I am a Revolutionary
The works of the British artist Carey Young revolve around the rules of value production in market economies, corporate strategies, and questions of property in commercial systems. In I Am a Revolutionary from 2001, Carey Young treats the profane aestheticisation of social utopias. In the video work, we follow the same scene over and over again: Carey Young, in a business suit, finds herself in a rabbit-cage-like office with panoptic views inside and out in a glass courtyard. A rhetoric coach trains Young to practice intoning a single sentence that can be seen as part of a speech: “I am a revolutionary”. She repeats the sentence incessantly, is corrected, and tries again to infuse “I am a revolutionary” with believability and conviction. But she is just not able to animate the radical political position with the passion that was once inhabited. The slogan of the revolution has long become a commodity, an object of globalised marketing strategies, for selling T-shirts, sneakers, and home electronics. The appropriation of social utopias and radical plans in the advertising rhetoric of popular and consumer culture degrades the repeated profession to a farce – and thus the potential of a political avant-garde, whose wings are cut because even their system-critical attributes become luxury articles: punk is now called Gucci and Greenpeace is Bitburger. By adopting social commitment and the trophy collection of future-critical staff as a sign of prestige, companies raise their value of identification with the desired clientele: for example, the jeans company Diesel advertised with casted demonstrations and idealistic collectives that can hardly be surpassed in their superficiality.
We are left unsure whether the artist Young with her endless attempts to incorporate the statement with true belief is in fact hoping for a rediscovery of the cultural and political potential of dissent and its ideas of transformation.
Text by Anke Hoffmann (From: Glaubenssysteme zwischen Medien, Markt und Menschen)
Single channel video, 4:08 min
Courtesy the artist and IBID Projects, London