Friday, July 22, 2011

SPACES Artist-in-residence Takes Capitalism on the Road

Exhibition: August 26 – October 21, 2011
Opening Reception: Friday, August 26, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Residency: June 3 – August 31, 2011

Press Release PDF:
Press Packet (PDF + images):

Cleveland, OH, July 22, 2011—Steve Lambert's "Capitalism Works for Me" is a 20-foot long, 9-foot tall lighted sign allowing viewers to vote "true" or "false" through a kiosk and accompanying LCD scoreboard. The sign will first be shown at SPACES and travel around Cleveland before touring to Boston, Santa Fe, Los Angeles and other cities around the U.S.

The word "capitalism" is often anathema to conversation-its introduction to social situations is becomes a cue that things are getting uncomfortable. However, capitalism is discussed every day in our culture using euphemisms like "jobs," "job creation," "the business climate," and discussing whatever "crisis" is deemed relevant: a housing crisis, financial crisis, job crisis, or fill-in-the blank crisis. These are pieces, but the whole is rarely a topic of frank discussion, much less any mention of alternatives or meaningful reform of the sacred cow.

But what to do? Start a conversation about capitalism and friends edge away slowly, and strangers even faster.

Make a game of it. Through Lambert's bright, glitzy sign that borrows its aesthetics from the trappings of capitalism, discussions of capitalism aren't framed as awkward party conversation or polemic political dogma, but as simple benign votes that are catalysts or gentle primers for discussion. The space around the sign becomes a zone where meaningful conversation of economic structures is welcomed and fostered.

Lambert says of his work, "For me, art is a bridge that connects uncommon, idealistic, or even radical ideas with everyday life. I carefully craft various conditions where I can discuss these ideas with people and have a mutually meaningful exchange. Often this means working collaboratively with the audience, bringing them into the process or even having them physically complete the work."

The project/sign will be on view at SPACES August 26-October 21, but will travel around Cleveland to see how the conversation changes depending upon geography and socio-economic situations. The sign will also make an appearance as part of Ingenuity Fest September 16 – 18 around the Veterans Memorial (Detroit Superior) Bridge.


Born 1976, Los Angeles
Lives and Works in Jamaica Plain, MA

Steve Lambert made international news after the 2008 US election with The New York Times "Special Edition," a replica of the "paper of record" announcing the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other good news. He has collaborated with groups from the Yes Men to the Graffiti Research Lab and Greenpeace. He is also the founder of the Center for Artistic Activism, the Anti-Advertising Agency, and Add-Art (a Firefox add-on that replaces online advertising with art) and SelfControl (which blocks grownups from distracting websites so they can get work done).

Steve's projects and art works have won awards from Prix Ars Electronica, Rhizome/The New Museum, the Creative Work Fund, Adbusters Media Foundation, the California Arts Council, and others. His work has been shown at galleries, art spaces, and museums nationally and internationally, and in the collections of The Sheldon Museum, the Progressive Insurance Company, and The United States Library of Congress. Lambert has discussed his work live on NPR, the BBC, and CNN, and been reported on internationally in outlets including Associated Press, the New York Times, the Guardian, Harper's Magazine, The Believer, Good, Dwell, ARTnews, Punk Planet, and Newsweek.

He was a Senior Fellow at New York's Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology from 2006-2010, developed and leads workshops for Creative Capital Foundation, and is faculty at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He received his MFA from the University of California at Davis, and his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.

More information about Steve Lambert can be found on his website:

Steve Lambert is SPACES' 34th artist in residence as part of the SPACES World Artists Program (SWAP). SWAP is a residency initiative begun in 2002 that invites national and international artists to spend significant amounts of time in Cleveland. SWAP supports the creation, presentation and discussion of artwork while facilitating collaboration among audiences.

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