Netherlands Patron Circle

Zachary Formwalt‘An Unknown Quantity’, 2014

In 2014 Outset Netherlands supported Zachary Formwalt’s new video An Unknown Quantity which he made for his solo exhibition Three Exchanges at Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam. In two recent video installations, Zachary Formwalt focuses on the architecture of the new OMA-designed Shenzhen Stock Exchange, and in his new video on the Amsterdam stock and commodities exchange designed at the end of the nineteenth century by the socialist architect, H.P. Berlage. The three installations dig into a fundamental issue surrounding financial trade: whereas financial transactions seem to dictate our economy and thus their effects can be felt everywhere, the activity of trading itself has become increasingly remote, unavailable for any kind of actual human encounter. The architecture of the stock exchanges serves as a starting point to a profound investigation into the limitations of photography to represent capital and into the interrelationships between financial capitalism and image making.?

In the oldest of his three installations, Unsupported Transit (2011), Formwalt concentrates on the construction site and the construction work on the outside of the new stock exchange in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, designed by Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture. Shenzen has a special status as an economic zone where the authorities allow the system of the free market to run its course. The video diptych In Light of the Arc (2013) registers the materialization of the same stock exchange, which is paradoxically marked by an increasing abstraction. 

Since the stock trade is now entirely controlled by information technology and advanced algorithms, the trading floor itself, with its iconic golden bell, now serves only a ceremonial purpose. In the third installation An Unknown Quantity, realized this year, Formwalt turns the camera to H.P. Berlage’s 1903 stock exchange in Amsterdam. How could Berlage, known for socialist driven housing solutions for Amsterdam’s working class, match his idealism with the commission of designing this palace of capitalism?

Zachary Formwalt (1979, Georgia, U.S.A.) studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. In 2008 and 2009 he was a resident at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam.