Anna Bitkina: Curating in an Age of Anxiety: Control and Raising Possibilities


Advisor/tutor: Bassam El Baroni
Arnhem, June 2018


The idea about wealth and power disparity and inequality in the world that is ruled by political and business elite is not a new one, indeed. The scrutinizing desire to understand what is going on and an attempt to influence (and sometimes stop/redirect) deviant orders of main ruling structures and infrastructures to make the world a better place are often subjects for research in humanitarian field, including academia, contemporary art and media. ‘Mr.Robot’ is a good example of a cultural product that depicts social frustration, pointing out at cyber threats, mental health and a rebellion of anarchist youth in the contemporary information and data society. The idea of revolution is probably most inspiring, optimistic but yet utopian one in this pretty dark series. ‘At the heart of "Mr. Robot," Esmail says, are disillusioned young adults hungering for change. And they're able to bring about that change by arming themselves with state-of-the-art computer technology that many older people don't understand.’ Being involved into Elliot Alderson’s troubled consciousness, following his stream of thoughts and sequences of actions through the episodes we, as viewers, are constantly going from bright to dark side of the hackers’ world. On one hand these tech skilled masters fight capitalism machine and want to change the world by hacking the server of the largest corporations in the world E Corp (Evil Corp) by canceling all consumer debt by destroying the data of the company. On the other hand, Elliot Alderson conducts his own ‘cyber lynching’ of various individuals by hacking their personal data, social media profiles and e-mails. "The power that a hacker can hold now is much bigger than it was years ago," Sam Esmail says, pointing to the ever-increasing amount of data stored online. "We've handed that power over to people who are brilliant at technology and brilliant at exploiting it.’’ ‘We’ is essential here as it’s important to understand that we all in a way participate in the process of accelerated progress and technology development that foster capitalism, we all have agreed with such conditions and therefore we are responsible. Let’s revisit again these conditions and think what could be done.