L’effeuillage des effacements (The Stripping of Erasures) 2016, presents a piles of posters gathered in decreasing chronological order from 2015 to 2400 B.C. of 150 historical episodes of debt cancellation (one event per poster). Unlike usual stacks, each poster is different, in its content, but equally in its design (realized by the graphic studio Vier5). As the public takes the posters, the artwork developed into a verified history of cancellation that emerges, a kind of counter-history of indebtedness. The erasure of the pages appears to be motivated by a multiplicity of political ambitions, in which the emancipation of decolonization goes hand in hand with the populist measure, which guarantees the success of a coup d’état, and passing by the neo-liberal strategy imposing privatization of the public sector.
Through a conceptual approach, Matthieu Saladin (born in 1978 in France) develops his practice around an exploration of how contemporary economic mechanisms shape social relations and subjectivities. Using sound, print, performance, object and information technologies, Saladin proceeds by accumulation, displacement, diversion and tautology, pushing logic to the limit and interfering with the functioning of devices and structures to whose solicit it.
His exhibition The Promise of Debt (Salle Principale gallery, Paris, 2016) was developed around a reflection on the issue of debt taking place in a significant economic context: the post subprime crisis in the United States, and the threat in Europe of defaulting on sovereign debt. However, rather than dwelling on these situations, the artist prefers to probe the philosophical underpinnings of debt, a moral contract that conditions our social relations since the dawn of time. Who gives? Who takes it? Who is lending? Who’s right? Following the Italian sociologist and philosopher Maurizio Lazzarato in his analysis of neoliberalism as a ‘mankind of indebtedness,’ the artist insists on this unbalanced form of social relation, a tool of power of a creditor over a debtor, which acts on the subjectivity of the latter by imposing on him a morality and by mortgaging his future.