The commands of the sadistic capitalist

Woolley, Dawn ORCID logoORCID: (2017) The commands of the sadistic capitalist. Twitter. (Unpublished)


Woolley’s research explores the relation between people and objects, and the impact that images have as producers and disseminators of social values. She interprets commodity packaging and adverts to determine the social ideologies they support and to understand how they shape the identity of the consumer. Her central argument is that commodity culture turns everything into adverts. Her site-specific work on billboards and social networking sites examine how images are consumed, particularly how ideology is transmitted through commercial visual culture. Because contemporary social relations are mediated, and often dominated, by online social networks Woolley views the sites as the contemporary commercial space where commodity culture pervades social existence. They are spaces where dominant social values are disseminated and reinforced through advertising and celebrity product endorsements. Woolley’s works aim to function as activist interventions disrupting the repetitious order of consumerism and creating a space in which the viewer can critically consider some of the contradictions of capitalist consumption. Under the pseudonym the sadistic capitalist Woolley posted tweets every day in May 2017 to coincide with Diffusion International Photography Festival in Cardiff. The Tweets bring attention to the sadistic commands of advertising on social networking sites by combining advertising and magazine layouts with by quotations from the works of Sade. In other posts film stills from Pasolini’s film adaptation of Sade’s story, Salo: 120 Days of Sodom are combined with advertising slogans. Hashtags draw attention to the similarity between popular culture texts and the cruel tortures of Sade’s heroes. The project aims to appropriate commodities and adverts as wish images. In The Arcades Project Walter Benjamin said that by changing the social value of commodities consumers produce wish images that enable them to inhabit the objects and make them act abnormally. This project considers how social networking sites can be used disruptively. Woolley inhabits the space and acts abnormally.

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