Pedro Bustamante – Sacrificial Rituals in Capitalist Religion


18.06.2014 7pm

A video-supported lecture in by artist/activist/theoretician Pedro Bustamante (PHD candidate, Superior Technical School of Architecture, Madrid) as part of SomoS’ Unclean project.

The theme “Uncleanliness” is of great interest to Pedro Bustamante. He thinks that it needs to be discussed in the broader phenomenon of the sacrifices or the “scapegoat mechanism” as René Girard put it.

“René Girard is, to our knowledge, who best understood and explained this central phenomenon in human societies. Not only have human sacrifices played a central role in the origins of culture, but they also have evolved into a more complex and subtle mechanism which continues to operate in our times in various ways, often unnoticed.

The interesting thing about this “sacrificial” or “scapegoat mechanism” is that it is the meeting point not only of religion and power, morality and legality, but also of more abstract dichotomies such as nature and artifice, reality and fiction, or immanence and transcendence, to which human culture is incessantly forced to return in order to renew itself. Through sacrifices, the primitive magical world merges into the social catharsis, the release of social “repression” comes together with the representation of power, and, ideally, power and counter-power converge.

Sacrifices work in fact at different levels: they articulate the cleansing of those elements of society embodying the less appreciated values: the “impure”, the “nefarious”, but also the “anti- system”, playing in this way a fundamental moral role; but also they show, in a more or less explicit way, what constitutes power, what “makes” and “preserves” law: violence.” (P.Bustamante: “The ‘Heterotopias’ as Cult of Capitalism”)

Bustamante is currently developing a project based on the ways in which this “sacrificial mechanism” continues to occur in our times. How, based on the ideas of Walter Benjamin on the capitalist religion, it inherits those dynamics from previous regimes.

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