Welcome to another all-too-near future. It could be a decade and a half from now. It could be next year. America and its middle-classes—lower, middle, and upper—have crumbled into rubble in an incomprehensibly vicious second civil war. A sequel. Part 2. From coast to coast, the Americans are nowhere to be seen. Always outnumbered by their things, dwarfed by the products that surround them, it’s difficult to identify any human survivors hiding in the devastation. The nation has thrown itself in the trash, but America's "stuff” remains behind. In altered forms. Like a mountain’s precious metallic ore scattered in the wind as rusting automobile dust.
On a graph, we can plot our trip forward through time towards this doomed day after tomorrow. Connect the charred dots. In mid-1960s America, a conservative backlash against the counterculture rose up off the grid’s X- axis. Described by a gently rising slope at its beginning, this reactionary trend line became an ever harsher, ever crueler curve as it traveled through points called Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Newt Gingrich. The lines connecting those dots on a graph were called the Southern strategy, trickle-down economics, neoliberalism, financial deregulation, family values, and the war on drugs. All twisted euphemisms for a massive transfer of wealth to America’s economic elite and the scapegoating of people of color. Passing through George W. Bush and 9/11, the rising conservative curve blasted off at a steep angle—away from the real world and up into a zone of truly mountainous lies. By the time the Trump Administration plops down as a gold-encrusted point on the grid, this curve—which describes the adoption, by millions of people, of an alternative reality cooked up out of alternative facts—has become a vertical tower of fetid burning methane reaching into the clouds. Neoliberalism is a war on reality. A warhead is in the air. Where is it heading?
Civil War builds upon Kline’s project Unemployment, made and exhibited over the last two years, which looks at the potential human consequences of automation, artificial intelligence, and mass-unemployment in the decades ahead. Civil War explores the socio-political implications of these transformations in the context of the United States. The exhibition includes a large-scale installation of cast sculptures that appear as concrete rubble, as well as a new short film set in a utopian future America. Civil War is part of an ongoing cycle of installation-based projects by Kline about human life in the 21st Century.
CIVIL WAR by Josh Kline
Modern Art, London
Through November 11