13 Dec 2018 - 06 Jan 2019
Enter inside to be surrounded by the outside. In the colonial architecture of the Clark House Initiative Project Room, Antoine Chapon presents us with reverse perspectives and provides us with the opportunity to look at what is usually not seen.
As in other cities in the Global South, Mumbai regimes of the invisible coexist as irreconcilable poles. Despite this fact, these regimes largely structure the Indian society. The dubious, informal, day-to-day regime, as imposed by the urban development of a city in the midst of a demographic explosion and its collateral effects, goes along-side with the ongoing quest for the performance (and gain) of advanced financial capital technologies. Each of these polarities are invisible in their own way. The algorithms that govern the course of the exchange are invisible to most people in their daily functions. However, their effects have a negative impact on the lives of all; including those on the fringes of the system that struggles to represent them and cannot do without their productive force altogether.
It is on this paradoxical cohabitation of the invisible that Antoine Chapon devised Automated Arbitrage. The in situ installation is a response to the immediate and dual environment in which the artist was immersed during his stay at the Clark House Initiative. Automated Arbitrage responds to this environment - that of the city of Mumbai, and that of Clark House as well - by recreating a physical and symbolic environment of its own. By introducing the street space inside the building space and installing bamboo architectures which is used as commerce, shelter or scaffolding, tarpaulins and nets, all characteristics of the city's urban anarchy, Antoine Chapon is working to deactivate the weight of the colonial architecture of the Project Room to bring in a new space, that is exogenous and uses plastic and bamboos to highlight it.
On the blue tarpaulins, the colour of which is not unlike that of the Indian Workers' Party. Antoine Chapon used white paint spray to record the testimonies of four Indian traders and a programmer, having asked them to mention the three algorithms that are mostly used in their profession. TWAP, POV and Cash Future; three names that present nothing for the most part; except perhaps the fiction of the omnipotent machines that are programmed to make the most of our lives. The very act of hand-writing everything in English, the jargon of trading, although omnipresent in space, seems to lose all operative force slammed behind the bamboo structure.
In the room, the voices of the workers with whom the artist worked to build the installation are broadcasted. Present through the product of their work, these workers are also present through their voices embodied in space. The economic universalism of English, the weapon of power of the written word, is then matched by the evocative power of the sounds of the vernacular language. In Hindi, the workers testify to their daily existence, to the difficulties linked to the increase in the cost of living, the risks of the profession, almost similar to tightrope walkers, the workers are perched on their hazardous structures, always playing with weightlessness; sometimes thinking of death. In their exchange with the artist, their speech is freed and their voices carry it. It rebalances the relationship of the representations.
It is not insignificant that Antoine Chapon chose as the title of his installation a paradoxical association of terms, Automated Arbitrage. The expression obviously belongs to the language of finance and refers to the decisive role of computer software in stock market arbitrage situations. However, here the expression is short-circuited, the environment of the installation automatically becomes the arbiter of the representations, making them coexist with subtlety and bringing to light their own but intertwined logic. Antoine Chapon then engrosses us in an immersive installation where the modalities of representation of complex identities are sensitively defined against a backdrop of unifying logics of global capitalism.
Dakar, December 2018