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Excerpt from A Sublime Madness in the Soul

Silton presented this performative work in August, 2015, through the windows of her then-studio in downtown Los Angeles, amidst rapid gentrification in the area. The piece was visible and audible from the 6th Street Bridge approximately 300 feet from the studio building. Opera singer/artist Juliana Snapper composed the work’s improvisational score. The text recombines excerpts from American films including Wall Street, The Great Dictator, Do the Right Thing, Boiler Room, Network, Walkout, Citizen Kane, Real Women Have Curves, The Wolf of Wall Street, Trading Places, CHE, The Color of Money, and It’s a Wonderful Life.


Vocalist 1:                 The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed—for lack of a better word—is good.

                                    The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed—for lack of a better word—is good.

Vocalist 2:                 Greed is right.

Vocalist 3:                 Greed works.

Vocalist 4:                 Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Vocalist 1:                 Greed, in all of its forms—greed for life, for money, for love, for knowledge—     

                                    has marked the upward surge of mankind.

Vocalist 4:                 You’ve got that killer instinct.

Vocalist 2:                 It’s the free market. And you’re part of it.

Vocalist 2/4:              Yeah, I know what gold does to men’s souls.

Vocalist 4:                 The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars.

                                    You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth.

Vocalist 1:                 I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal.

Vocalist 3:                 How much is enough?

Vocalist 1:                 It’s not a question of enough, pal.

Vocalist 2:                 In this country you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power.

Vocalist 3:                 You expect me to do this dirty work for nothing? Everything goes to the rich man.                              

Vocalist 1:                 The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip.

                                    We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it.

                                    Now you’re not naïve enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy?

Vocalist 3:                 I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible.

Vocalist 1:                 It’s a zero sum game—somebody wins, somebody loses.

Vocalist 2:                 Greed really takes you to the edge, doesn’t it?

Vocalist 3:                 That’s not what greed does. That’s what greed is.

Vocalist 4:                 I’m tellin’ ya, kid, one of these days the chickens are gonna come home to roost.

Vocalist 1:                 There are no nations. There is no America. There is no democracy.

                                    There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon.

                                    Those are the nations of the world today.

All:                              A pot is beginning to boil.

                                    It’s the fire underneath that makes it boil.

                                    I’m as mad as hell.

                                   The pot is beginning to boil.


Susan Silton

SUSAN SILTON resides in Los Angeles. Her multidisciplinary practice includes photographic and sculptural-based works, video, installation, performative and participatory works, text/audioworks, and printed projects, and is presented in diverse contexts such as public sites, social network platforms, and traditional galleries and institutions. Her project-based work engages multiple aesthetic strategies to mine the complexities of subjectivity and subject positions, often through poetic combinations of humor, discomfort, subterfuge and unabashed beauty. Silton’s work has been exhibited/presented nationally and internationally at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; SFMOMA, San Francisco; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; LA><ART, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum; ICA/ Philadelphia; MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles; and Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, among others. Recent projects include the commissioned installation, In everything there is the trace at USC Fisher Museum, and the celebrated book project, Who’s in a Name? (both 2013). In November, 2015, Silton’s Whistling Project was included in SITE Santa Fe’s year-long series of exhibitions, SITE 20 years/20 shows, which included a commissioned performance by Silton’s women’s whistling group, The Crowing Hens. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Artforum, Art21, Art in America, X-TRA, ArtLies, Flash Art, and Cabinet.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2016

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