The Contemporary Art Society and The Economist Group are pleased to present Blow-Up (Sex with Karl Marx) at the Economist Plaza.
An oversize blown-up camera is sited on the plaza so that the lens reveals within snippets from Michelangelo Antonioni’s iconic 1960s film Blow-up. This is watched over by a bust of Karl Marx reminiscent of the monumental bust at Chemnitz in former East Germany – a city that was until 2006 named Karl-Marx-Stadt.
The interior of the camera is viewed as if in a peep show, the audience has to crouch slightly, much as a fashion photographer might gaze upon the model. The outside of the camera is covered with bill posters and heavy graffiti over a series of film posters and stills from ‘Blow Up’ with mildly erotic images taken from contemporary advertising.
The subject and location of the work explores the tension between the two competing ideologies of the 20th century after the defeat of fascism, highlighting the struggle between both supporters and detractors of the materialistic dialectic. The collapsed narrative between communism and capitalism is revealed as a Sadean master and servant relationship — with capitalism seemingly on top as it paves not only the Economist Plaza but also the world in its relentless round of production — distribution — exchange — consumption.
The work reminds us that the seductive 1960s ‘revolution’ is an appropriation, reduced to advertising & nostalgia. The work also suggests something else about Marx’s ideas — not that they are unfashionable or defunct after the triumph of capitalism but that they are also illicit. Communism is a kind of top shelf ‘perversion’ of the winning orthodoxy. But is Marx is about to turn defeat into triumph? Maybe he is not dead in history, but rather waiting inside the very instrument of the spectacle.
Martin Sexton produces powerful and controversial art. He works at the interface of ancient history, metaphysics, the psychosocial aspects of ufology & the politics of aesthetics — all countered with an overpowering poetic vision that has echoes of the wilful extremism of rock n’ roll.
He has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, including Tate Britain & the Venice Biennale. He works with ice, fire, meteorites, sound, film and text.