Daniel de Paula's solo exhibition at Lumen Travo Gallery in Amsterdam.

Daniel de Paula: and materiality becomes nothing but a mere representation of a structure of dominance
Curated by Sjoerd Kloosterhuis
January 18 – February 22., 2020
Lumen Travo Gallery, Amsterdam

A popular medieval belief claimed that, every night, after the fields had been cleared during the day by farmers, the devil would sow weeds over the land. Such notion endlessly perpetuated the supposedly divine necessity of labor, day after day after day, relentlessly condemning individuals to exchange the time of their lives for work on the farmland.

Presently, and in an increased and intensified degree, by means of other social forms and abstract conditionings that have replaced, for example, religion, people remain chained to the idea of work as the only way to subsist. For this reason, contrasting with other possible modes of existence, we, through the production of value within a capitalist society, seem doomed and reduced to the act of converting time into wealth, thoughts into products, and nature into commodities.

In like manner to the above-mentioned religious abstract notion that reinforced the necessity of work in medieval times, the current mode of the production of value is also an abstraction, a phantasmagorical presence in our society, analogous to the devil’s invisible hand seeding the land, intangible, yet, at the same time, the determinant factor that concretely shapes our lives.

More precisely, there is no objectivity in the determination of the value of labor, of land, or of capital in itself, on the contrary, such conclusion is the result of a fetishistic operation, fundamentally religious and ideological at its core, far from logical and quantitative reasoning.

How might we determine the value of one’s time?
a phantom inside the body
How has land become private property?
a phantom scattered over the landscape
How can we define what is money?
a phantom inscribed in the material

This continuous and conditioned practice of the affirmation of value through labor, land, and capital transforms space and contaminates all surrounding materiality, finally dominating our existence. Under such system of constraint, the material reality around us becomes, not only the result of our subordinance to labor and the production of value, but also the cage that reproduces such system, the physical outcome and extension of our social relations within capitalism.

The endlessly exchanged products (including the art market), the globally circulating information, the infrastructure of mobility around us, the extracted natural resources across the globe, the most advanced technological devices, and the architectural structures currently enveloping us, are all but a mere physical manifestation of a system of control. At the end materiality is not neutral, it is the embodiment of the production of value, a conveyor of invisible forces.

Daniel de Paula

Photo: Peter Tijhuis