The theory of ‘creative destruction‘ - popularised by the American-Austrian economist Joseph A. Schumpeter in his 1942 publication Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy - posits that innovation sustains the evolutionary process of modern capitalism through destruction. According to Schumpeter, that which is radically different deconstructs existing economic configurations, allowing freed resources to be redeployed elsewhere. These processes - simultaneously destructive and generative - occur not by relations external to the existing order, but those inherent to it: “the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” (1)
As a concept, creative destruction has spilled beyond the economic field by offering a seductive framework for thinking about the regeneration of culture and society more generally. Emphasising the individual’s ability to disrupt and rearrange, this form of destruction occasions an opportunity for a productive messiness: as an evolutionary process, it is constituted by fluctuating equilibria that continually reshape and displace the status quo.
Thinking alongside these ideas, a window, a floor, credit cards, a bench looks at the act of dismantling and rebuilding as a potentially resistive gesture. How can deconstructed and reconstituted work be thought of as enacting a socially deformative force? Materially these works engage and are comprised of an existing surplus: urban debris, lost and unclaimed everyday objects or architectural fragments. They represent something discarded, now refunctioned into something meaningful. As such, they can be thought to undermine the system from which they originate and in doing so present themselves as consequential - as a vantage point for thinking about detail in terms of relationality between part and whole. Moving away from absolute claims of total annihilation and rebuilding a better world on the rubble of the past, these works open up an intermediary space where the details of the past find themselves reconstellated in the present.
(1) Schumpeter, Joseph Alois. Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1947): 83
Installation View, a window, a floor, credit cards, a bench, 2018
Lukas Müller, Tourist, 2016
Virginia Overton, Untitled (floor / subfloor 25), 2014