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The Leisure Class

Leisure class film programs

The Leisure Class

13 October 2007 – March 2008

Conspicuous leisure, conspicuous consumption, conspicuous waste; this exhibition and film program draws its name from economist Thorstein Veblen’s celebrated monograph, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). In the social and economic system Veblen described, goods, production, and leisure activities are extreme distortions of individual physical, social and emotional needs. Since the democratization of consumption in the twentieth century, links between economics and desire, property and celebrity, visible leisure and detached cool are reinforced across the economic strata of society. The Leisure Class includes film, video and installation works by international and Australian artists who respond strongly to the contemporary packaging of leisure, consumption and lifestyle as social capital and markers of identity.

Media artist Matthieu Laurette’s interventions into lifestyle television draw upon Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (1967). Debord’s book and subsequent film pointed to economic revaluing of life as spectacle, an approach similar to contemporary parodies of commercial visual culture by Justine Cooper, Penelope Umbrico, Tony Cokes and David Rosetzky. The real-world effects of sixties-era countercultural critique are thrown into question through the ambiguous final explosion of Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Zabriskie Point 1970. In Aernout Mik’s Pulverous 2003, conspicuous waste – the flipside of conspicuous consumption – is staged in the quiet destruction of goods in a supermarket stockroom. Taste, emulation and arbitrary value are humorously played out in works by other filmmakers and artists including Pierre Bismuth, Claude Closky, Nathalie Djurberg, Andrea Fraser, Oriana Fox, Lily Hibberd, Christian Jankowski, Rosalind Nashashibi, Marc’O, Grant Stevens, Jacques Tati, Penelope Umbrico and Emile Zile.

Level 2 media gallery and the Australian Cinémathèque, GoMA.

This exhibition and film program are free to the public.