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Tom Holert on the "politics of shine"


Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, 2003. Monofrequency lights, projection foil, haze machines, mirror foil, aluminium, and scaffolding. 26,7 m x 22,3 m x 155,4 m. Installation view, Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London.

The January issue of e-flux journal was published last week, and it’s devoted to exploring Tom Holert’s work on the “politics of shine.” The centerpiece of the issue is an essay by Holert himself on contemporary manifestations of this phenomenon in which global capital flows, climate change, solar energy, and contemporary art intersect. He asks:

How much sun is needed to maintain or improve psychic and physical health? What are the repercussions on local labor politics of ripples in global energy markets? To what extent is the distribution of wealth related to the distribution of light?

In examining the contemporary politics of shine, Holert takes a fascinating journey through the work of the Dardenne brothers, the history of solary power, the art of Olafur Eliasson, and the state of global labor politics. He concludes that the effort to go “off the grid” that solar power represents may only further entangle us in capitalism’s value-generating web:

The transformation of chronobiological rhythms and diurnal cycles that is taking place in the solarized capitalism of sleep deprivation and climate engineering has already priced-in peoples’ desire to get off the grid. The struggle for autonomy and self-sustenance as a laboring person excluded from labor and energy supplies, whether in the Wallonia of the Dardenne brothers or in the slums of the Global South, may turn out to be a training ground for the acquisition of the skills necessary to perform in perfect biopolitical accordance with the logic of value extraction.

Read Holert’s “The Sunshine State” in its entirety here.