Pen & ink, 270-gsm paper, 280 x 380mm
“It is at work everywhere, functioning smoothly at times, at other times in fits and starts. It breathes, it heats, it eats. It shits and fucks. What a mistake to have ever said the id. Everywhere it is machines — real ones, not figurative ones: machines driving other machines, machines being driven by other machines, with all the necessary couplings and connections”.
- Deleuze & Guatarri, Anti Oedipus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia, Page 1, Pub: 1972
This piece is a response to the pervasive narrative within society that millennial’s are entitled, spoilt, vain and lazy. If only we’d stop spending our money on avocados and iphones we would be able to afford to live in London, get on the housing ladder and achieve the social ideals as set out by the post-WWII generation.
Ironically we are living in their vision of the future, one where the structures in place that allowed them to thrive and prosper have been slowly dismantled; social mobility, education, healthcare and workers rights are all under attack or fading memories with the financialization of every aspect of human existence keeping people in a state of perpetual anxiety.
Britain is currently facing a national crisis in terms of mental health, particularly in young people. Depression is now the most commonly treated illness by the NHS, with record numbers of university students requesting counselling services or dropping out of their courses due to stress. Deleuze and Guatarri’s seminal critique of capitalism, Anti-Oedipus, posited that certain conditions, such as schizophrenia, were not natural but a specific product of a political environment.
The enormous psychic pressure to succeed in an increasingly unstable world is clearly having a detrimental effect on young people, the added stress of having their lives constantly under a microscope through various social media platforms compounding the situation. There is a dichotomy inherit in smartphones, being both a tool for work and for pleasure, making them beguiling and dangerous objects. You ‘have’ to have one, be constantly connected to the world and forever striving to present your perfect digital self for consumption. It’s not about vanity; to be a functioning part of the machinery of late-stage capitalism you yourself must become a product.
In my subversion of the lifestyle imagery of the 1950’s & 60’s my intention is to reframe the growing problem of anxiety, shifting the focus away from the individual and to society as a whole. Since the catastrophic failure of neo-liberalism in 2008 we have been living with its corpse, unable to envisage a future outside of the current capitalist narrative. Time seems detached from reality as nothing changes, and nothing moves forward.
The atemporal nature of our environment, the chaos that surrounds us, the increasing atomisation of society, and the alarming rise in depression and anxiety are all products of a failed economic system. Instead of castigating millennial’s for a seeming fecklessness it may do to consider the ideologies propagated in the world we inhabit and how they are contributing factors to the selfiefication of culture. By rejecting the machine and reclaiming sociality we can overcome perceived difference and apathy thereby initiating positive change for the future collectively, across multiple generations.
And that is the future that I would give up avocados for, nothing less will do.