Peter Conlin: A particular focus of Desearch is on the ways that ethics, progressive politics and forms of subversion are embraced by corporate culture and the art world. This can be seen as hypocrisy, bids for legitimation (the need to present power and wealth as a force for common good) and post-avant-garde habits, but is there something more? There’s a Walter Benjamin idea that special commodities are alluring because they are like a frozen or distorted promise of another life. Reified fantasies of social transformation lie at the basis of capitalist life. It goes deep and moves through what challenges it, that’s why it works. Do you see it like this? Can satire thaw these promises, contribute to bringing people together in a different way than the commodified sociality featured in your pieces?
DR: The Desearch Repartment’s foray into the arctic is indeed a search for frozen promises. Capitalism is like a fast-moving glacier eroding the landscape, while picking up pieces of rock and anything in its path (and everything is in its path) and using these fragments as tools to further flatten the landscape. Our strategies, we hope, serve to chip away at and melt the capitalist/neoliberal/austerity ice to expose these rocky political histories, these future erratics, swallowed up inside. In geology, erratics are pieces of rock that are dislocated, carried to their current location by glacial ice and deposited due to melting. When the glacier of the Mayflower plowed into Patuxet perhaps it was they who dropped the erratic, Plymouth Rock, to further underscore their own colonial movements. The Desearch Repartment attempts to chip away at the commodification and camouflaging of human injustices and oppression at play in contemporary life by highlighting the structures that are holding these political and social realities in place.
With this work we intend to melt all the glaciers and icebergs, freeing all the erratics! Much like the capitalistic approach to global warming, we are less interested in sustainable structures, as we are looking forward to living our lives out on a yacht. All the erratics will be released from their frozen prisons, though they will soon find themselves at the bottom of the ocean likely to be consumed back into the earth’s core and be reconstituted and discovered by future drilling societies. Just another chapter in our durational futures. That’s what we call progress!