Mark Curran – The Economy of Appearances

The Economy of Appearances by Mark Curran elaborates his long-term ethnographically informed transnational project, THE MARKET (2010-) focusing on the functioning and condition of the global markets. Incorporating photographs, film, sound, artifacts and text, themes include the algorithmic machinery of the financial markets, as innovator of this technology, and long-range consequences of financial activity disconnected from the circumstance of citizens and everday life. Profiled sites include London, Dublin, Frankfurt and Addis Abeba. The installation for Data Rush furthers the enquiry to Amsterdam.

Curran filmed in the new financial district of Zuidas on the southern periphery of the Dutch capital – a global centre for algorithmic trading. Adapted from a text by Brett Scott, a former trader, the film, Algorithmic Surrealism, questions the hegemony of HFT and how the extinction of human reason in Market decisions will perpetuate more extreme power relations of minority wealth in globalised capitalist systems. The Netherlands is also pivotal in the global Shadow Banking system, therefore, the installation soundscape is generated through the transformation of data using an algorithm to identify the application of the words, market’ and/or ‘markets’ from public speeches by the Dutch Minister for Finance, Jeroen Dijsselbloem. The installation incorporates a 3D visualisation of this soundscape – The Economy Of Appearances – representing the functioning of financial capital through the conduit of the nation state. With his project, Curran raises the market from its state of abstraction and demonstrates that the market is a real and intrusive force that is paramount in shaping our lives.

This installation was commissioned by Noorderlicht in collaboration with the British North East Photography Network (NEPN) at the University of Sunderland (Great Britain)


Mari Bastashevski – It’s Nothing Personal (2015)

The installation, IT’S NOTHING PERSONAL, is set in the space between what global surveillance firms promote in their self-representation, and what the testimonies of those directly affected by these technologies disclose.

In the past decade, the industry that satisfies governments’ demand for surveillance of mass communications has skyrocketed, and it is one of today’s most rapidly burgeoning markets. A variety of products sold include ready-to-use monitoring centers that are able to silently access, process, and store years of electronic communications of entire countries.

While most of these products are undetectable by design, those who sell them have developed a strong corporate image. Branding concepts applied in promotional materials emphasise protection against vague but potent threats. Access to intimate details of correspondence is presented as impersonal data, petabytes stored and packets inspected.

The detached technical jargon and sanitized clip-art aesthetic work to obscure a deep-rooted partiality. Communication surveillance is a fundamental part of law enforcement operations meant to benefit those it vows to protect, in as much as it is a weapon for preserving power by infringing on the privacy of those who oppose it.
This installation was commissioned by Noorderlicht in collaboration with the Festival Photoreporter in Saint-Brieuc (France).

Artist Bios

  • Mari Bastashevski

    Mari Bastashevski’s work spreads across the disciplines of investigative research, journalism, and art, deliberately blurring the boundaries among them in an attempt to challenge existing information delivery modes and bridge the spaces between practices. Her work “It’s Nothing Personal” is set in the space between what global surveillance firms promote in their self-representation and what the testimonies of those directly affected by these technologies disclose. Her other ongoing projects include “State Business” focuses on the international conflict participants, defence and cyber surveillance industries, and layers of state secrecy under which they operate; and “Empty with a whiff of blood and fumes” a project set in Ukraine addressing the nexus of money, power, and organised crime in the build up to the “hybrid war” there. Between 2007 and 2010, she worked in the Russian North Caucasus on “File-126,” a project about the abductions of civilians under the guise of Russian counterterrorism regime. Her work has been featured in Time Magazine, The New York Times, Courrier International, Le Monde, VICE, and exhibited with Elysée-Musée de l’Elysée, Art Souterrain, the Open Society Foundations, Polaris Gallery and East Wing, among others. In 2010, she spent a year as artist in residency at Cite des Arts. She studied Art History and Political Science in Copenhagen. She is based in Switzerland, but she is never home.


  • Mark Curran

    Mark Curran (Ireland, 1964) obtained his PhD at the Dublin Institute of Technology. He teaches Photography at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and Visual and Media Anthropology at the Free University of Berlin. Since 1998, he has been exposing the predatory character of migration fluxes around the world in a combination of research projects and multimedia installations. Mark Curran lives and works in Berlin and Dublin.


  • Noorderlicht Photography Foundation

    Noorderlicht Photography Foundation

    Noorderlicht is a many-faceted and international platform for photography that has a good story to tell. For Noorderlicht, photography is a socially inspired medium which functions as a window on the world, and which can play a role in social discussions and processes.

    We do this by organizing an annual photography festival, programming exhibitions in our permanent photo gallery, producing exhibitions on demand, organizing photographic commissions and arranging discussions, lectures, and masterclasses. Noorderlicht provides an educational program, and also publishes catalogs and photo books. Our exhibitions tour worldwide, and have been seen in the United States, Syria, Australia, Indonesia, and many other lands.

    Operating as a festival since 1990, Noorderlicht has built up an international reputation as an institution that is able to couple engagement with visual beauty.

    In DATA RUSH, international photographers and multimedia artists examine the digital world in which we are immersed, and the field of tension between freedom and control in a virtual world.  It is perhaps the largest cross-section to date of photographic and multi-media projects dealing with current developments in the digital age, including acutely relevant topics of mass government surveillance and the loss of privacy.

    Noorderlicht runs from 23 Aug – 11 Oct in the Old Sugar Factory, an impressive industrial complex in Groningen, the Netherlands, which will host the 22nd edition of the festival.

Data Rush

 archive : 2015

Featuring: Mari Bastashevski Mark Curran

Curated by: Wim Melis Hester Keijser

Presented by: Noorderlicht Photography Foundation
  • Noorderlicht Photography Foundation

Supported by:

  • Dutch Culture USA


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