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#CBIC 7: WTF is Neoliberalism?

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#CBIC: WTF is Neoliberalism?
Babycastles Gallery
Monday April 13th 6:30 - 8:30 PM (drinks afterward)
137 West 14th St, 2nd Fl
New York, NY 10011

The next #CBIC will be an informal discussion about the slippery but ubiquitous term “neoliberal(ism)”. The readings below are only a loose guide to get the conversation going. Come armed with your thoughts about the use of the term drawn from recent experience, texts, or discussions. Intro statement and discussion points follow.


Neoliberalism is nothing new. Apparently it's been with us since the 1970s (or earlier), yet today we could venture that it is a term that has been taking on a new life. Quite by our own design, neoliberalism is a moving target. The term is opaque, polysemous, and charged. Yet somehow it seems so apt and useful. Fashionable, of course, but can we do better? Are we abusing this term? What are examples of neoliberal governance? Who are its subjects? There are no political parties or states that claim to be “neoliberal”. Nonetheless we’ve managed to paint a picture of some form of vast neoliberal conspiracy. To what end? 

What is its relationship to digital technology and the "information society"? How is “neoliberal capital” different from “finance capital” or just regular old investments? We hear about the “neoliberal museum” and the “neoliberal university”. Are these real targets or just loose theory applied to perennial punching bags? 

Is there a neoliberal aesthetics? What is a Fast-Policy network? As Peck, Theodore, and Brenner attest its ideological reach routinely exceeds its grasp in the form of policy solutions. How is it related to globalization? Of course we are intrigued by what art & theory might have to say. Buchloh: ”contemporary artistic practices have become totally dependent on a neoliberal subjectivity.” 

Is it State sponsored? Is it located in the historically-specific conditions of crisis associated with the mid-late 1970s, as David Harvey says. Is it, as Bourdieu claims, a program for destroying all collective structures which may impede pure market logic? 

What about the prosumer? Are they (we) neoliberal? Is it so simple as the "marketization" of everything? Is Bill Clinton to blame? 

Discussion points:

- the preponderance of the short-term contract - how does this apply to the economy of art and intellectual production?
- case studies drawing from #CBIC discussions and/or the field of arts/tech
- how instructive is this term for recent art practice or the iconography employed by emerging, networked artists? 

Suggested texts: (collected here:

Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, The New Way of the World, Part I : Manufacturing the Neoliberal Subject. e-flux, # 51 January 2014

William Davies, Jonathan Derbyshire, Stephanie Mudge, Bob Jessop, ROUNDTABLE : The limits of neo-liberalism, RENEWAL, Vol 22 No. ¾

Matthew Clair, Rethinking Neoliberalism: Neoliberal Logics and Digital Technologies in the Literary Field, unpublished draft (please email for copy and do not cite or circulate)

Benjamin H. Buchloh, Farewell to an Identity, Artforum, December 2012

Alexander Alberro, Life Models, frieze magazine 01/06/12

David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, intro and chapter one

Isaac Julien as told to Rachel Withers on PLAYTIME and other work, Artforum, 03.17.15

Jamie Peck, Nik Theodore, and Neil Brenner, Neoliberalism Resurgent? Market Rule after the Great Recession,The South Atlantic Quarterly, Spring 2012

Pierre Bourdieu, The Essence of Neoliberalism, Le Monde diplomatique

Monday, April 13, 2015 - 18:30
Babycastles Gallery, 137 West 14th St, 2nd Fl, 10011 more
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