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Square Street Gallery is pleased to present Commodity-Fetishism, curated by Aaditya Sathish. The exhibition brings together works by Luke Ching Chin Wai, Go Hung, Alexander Si, Chan Ting, and

Gabriella Torres-Ferrer — a group of artists who investigate the absurd realities that have risen from the alienation of social relations in post-industrial capitalism.

When a commodity appears on the market, its meaning is expressed in two terms: use-value and exchange-value. The former refers to the object’s utility, and the latter to its price, its monetary value. In the marketplace, money equates every commodity to one another, yet how is it that 6.52 cans of Coke equate to a pack of Camel cigarettes? If the meaning of the transactions between the labourer, the consumer, and the capitalist is solely expressed as a commercial relationship, then each of

these entities will be alienated at once from each other and themselves. Abstracted and reduced into mere units of commerce and trade, their associations become congealed in the exchange-value.
For Marx, this alienation lies at the heart of capitalism. He ties it to the mystical qualities of the commodity: that it appears to have come from nowhere. Labour-power appears to have disappeared, as its value is exclusively expressed as money. This is commodity-fetishism.

Commodity-Fetishism examines the abstraction of the human to units of exchange which is central to capitalist production. In response to the evolving webs of power and capital, the exhibited artists hone in on specific dynamics between labour, commodity, and exchange value, which in turn prompt reflections on emerging forms of subject-formation. Whether it be the digitization of the workforce, the links between incarceration and surplus-value, oblivious neo-colonial fantasies, or even a shift in our relationship towards both consumption and production, this abstraction has taken on new and insidious forms in our times. These shifts pose a call — both epistemic and aesthetic — to reterritorialise the networks that facilitate such social relations.
Taking our attention to the luxury of the packages in which our online shipments arrive, Alexander Si painstakingly recreates them and, on installation, the sculpture takes the form of modern Matryoshka dolls. Go Hung and Luke Ching Chin Wai locate their practice in the marginal objects, thoughts, people, and material which pervade the dissociative class structure of Hong Kong. Drawing upon yet working against the circuits of globalization, Gabriella Torres-Ferrer calls upon the secrets of material excesses, suturing a critique of imperialist nation-building with blindspots in the subject’s relationship with its environment. Made primarily of materials one can find at the hardware store, Chan Ting responds to the energies emitted by the past lives of found objects, stripped of their utility and financial values, carefully layering an intricate relationship between decay and memory.

If Capital interrogated the relationship between subjects under capitalism, then the artists of Commodity-Fetishism invite us to reiterate the question in a contemporary vernacular.

‘Commodity-Fetishism’ installation view (1)

‘Commodity-Fetishism’ installation view (2)

‘Commodity-Fetishism’ installation view (3)

Hoarder / Sweet Lover

Abandoned artwork, souvenir, filler, plaster, industrial pigment,
industrial foil gold,household dust, oil pastel, spray paint, carbon powder

82 x 105 x 3 cm


You are more than welcome, it was really no trouble.

Discarded sliding door, filler, plaster, industrial pigment,
oil pastel, spray paint, carbon powder

62 x 40 x 3cm


♫ Now playing: Brigade - Innercrowd people

Discarded iron sheet, filler, plaster, industrial pigment, carbon powder

Size variable


Courtesy of the Artist and Square Street Gallery. Photo credit: Felix SC Wong

© CHAN Ting 2024.