The big party
“Too big to fail”
In the prophetic novel Cosmopolis, readapted into a film in 2011 by David Cronenberg, Don DeLillo described in 2003 the future of the universal city. The protagonist Eric Packer is a 28-year-old billionaire who crosses Manhattan to cut his hair in his favourite hairdresser in a luxurious and spacious armoured limousine with Carrara marble floors, equipped with TV screens and computer monitors from where he constantly monitors the evolution of the world financial market. Their journey is hampered by numerous traffic jams caused by important social events: a visit by the President of the United States to the city, a mass funeral for the death of his favourite musician – a rap star – and by a violent anti-capitalist protest, while throughout the day, due to devastating currency speculation, you lose incredible amounts of money by betting against the rise of the yen.
After a few years, the future of the global city described by DeLillo became a reality. In 2008 we witnessed the biggest financial crisis in the history of capital since the
stock market of 1929. This was unleashed as a direct consequence of the housing bubble in the United States in 2006, causing approximately in October 2007 the so-called subprime mortgage crisis. The consequences were devastating: liquidity shortages, global food shortages, stock market crashes, great recession. The speculative logic of subprime mortgages was based on a real bet on the future solvency possibilities of the debtors: although they did not have a profile of reliable people, they bet on them in exchange for a higher interest rate. A total contradiction. The less chance you have of paying, the more money I ask for. When things started to go wrong, that is, when people started not paying, the solution on the part of the banks was to resort to more speculation and fraud. Sell your debt. They began selling the high interest on subprime mortgages to other financial investment groups hiding the debtors' insolvency. When the party was over and everything fell apart, as we know it was the States – with the money of the citizens – who had to rescue those who define themselves too big to fail.
If there is anything that comes dizzyingly close to speculative science fiction today, it is the financial market. Governed by the maximum abstraction of mathematical language and regulated by data flows and algorithms, increasingly distant from material reality, it works with the projection of possibilities and statistics, with models of reality that do not always coincide with it and that when they are wrong they wreak havoc. Not everything can be foreseen, as Nassim Taleb's black swan theory explains. An event such as a crisis cannot be foreseen, the future can be imagined, but it cannot be calculated, "the future has no date".
The artistic project La gran festa (The great party) by Enric Maurí is the result of an open, horizontal and participatory reflection based on the acceleration and slowdown that the rhythms of the economy have suffered from the late twentieth century to the present, reaching all areas: work, social relations, culture and above all the quality of life of a large part of the population. As a whole, the installation poses an atmosphere of hangover with the intention of provoking a feeling of dizziness and confusion, simulating the day after a space where a great party had taken place. Audio-visuals seek to interpret or reflection how the consequences of a crisis and inflection of the economic system will change our particular realities. Through material extracted from the media, information is provided regarding financial actions and economic operations of extreme speculation.
Now what future do we have left?
With the discrediting of this system, some choose to organize themselves in the future with the greatest possible independence. This implies the project of a solidarity economy from all aspects (production, financing, distribution or consumption), but not so much as an end, but as a means for personal and community development. Therefore, it is emerging as a real alternative to the capitalist economic model and as an instrument of social transformation through sustainable, fair and participatory growth. Self-management in economics presupposes economic democracy. Concepts such as downshifting, eco-networks or slow food appear, which today are emerging as new realities and models to follow. This also means new ways of organizing socially to which social networks and digital platforms have contributed significantly.