Royal College of Art, London, UK, and Leonardo Electronic Almanac, the MIT Press, Berkeley, US-CA
Day 2, 10 November, De Bijloke Mezzanine, 18:00–18:30
In his lecture-performance titled “Blindness” Bill Balaskas will reflect on the ideological state of post-crisis Europe and the role of contemporary art as a communicator of the antagonisms and anxieties that still linger. Connecting Deleuze and Guattari’s aesthetic and political preoccupations, Balaskas will adopt (and adapt) the two thinkers’ “Body without Organs” (BwO), in dialogue with the model of the rhizome, in order to highlight the deep contradictions inherent in the domination of neo-liberal capital. On a formal level, the artist will employ the fluidity that characterises the BwO as the fabric of his lecture, thus producing a rhizomatic, non-hierarchical, and non-linear narrative reminiscent of the structure followed by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus. Blurring the boundaries between personal narration, scientific documentation, and poetic allegory, Balaskas will bring together a wide variety of seemingly unrelated sources and media, including re-edited extracts from his video works, graphs exemplifying economic theories, a literary analysis of José Saramago’s novel Blindness, a cover version of the song “Blindness” by U2, personal exhibition anecdotes, and extracts of works by Deleuze and Guattari. Through the amalgamation of these elements, Balaskas will aim further to explore one of the most prominent preoccupations in his artistic practice: “the fluid and petrified substance of money” that functions as the BwO of any capitalist being (Deleuze and Guattari 2004, 11).
For Deleuze and Guattari, capital’s distinctly schizophrenic character epitomises the nature of the BwO as “a body without an image” (Deleuze and Guattari 2004, 9). In a perverted and bewitched capitalist world, “capital increasingly plays the role of a recording surface that falls back on all of production” (Deleuze and Guattari 2004, 11). Through his lecture-performance, the artist will suggest that this “non-image”-surface is, in fact, produced through an unprecedented elevation of spectacle within the public sphere. For Balaskas, the totalitarian enactment of the image that we experience today should be understood as the last, “blinding” refuge of a socioeconomic model that is struggling to survive. In this context, “blindness” is not only a condition that emanates from a particular economic system (capitalism) but also a profound cultural choice that aims to deliver us from the need to face a new reality. This voluntary lack of vision affects not only the way we evaluate culture and aesthetics but also our very understanding of the societies within which art is called to perform its role.
Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 2004. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. London: Continuum.
Bill Balaskas is a London-based artist working across different media. His works have been widely exhibited internationally, in more than one hundred solo and group exhibitions in the last decade. He has received nominations for several awards, including the AUDI Art Award for the most innovative young artist in 2013. In 2012, he represented the UK in the London Cultural Olympiad and in Maribor, the European Capital of Culture. Articles on and reviews of his work have appeared in publications such as Frieze, Wallpaper, Domus, the Art Newspaper, Espoarte, Le Monde, El País, and El Mundo. In addition to his artistic practice, Bill Balaskas is an awarded writer and an editor for the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (MIT Press). In recent years, he has given talks about his work at the University of Oxford, the 11th Sharjah Biennial, Tate Liverpool, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Central Saint Martins, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Web: www.billbalaskas.com. Email: email@example.com