Miguel González Cabezas’ work explores the processes of social change, migration and power structures, as well as the politics of representation. In his art practice, he problematises global phenomena and crises related to the system of financial capitalism. His main interest is the process of the formation of nation states, forms of exclusion and the emergence of necropolitics as a consequence of the neoliberal world order. In doing so, he refers to documentary and archival material, which he reuses in the form of a video essay.
Especially for Likovni salon, he prepared the project A Walking Zombie. Life and Capital, in which he marks the functioning of capitalism as a process of zombification and outlines and questions the mechanisms by which capital kills life through a video essay, a lecture performance, a diagram and a spatial installation. He uses the metaphor of the living dead to mark the conditions of life under capitalism. By this, he primarily means the labour power that creates surplus value for others, and with reference to historical and current events, he examines the conditions and environments in which surplus value is created. In the video essay Invisible Brushstrokes (2021), he traces the origins of the zombification process and examines the rise of colonialism and slavery to show how capital subjugates life through depersonalisation and racial differentiation. The artist illustrates how the system invents an imaginary Other who is not equal to it in order to justify its own exploitative actions. The essay begins with the legend of a mysterious artist who completed the paintings of the famous Spanish Baroque painter Murillo at night. It turns out that the anonymous gifted painter was the artist’s slave. González understands the gesture of painting in secret as a form of resistance against inhuman conditions and as a recognition of subjectivity that makes a mark on one’s existence. In addition to the narrative, the video essay shows a collage of images with which the artist reflects on the colonial past of the Spanish state.
In the lecture-performance A Walking Zombie (2022), he comments on contemporary events and refers to capitalism as a virus, whose appearance he illuminates from different angles. He shows how the figure of the zombie appears in protests such as the Occupy Movement, as a metaphor for criticism of the corporate environment, or in popular culture as a symbol of the plague of consumerism that transforms communities into greedy individuals.
The exhibition concludes with a condensed representation of the research in the form of a visual diagram illuminated by red light and surrounded by a pile of earth scattered on the gallery floor, and the video Zombification (2022), in which the artist himself transforms into a zombie figure. With the entire set-up, González creates an atmosphere that underscores the presence of a permanent threat. With his projects, he vividly shows how systemic violence has become accepted as normal in the course of history and a part of everyday life.
Miguel González Cabezas (1992, Spain) is a multidisciplinary artist and researcher. He obtained his MA in Critical Studies from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 2018 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at the same academy. He has presented himself in several solo and group exhibitions around the world. He participates in artist residencies all over the world and was a guest at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Celje in 2021.