Galway Arts Centre Presents: “Post- Fordlandia” A new body of collaborative work by Tom Flanagan and Megs Morley. This opens at 6pm on Friday 3rd June and is open daily until 2nd July.
Henry Ford, the hero of capitalism and the Irish American icon of the American Dream is responsible for revolutionising industrialisation and irrevocably altered western society at the beginning of the twentieth century. “Fordism” Fords’ own term to describe his ideal of capitalism, continued to deconstruct the manufacturing process into ever decreasing parts and transformed workers into consumers. Fords vision was at once protecting even parental, and utterly totalitarian. However as industrialised processes became increasingly global, the flaws in Ford’s logic began to erode the fabric of his utopian dream.
Fordlandia, a rubber plantation and town constructed in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest exists as the most poignant existing monument to Ford’s failed utopian failures of Fords attempt to export his puritanical model of capitalism and the American way of life and assembly line into other parts of the world.
Despite providing the native workers with adequate medical care, white picket fenced housing, square dancing lessons and American movies, the workers continued to resent the regulation of every aspect of their lives, including controlled westernised diets, prohibition and continual domestic inspections. Eventually in 1930 the workers rioted resisting “being turned into 365 day machines” with the smashing of time clocks, as a symbolic act against western industrialisation.
Despite the growing signs of inevitable and utter failure of the project, Ford continued to pour millions and millions of dollars into Fordlandia. Interestingly, as the ensuing disasters mounted, the aims of Fordlandia became increasingly obsessed by idealism, as if Ford sensed that the growing failure of Fordlandia was some sort of apocalyptic premonition threatening to destroy his vision of the world saved by capitalism.
The story of Fordlandia is particularly relevant now at a time where we are facing a global recession through provoking debate around the technological utopianism that underpins so much of Capitalism and the assumptions that all societal problems will be solved by endless growth and new technologies. Fordlandia also provides an insight into the problematic of the US’s ascendency to the pinnacle of world power.
“Post- Fordlandia” is a body of work exploring the mythologies surrounding Fordlandia through an filmic exploration of this empty ghost town in the middle of Brazilian rainforest that Ford himself never visited. The work contemplates the physical and ideological failure of the exportation of the American capitalist dream into one of the most complex ecological and cultural places on the planet.
The artists will be presenting a talk on their experience of visiting and filming in Fordlandia earlier this year, at a date to be confirmed. Please contact the Galway Arts Centre for more information.