Art and (in)accessibility

Love this piece in Overland, by Kieran Stevenson, noting the grotesque irony of Julian Rosefeldt’s Euphoria — a purportedly anti-capitalist screed of a film — playing at Melbourne’s bougie marquee arts festival RISING.

The worst part of the show’s marketing isn’t encountered until after you decide to leave—attendees must exit through the gift shop, where they are encouraged to buy Euphoria merch such as an enamel mug emblazoned with the words CORPORATE SHILL or, again, WORKING CLASS HERO. It is here that Euphoria’s status as a product of capitalist realism rather than genuine resistance to it is most clearly laid bare.

Art is becoming increasingly inaccessible in Australia, and nowhere is this more obvious than at RISING, which is completely unaffordable for all but the rich, and whose curatorial perspective absolutely confirms who its audience is. I only saw one thing at this year’s festival (because I was lucky enough to get a free ticket): Shadow Spirit, which featured some wonderful Indigenous artists and a couple of innovative uses of the decaying husk of Flinders Street station. But in terms of content there was nothing challenging; nothing that would ruffle the feathers of a South Yarra finance worker or Fitzroy advertising executive cosplaying as “arty” and working class.

“Fisher devotes a considerable portion of his most popular book exploring the ways capital captures anti-capitalist sentiment, packages it as a product—often an art product—and uses it as a pressure valve for discontent. As a lavish production which says a lot about capitalism without saying much at all, it is not a stretch to see Euphoria as exactly the sort of capitalist realist product Fisher wrote critically about.”

Looking forward to MIFF’s program launch in a couple of weeks, where mini passes now go for $205.