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After the opening of his exhibition The Ends of a Long Boom (still on show until October 10th) in July at Kunsthalle Wien Karlsplatz, Ho Rui An will finally be able to come to Vienna and present his newest work:
His lecture performance The Economy Enters the People (2021) takes a closer look at the relations between Singapore and China following the attempt of the latter to assimilate a market economy into its party-state apparatus.
Since the late 1970s, the Chinese government has dispatched thousands of officials to Singapore to study its economic and social policies. The city-state was crucial in reshaping the political imagination of an entire generation of Chinese leadership in a time when “the economy” had replaced class struggle as the primary subject of governance. In The Economy Enters the People, this history of encounters between the two countries – one set into motion by the post-socialist turn toward the market economy – is re-examined against the present-day crisis of late capitalism, within which both China and Singapore have emerged as key points of reference for study.
One focus of the performance is the topic of corruption. While on the side of global capital, corruption is invoked to distinguish so-called Chinese capitalism from free-market capitalism as practiced in the West, on the side of “the people” – the collective subject that has emerged to take the place once occupied by the worker – it serves to characterize the current dysfunctional capitalist system in its entirety.
However, both instances contain the prospect of a capitalism that “works” by being free of corruption. Has class politics been so utterly foreclosed that the people can, at best, replace governments and disgrace corporations but never abolish capitalism itself? Without pretending to have the answer, The Economy Enters the People makes clear that this question is too important to be left to the technocrats.