Can the artist do more than critique consumption?
Absolutely! Criticism that isn't constructive isn't worth a pinch of shit. I think if you're going to tell people you think they're doing it wrong, you have to offer an alternative. That said, regarding this performance, I freely admit that the term consumerism was in fact a stalking horse for something a little more complicated.
I read this thing a little while ago written by David Hare, a sort of travelogue about a period of time he spent in the Middle East. There was one passage where he spoke of being at a party in Ramallah and someone telling him of a torture technique used by Hamas on those believed to be informants. It involves the victim being taken to a wall on which is drawn a bicycle, and being told to go and get it. The victim says he can't get the bicycle because it is a drawing. He is then told if he doesn't get the bicycle he will be beaten. This is a description of torture and yet reading it I found myself contemplating neoliberalism's big-door prize. Buy this car and people will like you, wear these clothes and people will respect you, look like this and people will want to fuck you - it's just the most obscene illusion ever.
I believe that the greatest human identity comes with the claim of freedom against material limitation - I want us to stand for that, but our generation is just so fucking complacent. And in turn, complicit. Business and technology have taken over completely. And it's nothing new, it used to be the church - but then, it's always somebody. Imperialism has gone mad. And the only way I believe you can begin to fight imperialism is through tribalism. You just have to turn on the news to see that it's something they don't understand. Fractious, fragmented tribalism. And that doesn't mean that you can't be transgressive, or have one foot in the mainstream - in fact, if anything, to create meaningful change it is critical that you infiltrate the mainstream. But I reckon it begins quietly, with real communication. A new generation of creative people that share an agenda. Like that Rickie Lee Jones song "revolution, revolution, everywhere that you're not looking".
It's about taking back control of our work, of our art and of whatever part of culture we can call our own. It's about going out on a limb, getting our shit together and most crucially, supporting one another.