“What makes us feel liberated is not total freedom, but rather living in a set of limitations that we have created and prescribed for ourselves.” Andrea Zittel
“It is only when we laugh and breathe freely that ideology truly has a hold on us.” Mladen Dolar
If Anthropocene is believed to be a great equaliser, canceling differences concerning class, race, origin, gender and ability, putting us all equally in front of the image of an imminent catastrophe, likewise it is true that it’s only a product of the supremacy of the capitalist developing model and segregation. In this sense, the apocalyptic rhetoric and the language of crisis emerged in these last years produce new social stratification and dominance schemes. Among these the phenomenon known as freemium economy is especially meaningful. Meant as a commercial strategy that allows free access to services or digital goods by all users equipped with an internet-connected device, it plays upon the maximum possible distribution of a product to benefit economically through different limitation strategies. Often paired with a membership logic, this new economic model scattered and legitimised a language based upon a democratisation of services, on loyalty and devotion, as summarised by Spotify’s slogan “Music for Everyone”, sounding like a basic human right just like clean air, drinking water and a free Wi-Fi connection.
During the same period social networks profoundly modified our ideas of well-being and property: Uber and Airbnb, for instance, not only generated a remarkable ambiguity around the concept of ownership, but also diffused a custom of mutual trust in an era of unanimous anguish. Therefore concepts supporting democratic utopias of the late 90s, that used to see the internet as a tool for liberation, endured a profound semantic shift: democracy, public space, common good, gratuity, liberty, are terms still present in collective consciousness, now integrated into the dynamics of commerce.
Since Lehmann Brothers collapsed in 2008, we have been educated to economic parsimony and nowadays financial rescue interventions towards banks or austerity policies don’t shock us anymore. Meanwhile, the appeal of free goods is increasingly higher and often is defined as scavenging. We are free to have everything, partially: almost 90% of Candy Crush users does not perform in-app purchases. In other words: if what’s free is mediocre, there’s always time to get used to it.
If even culture and information undergo the same logic, one question arises: what are we left with? The project tries to insert in exhibit venues these limitation practices, that can easily transform into practices of exclusion and control.