (UK) & Heath Bunting (UK), IRWIN (Slovenia), Ola Pehrson (Sweden), Société Réaliste (France), Kate Rich (UK), Vladimir Todorović (Singapore / Serbia)
Curators: Institute for Flexible Cultures and Technologies – NAPON (Kristian Lukic, Gordana Nikolic)
Independent curators Kristian Lukic and Gordana Nikolic, who collaborate together under the banner of the ‘Institute for Flexible Cultures and Technologies – NAPON’, have been invited by Spike Island to re-stage their 2009 exhibition ‘Wealth of Nations’.
‘Wealth of Nations’ explores the influences that the economic and financial sectors have on society and consequently, on cultural production through a selection of works by international artists and collectives, some of whom have directly experienced the shift from socialist to liberal political and financial systems. The artists selected by the curators variously investigate the role of the market on the ‘true’ value of an artwork, illustrate stock exchange relations in choral form and parody the commoditisation of nature in new forms of currency. Others explore alternative economic systems from the social and cultural capital traded by artists to quasi-legal trading in real world identities and the historic moral propositions laid down in Islamic Banking.
This group show, presented for the first time in 2009 in Novi Sad, Serbia, as part of the Cinema City Festival, was initially organised in response to the global financial crisis that became abruptly visible in 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brothers: an event symptomatic of the on-going crisis of Neoliberal capitalism. This free market system, predicated on deregulated trade and private investment, has developed since the 1970s whilst State Socialism has waned as a viable alternative. The free market is now so enmeshed within contemporary political systems that governments cannot afford for it to fail, yet are powerless to regulate it. Increasingly trading in virtual commodities and debt, the global financial sector appears to have its own momentum, a momentum beyond the control of even the few who directly engage with its dematerialised processes of futures trading and shadow banking, that in turn affect the very stability of society.
The Curators have taken the title of the show from Adam Smith’s seminal 1776 thesis on economics, ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations‘, in which he proposed that the ‘invisible hand’ of ‘self interest’ would spur economic progress. Hailed in the twentieth century as the father of free market economics, Smith instead advocated ‘rational’ self-interest and ‘justice’ for the individual, rather than rampant self- interest and monopolisation of wealth by the few. ‘Wealth of Nations’ is thus used as short hand for the corrupted free market system we have today, even if this system is not one that Smith himself would recognise.
As well as highlighting contemporary and historic practices, NAPON use the framework of this exhibition to ask, what really constitutes value in its material and immaterial forms? Is value manifested in social interaction, beliefs and fears as well as market indexes? To what extent is money nature or culture? Is capital the equivalent of goods and labour, or is it self-referential? Both Gordana and Kristian will be present in Bristol on the first Saturday of the show to discuss these questions, the art works they have selected and their wider research into virtual communication systems, emergent technologies and unofficial media histories
Gordana Nikolic was the recipient of the 2009 Spike Island Accented Curatorial Residency, supported by the British Council’s Creative Collaboration Project Fund via the
Accented Residency Programme – project partners: Townhouse Gallery (Cairo); Vector Association (Iasi); Delfina Foundation (London); Spike Island (Bristol); Platform Garanti CAC (Istanbul).
For more information on the first installment of Wealth of Nations which took place in Novi Sad, Serbia in 2009, please see: www.napon.org/exhibitions/wealth-of-nations- exhibition
Notes to editors:
Spike Island is a place of production and exhibition of contemporary art and design situated on the southern end of Bristol’s historic docks. We form part of an exciting hub of creative and cultural activity amongst Bristol’s harbourside community and have been established as an excellent working environment primarily for artists and those developing a path within the contemporary visual arts. Originally emerging from independent and artist-led culture, related concerns remain close to the organisation’s values and priorities.
Within the 80,000 square foot building, Spike Island offers visitors a year round programme of free exhibitions, events and family activities in the stunning central gallery spaces, as well as providing artists’ studios and various services and office space for both new and established designers and commercial creative businesses.
The wonderful public galleries, situated right at the heart of the building, have been described by Richard Cork in the Financial Times as amongst the best gallery spaces in the country. This excellent arts building provides audiences with a range of opportunities to engage with and experience the work of artists, often commissioned specifically by Spike Island. The fast growing Spike in the City programme enables Spike Island to develop new communities of interest across the city, engaging artists in developing new approaches and working collaborations as part of their practice.
Spike Island is also home to a number of creative tenants with whom we work closely to maintain the dynamic and busy working environment that makes Spike Island the unique place it has become known to be. The University of the West of England’s Fine Art department and Spike Print Studio are just two examples of the valuable partnerships that have evolved within the building. The success of Spike café is evidence of this – providing a fantastic sunny café space at the front of the building and open to tenants and visitors 7 days a week.
For press information and images contact: Nemia Maclachlan, Marketing Manager nemia.maclachlan@spikeisland.org.uk +44 (0)117 929 2266 Spike Island. A place for the production and exhibition of contemporary art and design. 133 Cumberland Road Bristol BS1 6UX, tel. 0117 929 2266 www.spikeisland.org.uk

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