Parallel play: developmental psychology for capitalists (2009) illustrates some of the difficulty in the first step of Bourdieu’s task in distinguishing the relationship between the economic field and the market, the ways and extent of their influences on the political field, as well as the various incursions by all three into our everyday experiences. To make this point through exaggeration, the work takes the concept of play, because it is an instrument for transformation as well as a source of pleasure, where the work’s “nursery toys” assist with a mastery that speaks of a continuum of capitalistic engagements lasting long into adulthood.
Parallel play is a term used to describe the way three to five year olds play as individuals alongside each other, rather than with each other, because they haven’t learned to take turns and share which requires empathy. Below the reach of cooperation and confined to the play area floor, the rabbit and turtle race on the mat in their age old famous fable exploring ethics, value, merit and strategy as the colourful astrological birth chart of the New York Stock Exchange looms above.
An infantilising power shrouds the mix as a group of youths on the television monitor eat at a Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food shop, with views to 1950s californian bungalows along the street that show the building’s original form. The address is 25 William Street Earlwood, Sydney and was the childhood home of former Prime Minister John Howard. This coincidental mashup commemorates his neoliberalist negligence, where responsibilities to protect the country’s interests were abrogated to support the American free trade market agenda. The benefits of the 2004 United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement for America blare out across the “global nursery” in an announcement by former United States President George Bush. The eco-shower for Al Gore that is “left on the shelf” is trace of the economic field’s expansion into areas such as climate change carbon trading schemes and also to the neglected responsibilities in the political field.
“Fields are interlocked in complex ways, and part of the task of a sociological study of these fields, is to bring out the ways in which they are structured and linked while rigorously avoiding the tendency to reduce one field to another, or to treat everything as if it were a mere epiphenomenon of the economy.” (Language and Symbolic Power, 1992)
Sydney College of the Arts Gallery, University of Sydney and Breathing Space, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery Sydney 2009