Austrian Cultural Forum
11 East 52nd St. between Madison & Fifth Aves.
Daily through April 22, free, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
During his 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton famously declared, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Austrian-American curators Oliver Ressler and Gregory Sholette have taken that statement and added a slight twist for “It’s the Political Economy, Stupid,” a group show running through Sunday at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Midtown. Through sculpture, installation, drawing, video, and photography, the artists fight back against the growing economic crisis encircling the globe as governments do nothing to prevent it ― or in fact make it worse. In the lobby, Dread Scott continually calls out, “Money to Burn,” in a video depicting him in the Financial District burning actual money while asking passersby to help. The Institute for Wishful Thinking goes back to 1975 in their multimedia display focusing on the iconic Daily News headline “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” supplementing it with cards that make such proclamations as “Paulson to City: Banks First” and “Blankfein to City: No Worries.” Linda Bilda’s “Labor and Capital” sculpture projects the two performing a ghostly dance on a wall, while flo6x8’s “Body Versus Capital” documents Spanish flashmobs dancing inside banks. Julie Christensen’s slide show, “How Communities Are Reusing the Big Box,” reveals how big box stores that have gone out of business are being repurposed by local neighborhoods. Zanny Begg and Ressler’s “The Bull Laid Bear” video does an excellent job of explaining the economic crisis, using cartoon bears as talking heads. Ira Rosenberger’s “Espiral ― A Dance of Death in 8 Scenes” harkens back to Kurt Jooss’s 1932 ballet, “The Green Table,” as a woman in black-and-white face paint moves ominously behind quotes detailing the history of Austrian finance. And Bilda’s large wall mural, “The Future and End of the Golden World,” features male and female prolls, rightist perverts, unprincipled media, bureaucrats, political activists, Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Warren Buffet, Henry Paulson, NGOs, and others, with politicians being tempted by lobbyists at the center. “It’s the Political Economy, Stupid” offers an intriguing, varied look at how artists are dealing with the financial crisis, employing a creative blend of humor and anger to make their salient points.