Remedy by Victoria Lucas shows empty roadside billboards in Greece, a nation that has been trapped in great economic turmoil since the 2008 financial crisis. In terms of capital flow, Greece is possibly more barren than any of its European neighbours. Because the flow of capital dominates everything in our 21st century world, Remedy provokes a certain anxiety no matter where one lives. It captures the conspicuous absence of a force that we cannot imagine the world without. These billboards could be viewed as magnifying lenses focusing on a flow of capital that has now dried up, like a river bed without the flow of water.
Theorist Fredric Jameson said “it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is capitalism”. The billboards are like monoliths of a world now gone, frozen in time like the large stone heads on Easter Island. The greyness revealed by the empty billboards is significant due to our collective inability to picture a future beyond capitalism. I have often described this inability as thought hitting a grey blankness; theorist Mark Fisher has diagnosed this cultural infliction as ‘capitalist realism’.
Remedy has beautifully captured the existence of a gap in the continuity of ‘capitalist realism’ that we are blind to in our daily lives; rarely anything more than disconcertingly fleeting glimpses from the corner of one’s eye, captured here like a ghostly presence that appears on a family photo. The anxiety Remedy provokes reveals to me that the passing of time is out of joint with our experience of it . This disjointedness has become critical since the 2008 financial crisis. Allow Remedy to encourage you to spare a moment’s thought to the countless unfinished building projects; due to their frozen state you may be able to see them as portals to a world outside capitalism. After all, the 2008 crisis still seems like a matter of weeks ago, not half a decade, as we wait for everything to return to how it was as if this were merely a temporary blip. But this world is not likely to return. Glancing into these portals reveals that we are still inhabiting the world left behind in 2008, like ghosts still going through the motions.
Remedy also creates a space for optimism: that in the grey areas within capitalist realism a new world could possibly be imagined. The question remains whether such a world would be post-human race. Yet it is the human race which has control over this destiny. For this reason, the anxiety Remedy provokes is partly an awakening to the possibility that another world may still be achievable.
Written by John Ledger for the Remedy artists book, published 2012.