A way of removing an element that interferes with the subject
30.11.13 – 26.01.14
Zachary Formwalt’s show A way of removing an element that interferes with the subject is conceived as a three-part video and photo series dealing with our contemporary global economy. The image of the stock exchange functions as a metaphor for the inability to visualize the perpetually circulating flows of capital in today’s world of finance.
The first part of this show, the video Unsupported Transit (2011), focuses on the construction site of the new stock exchange in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, designed by Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Formwalt uses time-lapse photography to capture the progress of the construction work. The tension between photography and film is further amplified by the narrative voice-over that links Eadweard Muybridge’s sequential photography and the rise of film with the late-nineteenth-century changes in capitalist production. The narrative describes the shift of an industrialized society as characterized by Karl Marx in Das Kapital to a more virtual knowledge economy, or as the voice-over states: “the workers have left the scene”.
The second part of the show, the video diptych In Light of the Arc (2013), focuses on precisely this scene. While Unsupported Transit merely scans the outside of the building, this video piece also shows the interior of the now nearly complete stock exchange. It registers the materialization of a place that is paradoxically marked by an increasing dematerialization. As the stock trade is now entirely controlled by IT and advanced algorithms, the trade floor with its iconic opening bell has come to serve a merely ceremonial function. The camera attempts to analyse the continuous transition of production that hides behind the stock exchange’s façade.
With the photographic series De Nieuwe Beurs te Amsterdamen de Proletariërs (‘The New Exchange of Amsterdam and the Proletarians’, 2013), Formwalt introduces new work concerned with architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage’s commodity exchange in Amsterdam in the form of archival materials. The pamphlet of the same name and the public debate surrounding it in the architectural review De Opmerker (1904) contextualize the strained relationship between the capitalist function and the socialist symbolism of the building.
In the course of 2014, Formwalt’s research materials will result in a film that will be set in the Grain Traders Hall of the Berlage Exchange. This hall was originally designed for the trade of grain but was eventually to house Europe’s first options exchange. How does such a shift from grain to options, from physical quality control to abstract, mathematical formulas manifest itself within these late-nineteenth-century brick walls?
The exhibition by Zachary Formwalt was made possible by the support of the Mondriaan Fund. Thanks to: Netwerk / centre for contemporary art, Aalst. In Light of the Arc was produced by the Steirischer Herbst, Graz (AT).