Exhibition Friday 23 May – Sunday 29 June 2008
As a regenerated Liverpool enjoys its status as European Capital of Culture and anticipates the opening of Europe’s largest retail development, Variable Capital presents a timely comment on today’s consumer culture.
Includes work by Edward Burtynsky, Common Culture, Alexander Gerdel, Richard Hughes, Melanie Jackson, Louise Lawler, Hans Op de Beeck, Wang Qinsong , Julian Rosefeldt, Santiago Sierra, Larry Sultan, Brian Ulrich and Andy Warhol.
As a regenerated Liverpool enjoys its status as European Capital of Culture and anticipates the opening of Europe’s largest retail development, Variable Capital presents a timely comment on today’s consumer culture. Organised by artists David Campbell and Mark Durden (who work collaboratively as Common Culture), the exhibition presents international artists’ critical and often humorous responses to how we produce goods and spend money.
Sara Jayne Parsons, Exhibitions Curator at the Bluecoat comments, ‘The fascination with consumerism and popular culture has a long history within art, much of it celebrating our desire to buy and the enticing design qualities of goods. However, the artists in Variable Capital look beyond the seductive allure of the commodity, to address the human experience and costs underpinning such cultures of excess.’
For example, Santiago Sierra’s work highlights the exploitation of unpaid workers and illegal immigrants, while Hans Op de Beeck examines the mundane experiences of supermarket cashiers. Edward Burtynsky and Brian Ulrich consider the waste produced from our greedy throw-away culture and point to how it affects our global and local environment.
For its title, the exhibition borrows a term used by Karl Marx to explain how value is produced in a commodity. The exhibition explores how the experience of everyday life in modern capitalist societies has informed the work of contemporary artists.
Andy Warhol presents the most historical inclusion with six of his screen tests included in the show; pivotal work that cuts beneath the artifice of Hollywood film and replaces it with raw and realist portraits.
During the show, Common Culture will be presenting Bouncers, a live art intervention featuring 20 bouncers in the galleries. As curators of the show and featuring artists, Common Culture comment ‘Our work collides the venerated and the vernacular. We are interested in how issues of taste, class and notions of national identity are negotiated through the transaction of commodities within British popular culture. For example, Bouncers deliberately highlights that labour-power is just another commodity, and is treated no differently than any other form of commodity. What is so unnerving, especially in the light of their physical presence, is the utter compliance of the bouncers.’
In an accompanying publication by Liverpool University Press, the curators discuss in detail works in the exhibition, locating them in a wider historical context. Variable Capital, £29.95, available at www.liverpool-unipress.co.uk
Exhibition Tours: Every Friday during Variable Capital.
Knowledgeable guides present the themes of the show, offer their interpretation of the work and take questions and comments.
Meet in the Hub 12.00 Ends 12.45