Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Crisis in the Credit System & Popular Unrest

Crisis in the Credit System & Popular Unrest

March 9–April 8, 2012

Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery is pleased to present the Toronto premiere of two major video works by artist-in-residence, Melanie Gilligan, titled Crisis in the Credit System (2008) and Popular Unrest (2010). In conjunction with the exhibition, Gilligan will be working on a new work, currently titled The Common Sense.

Melanie Gilligan’s videos lean on the tradition of television rather than cinema. Taking the form of episodic narratives, Gilligan weaves together research in bioscience, technology, and economic theory with popular culture ciphers to develop stories distinguished by uncanny prescience. Her four-part drama, Crisis in the Credit System, commissioned and produced by Artangel Interaction (UK), in the summer of 2008, represents the first filmic foray into the looming debt crisis in the fall of that year. Drawing on extensive research, including discussions with bankers, economists, journalists, and activists, the work explores in a speculative and imaginary manner the way in which the financial system would deal with its breakdown. The drama unfolds as characters devise responses to the crisis, tumbling between practical and absurd solutions that function as a piercing analysis of the debt-fuelled havoc of the contemporary financial economy, and the desperate attempts of finance to capitalize further on the collapse.

The exhibition also features the video installation of Gilligan’s recent multi-episode drama, Popular Unrest, which takes as its point of departure the current state of politics and the public realm in the midst of capital’s ongoing crisis. Popular Unrest presents a disturbing science-fiction narrative set in a future much like the present, whose story centers on a rash of mysterious killings and a vast computer system called “the Spirit,” which oversees all economic and social relations. Reflecting on the bio-political nature of power today, Gilligan’s work draws stylistically from David Cronenberg’s “body horror,” and was influenced by the visceral turn taken in much contemporary American television drama (CSI, Bones, Dexter).

Opening Reception

Thursday March 8, 2012, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery

Artist Talk

Thursday March 8, 2012, 5:30 – 6:30 pm
1 Spadina Crescent, Room 313

Media Coverage

Our Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge the operating support from the Canada Council for the Arts.


Title Image: Installation view of Crisis in the Credit System & Popular Unrest, 2012. Image credit: Toni Hafkenscheid.

  • logo_canada_council_arts