While our building was being finished in the summer 2009, we showed two exhibitions in our main window, overlooking Weekday Cross in the Lace Market.
Josephine Meckseper and Lisa Anne Auerbach both made installations that could at first sight be mistaken for shop displays, especially as they are near Nottingham’s main retail districts. Their work seems to address us as consumers, but the questions their installations raise affect us as citizens.
These questions revolve around the destructive impact of globalized ‘free’ market capitalism – on public life, in the developing world, on the environment, on our sense of ourselves – particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Bush administration.
The window exhibitions perhaps anticipate a shift in the world order following the catastrophic “credit crunch” that undermined the banks, once the standard bearers for unregulated markets, now underpinned by public money.
In the first exhibition, american apparel (2009), Josephine Meckseper examines the hidden violence behind our most seductive consumerist fantasies – those sown and cultivated by US car companies.
Her mirrored installation in our main window shows televisions, a factory conveyor belt and car tyres. The film 0% Down, shown on a screen, explores speed, power and control – all used to sell the cars featured in this montage of US adverts. This exhilarating dream world is based on aggression. “If it had a script the only line would be: Illustrate the obvious ties between the car industry and wars fought over oil," Meckseper told Interview magazine. “In essence, Dick Cheney could have easily come up with this idea in his retirement years.”
Times are changing, the installation seems to imply. Could the smashed screen signal the end of the car industry’s luxurious illusions? Do the tyres on the conveyor belt represent the “Big Three” US car companies – or even capitalism itself - reduced to trundling manufacture, stripped of its glamorous, invincible allure?
Josephine Meckseper was born in Germany in 1964 and has now lived in New York for 18 years. She has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Migros Museum in Zurich.
Venue: Nottingham Contemporary Weekday Cross Window
Space: In the window