Vermeir & Heiremans present their work A Modest Proposal in part two of the group exhibition Infrahauntologies at galerie La Box, Bourges (FR)
27/01 – 13/03/2022. Opening: 27/01/2022, 18h
Infrahauntologies is a program international group exhibition in two parts at La Box foregrounding recent practices that engage with questions of infrastructure, curated by Bassam El Baroni.
The predominance of certain outlooks on the world versus others is partly due to their embeddedness in and diffusion through the systems, technologies, and infrastructures of the built environment. For this reason, a recent pushback against the popular idea that we are destined to live in some sort of eternal present—with no recourse to shaping a different and more equitable future—has looked to infrastructure as a medium of innovation that might suggest otherwise. In an attempt to counter the impasse of “the canceled future,” art has immersed itself in the formulation of speculative models and propositional thinking around systems and infrastructures, and from this position attempts to address major challenges such as the rampant financialization of the economy and runaway climate change.
A key question explored by several works in Infrahauntologies is: How can financialization and computation be leveraged to generate fairer conditions and to reopen foreclosed possibilities? While some existing infrastructures are haunted by historical and political legacies, others may be haunted by an excess of speculation on the future—the material traces and imprints of gambles that both did and did not pay off.
Through the exhibited video and installation works, Infrahauntologies highlights some recurring tendencies within the field of art related to working with infrastructural histories, counter-speculating on infrastructural futures, and embracing fiction as key to supervening upon hegemonic infrastructural nexuses. These overlapping tendencies can be identified as “infrastructural speculation” and “infrastructural re-examination.” In the first, artistic competencies are channeled toward transformative infrastructural scenarios, based on the imaginative rerouting of possibilities dormant in current technologies. In the second, artists revisit the legacies of ill-fated megaprojects, with the aim to identify their aspirations, models, and problems and to use these as pathways for learning from collapse.
Infrahauntologies features the installation A Modest Proposal (in a Black Box) by artist duo Vermeir & Heiremans. The work investigates how current approaches to financialisation could be redirected towards a more equitable model by considering the financialisation of public art collections, museum real estate and symbolic capital.
In collaboration with financial sector workers, lawyers and academic researchers, the artists are developing a financial model that would benefit not only investors and art institutions, but also the artists and art workers. This would create an ecology where value generated by artistic practices is distributed more sustainably amongst all stakeholders.
Seeking to mobilise the main financial asset of Pump House Gallery in London – the building itself – Vermeir & Heiremans decided to consider the financialisation of the gallery real estate as their case study. How could Pump House Gallery become true to its original design as a ‘pump house’, leveraging all rising values, both monetary and cultural, that surround it and become a power house for the benefit of the whole art community?
Battersea has seen a vast increase in investment in recent years, and this project seeks to harness the surplus values thus generated and develop a sustainable cycle of value. This raises further questions as to who should receive the return on investment: should it be channelled directly into art institutions and art workers, or re-directed back into a public purse, for use determined by democratic processes? A Modest Proposal (in a Black Box) invites us to consider the dynamics between art and the economy, and the value of culture in between.
Galerie La Box
École nationale supérieure d’art de Bourges
9 rue Édouard Branly – BP 297
18006 Bourges cedex