In Tomic’s Artpace project, Reading Capital, the artist once again utilizes the power of moving image and personal address to explore globalism—in this case the contemporary exchange of goods and services. The video joins Karl Marx’s Das Kapital with wealthy Texans to re-examine the nineteenth century philosopher’s premise within the context of today’s global and capitalist economy, structures often associated with Texas.
At the entrance to the darkened gallery lies the theoretical foundation for the video within. In the 1930s avant-garde filmmaker Sergei M. Eisenstein began notes for a never-realized film based on Das Kapital. Rhyming with Marx’s social theory of dialectical materialism, he created a corresponding editing process—dialectic montage—a strategy of physically colliding disparate elements to create conflict, and therefore new meaning. Rather than concretely applying Eisenstein’s method of montage, Tomic has conceptually employed it in her video.
For the piece several of the area’s most successful capitalists read from Marx’s seminal critique of the very system that beget them success. The resulting video presents the voices speaking passages into the camera while seated in a space of their choosing (home, office). As T-shirts printed for the opening state, the work foregrounds the present state of world capitalism: 98% owns 2%.
Reading Capital, like other pieces by Milica Tomic, seductively sparks discourse about disparity as it relates to the circulation of products and culture in the twenty-first century.