As statements go, I think “Capitalism Kills Love” is rather a nice one, if a little intellectually slight. I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to take it that seriously – after all, both Capitalism and Love are tough old birds, and both will fortunately / unfortunately (depending on one’s perspective and current situation) endure.
They weren’t so sanguine at Art Basel Miami Beach last week, when Paris-based James Thornhill and Fulvia Carnevale, who make art as Claire Fontaine, put up the above statement in red, white and blue neon. The owner of the building whose façade was adorned with the text asked for it to be taken down. “He was pretty shocked,” Fulvia Carnevale is reported in the Art Newspaper as saying. “He thought the meaning was too political for him. This can happen with people who are outside of the art world.”
As Claire Fontaine’s website describes the duo’s work thus: “Claire Fontaine uses her freshness and youth to make herself a whatever – singularity and an existential terrorist in search of subjective emancipation,” I have no doubt that Carnevale is used to people outside the art world not fully understanding Claire Fontaine or their projects. Nevertheless, It’s an interesting situation when such dichotomies: art world / non artworld; Europe / USA emerge, with one group genuinely having no comprehension of the intentions of the other. Particularly when so much culture is cross-pollinated by the internet and entertainment industries from one side of the Atlantic to another, and when so much art makes commentary on and engagement with the ‘outside world’ its subject and focus.
A passing policeman is quoted in the Art Newspaper as telling Claire Fontaine to “go back to Europe,” while in the feedback to the news piece (here), a reader from Atlanta comments: “Let them go to North Korea and sell their garbage there.” Taking the fact that the Atlanta reader was replying on the Art Newspaper’s website, and can therefore be assumed to be interested in, and engaged with contemporary art, I can only infer that their dismay came from that inexplicably American problem with Socialism. For my part, I’m not too thrilled with Capitalism either, though an awful lot of the world’s greatest art treasures simply wouldn’t have been made without it.