Monday, January 09, 2012

On "Lady Rosa De Luxembourg"

Figure 1: Statue on top of Obelisk

During the last week of 2011, I saw an exhibition of Sanja Ivekovíc's work at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). This show, Sweet Violence, continues through March.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Ivekovíc's Lady Rosa of Luxembourg. This work mocks a statue, Gëlle Fra (Golden Lady), in Luxembourg. As I understand it, the original commemorates partisans active during World War II. The base of Ivekovíc's obelisk combines the phrases "La Résistance", "La Justice", "La Liberté", "L’Indépendence"; "Kitsch", "Kultur", "Kapital", "Kunst"; and "Whore", "Bitch", "Madonna", "Virgin". Three words, one from each of the three groups, is repeated on each of the four sides.

As far as I can see, this work, despite its title, does not have much to do with Rosa Luxemburg. It is more a matter of épater la bourgeoisie. I think Luxemburg's friend and colleague Clara Zetkin was more of a feminist; Luxemburg focused more on class. I don't know how Luxemburg looked while giving speeches. I know she walked with a limp as a result of a childhood disease. One leg was longer than the other. So I doubt she stood like the statue.

And I didn't overhear any museum visitors discussing such questions as:

  • Do Marx's models of simple and expanded reproduction require an outside source of demand for capitalists to make the depicted investment decisions?
  • Does Marx's depiction in volume 2 of Capital of smoothly reproducing capitalist economies contradict his account in volumes 1 and 3 of the breakdown of capitalism?


escaiguolquer said...

On the second question: "of course there is no contradiction".
As explained in Grossman's The Law of Accumulation, "smooth" reproduction schemas in vol.II does NOT represent actual capitalism performance, but the optimal possibility for a golden path of accumulation, showing interesting results along the way.
Grossman (ibidem) also shows that there's no need for "external" sources of demand for capitalist accumulation, as underconsumptionist of any times (Luxembourg among them) have claimed.

Robert Vienneau said...

I have not read Grossman. I tend to think of Joan Robinson's metallic ages as an analytical tool for explaining where the contradictions will arise that cause capitalist economies not to reproduce smoothly. I take that to be fairly close to being the same point.

I'm not sure about external sources. When the economy follows the model, the sources of demand are internal. But the capitalists have to make the correct accumulation decisions. For expanded reproduction, they're always just dissatisfied with current capacity so as to invest at just the right rate.