Curators of New York City's annual arts festival called us a couple of months ago. Would we be interested in having a public discussion with the artist, Steve Lambert, whose work was a major part of this year's festival? The festival's title is "Crossing the Line 2013," and Lambert's large neon-lighted installation (9 feet by 20 feet by 7 feet) says "Capitalism Works for Me." Observers can respond by pressing either a "True" or "False" button.
This work (like others Lambert has produced and shown across the
country and abroad) aims to engage audiences in reflecting and then
beginning to act on its message. As another way to reach that goal, the
curators thought that we - a professional psychotherapist and a
professional economist - might usefully talk publicly with Lambert about
the work and responses to its outdoor installation in Manhattan's Times
Square, where it would remain for several days
We saw immediately that Lambert's artwork contributes to a conversation
about capitalism's strengths and weaknesses. Drawing conclusions would
follow next. For us, working in the domains of economics and psychology,
such conversation, debate and conclusions were all absent, urgently
needed and long, long overdue. We readily agreed to participate in the
proposed public discussion.
Lambert's work found and activated a responsive nerve for many who
viewed it. His art and popular response to it offered impressive
evidence that Americans want to discuss and evaluate their economic
system. Indeed, they want to do that at least as much and as
passionately as they have debated the educational, energy, medical
insurance, transportation and other systems that make up our society.
Lambert's work exposed the disservice to democracy and people's needs
performed by the mainstream economics and psychotherapy "disciplines" in
their refusal to engage the issue of capitalism in relation to their
thought and practice.
By Harriet Fraad and Richard Wolff, whole article here