Order. Act III. Dinner at The Dorchester
9 Feb — 10 May 2017 at ADN Gallery in Barcelona, Spain
Dinner at The Dorchester is the third and last act of a project shaped as an opera called Order. It consists of three actions that have been carried out in different spaces, both private and public. ADN Galeria presents in its exhibition space this last act, which is in turn the fifth exhibition by Democracia at the gallery. The action develops at The Dorchester hotel during a private dinner. The 35 guests of the dinner are members of the world’s economic elite and they will be both actors and spectators of the intervention. They all ignore what is going to happen.
In the past years, the famous hotel The Dorchester in London, owned by the Sultan of Brunei, has been denounced by a large portion of the LGBTI movement. This is due to the laws in Brunei applied against that community, laws which punish practices deemed impermissible by Sharia. Amongst other questions related to social life, The Dorchester has hosted meetings in which oil companies have signed major deals, such as the BP union with the ICI, the oldest chemical company in the UK, or the purchase of the Chelsea F.C. by Roman Abramovich, who made a fortune thanks to the oil business. The hotel is also known for being bombproof, and for having hosted famous artists, writers, as well as the most traditional and conservative aristocracy. Some of the most representative agents of individualist capitalism –particularly those related to the oil business- meet in its halls. Most of the deals are sealed during private dinners in which the food is minimized by the voracity of their businesses. The places where these oil business deals take place are oddly enough the same in which laws against difference are conceived. If Malthus was mistaken in his predictions of the relation between population growth and food reduction, we should probably recognize some signals of the voracity with which capitalism is transformed and how close we are from an energetic collapse. Carlos Taibo has warned recently about the effects of worldwide dependency on oil, gas and their derivatives: an imminent and desired diminishing of the population and the progressive waste of energetic raw material. He also points out the evidence: the wealth of a few makes corruption grow.
This is the main focus of Order, a popular opera taking place during a dinner at The Dorchester. Conceived by Democracia, it helps understand metaphorically the reversal of the situation. The lyrical composition expresses unsettling, opposition and openly denounces during the dinner. The dinner guests also become vilified. It does not celebrate a dinner between the poor, but the opposite, and it opens a door to respond to the individualist capitalism and the collapse of the future.
The intervention looks for a mise-en-scène that puts on stage those who benefit from the majority of the population but also represent it. By means of an opera offered to multimillionaires, Democracia have tried to place the authoritarian power of capitalism as a central administrator of violence and exemplify what happens when agents of power are put before the indignation of their represented. The problematic relationship arising from the lack of trust between citizens and governments is postulated as one of the reasons why the majority of the population disagree with those who keep their power through businesses related to oil.
In Remède dans le mal. Critique et légitimation de l’artifice à l’âge des Lumières (1989), Jean Starobinski commented with Rousseau on how spectacles arise during negative periods. Without any doubt, the peak of bourgeois art is the opera, representing their own corruption in the heart of a sick civilization that devours culture with fruition. Spectacle has become the medicine and spectacle of the same social necrosis, as if it was the right stage to express what is right and ethically convenient for citizens. The opera has often been rejected as the cradle of the most fatuous social class: it is time to go back to Brecht and his proposal of using it as a form of denunciation. In this covered strategy, the guests ignore what they are about to witness.
The intervention is both epic and realistic: The guests are addressed openly and directly about their pretensions by the same people who serve them. The dinner serves as the stage to showcase the disagreement. Capitalism, directed by an elitist minority that governs, is not only a threatening force, but an enterprise in which workers are clients and vice versa, where public and private space is blurred. This teratological space, which inspires the experience of necropolitics, does not transform common space into something that leads to progress, but to the progressive exhaustion of the majority.
A text by J. L. Corazón Ardura.