REVIEW: Planet of Slums | Third Streaming | ArtReview

Lori Waselchuk, Slippery When Wet, 2008; Planet of Slums, Third Streaming, NY

Mike Davis’s Planet of Slums hit the neoliberal consensus in 2006 like an earthquake hits a favela.  There it was, in Davis’s flamethrower prose, with numbers to boot: more humans around the globe now dwell in cities than not, and they do so increasingly in slums, not because of some inherent degeneracy or collective lack of will to better their lives, but because economic liberalization—deregulation, privatization, tariff elimination, etc., oft administered by the IMF and WTO’s Structural Adjustment Programmes—put them there.  “How the other half lives” has of course been of interest to activists and reformers since industrialization put slums on the map.  And mapping those slums, that is, making them visible, has been a central strategy of progressive social agendas ever since.  But how those slums are made visible—in reports, pictures, documentaries, fictions—is the founding question in the politics of representation, to which any exhibition that would take Davis’s title for its own must answer…

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