Making Sense of the “Endless Play of Signs” in the Work of Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge

Sarah E.K. Smith

Abstract


The shift to financialization has oriented economies towards the immaterial. As Marc C. Taylor explains, “what distinguishes financial capitalism is that wealth is generated by the circulation of signs grounded in a seemingly endless play of signs rather than in the sale or exchange of material objects or physical labour” (2011: 5). This abstraction of economic mechanisms increases the risk that misunderstandings of the system will occur, as demonstrated by the 2007–2009 financial crisis. This article explores how contemporary artists are addressing financial capitalism in Canada and what can be gained from artistic representations that attempt to assess the current economic system. Specifically, the works of Toronto-based artists Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge are examined. Their collaborative method, which combines community expression with political commentary, produces vivid photographic tableau that offer a clear criticism of financialization as a historical and contemporary issue that has implications in the everyday. Significantly, Condé and Beveridge’s representations of financial capitalism illuminate marginalized aspects of this economic system and contribute to a reexamination of the status quo.

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